What to Do When Someone Doesn’t Accept Your Apology

What to Do When Someone Doesn’t Accept Your Apology

So you messed up, and now you’re saying “I’m sorry.” The problem is, the person you’re apologizing to isn’t having it. It’s a tough spot to be in, but it happens. Watch to learn what to do when someone doesn’t accept your apology.



Stay steady and don’t take it back. I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard someone apologize, the other person doesn’t accept it, and then they say, “Well nevermind, I’m wasn’t sorry anyway.” We are not third graders on a playground. You apologized for a reason, so while you might feel a little bit stunned by the person’s response, stay steady and calm, and leave the apologizy out there. Don’t take it back.


Don’t get defensive. Apologizing is vulnerable. You’re sticking your neck out there and leaving yourself open to the possibility of rejection. So when the person doesn’t accept your apology, you feel hurt and disappointed. You feel rejected. Notice these emotions for what they are, and sit with them, rather than flipping them and getting defensive. It’s natural to feel confused or hurt or rejected. So feel that, and resist the brain’s temptation to launch a counter attack.


Give them space. You know the phrase,”If at first you don’t succeed, try try again”? Well, that doesn’t apply here. At least not yet. Give the person some time and space to process the apology and their feelings. They may feel differently once they have some time. Whatever it was that prompted you to apologize was hurtful or disappointing enough. Don’t make it worse by crowding their space and disrespecting their wishes.


Show them with your actions. The age old phrase, “Actions speak louder than words” totally applies here. Show them you’re sorry by correcting whatever action prompted the apology in the first place. If you snapped at your partner, work to be more patient and compassionate across the next week. If you haven’t been checking in on a friend who needs it, double down on your efforts to be supportive. And if you didn’t carry your load on a project, offer to take the lead on the next project. Step up without being asked. Show the person that you’re sorry by learning from and correcting your mistake.


Revisit the issue. After some time has passed, and you’ve done these previously mentioned things, take an inventory of how the relationship feels. Does the person seemed to have moved forward? Does the relationship feel like it’s being repaired? If things still feel strained or tense, it might be worth gently revisiting, reminding the person that you haven’t forgotten or minimized what happened and what you’re still sorry and actively working to improve things.


It’s hard to say you’re sorry. And it can be even harder when someone doesn’t accept your apology. But that’s ok. People are allowed to not accept your apology or need some time to think. You can’t control what they say or do, but you can control what you say and do. So stay steady and calm, manage your emotions of rejection and hurt, and show your apology through consistent actions.


There’s no guarantee it will change the person’s mind, but it’s certainly likely to help.


Need some more help with your apology? Check out the one word that completely kills an apology.


  1. LyDasha McCrory

    Me and my boyfriend baby mom don’t get along. Me and my boyfriend now have our own family and we also pick up and drop off his daughter every other weekend. The pick up and drops offs are weird. No one acknowledges one another so its gotten to the point of me being the bigger person to apology. After 2 and a half years of back and fourth today i decided to apology and was given no response back via text message. Me and my boyfriend plan on spending the rest of our lives together and this tension is not apart of my plan. Granted the original issue began with her but she sees it otherwise. I just want the whole thing to blow over and for us to move on not towards a friendship but to at least be able to speak to one another during the transfer of there child. This situation has caused nightmares, countless sleepless nights and tons of anxiety. Idk what to do at this point. And how not to feel embarrassed for apologizing with no response when i see her every other weekend.

  2. Criona

    Hi I knew this person for 5 years we were close but she also had a lot stuff going on i had suffered from depression and she supported me through it .she was very busy ahd i overloaded her with texts .my dad died then and she was really supportive but 2 weeks ago i sent too many Texts again and i blew it she asked for space so i didnt text for two week s then i texted fo say i an really sorry i should have been more aware and if she did want to move forward with me respecting her boundaries to let me know .but i think that she wont i miss her but i have to move on my dad is only passed since 2nd August so i an find it really tough ?

  3. Darline Smith

    I came undone with one friend, first I brought up she didn’t come to our daughter’s wedding, she made an excuse, but I found out she lied. I was hurt so I confronted her. During the confrontation, I brought up things that happened in the past. We moved before I cooled off, want to apologize, but I don’t know how. I did this twice to two different people, I apologized, to one and she accepted but the coolness was still there. I am getting older and I want to repair these two relationships. I feel so bad, but it was my fault. Thank you for your help.

  4. My friend is a complete jerk who doesn’t want to accept an apology. No matter how many times I’ve addressed it and take full responsibility of it, it was still futile. When I’m stating the reason, he immediately refused and ask me to “Shut Up”. I felt nothing because I actually don’t give a fck about him, I just need my apology to be forgiven because this seriously affects my friendship with a another friend. I have said everything and taken full responsibility, I did not counter-attack but I just need this apology to be accepted. I don’t know how or why can one person be like this, he completely ignored me and talked to my other friend (the friend whom I always stick with and is my only friend). I don’t know why but this whole thing started because of him and now I’m apologizing for nothing, I only wanted to apologize because this seriously affect my friendship so if possible I would like this person to accept my apology even though I have did nothing wrong. I feel blackmailed by this person because he takes full manipulation over my friendship and completely turns into a jerk when I’m trying to be nice by greeting or just by apologizing. Please help I need friends.

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