I’m (Not) Sorry.

“No thanks, I’m good.” “This might be a stupid question, but…” “I think you already told me this, so forgive me, but…” “I have this idea, it might be silly, but…” “I don’t think I can make it, but I’ll try…” “I’m sorry”, “I’m sorry”, “I’m sorry”, and “I’m sorry.”

Any of these sound familiar?

My friends and I are a group of funny, smart, confident girls and yet…I’ve noticed that either bluntly or subtly, most of our conversation contains some form of apology. I’m sure there have been studies about this pattern of women apologizing more than men and it fascinates me, especially when I catch myself do it. Why am I apologizing for not remembering  the friend of a friend’s brother’s name? Why do I shyly suggest something as thought I’m going to be burned with a cigarette if my idea is rejected? Why can’t I just say a firm but polite “no” instead of, “Naw I’m good”? Why do we do this?

I’m not saying all women do this. I’m relieved not all women do this. I wonder if it’s just a matter of being in a position of power. I suppose it makes sense if at work or on a job interview you have an apologetic tone (whereas the person interviewing you does not) because you don’t want to step on toes and admit it, you just want to be liked. (Again, I know, not all women share this thought, and that’s great too.) Is it our generation? Are we so used to texting and email that we’ve viewed the phone and “real-life” conversation as something uncomfortable? Once our computers are taken away from us, does our confidence go with it? The more I think about it, the more instances I find. Like the time some obnoxious guy hit on my friend for about half an hour until she finally had enough and ended it. The time I asked a question in acting class and prefaced it with, “This is going to maybe sound like an insult but I swear I don’t mean it that way, I just have a question…” or when my drink is made incorrectly at Starbucks and I practically fall over myself apologizing explaining that this wasn’t what I ordered and can you please remake it, I’m so sorry. Like it’s my fucking fault you made me a hot latte even though I asked for iced. And it’s not a big deal, that’s not my point. The big deal is that I feel like it’s my fault.

Be honest with yourself: is this something that you do? Really think about it. If someone asks you to attend something that you really don’t want to attend, do you hesitate, put on a happy face and say something like, “I don’t know, I’ll have to check my schedule, but it really sounds like fun, I hope I can make it, I’m sorry I just don’t know yet!”? I’m not saying you should reply, “Your party sounds like ass, fuck off” but there’s a polite yet firm way to say no. I hate when people say, “I wish I could be there.” There’s no wishing. If you want to be there, be there. You don’t need a genie in a bottle, you just need your car keys.

When I worked in retail I thought maybe part of the apologetic nature came from the fact that I was just a sales person and not the manager, but then I noticed that even the manager had a tone with customers of, “Let me help you please and I’m so sorry if you don’t want me to, I’m just trying to be helpful.” She would approach customers gingerly but sweetly and ask them, “Would you like me to pop open that jewelry case for you?” with about six question marks hanging in the air, as though they were going to brandish a machete at her for even asking.

Let’s make a conscious effort not to apologize for things that we have no need to apologize for. Don’t say “I should have”, “My bad”, “Is that okay with you?”, or any other form of apology unless it is absolutely necessary.

There are too many people who didn’t deserve my apologies and I just gave it to them anyway.




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62 thoughts on “I’m (Not) Sorry.

  1. Erin

    It’s something I generally do only in restaurants, like if I ordered something specifically without cheese and, lo and behold, it gets given to me with cheese. People in food service have a tough time as it is, so I try to be as apologetic as possible because I know it’s rough. One should never fuck with those handling one’s food.

    1. Almie Rose Post author

      I do this, and lately I preface my statement with, “I don’t want to be one of those people, but…” this has happened three times to me now. 2 of them had a hair in it and one of them had A SMALL DEAD CRAB AND IT WAS IN MY MOUTH UGH (I ordered mussels with sauce.)

      But, at the same time…you got hair in my food/you messed up my order. I’m not going to berate you for it, and your job probably sucks, but I’m not going to apologize that something weird happened in the kitchen. I should just say with a smile, “Hi, there’s hair in my food” or “Hi, I asked for no ____” and go from there.

