‘My partner never says sorry – what do I do?’


‘I don’t know if I’m being silly’ (Picture: Neil Webb / Metro.co.uk)

It’s time for The Sex Column, our weekly advice series where we get the experts to resolve your dating dilemmas.

Last week we chatted with someone who missed their kids so much they couldn’t find love.

This time, we’ve got completely different problem our hands. What do you so if your partner refuses to apologise for anything?

Is this an instant red flag? Or is it just a personality flaw that we must look beyond when we want to be with someone?

Let’s see what the experts think.

The problem:

I don’t know if I’m being silly writing in but my partner never says sorry.

I’m always the one who has to apologise or show a gesture of truce and then he eventually thaws out.

‘We had a small upset recently and the next day I finally challenged him and pointed out that he is unable to apologise, which he denied.

‘I asked him for an example of when he has said sorry and he couldn’t give me one.

It’s really tiring and we are great on so many other levels.

What the experts say:

None of this is tedious or silly. Saying sorry is important.

‘It isn’t a small thing and I think you know that,’ says James McConnachie. ‘You’re just not used to having your concerns taken seriously, which is a concern in itself.’

Apologising to another requires insight and courage, and it appears that your partner might lack one or both of these qualities.

‘Saying sorry requires an acknowledgement that you have done something wrong and then an expression of your remorse,’ says

Dr Angharad Rudkin. ‘Either way, he struggles to put himself in the vulnerable position of admitting he isn’t perfect.’

To make more sense of his behaviour, try to understand his childhood. ‘If we experience a great deal of shame when we’re young, we’re unable to develop adequate strategies for managing this emotion,’ says Rudkin.

‘Instead, we develop a “shield” to protect ourselves from further feelings of shame. This shield means we deny any responsibility for wrongdoing and diminish any negative impact of our behaviour. If this is the case for your partner, you can see why you need to tread carefully around his fragile ego.’

When an individual feels inferior, a perceived sense of superiority is an attempt to help them feel better.

‘He has the power here and he’s making sure you don’t,’ says McConnachie. ‘You are now starting to see this emotional coercion and the more you look, I suspect, the more of it you will see – and the more you see, the more wrong it will feel.’
Your childhood might also be a factor in your relationship.

‘Often, we choose partners because, unconsciously, they replicate dynamics from our early lives and perhaps it was hard to get your voice heard or be treated with respect in your family,’ says Rupert Smith.

‘Perhaps you could also work together to identify language he can use to apologise without having to use the word “sorry”,’ Rudkin suggests.

Whether change is possible depends on whether he is wise enough to see it.

‘Only you know whether he is,’ says McConnachie. ‘Because you are changing. Will he?’

The experts

Rupert Smith is an author and counsellor

James McConnachie is the author of Sex (Rough Guides)

Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychologist

Got a sex and dating dilemma?

To get expert advice, send your problem to [email protected]

For more sex and relationships content join Jackie Adedeji and Miranda Kane for our weekly sex positive podcast: Smut Drop. It’s a whole new world of sexpertise where no topic is off limits.

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