6 Experts Reveal Valid Reasons You Don’t Have To Accept An Apology

Just because someone apologizes doesn't mean you have to accept their apology.

woman rolling her eyes while man apologizes Nicoleta Ionescu - Shutterstock

‘Forgive and forget’ is a mantra often heard, telling us to let go of the past and any associated negative emotions and move on, but that is much easier said than done. There are times in life when you will find yourself unable or unwilling to accept an apology from someone who has wronged you.

Sometimes it might feel that as long as a person issues an apology, you have a duty to forgive their transgressions. But that is not necessarily the case. There are several reasons why an apology just might not be good enough.


According to studies, most humans apologize in an effort to be forgiven and to repair the damage they did to the relationship.

Apologies are like compensation for transgressions and misdeeds. They can change a victim's mindset, softening their stance and removing the need to seek vengeance. But just because an apology is given doesn't mean the culprit must be forgiven, especially when it is not given in good faith. 

RELATED: Why I Will Always Choose To Forgive


Here, 6 Yourtango experts reveal valid reasons you don't always have to accept an apology:

1. For many complex reasons

“Life is a beautiful tapestry of emotions and interactions, and navigating this complex web with grace and understanding is essential. In this context, apologies play a critical role. They are our means of admitting mistakes, expressing remorse, mending bridges, and rekindling relationships. Yet, it's crucial to remember that the right to offer an apology doesn't automatically confer the obligation to accept it.

1. Insincerity

An apology should come from the heart, filled with remorse for the transgression and understanding the hurt it caused. It may not warrant acceptance if it feels empty, rote, or mechanically delivered without genuine feeling.

2. Lack of Change


An apology holds real weight when a change in behavior accompanies it. If the person apologizing is a repeat offender, constantly hurting you in the same way and then apologizing without making any effort to change, you may not feel inclined to accept their apology.

3. Manipulation

Apologies can sometimes be used as tools of manipulation, where the offender uses them to evade responsibility or to control you emotionally. In such situations, accepting the apology might reinforce harmful dynamics.

4. Violations of Core Values

There are some actions that might deeply violate your core values or beliefs, the kind of actions that make it impossible to restore the trust and respect that once was. If the offense falls into this category, you might find it impossible to accept an apology.


5. Non-Apology

"I'm sorry you feel that way" isn't an apology. It's a deflection of responsibility. Genuine apologies acknowledge one's own actions and take responsibility for them.

6. Safety and Well-being

If accepting an apology might put your physical or emotional safety at risk, or if it would mean tolerating ongoing abuse or harm, it's critical not to accept it."

Clare Waismann, M-RAS, SUDCC II

2. Because too much damage was done and you can't forgive them. 

"Various rationales for not accepting an apology include distrust of a person, unwillingness to absolve them, preference to stop future communication, and the significant damage which cannot be undone. Nevertheless, no reason needs to be given beyond saying something such as: "I can imagine why you have a need to or want to apologize, but given the circumstances, I prefer not to accept it."


Ruth Schimel, Ph.D., Career & Life Mgt. Consultant, Author

3. Due to their lack of accountability.

"The person giving the apology expresses remorse that their action caused you to feel a certain way, but they have not expressed remorse for doing the thing that made you feel that way. "I'm sorry you feel that way." This shifts the focus onto your response, as opposed to their behavior. It sounds like an apology but it's really not."

Jennifer Hargrave, Founder & President of Hargrave Family Law

RELATED: How To Offer The Right Apology For Big, Medium, And Even Tiny Mistakes

4. There are limited options.

"Most apologies are manipulation. However, if you receive a heartfelt expression of regret you have 2 choices.


1. Accept and forgive

Accept the apology and forgive the person. If this is your decision, you will need to clarify how it happened and assure yourself it will not be repeated.

2. Accept and disconnect

Accept the apology and decide that you no longer wish to be vulnerable to future behaviors similar to this. If you choose disconnection, you must express your decision calmly and without any wiggle room so that you avoid future unpleasantness."


Susan Allen, CEO of The Marriage Forum

5. To honor your feelings

"If you truly feel that you don't want to accept an apology, you don't have to. And I would add, you also don't need to feel guilty about it. This can be done elegantly and self-honoring."

Marla Martenson, Transformational Coach

6. Because you are not ready yet

"Don't accept an apology when you are not ready. The vitally important 'not ready' stage, is when you get to feel your feelings all the way through. Cutting this stage short results in stored emotion that will come out sideways in future interactions - stunning the person who thought you had forgiven them."

Michelle Thompson, Law Of Attraction Life Coach


RELATED: You Won't Always Get An Apology — And That's Okay

NyRee Ausler is a writer who covers lifestyle, relationship, and human-interest stories that readers can relate to and that bring social issues to the forefront for discussion.