  2. Elle

    Ooh. When I caught myself being apologetic for not attending this huge beach trip, my friend spoke my mind for me and said, “She doesn’t want to go. She hates you guys.” This is true. Bah.

    Honesty is the best policy. Overapologizing is kind of cold, which is ironic. That’s the opposite effect we’re going for anyway, and it takes way too much energy.

    1. Almie Rose Post author

      “She doesn’t want to go. She hates you guys.”


      Your friend sounds like Napoleon Dynamite. Just needed a “gosh!” at the end.

      Love it.

  3. deromanticize

    I do this all the time. Most women do. I think it’s mostly because women’s brains are hardwired to try their best to avoid conflict and to maintain relationships. I just finished a book called The Female Brain and it seriously explains so much. I recommend it to everyone.

  4. Rochelle

    I’ve noticed that the scope of this apologetic trend extends beyond social settings. In my classes, I’ve noticed that a lot of the women (including myself) who speak preface their thoughts with “I feel…” or “I think that…”, whereas a lot of the men in the class just say what they’re thinking. By stating your thoughts without a preface, it makes your words and ideas seem more valid and authoritative. I think the problem partially stems from the idea that if a woman projects herself as authoritative, she’s labeled a “bitch” and not the “female” role that we’ve been socialized to play.

    1. Almie Rose Post author

      “In my classes, I’ve noticed that a lot of the women (including myself) who speak preface their thoughts with “I feel…” or “I think that…”, ”

      Yup, did that too. Ironically I went to an an all-girls school, with the idea behind the school that girls around other girls wouldn’t feel the pressures around boys to make statements like these. Then I guess I went off to college and was like, holy shit, boys, and that went out the window.

  5. Genie

    Ugh, I do this all the time. I have such a hard time saying no! The worst, worst, worst, is when trying to tell a guy I don’t want to date him. I end up saying, “I’m so sorry, you’re so great, I just can’t be in a relationship, I don’t want one.” when I should be saying, “I don’t want to date you, I’m just not interested.” why can’t I just say that??
    Then people ask me to hang out, I’m like, “I have so much homework and I really need to get it done, I’ll try to make it later though.” then I sheepishly turn off my phone. I’m not doing homework. I’m sitting on my bed in my pj’s with my laptop reading APOCALYPSTICK. lol.

      1. Genie

        BUH that’s exactly it. I hate hate HATE it when guys try to compromise. And if I flat out say NO, then, like you said, I get a big fat BITCH pinned to my forehead. I couldn’t help but link to this post in my recent post, -so sorry-

  6. Colleen

    I have always been the girl that you are describing here, and only recently have I started to shake this behavior, as the result of a dramatically shitty work experience. Basically I had to have some creeps attempt to walk all over me and my colleagues and try to cheat us out of a shitload of money before I was finally able to say “you know what, NO” and not feel guilty about it. It was definitely a turning point and I can tell that I’m more assertive overall — e.g., now I can actually haggle with cab drivers, instead of accepting a rip-off price so as “not to cause trouble” (and what the fuck kind of trouble am I even imagining?). But I know I still have a long way to go. And I am completely on board with cutting out the unnecessary apologetic language. Preach it.

  7. tori

    ugh, this is SO true. i wish i could stop apologizing so much. it’s especially hard with creepy guys–why do we feel like we can’t step on the feelings of creepers? “oh, i’m sorry, i have a boyfriend”–WTF!!!?!?!?!?!? why do we do this?

  8. Allie

    I LOVE this post. Yes.

    “Hey my best friend’s niece’s dog’s adoptive mother-in-law is singing a production of [insert horrible community theater version of any musical] this Friday! It’s 3 hours away, do you want to go?”

    Thought: No, I don’t want to go. I would rather sit in a tub filled with baked beans at room temperature while forcing myself to eat a bar of Velveeta cheese, also at room temperature, than go to this inevitably awful and soul-killing production.

    Answer: “Oh, um, maybe? I have a lot of work to do this weekend so let me see how much I can get done? Maybe if I get out of my job early on Friday? Maybe if I can get that appointment to get my oil changed? I’ll let you know?”


