Narcissist Apology Examples

The Narcissistic Apology + 52 Examples (What “I’m Sorry” Really Means)

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The narcissistic apology is the most common and insulting non-apology you’ll ever come across. You know the “I’m sorry you feel that way,” or “I’m sorry you’re so sensitive” type of apologies… which are not actually apologies at all.

The only true apology is changed behaviour.

Saying the words “I’m sorry” is a completely empty act without truly taking responsibility for one’s actions. Showing genuine compassion towards the other person, then putting steps into action that rectify the behaviour is the only true apology we should ever accept.

So, what does it mean when you receive a narcissistic apology? What’s the message they’re really conveying?

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Narcissist Apology Examples

Narcissist Apology

The most telltale sign of a narcissistic apology is that it lacks genuine remorse and tends to focus more on protecting the narcissist’s image rather than acknowledging their mistake.

Here are 52 narcissist apology examples:

  1. “I’m sorry if you misunderstood my actions.”
  2. “I apologise, but you have to admit, you overreacted.”
  3. “I’m sorry, but it wasn’t entirely my fault.”
  4. “I’m sorry if what I did upset you.”
  5. “I apologise if you feel that way.”
  6. “I’m sorry, but you know I didn’t mean it.”
  7. “I’m sorry, but I only did it because you pushed me.”
  8. “I’m sorry if my actions were misinterpreted.”
  9. “I apologise, but you have to see things from my perspective.”
  10. “I’m sorry, but I can’t be held responsible for your feelings.”
  11. “I apologise if my words were taken the wrong way.”
  12. “I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings, but you have to understand.”
  13. “I’m sorry you’re upset, but I didn’t do anything wrong.”
  14. “I’m sorry, but it’s not as bad as you’re making it out to be.”
  15. “I’m sorry, but I thought you knew I was joking.”
  16. “I apologise, but I didn’t realise you’d be so sensitive.”
  17. “I’m sorry, but it’s not a big deal, is it?”
  18. “I’m sorry, but I can’t help it if I’m just more successful.”
  19. “I’m sorry, but others didn’t see it that way.”
  20. “I’m sorry, but you’re blowing this out of proportion.”
  21. “I apologise if my actions weren’t up to your standards.”
  22. “I’m sorry, but you should be grateful for what I do for you.”
  23. “I’m sorry if my behavior bothered you.”
  24. “I apologise if my success makes you feel inadequate.”
  25. “I’m sorry, but I did what I thought was best.”
  26. “I’m sorry, but I’m not the only one at fault here.”
  27. “I apologise if you’re unable to handle my honesty.”
  28. “I’m sorry, but you’re making this harder than it needs to be.”
  29. “I’m sorry, but you should have known better.”
  30. “I apologise if you can’t appreciate my efforts.”
  31. “I’m sorry, but I was just trying to help.”
  32. “I’m sorry if my actions offended you.”
  33. “I apologise, but I won’t apologise for being myself.”
  34. “I’m sorry, but you’re too sensitive.”
  35. “I’m sorry if my talent intimidates you.”
  36. “I apologise, but you should have seen that coming.”
  37. “I’m sorry, but you should be more understanding.”
  38. “I’m sorry, but you’re being unreasonable.”
  39. “I apologise if my words hurt you, but they were necessary.”
  40. “I’m sorry, but I don’t see what I did wrong.”
  41. “I’m sorry if you can’t handle the truth.”
  42. “I apologise if I offended you unintentionally.”
  43. “I’m sorry, but I can’t change who I am.”
  44. “I’m sorry if you’re unable to see my good intentions.”
  45. “I’m sorry, but I didn’t think it would upset you.”
  46. “I’m sorry, but I won’t take the blame for this.”
  47. “I apologise if my actions were misconstrued.”
  48. “I’m sorry, but I don’t owe you an apology for that.”
  49. “I’m sorry, but I can’t help it if I’m always right.”
  50. “I’m sorry, but you’re just not on my level.”
  51. “I’m sorry, but my success seems to bother you.”
  52. “I’m sorry, but I won’t dim my light to make you feel better.”
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What the Narcissistic Apology Really Means

Talk is Cheap

Narcissists are chronic liars. They say whatever they need to say to get the storyline back to where they want it and the power back into their hands.

But damn, they’re good! The narcissistic apology can sound and feel so genuine that they’ll have you questioning your own thoughts and reactions.

“Maybe I’m being too harsh on them.”

“Maybe they didn’t really mean it.”

“They’re just having a bad day.”

“They said they were sorry…”

“They love me, why would they want to hurt me?”

Something I wish I’d known many years ago is that the only true apology is changed behaviour.

Because let’s be honest, a narcissist never changes their behaviour. They just come out with yet another (non) apology… but nothing ever really changes.

They may be on their best behaviour for a day or a week, but ultimately, they get comfortable and everything always goes back to the way it was.

Why don’t they ever change? Ultimately, they don’t want to. In their mind they’re perfect and they justify their actions in a multitude of twisted and illogical ways – so why should they have to change?

At the end of the day, there’s nothing wrong with them (in their distorted world). You’re the one with the problem. You’re the one who’s too sensitive. You’re the one who’s difficult.

READ: Can a Narcissist Feel Guilty?

Playing the Victim to Avoid Accountability

Narcissist Playing the Victim

A common technique that my covert narcissistic ex used to frequent was switching into ‘victim mode’ to avoid having to take accountability for his shitty behaviour.

First of all, his narcissistic injury would be triggered, then he’d flip out into a narcissistic rage. This could involve going off at someone, yelling and swearing, throwing things, punching things… whatever his adult-sized tantrum decided to spew out.

