" I didn't mean to" " they didn't mean it like that"

What to answer to these two remarks when you know that they are using them just as an excuse?

I’ve used, “Well, now that you know how it can come across, I know that you’ll be more careful in the future. If you’re not, I’ll just have to assume you’re being deliberately hurtful.”

I have been accused of being “over sensitive” a LOT. In some cases, there was truth to it. But that line was also used to gaslight me repeatedly over a number of years to the point where I would actually apologize to the offender because I was hurt when they were a jerk to me.

Thankfully I don’t put up with that crud now. It’s hard to draw lines in the sand (especially if you never did before), but this is one thing I don’t stand for anymore. It’s a nasty excuse that people use to be hurtful, and people who care about you would be more worried about the fact that you are hurt, rather than trying to redirect the blame at you. So if it happens a lot, depending on who it is, you get away from that person.

“Well, you may not have meant it that way, but that’s how it came out. Please be more careful his you say things.”

As one poster said, “Well, now that you know how it can come across, I know that you’ll be more careful in the future. If you’re not, I’ll just have to assume you’re being deliberately hurtful.”

That is a good technique and puts the onus on the individual.

The bigger challenge, in my opinion, is that some people are too accepting of the excuse and giving the other person " a way out" that they may or may not be appropriate. When I work with clients who need to stand up to individuals who use “I didn’t mean it”, I point out that unless that person has been declared incompetent by a court – he or she IS RESPONSIBLE for what they say.

Now, how we deal with that must be done with charity and honesty – and sometimes it means avoiding these people completely or limiting our contact with them

Please explain how you know. How are you sure your own attitude and feelings aren’t imputing motives to someone that are not there?

That said, the rejoinder to the person is that it’s hard to tell which is worse, being deliberately hurtful or being carelessly hurtful.

I don’t think we need to ask the OP how they know. Let’s just respond as if it is a given that they know.

Lately, too many threads have been turned into attacks on the OPs. People insisting they know the OPs situation better than they do. Sometimes, they just need to get an answer, not an interrogation of how they came about their knowledge or how they caused their own misery.

Paul, this was not meant for you specifically, it was just a related rant I suppose, left over from a different thread.:blush:

The previous posters have given good advice, but for the sake of covering all the bases, I will come at it from a different angle.

I find it helpful to at least initially assume good will on the part of the other person. Even the most articulate of us will have times where we do not choose the best words to convey what we actually mean. Plus, since words and phrases can have multiple meanings (or even have different connotations for different people), miscommunication is bound to happen to all of us at some point (and more often for some of us than for others).

I guess what I’m saying is that, while it is certainly possible that the other person is being hurtful (and I’ve known people like that), it’s at least worth asking the question as to whether we are understanding them correctly. So we might choose to ask for clarification first before becoming indignant.

I agree, but I have to add something personal. Most of us will probably agree that we know people that see things from a completely different point of than we do and in the case of these threads we are not trying to be combative (at least I am not) but rather we are trying to show how other people might feel on the same subject. I am guilty of saying “I didn’t mean it like that” many times. I assure you when I find out how I was received I take note and certainly store it away for future reference, but I am never intending to send someone a hidden message to intentionally hurt them.

Just say, “okay” and be more on guard around that person in the future. There is no way to insinuate that someone is lying that makes you look classy.

I understand what you are saying, but I think hurtful comments are sometimes in the eye (ear?) of the beholder. It wasn’t meant as an attack, just a question.

And, ironically, we have engaged in just the kind of discussion this thread is about.

I think for me, there can be a huge difference in how it’s said:

  1. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean it at all that way.”

  2. “I didn’t mean it that way, so this is all your fault.”

In online discussion, sometimes there is the more neutral, 3. “That is not what I said, let me clarify” (which can sometimes be less charitable, as in 4. “That is not what I said, so you’re dumb.”)

I think for most people, #1 doesn’t pose a problem to them. But I think we all know people to whom #2 applies, and they are the difficult ones.

I think this is probably the best. “It did come across as hurtful/critical/demeaning, and I would appreciate if you would be more careful in the future.” There are some people I know who swear up and down they didn’t mean it even though they said the same thing 2 days ago. And last week. And the week before that. Or where it’s transparently obvious that they meant it. (“I never meant to imply you were fat, I just said it looked like you needed a new diet!”)

At some point a simple “Uh-huh, well it was” becomes warranted. It may not be the classiest move ever, but I think it’s better to let the person know that excuse isn’t going to fly anymore.

I agree with this. Sure, there are some people who will run and hide behind #1 when they push too hard with a harsh meaning and someone calls them on it, but as Sun Tzu put it so wisely:

“When you surround the enemy
Always allow them an escape route.
They must see that there is
An alternative to death.”

The Art of War, 2nd century B.C.

Even when someone deserves to be cornered and utterly defeated, that does not mean that it serves the greater good to give them what they deserve. Mercy can be as much a kindness to yourself and the bystanders as to the one receiving the mercy. Besides, the good will you win by being willing to believe the best of someone often serves you and those around you in good stead. People often rise to meet a high expectation of their character, and by the same token often lower themselves to meet a low assessment on the rationale that if they are to be hung in any event, then they may as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb.

You know because today you got called “a ****”’ yesterday it was “a ****” day before yesterday… The question should have been what to answer…when you know it is an excuse to cover their lack of self control in speech, actions, etc." I thought it would be understood…

It’s the same thing when people say hurtful things then cover it up by saying oh I was only joking…

Thank you everyone for the responses those were what I was looking for.

Thanks Irishmom I also think sometimes there’s a lot of OP bashing going on in the forum which prevents people coming forth and seeking help with their problems… You are right sometimes, especially with such a thread as this, one just need to get an answer, that’s all, otherwise it seems we are all in elementary school.

Yes, I think that saying, “Well, now you know. If this comes up again, next time I think it is fair for you to realize the need to think before you speak. Agreed? Good.”

Another possible answer:

“You know, you’ve been saying a lot of hurtful things, and I’ve expressed before that they are hurtful. Even if you didn’t mean it, I find it hurtful that you don’t seem to be taking the time to consider your words and make an effort not to say such things even when I’ve expressed how they come across.”

This still assumes the best and doesn’t call them out on lying - but it clearly points out that the behavior isn’t acceptable.

It would seem that these are excuses for harmful comments. If the person were sorry, they’d apologize and not attempt to place the blame for the situation on the victim of said comments.

It depends on what they are attempting to excuse. If it was a mild offense, and they said this in the course of an apology, I would probably be fine with that. If they were using this to excuse something major, then I would call BS.

Forgive them! :slight_smile:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.