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Apologies- within reason

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

I don’t know about you but over my 64 years I’ve met many people that don’t apologise for their wrong doing. Having observed this and was once married for 11 years to a narcissistic wife that never apologised once in all that time, I’ve come to conclusion that absence of apologies is excess of arrogance, stubbornness or both.

Whatever the reason it leaves the more apologetic one with lots of frustration because they, like most, run their lives with apologies as a basic form of expressing regret which is a conventional method of healing so we can move forward. Without that you live a marriage where you question your own judgements when apology is absent. Imo that comes from greater commitment with knowledge that without carrying responsibility for your own errors, the future of the marriage is in jeapody.

As my first wife and I had young children when we parted ways we still had to communicate for visitations and pick ups/drop offs and education concerns. This meant a continuous stream of talking flowed on so in effect that stubbornness went on for a further 14 years until the youngest was 18yo, when finally I needed to escape and severed all contact. That’s how bad an “attitude” can be.

That was 10 years ago. Yet the scars live on. Now if a friend or relative is in clear error I do like some expression of regret- if it is shown then I click into forgiveness mode quickly- most times.

What about an excess of apologies? Commonly found in people with low self esteem, these apologies reflect a domineering factor in your childhood whereby you were told “you are wrong” in an over domineering way- as an adult you continue to feel that guilt and guilt is s terrible backpack to carry around.


beyondblue topic guilt the tormentor

Those “guilt” rocks in that backpack should be thrown in the river, revert to normality and apologise only when you are convinced you have made an error.

Finally, I learned in training to be a young prison officer that in a group and you make an error (say you incorrectly made an accusation) then the correct action if possible is to apologise to that person in front of the same people. You might feel embarrassment but you’ll gain respect. In a jail it could save your life but respect is hard to gain amongst prisoners, that’s one way of getting it- is to treat people proper.

What is your take on apologies?


37 Replies 37

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi Grandy,

Neighbours are a particularly difficult thing to advise on because , well they are all different.

I had a young family buy a block of land next to us. We both had one acre within a small town. We had our entertainment area 5 metres from their boundary. They purchased motorbikes for both of their 4 and 5yo daughters ! and ran them all day on weekends. They stayed in a caravan on the property.

One day he jumped our fence and said "you dont mind us operating the motorbikes do you" to which I replied "yes I do, we cant enjoy the birds and the serenity here anymore, however I think its good to have recreation so can we come to a compromise, I suggest you operate them 2 hours a day not in times of meals",. He said he had council permission and left disgruntled.

I rang the council, it seemed he had council permission but beyond town boundaries only. So council contacted him and told him motorbikes are not permitted. They also told him that living in a caravan on weekends without proper facilities is breaking local laws. He sold the land 3 weeks later.

So I agree, it isnt that easy, you can compromise, you can be kind but IMO I've had a lifetime of being walked over and found the only way I've found peace of mind is the equal the onslaught.

Having said that I accept Elizabeths post as an option because we are all made up differently. Our nature differs. I'm a 130kg ex prison warder among other similar fields, I only have to stare at a nasty person and they often melt.

Yes, do what suits you best. Sometimes the benefit of the doubt does work. That person might approach you one day and apologise for being a bad neighbour. But I've seen people be appeasing and one day snap back with a quick comment. Only then does the nasty one feel that they might be careful next time.


Love it Tony

I have never been able to scare anyone but have been walked over many a time

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hello Tony, Elizabeth, Sleepy and everyone..

I am really sorry my last post sounded so ungrateful..I am grateful for any advice...

Oh how I wish I looked threatening....

I tried before to be assertive, and stand up for me...Unfortunately it didn’t work, I only have to start being assertive then after a few words..my bottom lip starts quivering, tears start falling...then I excuse myself and I walk away before I become a blubbering mess...

I understand no one can help me to be assertive or stand up for me...except myself....A work in progress..

I have been doing what you talked about Elizabeth since the last flare up of hers...and I suppose continue on that way....so as to keep the peace between us...

Thank you all again for your kindness..and patience with me..

My kind thoughts...


white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Thats fine Grandy.

Ok, so it appears I'm at the other end of the spectrum from you Grandy. I'm 130kg, done weight lifting when young and trained in a jail environment and RAAF. However, in the same aspect when I was in a jail exercise yard along or even with another guard and 20 prisoners get disgruntled I too start shaking. Then you have to use all your available tact to defuse the situation. A confronting warder would be so dangerous.

Just pointing out there is a limit to being able to stand your ground no matter who you are.

My main point was that people will find communicating with difficult people cannot be done just with a plan to love them to infinity. It does work overall due to most people being kind and thoughtful. But in the case of a nasty neighbour all the love and help in the world wont do you any good. Hence the "hello, goodbye and nice day" routine.

We also might better serve ourselves by realising the fact, that others people might well find your neighbour toxic like you do. Feel good that you are not alone in that likelihood.


Hey everyone, you're all such wonderful people, hugs.

Dear TonyWK, I'm sorry for not responding earlier to another one of your AMAZING poems!! Man you need to PUBLISH lol.