I would generally react by shutting down and retreating within. It was my basic trauma safety response, which I’d learnt at a very young age with a narcissistic parent.

READ: Twisted things a Narc Mother Says

Oftentimes, my retreating would trigger him even more, because without any arguing, he had nothing to work with.

I had no idea I was dealing with a narcissist at the time. I was just trying to survive each and every day, the best way I knew how.

When it did get to the point where I would call him out on his behaviour, he’d start by defending all of his actions and twisting everything back onto me. Then, if that tactic wasn’t working as potently as he’d hoped, he’d switch into being the total victim.

Imagine a grown man curled up on the bed in the fetal position, crying. That’s the level of victimhood we’re talking about.

Common phrases narcissists use to avoid accountability:

  • “I don’t know why I do this.”
  • “It’s like something just takes over me.”
  • “I’m not even myself in those moments.”

I really felt, in those instances, that he was genuinely sorry and remorseful. I mean, what grown man cries and says all of those things unless it’s real, right?

So, he’d get himself back into my good graces. Hell, I’d even offer to help him through his struggles… “it’s okay, we’ll sort this out together.”

But the clincher is, why were we still cycling around in the same spiral of events 20 years down the line? It’s only in hindsight that I can see it’s because he never changed a damn thing. He said all the right words and totally played on my empathy and compassion, which were both used against me, time and time again.

Only now can I recognise that even his wording was carefully constructed so that he didn’t actually wear any of the blame. Things like, “I don’t know why I do this” and “it’s like something takes over me,” are basically him saying, “it’s not my fault.”

However, when you’re caught up in the narcissist’s web of lies, confusion and drama, it’s almost impossible to see such a simple play on words. I took his half-arsed apologies as real apologies.

READ: Why Can’t the Narcissist Accept Accountability?

What a Narcissist Really Means When They Say “I’m sorry”

Remembering that narcissists are compulsive liars and master manipulators, it just makes sense to assume that the narcissistic apology of “I’m sorry,” doesn’t actually mean “I’m sorry.”

Narcissist Apology

Considering these traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder…

  • Inflated sense of self (huge ego)
  • Never wrong (shift the blame)
  • Perfect (incredibly insecure but refuses to accept it)
  • Controls the narrative (continuously lies so that people believe their false illusion)
  • Power hungry (manipulate all situations so that they hold the power)

It just makes sense to assume that even a simple apology, cannot be a simple apology. When you’re dealing with a narcissist, everything that happens is another sneaky move on the chess board.

So, what does a narcissist actually mean when they say “I’m sorry” or “I won’t do it again?”

“I’m sorry I got caught.”

“I’m sorry you found me out.”

“I’ll manipulate better next time.”

“I won’t do this exact thing again, I’ll just do it differently.”

“I’m sorry you feel that way, but that’s not my problem.”

“I’m sorry if you’re hurt, but that’s not my fault.”

“I’m sorry you’re too sensitive.”

READ: Narcissistic Gaslighting

The Narcissist’s Prayer

A Narcissist’s Prayer (aka The Narcissist’s Creed) was written by an unknown author and has been making its way around the community for quite some time. The beautiful and sinister depiction of how the mechanics of a narcissist’s mind works is so very apt.

The Narcissist’s Prayer:

“That didn’t happen.
And if it did, it wasn’t that bad.
And if it was, that’s not a big deal.
And if it is, that’s not my fault.
And if it was, I didn’t mean it.
And if I did, you deserved it.”

This creed of the narcissist is the perfect example of a narcissistic apology.

It begins with the denial of your reality, then goes on to minimise your experience, all while invalidating your own feelings and emotions. They are utterly refusing to take any responsibility for any of their words and/ or actions. Then if that doesn’t work, they’ll gaslight you with a ‘false apology.’ If they really cannot deny that the event occurred, the final step is to shift the blame onto you and make it all your fault.

There is never anything you can say or do that will help the narcissist to see reason or have any kind of compassion for your side of the story.

You can read the full break-down of A Narcissist’s Prayer below.

READ: A Narcissist’s Prayer Explained

What Constitutes a REAL Apology?

Real Apology

As empathetic human beings, we naturally assume that when someone apologises, it means they’ve recognised their hurtful behaviour and that they’re going to change.

A true apology is where someone

  • Takes responsibility for their words/ actions
  • Validates the other person’s feelings and view point
  • Comes up with a solution to not repeat the same behaviour

The narcissistic apology only comes because they want to be let off the hook for their shitty behaviour so that things can hurry up and get back to normal. That is, they expect you to hurry up and get back to being their good ‘supply.’

You may as well consider a narcissist’s apology as a non-apology.

Do you want to know what the icing on the cake of this whole non-apology is? If you accept the narcissistic apology and let things go back to normal, in their books you’ve totally okayed all of their behaviour.

If you do attempt to revisit this issue with the narcissist in the future, you will be hit with:

“Well, you should’ve told me that at the time!”

“Why are you bringing this up again? It’s in the past, let it go.”

“You forgave me for that, you can’t go back on your word now.”

“It’s not my problem you didn’t speak up about it then.”

“I said I’m sorry, what more do you want?”

“It’s not my problem you hold on to shit.”

You get the idea. All must be forgiven and cannot be brought up ever again.

The narcissist has no intention of looking at or changing their behaviour, because they really don’t care about hurting other people. After all, if they don’t see a problem with their behaviour, why would they want to bother to change it?

The only real way to see true change in your life and end the cycle of the fake narcissistic apologies, is to rid your life of the narcissist. If you’re in a situation where that’s just not 100% possible, I highly recommend going as low contact with them as you can and minimising your interactions.

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