The act of making the "I'm sorry" statement is an important one. It signifies your desire to take responsibility for your actions, or for the way your actions were perceived. This acknowledgment allows you and a friend to move forward and let the past go.
However, the art of the apology is a hard one to master, especially if you're used to doing other things you think either mask the need for an apology or are "as equal" to an apology. Refusing to apologize is a form of denial and can hurt your friendships in the long run. Often, small arguments linger simply because one friend couldn't say the words "I'm sorry" to another.
Sometimes these actions get a pass from a friend, especially one that's known you a long time. With friends who are tired of your inability to say you're sorry, or with new friends, you could very well lose a second chance if you skip out on an apology. Here are some dumb things people do instead of apologize.
Act Extra Nice for a While After a Mistake
Some friends assume that if they goof up, their friend will forgive them if they just act nicer for a while afterward. The reason this doesn't work is that the "nice" actions are then viewed as insincere. What's more, a friend may wonder why you don't behave that nicely all the time.
Buy a Small Gift Without Acknowledging That Anything Is Wrong
Sometimes a friend will goof up, and then the next time they see their friend they'll give a small, "thinking of you" gift that they claim is "just because." Again, the problem here is sincerity. True random acts of kindness gifts mean so much because they come without expectation.
When a friend just wants to do something nice because they're happy to have us in their life, the gift or gesture (no matter how small) means a lot. When they're trying to get us to overlook the fact that they hurt us or made a mistake, the gift (no matter how large) will seem shallow and fake.
Go on the Attack
People who have a particularly hard time apologizing will get annoyed that an apology is expected and then lash out verbally at the person they hurt. Instead of taking responsibility for things, they'll claim that the other person is wrong or just too sensitive. This not only fails to end the current argument, it adds a layer of resentment to the friendship as a whole.
Make a Joke of Their Error
Depending on the friendship, making a joke of things instead of an apology can actually work. Both friends need to have the same sense of humor, and it helps if the person who was wronged knows their friend very well. Chances are, a friend that jokes instead of apologizes has probably apologized properly in the past and keeps their friend's trust in high regard.
However, for newer friendships, a really big issue, or repeated mistakes, a person should just apologize sincerely rather than make a joke.
How Many Times Do You Want Me to Apologize?
Ever heard someone say, "How many times do I have to apologize?" when in fact they haven't apologized at all? This is someone that clearly knows they need to apologize, and feels like their remorse is apology enough.
A friend like this knows what they did and is sorry for it, but can't bring themselves to utter the magical "I'm sorry" words that truly heal after a rift. When a friend does this, you can gently tell them that hearing the words "I'm sorry" means a lot to you in order to forgive and move forward.
Ultimately, anytime there isn't a proper apology there is a chance that the issue will not be resolved, and may surface again at some point in the future. In addition, when one friend won't actually say they are sorry, it leaves the other friend feeling very unimportant and resentful.
If you know your friend is sincere, work with them on how to apologize so you can both strengthen your friendship.