    Also – commenting on your twitter thing (I don’t understand twitter at all and will not attempt it), am I the only one who finds it strange that Jeremy Irons voiced a brother-killing lion with a strange friendship to hyenas AND narrated a documentary about how lions are dying out? MAYBE IT’S SCAR’S FAULT J-RON. Maybe you should think about that.

  9. Rahul

    HUMBLE BROG. Oh wait, never mind. Strike that from the record. The record being the Internet and the writing being the thing stricken. Striken? Stroken? ANYWAY.

    I apologize for everything. Someone ran into me yesterday. I apologized. You know who also apologizes for everything? Canadians. Seriously, they do. the answer is obvious. All women are Canadians. Saw it in an SAT analogy.

    1. Chloe

      Story of my life! I’m Canadian, and I swear I say sorry for everything I do, as does everyone else. Even situations where sorry’s don’t even make any sense, or I’m not the one at fault.I apologize for joining in on conversations, when I make a phonecall, when I need to use someone’s bathroom (although sometimes what I do in there probably does require an apology).

      I feel like “I’m sorry” is the new “please”… I’m sorry, can I have a couple more pickles in my sandwich? I’m sorry, would you mind not farting so much while we’re in a confined space? I’m sorry, could you not attempt to murder me by blindly turning right on red… sorry for my inconvenient crossing at the crosswalk.

      I was thinking about this recently too when I was at home (very much alone) and I stumbled into my kitchen chair and said “oh, sorry” before realizing that the circumstances (namely, my being alone in my apartment and the chair being completely inanimate) made it totally ridiculous.

      Sorry for such a long comment :)

      1. Almie Rose Post author


  10. Heather

    Thank you for this post. I think more women need to think about this habit. I have tried and tried to stop apologizing, and it’s not an easy habit to break.

    I seriously apologize to everyone, all the time. Even at school. I mean, I have two Master’s degrees, and I somehow cannot find the authority to stop apologizing every time I open my mouth. What is wrong with me? It’s a weird socio-cultural phenomenon that needs to stop. When I have an opinion I should just say it.

    I mean, who cares if everyone thinks I’m a “bitch” for not over-apologizing? Apparently I care. *sigh*

    And Canadians do apologize just as much if not more than American women do.

    1. Almie Rose Post author

      Heather, thank YOU.

      “I think more women need to think about this habit.” I never ask this, but since I feel passionate about this too, feel free to pass this post around.

  11. Tony Archer

    Let me start by saying that it’s not just women who do this. I do this all the time. (Although, I was raised by all women and all of my closest friends are women, so maybe that’s affected my wiring somehow). I especially do the ” I think the answer is…?” or “Maybe it’s…?” thing constantly. It’s just animal instinct to try to seem less threatening when you’re faced with even the slightest fight or flight situation (unless you are one of the ones who choose to be dominant in the situation and just say what you’re thinking). It’s all purely psychological and fucked up, but it’s in our programming to do this whether we want it to or not. You’ll also notice that when you do that, your voice will go up. Whereas, when you are confident, your voice will go down in tone.
    Also, I think that in our society there is a huge social stigma against people of intelligence. Nobody wants to be Screech. Nobody wants to be Andrea from 90210. No matter how many episodes of any given television show we’ve seen with the “Be yourself” message, we always knew that the following week they would be right back to treating the smart and outspoken like crap.

    As for the apologies galore, it’s okay to apologize. But as Heather so brilliantly stated, more women need to think about this habit. Genuinely analyze what it is that you’re apologizing for and evaluate it. If a waiter brings you something that the kitchen fucked up, I think it’s okay to apologize to the waiter for the fact that he now has to do more work because of the kitchen’s fuck up. If you’re apologizing out of empathy, I think it’s great and is just good manners and more people should do it. But if you’re apologizing because you feel guilty, that’s just fucking stupid. Manners and empathy cost you nothing, but needlessly pandering to someone and feeling guilty about it can cost you what you want and is just being dishonest with yourself and other people.

    Just live every day like you’re the classiest Hollywood starlet you can think of (Almie, WWFDD?) and say what you want to say. Being direct and being nice are not mutually exclusive. There is also definitely a time to not be nice. Just be true to yourself and if people think you’re a bitch, who cares? The ones who matter don’t mind, and the ones who mind don’t matter.

