Given the recent news cycle, I thought it would be appropriate to have a little primer on Genuine Imitation Naugahyde Remorse. GINR is full of those weak-ass apologies that upon closer inspection don’t really convey “sorry” at all. If you’re a chump, you’ve probably put a lot of stock in weak-ass apologies. Maybe you even begged for a weak-ass apology, got one, and inferred great depths of humanity from it.
Today I’m going to give you a primer for decoding bullshit apologies, courtesy of the Universal Bullshit Translator. If you see any of these mindfucks in play, you don’t have a real apology — you have bullshit.
1.) This Isn’t The Real Me. Don’t be fooled. Uh yeah. Yes it is. Con artists love to disavow their true shitty selves. They know you love the hologram, so they’re going to insist that the hologram is really them. Did I cheat on you? Well kinda sorta, but that wasn’t the REAL me! The real me loved you all along! In fact, I only cheated because I have such a deep fear of intimacy that I can’t really face how very deeply I love you. And I have toxic shame about that, so you’re going to need to do some bolstering here. Because the Real Me is someone who could never hurt you! Lying to you was a kindness, because I respect you so much! And who would you rather believe in? Some hurtful, lying asshole, or a person who LOVES you?
Shitty people do shitty things. That is who they ARE. It’s not a midlife crisis/affair fog/optical illusion — it’s a choice made with agency. Pickled in deep entitlement. You want to convince me that’s not the real you? Don’t be sorry — be different.
2.) It’s All About Me. The biggest giveaway with bullshit apologies is that the “sorry” is about them — how they suffer. How this hurts them too. Hurts them more, really. How no one really understands their intrinsic self and how tragic that is. What a journey that selfhood has been, and really this Terrible, Unmentionable Thing they may have done was really all for the best! Because it has led to such personal growth!
Unmentioned? The people who were hurt. You’re just bit players in the narcissist’s epic narrative of selfhood.
3.) You have faults too! Crap apologies are full of false equivalencies and straw man arguments. Well, I never said I was perfect. Uh, perfect wasn’t the standard here — basic decency was. Well, you’re not perfect either. In fact, the way you make coffee is positively criminal. That’s your cue to defend your position on flavored coffees. PUMPKIN SPICE IS A VALID COFFEE FLAVOR AND IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN COFFEE! Pumpkin spice is not a crime equivalent to betrayal. Getting you to go there and defend yourself and admit you have faults and aren’t perfect positions you nicely into the corner of We Both Brought Issues to the Marriage That Made Me Cheat.
4.) Pay no attention to me — SQUIRREL! Wackadoodles like to create drama that diverts attention from discovery of their malfeasance. Caught them cheating? Look for the Hail Mary play of suspected pregnancy, threatened job loss, or I’m Going to Flunk This Important Exam And It’s All Your Fault For Bringing Your Pain To My Attention.
The con is trying to ratchet your anxiety and concern and direct it elsewhere.
5.) Minimization. Bullshit apologies are full of euphemisms and Orwellian spin. It wasn’t a decade of seeing hookers, it was an “indiscretion” (singular). It wasn’t a sustained, active double life, it was a “mistake” (singular). What’s not minimized, however, is your reaction. Too bad you can’t be the bigger person and forgive me for this trifle. God, you’re really overreacting. If you took offense (at this singular, trifling, irrelevant mistake), then I’m sorry (that you’re so unperceptive).
Got a bullshit apology? Go no contact and trust that they suck. You’ve got better things to do than stick your head in the mindfuck blender.
This column ran previously.