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Is it okay to still be mad after someone apologizes?

Apologies can be complicated. Even when someone says they’re sorry for hurting you, it’s normal to still feel upset, angry, or resentful afterwards. Those feelings don’t always go away immediately. The question is, how long is it okay to stay mad after you receive an apology? There’s no definitive answer, but here are some things to consider.

Why do you feel mad in the first place?

Anger is often a secondary emotion. When someone hurts or offends us, we first feel pain, sadness, embarrassment, fear or another primary feeling. Anger surfaces in response to those feelings. So when someone apologizes, it may ease your primary feelings but not eliminate your anger straight away.

That’s because anger serves a purpose – it energizes us to defend ourselves or correct a situation. It makes us feel powerful in the face of hurt. So even if an apology addresses the initial wound, your mind may hold onto the anger for protection or motivation to change things.

Was it a genuine, robust apology?

Not all apologies are created equal. A quick “I’m sorry” may not feel very satisfying if you were deeply hurt. The more sincere, thoughtful and robust the apology, the easier it is to move past anger.

A strong apology should:

– Specifically acknowledge what happened and the hurt it caused you.

– Accept responsibility and accountability for the actions.

– Express genuine remorse and empathy for your pain.

– Provide appropriate context but not veer into excuses.

– Offer to make amends in some way, without expecting anything from you.

– Assure it won’t happen again, and explain how they’ll avoid repeating the behavior.

If an apology seems flippant, vague, or forced, it’s understandable to remain upset.

How severe was the offense?

Some transgressions cut more deeply than others. If someone betrayed your trust, physically harmed you, or violated an important value, feeling lingering resentment is reasonable. Severe hurts often require time to heal.

You may accept an apology as sincere, but that doesn’t always instantly neutralize intense emotions around major wounds. Give yourself space to process it all.

How’s your relationship history?

Relationships carry baggage. If this person hurt you before, or you have unresolved issues, old wounds can amplify new offenses. Remaining guarded or angry can be a protective response.

Even in strong relationships with no prior hurts, one incident can damage trust. Repairing that takes time, so some resentment after an apology is normal.

Are you actually ready to forgive?

It’s okay to accept an apology without forgiving just yet. Forgiveness is an internal process of letting go of resentment and the desire to punish someone. Apologies can pave the way, but you may not feel prepared to fully pardon the person.

Give yourself time to get there. Extending forgiveness before you’re ready often backfires, breeding more hurt.

How Long Should You Stay Mad After an Apology?

There are no universal rules for when or how to stop feeling angry after an apology. It depends on the situation and people involved. However, some general guidelines can help:

Let your initial anger run its course

In the immediate aftermath of an offense, emotions are raw. Plus, anger motivates us to take action against wrongs. So allowing yourself to experience and express anger initially can be healthy.

Try not to suppress it or force yourself to “get over it” too fast. Give the fire its oxygen, so to speak.

Exactly how long this takes varies. But let your anger naturally taper off somewhat before deciding if you can forgive.

Don’t rush forgiveness

Forgiveness should be voluntary, on your timetable. If someone pressures you to forgive, that likely impedes the process. Forgiveness cannot be forced.

Wait until the anger dissipates naturally and you feel less desire for vengeance. Then you can determine if forgiveness feels possible or wise.

Consider a 1-week minimum

For small hurts, waiting a week before deciding to forgive or let go of anger allows emotions to cool and logic to prevail. If anger remains strong after a week, the wound likely requires more processing. Give it more time.

Bigger betrayals often take much longer to work through – but a week is a decent gauge for minor issues.

Make sure changes stick

If this person hurt you before, or if changes are promised, wait until those changes hold steady before fully dropping anger and extending forgiveness.

Don’t assume after one apology that behavior will be different. Wait to see consistent evidence of improvement over time.

Seek outside help if needed

In some cases – like with severe betrayal, abuse or PTSD – working through anger and forgiveness may require counseling or support groups. If distress persists for months after an apology, consider getting professional guidance.

Focus on internal healing

Ultimately, letting go of justified anger is for your benefit – not the other person’s. So base timing on your healing process. Anger can become toxic over time. But release it when you feel ready, not obligated.

How to Communicate Your Anger After an Apology

Ideally, the hurt party should feel comfortable expressing ongoing anger to the apologizer. Some tips:

Explain you appreciate the apology but still feel hurt

This gives important feedback that the apology, though accepted, requires more healing. Choose words carefully to avoid escalating things.

Share why you’re not ready to forgive yet

This insight can help the other person understand your experience and needs. Just don’t get pressured into premature forgiveness.

If anger resurfaces, don’t suppress it

Occasional flare ups are normal during the healing process. Express anger constructively, not punitively.

Assert any requests respectfully

Anger can motivate us to address issues in the relationship or seek changed behavior. Just take care not to become controlling or vengeful.

Reassure them you’re committed to working through it

This conveys lingering anger isn’t permanent estrangement. You want reconciliation once emotions settle.

Limit venting to what’s truly useful

Some release helps process anger but avoid excessive hostile venting. It can become counterproductive.

When to get help:

If communicating anger seems to prolong or worsen conflicts, seek counseling. Resentment is hard to resolve alone.

Healthy Ways to Vent Anger After an Apology

Bottling up anger can hurt you mentally and physically. To release it safely:

Write in a journal

Recording angry thoughts and feelings can help purge them from your system. Just keep journal private.

Engage in exercise

Working out provides healthy stress relief. The mood boosting endorphins can calm anger.

Share with a trusted friend

Validating friends offer empathy without judgment. Venting to them can feel purifying.

Express it through music or art

Creative outlets like playing instrument, singing, painting or sculpting channel emotions productively.

Seek counseling

Therapists are skilled at guiding you through processing anger in a controlled setting.

Do breath work

Practices like deep breathing, visualization, and meditation calm the mind and body.

Allow yourself some tears

Crying releases pent-up feelings safely. It’s very cathartic.

Give it time and space

Ultimately, anger dissipates naturally if you relax your grip on it. Be patient with yourself.

Unhealthy ways to express anger:

Yelling at the person, name calling, physical violence, passive aggression, excessive venting to multiple people, substance abuse. These prolong conflict.

Signs You’re Ready to Stop Feeling Angry and Forgive

How do you know when enough time has passed after an apology to let go of anger? Consider if:

Thinking about the hurt doesn’t upset you as much

When irritation or pain around the offense lessens, your readiness to forgive grows.

You have less desire to punish the person

If vengeance urges fade and you can see their humanity, forgiveness becomes possible.

You’re able to empathize with their perspective

When you can understand their side, even if you don’t agree with it, forgiveness is near.

You mostly remember the good about the relationship

If you focus on what you appreciate about the person, forgiveness feels right.

The benefits of forgiving outweigh the costs

Ultimately it comes down to a decision that freeing yourself and moving forward will help you more than remaining angry.

You sincerely want reconciliation

If your heart desires restored peace and goodwill, following through on forgiveness is best.

Just don’t force it before you’re ready. Give yourself the time and space needed to process emotions after an apology. The path to forgiveness varies. But when anger subsides and sincerity returns, reconciliation becomes fruitful ground.


Anger serves a purpose after we’re hurt – it protects us and motivates correction. So feeling mad for a period after an apology is normal and expected. Exactly how long resentment lingers depends on the situation. Small issues may resolve in a week or two. Bigger betrayals can take months.

Either way, avoid rushing forgiveness or suppressing lingering anger. Ensure changes are solid and you feel internally ready to make peace. Communicate ongoing hurt feelings constructively. Eventually, anger fades naturally, forgiveness becomes appealing, and relationships can heal stronger than before.