I’ve spent a lot of my adult relationships accepting bullshit apologies. Part of it is just a personal failing of my own: I find it hard to make friends because I’m picky about who I spend my time on and consequently, I will put up with a lot if I think you are cool enough. I’m working on that.
I think, however, that a lot of it is a misunderstanding about the purpose of the apology. It’s taken me a long time to realize why I accept people’s I’m Sorries and then still feel resentful about whatever it is that they did for months, even years after. It’s because many people seem to think an apology is the solution to a problem. You fuck up, you say sorry, and all is forgiven. I used to think that too, thus my massive dissatisfaction. But it ain’t.
An apology is actually just the acknowledgement of a problem that you caused.
Sometimes that acknowledgement is the solution. Quite often, in fact, in the context which many of us see apologies these days: call out culture. If you accidentally insult someone and they call you on it, and then apologize in a way that demonstrates you understand why what you said was offensive, then that should be the end of it. There’s really nothing else you can do for a situation like that and that’s all anyone expects.
Sometimes, an apology is all that you can offer. Some problems cannot be fixed, but an apology is expected nonetheless.
But a lot of time, “sorry” doesn’t cut it. If someone were to break your television, would “sorry” be good enough? Or would you expect them to replace it? I mean, “Sorry” doesn’t do me shit when I can’t watch Orange is the New Black or play Grand Theft Auto V anymore ’cause of you. Even if you don’t exactly have to do anything further, some gesture of effort beyond the words alone is appreciated and sometimes expected.
When you’re apologizing to someone, consider whether or not there are any further actions that you should take to remedy the situation. If you were supposed to have done something, then you need to apologize AND do it if doing it will fix the problem. Likewise, if someone is apologizing to you, don’t just accept it if there’s something else you’re expecting them to do to make things right. Nine times out of ten, they won’t take it upon themselves to do it unless you tell them. And not even then, half the time. That’s when it’s time to reevaluate a person’s value in your life, especially if they apologize for a thing, you accept that apology, and then they do it a-fucking-gain. That indicates a disregard for your needs. Letting them get away with disrespecting your needs only encourages them to take further advantage of your good will.
It’s therefore a matter of self-respect AND public service not indulge people who want to do this shit. That shit don’t do no good for nobody.
It is perhaps worth noting the distinction between compulsive apologists and repeat apologists. Compulsive apologists apologize for shit that don’t even require apologies as a defense mechanism. While that behavior can be annoying, that’s not what I’m all belligerent about and one should be patient and understanding with those people.