    Fuck, that was way longer than I had intended. I’m sorry 😉

    1. Almie Rose Post author

      This is a great comment, I love long comments, I read them and nod along silently and assuredly, like Dr. Oz. But sometimes I get so lost in them I forget to comment back.

      “Nobody wants to be Andrea from 90210.”

      Followed closely by Brandon. Remember when Brandon broke a window to get into Dylan’s house to pick up a gift for his parents because he couldn’t wait for Dylan to get out of the shower, and Dylan, thinking he was a burglar, almost shot him? Fucking idiot.

      1. Tony Archer

        You only remember this because Dylan was in the shower. But yeah, Brandon is also a fucking tool. In fact, I think that Jason Priestley shouldn’t be allowed to call himself a star anymore. He hasn’t done anything good since “Love And Death On Long Island” and that would have been just as amazing without him in it. David Silver has more of a career than Brandon these days, and that’s just sad.

    2. Anonymous

      Tony, you just blew my mind. “Being direct and being nice are not mutually exclusive.” What a brilliant point. I’m writing it in my journal, and sharing it with my therapist. Thank you!

  12. d

    I usually douche it up and say “Seacrest Out” before I turn around and walk away.

    I don’t think this is a gender-specific thing, though. Men are just as disingenuous as women.

    1. Almie Rose Post author

      But that’s the thing, it’s not about being disingenuous, it comes from a real place of sincerity that we’re not sure why we have.

      I think he stopped saying Seacrest out, that makes me so sad. Glad you are carrying it on!

  13. i_am_remote

    I think this is closely tied to this “I don’t want to decide what to do” habit I’ve notice a lot of girls have. Anyone else notice this? Girlfriends, dates, friends that are girls, girlfriends of other friends… whenever the “what do you want to do?” question comes up (or “what do you want to watch/see” “what do you want to eat” etc.), it’s always a “Oh, whatever”, or a more blunt “I don’t want to decide”. I know most people want to avoid conflict (or responsibility?) but I’ve really noticed this marked shrinking away from sharing an opinion.

    Let me put it out there: Ladies, we want your input. Speak up.

    1. Almie Rose Post author

      I DO THIS ALL THE TIME. But it’s more because I am indecisive as fuck and I really don’t care. My thing is tell me where to go and when to show up and I’ll do it. You do the work, I’ll be there. Unless it’s somewhere I hate.

  14. Emma Aubry

    So I totally read this the first time and was like, “Ha, I don’t do that. Good thing I’m a bitch,” and then last night I went out and some dude on the train was trying to tell me I had makeup on my face (I have a freckle under my eye that people always think is makeup) and I was like, “Nah, it’s a freckle, sorry,” and he was like, “Why are you sorry?” and I was like GAH!

    Cool story right? Telling it. At. Parties.

    1. Almie Rose Post author

      Aahahaha YES. This is EXACTLY the kind of instance I’m referring to. Thank you for sharing!

  15. Sss

    I do this a fair amount but not as much as being honest. Currently, I am debating between the two. The true me is a very honest, blunt person but I’m starting to realize it has a larger effect on friendships and relationships then I thought. I appreciate when someone is honest and blunt to me, but I don’t think that feeling is mutual for most people. I guess, the apologetic personality comes from insecurity and wanting to be well-liked yet it gets tiresome. I get tired of apologizing, or feeling like I have to apologize, for being who I am and maybe that’s something to say about society. Does being nice have to change who you are? Why does honesty not seem like best policy (because no one really adheres to this)? I could go into more depth, but this is already a long comment.

    Cheers to this post!

    1. Sss

      I re-read my comment and found it confusing. So to clarify, maybe the whole being sorry thing is because most people don’t want to hear the truth OR want to only hear it from certain people OR only when they feel like it. Bottom line, I think it might come down to people being insecure. Cause, like the above comments have stated, you run the risk of being called a bitch if you state something unapologetically and I think a lot of people just want to be well-liked. So, I think changing that mindset of labeling someone who’s outspoken as a bitch might help to change this trend.

