Answering Girls’ Questions About Relational Aggression: Apologies, Part 2


 Click Here to Read Part 1

“What do I do when I keep saying I’m sorry, but my friend won’t forgive me? Sometimes I don’t even know what I did wrong!”

In this article I explore the way some girls manipulate apologies by feigning hurt or sadness to control the girls who allow them to do so.

Females and Apologizing

 Females have a tendency to apologize too much.  When someone bumps into us, we are inclined to apologize for being in someone’s way.  If our kids forget to take their lunches to school, we apologize for not noticing as they raced through the door without their lunch boxes.  And if someone has hurt feelings, we rack our brains to figure out what we might have done to cause their pain.  Is it any wonder then that girls apologize to friends who hold them hostage through the manipulation of apologies?

It’s All About Connections

This is oh-so-common in girls’ world, so let’s look at it through the lens of connections.  The female brain seeks connections to others because of its organic hard wiring.  Let’s see how this plays out with elementary or junior high school girls.

A Typical Story

Girl A and Girl B are a part of a larger friendship group.  Girl A has been bossy and hurtful to Girl B.  Girl A’s intention is to separate herself from the person who causes her pain.

Girl B – I don’t want to be friends with you anymore.  You’re mean! 

Girl A (beginning to cry) –That’s not true!

Girl B – It is too!  (She walks away from Girl A).

Girl A begins crying harder.  The other girls in the group notice this.  They approach her and listen to her story about Girl B not wanting to be friends with her.  The group of girls approach Girl B and admonish her for hurting Girl A’s feelings.  Girl A returns to Girl B to apologize.

Analysis of the Situation

All of the girls in this scenario were motivated by their need for connections. 

Girl A wanted either to stay connected to Girl B or strengthen her connection with the group.  She cried to manipulate an outcome.  The crying could have been authentic due to upset feelings, but the outcome desired was a connection.  A girl who learns to use this powerful manipulation technique to her advantage often is able to get what she wants.  Unfortunately for her, however, she risks becoming unable to ask directly for what she needs.  Crying or blaming others lasts only as long as the group is unaware of her MO.  This girl eventually may only become capable of surface relationships, need to change friends or switch jobs frequently, or become a leader through the abuse of power at the expense of others.

Girl B wanted to disconnect from Girl A, but her desire for group connection was much stronger than her need to unhook from an undesirable relationship.  The ultimate hope for Girl B is to realize her needs won’t always be compatible with a group’s need for cohesiveness, and it’s OK to leave a group that is hurtful or unhealthy.  The best-case scenario for this girl is to come to understand that group membership needn’t supersede her need for health, safety, well-being, or happiness.  The worst outcome is that this girl will stay in abusive relationships.

The Group saw Girl B’s behavior – as explained by Girl A – as divisive.  It caused ripples in group cohesiveness.  Of course, if the girls had waited to listen to both sides of the story, the outcome may have been different.  The pressure to change or apologize could have been transferred to Girl A.  Groups usually tend to the greatest reaction first, though.  They act first and ask questions later.  Group cohesiveness at all costs creates a tendency to overlook and undervalue individuals’ needs.  This can lead to reality blindness and the loss of thinking for oneself.  Girls who only follow the crowd are, well, only followers.  Opportunities to become transformational leaders and creative thinkers become slimmer.

Back to the Question

 So, how can we help girls who keep apologizing even when they know there is nothing for which to apologize?  There’s a 1, 2, 3 answer.  Teach them to:

  1. Ask questions to learn the other person’s perspective.
  2. Honestly examine their behaviors to determine whether they own part of the problem.
  3. Trust their personal power guidance system, listen to their heart or gut and act accordingly, and own their behavior only.

 How Expensive is This Friendship?

Taking responsibility for someone’s hurt when you didn’t cause it doesn’t help anyone.  It’s a way to stay stuck for both parties involved.  Apologizing for a hurt you did not cause in order to keep a friend or group acceptance is very expensive.  It costs you your self-respect by holding you a prisoner of someone else’s wants and needs by sacrificing your own.  Please help the girls in your life to understand this.

© 2011 A Way Through, LLC 

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish A Way Through, LLC’s Guiding Girls ezine. If you’re ready to guide girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships, get your FREE mini audio workshop and ongoing tips now at


  1. Diane McCully says:

    Please continue to send these insights on girl relationships.
    thank you

  2. Jane Balvanz says:


    We absolutely will! Thank you!


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