Social Question

Silhouette's avatar

Is an apology still an apology if there is a but you clause in it?

Asked by Silhouette (8845points) January 8th, 2010
29 responses
“Great Question” (5points)

Would you still consider an apology an apology if it had a but you clause in it or would you consider it more of an excuse? Would you think the sender of such an apology sincere? How do you handle insincere apologies?

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eeveegurl's avatar

I think I need more context to formulate an answer. It could swing both ways. More times than not, I wouldn’t think they’re not being sincere, but that’s just my opinion.

CMaz's avatar

Yes, if the “but” was a reference to them not doing it again.

Or if I influenced their action and I will not do it again. Then it can be.

wonderingwhy's avatar

An apology can be sincere in a “but” case. You can be genuinely sorry about an action but at the time saw no other way to handle the situation. If I didn’t think they were sincere I’d probably give them little more thought than had they not apologized at all.

Snarp's avatar

They might mean it, but they don’t know how to apologize. Apologizing certainly shouldn’t include making excuses, especially if those excuses put any blame on the person they are apologizing to. That’s hard for people to do though. Some people just can’t let go.

Snarp's avatar

Of course, the state of public apologies these days is setting a terrible example.

barbiedoll's avatar

No, but many people do not know how to apologize. An apology to me should mean sorrow and that the person will try their very best never to hurt the person like that again. If the person is only saying words, no apology is made.

Snarp's avatar

Let me clarify a bit. An apology may in special cases contain a “but” clause. But it should not contain a “but you” clause, meaning blaming the person you are apologizing to for your actions.

Harp's avatar

Depending on the exact nature of the dispute, it may be appropriate to both express regret about how one handled their end of the conflict and to express why they thought the other person also acted badly. Responsibility for conflicts is usually shared, and such an apology is a way of saying, “I should have behaved differently, but will you also acknowledge that you should have too?”

It’s better than nothing.

Jude's avatar

@Silhouette can’t you just let it go. I have.

Silhouette's avatar

@Snarp The kind of but you clause you are describing is exactly the kind I am referring to. The one that places the blame squarely back on the shoulders of the person receiving the apology.

Snarp's avatar

Aww man, are we all being dragged into a Fluther dispute? Crap.

JLeslie's avatar

Yes, I think an apology can be sincere with a but clause. It depends on the situation. Even if I think I have done little wrong I might apologyze for a bad interaction, or for upsetting the other person, BUT still want to work out the details of what transpired or explain myself. I have only learned recently that some people do not agree with this philosophy. Seems some people only apologyze if they think they have done something wrong.

Siren's avatar

Depends if you thought it was sincere yourself. If the person says they’re sorry that you feel that way it isn’t an apology, in my opinion. If the person says they’re sorry _ for hurting or upsetting you_ that means significantly more to me, however if they don’t think they’ve done anything wrong I’d have to assess the situation individually. If the person doesn’t sound sincere in their apology, doesn’t acknowledge hurting/upsetting you and sounds like they would continue with the behavior that brought upon the apology, I’d not accept it. At least, not inwardly.

Eureka's avatar

Everything after “but” is bullshit.

Siren's avatar

Sometimes “but” is not a retraction of an apology, but a bad attempt at starting an explanation. I would hear the “but“erer out first.

sorry, I keep rewriting my response. Last edit I promise

Silhouette's avatar

@Snarp No this isn’t a Fluther dispute it’s a general survey. I’m interested in seeing how many people share my views of what an actual apology is. If I apologise for my behavior I don’t try to deflect from the responsibility or guilt of my bad behavior. I did it, I’m sorry for it and I own it. My bad behavior is separate from the other individuals but yous.

ucme's avatar

No! The “but you” is their way of validating their side of the story. Thus deflecting blame back on you. Beware the stealth apology it’s not all it seems.

Merriment's avatar

No it is not an apology. It is an excuse and it only adds insult to injury.

As @Eureka says “Everything after “but” is bullshit”

Or at the very least everything after “but” is an explanation of how you should do better next time so they don’t have to misbehave.

ratboy's avatar

I’m sorry, but you’ve made this question too difficult.

Siren's avatar

I think “but you…” may still be valid in some situations. As in “sorry I poked you in the face with my fork, but you jumped in front of me”.

Or “sorry I called you a liar in front of all your friends, but you said I was from the planet Zorgost, and you know so very well that it is Phlubgo, since you’ve visited with me there several times”

JLeslie's avatar

@Silhouette I agree “but you” is not a good way to go. But, I might want to continue a conversation about the incident to prevent it from happening in the future or to be understood (obviously it depends on the situation). I am thinking of a family situation I have. My husband’s family takes an apology as an admission of being the ONE wrong. @Harp expressed well that sometimes both people may have some responsibility. If I apologize to someone in his family that is their cue to think and say see, she was wrong, I was right. Nothing gets talked out, and no one really feels any better much of the time. If I apologize I kind of expect the other person at minimum to say something acknowledging the apology, not continue to try and make me feel like I am a total piece of shit. Better, would be if they said they feel badly also, care about our relationship and hate when these things happen, and be willing to listen to each other if someone feels the need to explain or felt they were misunderstood. I am thinking of dissagreements, maybe when something mean was said, not things like cheating and lying.

MacBean's avatar


Blackberry's avatar

Yes it is. “I love you but….you need to stop smoking black tar heroin, I care for you”.

avvooooooo's avatar

4 out of 5 times, no.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

“I’m sorry, but you started it” is not a proper apology.

“I’m sorry, but I have learned from my mistakes” may be acceptable, depending on who the person apologizing is.

In conclusion, it depends on the person, what was actually said, and how the person said it.

avengerscion's avatar

One may apologize for their behavior while still pointing out something for which they want an apology from you. However, people sometimes do this in a petty way – I’m wrong and have to apologize, so I’m gonna make you feel bad about something too.

MaryW's avatar

I am sorry but you… is NOT an apology, it is an attempt at an excuse Or even another shot at you.

Pandora's avatar

Hey @MaryW, I thought you were in the bathroom?
I agree a but isn’t quite an apology but mostly if they turn that but against you.
An example, I’m sorry I was a douche but you started it.
Now if it was, I’m sorry I was a douche but I wasn’t myself today. However, I realize that was my problem and not yours. Than you are still appologizing only you are attempting to make them understand it was nothing they did to deserve it.

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