Hey Grandy and others, you sweet SWEET lady. How anyone could be like this neighbour could be to you is beyond my comprehension and NOT your fault.

She's a controlling nuisance.
Someone mentioned "toxic" yes indeed I agree and add ABUSIVE.

A good "litmus test" is to ask yourself how you FEEL after being with that person.
Another is feeling the need to apologise ALL the time (just to keep the peace - which kinda only works for a minute or 2 hey?).

Long time survivors of abuse DO apologise and often do so relentlessly and really when it boils down to it - unnecessarily because it's not our fault but necessarily for survival.
We learnt how to survive.

Grandy don't beat yourself up about what you could or should have done. You're AMAZING, I wish you were MY neighbour!!

As Elizabeth CP said, behave in a manner that aligns with your values. You do do this and I'm really proud of you.

I have ONE suggestions besides all the praise lol... (it's what I learnt to do with my toxic neighbour)... instead of jumping quickly to apologise, catch yourself and leave a "pregnant pause"..... that is SILENCE where you normally would've jumped in quickly to apologise.
It takes practice! hahaha, lots of it sometimes.

Not sure if you know but I'm really involved in "Behaviour management" in my career, not my own lol, OTHERS.
It's part of my role.
I've absolutely learnt that with some pretty disordered individuals there's NOTHING you can do to support change in their behaviours - hey divorcing a demon showed that as evidence.
LOVING them till the cows come home does nothing but destroy you in the process, agreed TonyWK.

Give it a goooo Grandy.
Love you

Thankyou Ecomama,

I've thought a lot about Grandys technique, one she has no alternative choices in- to be apologetic even when it isn't justified.

I think most of us have done this but most of us have had the strength and therefore the ability to feel confident enough to determine when an apology isn't justified, so we stand our ground.

One of those occasions when I (sort of) swallowed my pride to offer an olive branch when I knew I'd done no wrong, was a lady that has been a mother figure to me for 48 years. A few years ago we had a disagreement and I was shattered. Even though I still don't think I did wrong my fear of us falling out caused me to write this poem for her.


Over the years its become obvious to me
as far as any mind can see
your love and care has made its mark
and its made its mark on me

And just as red wine can
you have grown on me
and I'll be there when in need
that I guarantee

So enjoy the time you have left
rest on a special seat and feel free
you're too young to be my mother
- but you are a mum to me.....


So, it wasn't an apology I sent after all...it was an expression of love. That olive branch United us to another level. She laminated that poem and framed it.

I was thinking that in some situations acts of kindness to loved ones can work. It doesn't always need an apology. But it has less chance of working with a toxic neighbour.

Two weeks after I sent that poem, my mother figure sent me a matchbox. Inside it was a small red heart drawn with a colour pencil.


Dear TonyWK

Awww that poem said everything. Beautiful and what a huge compliment to her and how you valued her in your life. What a gift!

Yes I agree.
When relationships are IMPORTANT to us, meaning that we love them and pretty much know they love us, there are other options than to quickly apologise (esp if it wasn't us that made the mistakes).

I cry at Ads so when my daughters (most esp) have been upset with me and I've cried etc, I usually withdraw in fear.
I've found 2 good methods that work for us (took me decades to find them!).

1. Saying I love you and I don't want to get upset and fight with you because I love you more than anything in the whole world.
2. Saying "When you do ____, the story I'm telling myself is ______" and "I don't know if that's really how you feel, is it how you feel?"
eg When you get angry with me, the story I'm telling myself is that you think I don't care about you or that I crossed a boundary I didn't know about, is this right?
and they can explain.
This works brilliantly with my Fiance too.

I won't do NADA of that in other relationships, but I would if I had issues in close friendships.

The neighbour?
Yah the pregnant pause could work a treat. Grandy may want to practice it and let us know?

What usually happens IME is that the other person is taken aback!
Sometimes they're stunned in silence (waiting for us to jump in and fill that vacant space with our usual apologies).
THEN if you wait long enough (and it's a tad uncomfortable I can tell you now lol).... they've usually had a moment to reflect on their own words they just mentioned and say something like "oh that sounded gruff" or "so you don't agree?" or even could apologise as they hear their words reverberate in their mind.

It's a POWERFUL moment.
A WINDOW of opportunity.

My kids know when I'm doing it.
They do it to each other and me too lol.
We all do it with our work Colleagues and it's powerful.

Human interactions hey?

Love EMxxxx
PS: LOVE that poem TonyWK!

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Tony, EM...

Thank you so much for your understanding...and helpful posts...

I will give the pause a try...and let you know next time I find myself talking to her...right now though I am staying away from her the most I can..

This neighbour, will do anything for her friends and me...it’s just that disagreeing with her is a no go...regardless of if she is right or wrong...

Tony..I also love your poem...It really shows how much you love and care for your mother figure...it’s beautiful..

I think I just have to try to accept, that I’ll always be afraid to speak up for myself...Learned behaviour is one hell of a thing to conquer.

Kind thoughts lovely Tony, EM and everyone...