BlogI’m Sorry You Feel That Way

June 23, 2023by Frank Love2

In my previous blog, “‘Always’ ‘Never’ Wins,” we looked at the problems that arise when we use extreme language in our loving relationships. Today’s blog post looks at another challenge that often crops up in our relationships, being able to apologize appropriately.

I recall a few years ago talking to someone whose services I had retained on contract. In this conversation, I was expressing my concern and dissatisfaction over the quality of the work being performed. The contractor listened to what I had to say and then responded, “I’m sorry that you feel that way.” That was it. It wasn’t followed by, “Is there something that can be done to make the results more to your liking?” or “Where would you like to see a change so we are both satisfied?”

Nope. “I’m sorry that you feel that way” was it. We were discussing this issue via phone, so there was no way that my facial expression was properly delivered. However, suffice it to say, I was dumbfounded.

“I am sorry that you feel that way” may sound like an apology simply because it contains the word sorry. But it is not. It is not an apology at all. In fact, it essentially means “I really don’t care” and/or “That’s not my problem.” It even suggests “You need to fix that” (in my case, the contractor was saying that I needed to fix my feelings).

A sincere apology has several distinguishing elements. One hallmark of an apology is A Desire to Heal the Perceived Offense or the presented issue. This can be done in many ways, yet the very foundation is to make it clear to the other party that we genuinely care about their experience and are willing to do something different in order to see their concern(s) addressed.

Another important element of an apology is to Demonstrate an Understanding of the Offense. If you express to me that you do not like that I raised my voice at your wife and in response I say, “I’m sorry that you and your wife are so sensitive,” I have not demonstrated an understanding of the problem you had. I have belittled your concern. If we want to appropriately address someone’s concern, we can start by repeating exactly (with a subject and pronoun change) what they have expressed as their concern. In this case, I would start by saying “I apologize for raising my voice at your wife.”

After appropriately paraphrasing the offense into an apology, then we get to genuinely connect with the other’s concern. We must Empathize by putting ourself in the other’s shoes and further explain our personal connection to the situation. I may say, “I, too, would be offended if I heard someone raise their voice at my wife or partner.”

Finally, in order to seal the deal on an apology, and to make sure that it landed with the other party in the way we intend, we get to Circle Back. Ask the other party, “Are we good now?” “Are we complete?” or “How did I do with my apology?” These are questions that solicit feedback from the other party that informs us on our effectiveness. After all, the point of an apology is ultimately to improve the relationship. This can’t happen unless both sides feel peace. Until then, the issue is not resolved. It may take time. It may take days, weeks, or maybe even years. Let’s keep the challenges associated with apologizing in mind before we do something offensive. Offending can happen in a second. Healing the offense may take years.

Finally, it may seem antithetical to Circling Back (where we get our partner’s seal of completion) to  Be Willing to Talk about the Offense Again, but this is worth considering. We may say, “I thought you said you accepted my apology,” or “I thought that we had moved on, and here we are talking about this again,” to a partner who has already made us jump through hoops in order for us to be on good footing again. However antithetical it may seem to be willing to discuss the issue again, the ability to do so is part of the apology process. By being willing to address residue from the offense or ongoing or unseen resentment or pain, we are simply telling our partner, “I care about you and what you are going through.” And this gets to be the general tone of each of our relationships . . . all the time.

In conclusion, the simple use of the word sorry is not the lone ingredient in an apology. In fact, an apology may not use the word sorry at all and can still be effective. When we genuinely want to apologize for an offense we have levied, we get to be sincerely invested in the process and the outcome. Without the noted investment, the use of the words is a wasted effort and may make the situation worse.

Let’s apologize when we screw up and invest in making sure we are being loving in our interactions.

Keep Rising

Frank Love

In my next blog post, “Anti-Frustration Techniques,” I will share some techniques for dealing with the frustrations that occasionally crop up in our loving relationships.

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Each week, Frank Love hosts Zoom support group meetings that assist women and men as we work to create a loving culture in our relationships. Calls occur from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. EST and can be accessed by visiting FrankWeeklyCall.com.


  • Tuesdays—Black Women: Creating a Loving Culture in Our Relationships
  • ThursdaysBlack Men: Creating a Loving Culture in Our Relationships


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Frank Love coaches individuals toward creating a loving culture in their family. He is also the author of Relationship Conversations You Don’t Want to Have (But Should Anyway) and 25 Ways to Be Loving. To schedule a free consultation, contact Frank at Frank@FrankLove.com.


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