      I totally did not avoid making a long comment. Oh wellz

      1. Almie Rose Post author


        1. Almie Rose Post author

          I mean I dig you as far as the “run the risk of being called a bitch” does, not the whole avoiding long comments thing, WRITE NOVELS ON MY BLOG, I LOVE AND WELCOME DISCUSSION!

          1. Tony Archer

            I’m glad you said this. And here I thought I was did something wrong or was just fucking boring.

          2. Tony Archer

            I’m glad you said this. And here I thought I was doing something wrong or was just fucking boring.

  16. Juz

    I’m a dude and I do this. Jees.
    Thanks for the post. I’m going to put it these words into action.

  17. Claire

    Apparently you find women use less firm language in emails and workplace too. Similarly, they’re not so likely to ask for a pay rise. That last point’s really unrelated but the first part someone mentioned in some form of stat form last year and it’s stuck in my head about how I write my emails.

    1. Almie Rose Post author

      That makes sense. I mean it doesn’t, but in this context it does. I subtly apologize in emails too, ugh. I’m gonna make a change, for once in my life. BRB, looking at the woman in the mirror.

  18. Gina

    I used to be that kind of person: the kind of girl who would always apologize for things that weren’t her fault. Passive and never aggressive. Always timid and never brave enough to stand up for herself.

    Thankfully along with growing up and maturity came the realization that things are not ALWAYS my fault, and I should really stop apologizing for those things. I needed a backbone desperately, and I finally found one.

    I’m so glad I’m not that kind of person anymore.

  19. Leannet

    Just wanted to let you know that ever since I read this post a few weeks ago, I’ve deliberately made an effort to stop wasting sorries. I’ve noticed that this has actually made me feel better.
    Your whole blog has contributed to helping me become a much cooler person and a more confident woman. Thank you, Almie! Keep writing!

    1. Almie Rose Post author

      That makes me so happy to hear!! That is one of the biggest compliments I could get. Thank YOU.

  20. Marian

    I am so glad I came across this post. I am entirely too apologetic and I hate it about myself. The words “I’m sorry” escape my mouth in the most ridiculous situations. I constantly apologize for things that are entirely not my fault. It’s a terrible habit.
    Exibit (A): A lady ran into me with her cart in the supermarket, and my natural reaction was to say “woops, sorry!” after SHE hit ME. Shockingly, she was not apologetic in the least! She acknowledged my apology with an “mmm hmmm” and nodded her head in indignation as if she was entitled to it! I mean, what is wrong with this picture?

    Yesterday, I tried something. Some guy and I bumped into each other accidentally, and I held back the impulse to apologize. I decided to not say anything to see what would happen. He grumbled an apology and I said “no problem!” It felt so good! But, it was definitely half my fault. Maybe it was the wrong time to make my first baby step towards being less apologetic. Oh well.

    1. Almie Rose Post author

      Oh my GOD the first example, I’ve done that and I hate myself for it! It’s that moment when you realize no wait YOU should be the one apologizing to ME.

      But I’m glad you found this post! yay! We’ll all work on it.

  21. Simone

    Almie, I love you <3

    (That was originally my entire comment, but when I saw people above me had left thoughtful comments, I figured I should expand a little)

    Apologising just out of habit might not seem like a big deal, but it's such a slippery slope. I'm at the point where, because it's such habit, I'm construing things that I do as being "rude" when they're totally not – e.g. not replying to a text message that doesn't need a reply. As a result, I've become the serial "last-text-sender" and it's such a crap feeling! It's also really hard to shake off the feeling that I'm being a bitch, which leads to the incessant apologising.

    Anyway, back to my original point – you're totes awesome, & I love your work :)

  22. Andy

    I really enjoyed this post. Thanks for addressing this issue!

    I’m in the same boat as Tony Archer. I’m a guy who also grew up close to women throughout his life, and I definitely share a common desire to avoid conflict in almost every situation. I think part of the mentality extends to some of the reasons I and others have gotten into the performance/entertainment – we have a deep-rooted desire for other people to like us and what we do. There’s a kind of “high” you get when you’re sharing what you love with other people. However, experiencing this kind of elation also means if can be difficult to deal with things when it all goes awry. It’s one thing to fail to connect with everyone (you can’t please everybody), but the thought of seriously disappointing someone and/or upsetting them can be really difficult to deal with.

