Why some men can't say sorry

Just a sentence of three words – I am sorry- yet some men find it difficult to say it.

When we go wrong or our actions cause someone discomfort, harm, emotional distress, or significant inconvenience, we are expected to offer a sincere apology. Apologizing is easily found in the word “Sorry” or in a three-word-sentence, “I am sorry”. Saying “sorry” or “I’m sorry” is a good way of tendering apology for a wrong done. It goes a long way in saving a troubled relationship, deepens understanding, bonds and re-builds friendship.

However, some people – especially men – find it so difficult to apologize even when they’re clearly wrong. The issue here is not that of not feeling sorry but of saying it. Many of these men show remorse and deeply feel sorry for their action or inaction but find it difficult to say “sorry”. Some would rather show it in deeds, like through gifts than open their mouths and say “sorry”.. Interestingly, some women often do realize their men were apologizing even when there were no words spoken. This in a way furthers the say-no-sorry mentality of the men.

…. But why can’t they just say sorry?

“Men must be men!” Most men grew up believing that they must be right all the time. Men are socialized to be winners. They believe they are expected to win all the time. They want to prove that they are the winner, even if they’re in the wrong. This is quite unlike the women, who easily and readily apologize for everything – they’ll even say “I’m sorry” even when they are not wrong or have done no wrong. Women even say sorry without any remorse! Again, some men simply do not like to be wrong. To them, it is a sign of incompetence, weakness of character. They believe that if they admit their mistake or wrongdoing by apologizing or asking for forgiveness, it is an admission of guilt. Many men think that apologizing, especially to the opposite sex (spouses), makes them appear weak thereby diminishing their self-respect.

While some experts say it elicits fundamental fears (either conscious or unconscious) in them, others hold that it is “because they have trouble separating their actions from their character”. This later group explains further: “If they did something bad, they must be bad people; if they were neglectful, they must be fundamentally selfish and uncaring; if they were wrong, they must be ignorant or stupid, etc. Therefore, apologies represent a major threat to their basic sense of identity and self-esteem.”

Experts point out that it takes a lot of good self-esteem and courage for a man to be able to apologize easily. He must be sure of himself, believe in his innate abilities, know that nobody is perfect and be courageous enough to say “sorry”. Insecure men cannot do that. They believe that if they apologize, they would be admitting that they are wrong which they abhor for fear of denting their perceived image and pride. A proud man may find it difficult to apologize, even though deep down inside he knows he is wrong and feels sorry. He is more concerned about hurting his ego.

Some men also do not apologize for fear of rejection. Apologizing becomes a dilemma to most men who expect a negative outcome or confrontation, especially where and when their spouses are involved. They fear that it would always be used against them in the future or even end up in a war of words. Sometimes it’s the fear of rejection that makes an apology so hard to say. The prospect of getting a cold shoulder, not being forgiven or losing a friend can understandably be unsettling, especially when it comes from someone you still love, care about and want to maintain a relationship with. Sometimes people feel that initiating an apology is a sign of weakness. Apologizing make some men feel vulnerable, or feel like they are in danger of losing their power and status. This is where courage and self esteem come in. A man should be able to admit his wrong, apologize…and move forward! We all make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. Taking responsibility or assuming responsibility for our wrongs makes us stronger as it helps remove the guilt-feeling and also relieve the other party of any culpability. Saying sorry has a healing effect on both the wrongdoer and the wronged.