    Just last weekend I found myself in a situation where I thought a bartender shortchanged me. I decided I’d actually try to hold my ground (I’m a student and can’t really afford to lose even $5 if I can avoid it) and approach him about it. Of course, he decides to hold his ground too. Next thing I know the other female bartender is dragged into things and ends up having to call their manager down to deal with it. We she and I exchange words it’s just a cluster-fuck of apologizing from both sides. The manger eventually shows up, counts the cash in the till (it was slow night) and tells me it all works out to be even. So now I feel like shit (even though I’m still sure I payed with a $10 and not a $5 bill – I checked twice before I handed my cash over) and I can’t see any convincing argument against his numbers. So I babble some combination of apology and appreciation for how they handled the situation. The whole time I’m trying to deal with a kind of conflict with a “avoid conflict attitude”. What a mess, huh? I’ve never understood how other people manage to be stubborn. The few times I try, I’m presented with evidence to convince me otherwise and I feel terrible and go back to apologizing/conflict resolution mode.

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  26. Julia

    This is def a widespread woman thing – we apologize ALL the time, without even thinking about it! But it’s also an American thing. We tend to use “sorry” as “excuse me” and “please” and a ton of other little words, and I have my foreign friends constantly remarking on that reflex in Americans. Just two more cents!

  27. Kelly L

    I don’t know how I ended up here but OMG YES. WHY DO WE DO THIS?! It’s stupid. It’s stupid and I know I am REALLY guilty of it (but I also know it’s because all I want is for people to like me) and I’m actually kind of annoyed at myself, the more I think about it. WTF, SELF?

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  30. Anonymous

    At age 51, I am guilty of this too. I am working on it. Today I was at a Barnes & Noble Cafe. There was a woman and her daughter in front of me in line, and they hadn’t decided on their choices, so offered to let me go ahead of them. I told them what I was getting and that it was good. The clerk, who was squatting with his back to us, stocking a refrigerator, heard me and thought I was talking to him. (I am not that rude, nor was I in such a hurry that I couldn’t or wouldn’t wait for him to stand and address me). He said something, which I didn’t understand, and when he stood to talk to me, I realized he thought I’d been talking to him. I placed my order and went to my table to wait. Once I had my sandwich, I felt an overwhelming need to go back and tell him I was sorry, I wasn’t talking to him but to the woman and her daughter. I had to stop myself several times from doing it. I had nothing to apologize for. I hadn’t spoken to him inappropriately. It was his misunderstanding and therefore his problem. Fortunately, this very issue was addressed both in my counseling session earlier in the day, and in the book I purchased along with my meal. It is hard. Being southern, I was taught to be super nice. Being and adult child of an alcoholic, I learned early to be pleasing. Bless you, JD, my dear therapist, for helping me see what is my problem, and what is someone else’s.

  31. Allyson

    I know this is an old post, but this really struck an interesting chord with me.

    I don’t (or didn’t) have this problem, I had the opposite, I guess. I am pretty honest and straightforward with my thoughts, don’t sugarcoat things, and state my opinions confidently & authoritatively… and people tend to HATE it.

    Sure, once people get used to it, they are okay with it, though even my family & boyfriend tell me I am too blunt sometimes. But people usually find it extremely off-putting. I have been called a bitch more times than I can count! People often actively dislike me upon meeting me, and it usually takes several encounters before I even get to a neutral level. I’ve noticed myself being more apologetic more and more, because honestly, who wants to be disliked by perfect strangers?

    I know that there have been some comments about men being overly apologetic, but I believe that my tone & my bluntness are pretty much in line with many of my male friends. None of them are labeled a “dick”. Instead they are “witty, or funny, or sarcastic”. Lots of people might be overly apologetic, but I don’t think speaking confidently is punished or disliked as much in men. It’s frustrating, and I’m not sure what to do. I don’t need tons of friends or fawning admirers, but I definitely don’t want to have to work against negative perceptions of me right off the bat.

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