Betrayal in a friendship, relationship, or a marriage can be difficult to overcome.
We lose our sense of safety, security, and trust that we once had for the other person.
Betrayal is often shocking and unexpected. It’s difficult for us to make sense of the betrayal.
If betrayal is not handled well, it can lead to other complications.
Especially when we keep trying to figure out what causes the betrayal and why we are betrayed, not only will that confuse us further, it might also send us into a downward spiral or depression. For some of us, betrayal can also be so traumatic that we might even end up with betrayal trauma.
Perhaps the worst thing about betrayal is not the act of betrayal itself. It’s how to reconcile our love for someone and the hurt feelings we experience from the betrayal. How can we love and trust someone again after being betrayed by them? How do we face them again?
In this blog post, we learn how to get past betrayal and trust again. But first, let delve deeper into the different types of betrayal.
What Are the Different Types of Betrayal?
The word “betrayal” can mean different things to different people. For some, betrayal means lying or withholding information. For others, it could mean breaking promises and not doing the things that they have previously agreed to do.
Yet, to most people, betrayal is only used to describe something more serious such as unfaithfulness, cheating in a relationship and having an affair. Sometimes, betrayal can also be in the form of leaking secrets of others that you are not supposed to share. This can be deemed as disloyalty to some people.
Here are the two types of relationship that we most commonly experience betrayal.
Sometimes, being betrayed by a friend hurts much more than being betrayed by your partner, especially if it’s a double betrayal. In other words, your spouse cheats with your best friend. When the two people you trust the most come together and do something unfaithful to you, this is going to hurt a lot and can be very traumatizing.
The act of betrayal can result from jealousy or selfish reasons.
Your friends might stop you from achieving your dreams or sabotage your love relationship. They want to keep you in a place that is comfortable for them because they are afraid that you will grow so much that they can’t keep up with you. Or they are afraid that with a new job or if you are dating someone, you might not have time for them anymore. So they would rather you stay the same.
Other times, it could be that your trust for your friends is not reciprocated. Your friend would rather listen to some rumor about you instead of trusting your character and defending you. Or it might be that you say nothing but good things about your friends but they gossip about you behind your back.
You can also feel betrayed when your friends take advantage of your kindness. For example, they don’t return you the money that they owe you. Instead, they spent it on items that you perceive as unnecessary.
When it comes to betrayal in intimate relationship and marriage, one word comes to mind — “infidelity”. Infidelity doesn’t always mean sexual affairs.
To some, it could mean romantic or emotional affairs. A couple might not have any emotional intimacy or love for each other anymore. One or both of them might spend more time with another person of the opposite sex secretly and have a stronger emotional bond with him or her than to their partner.
For some people, they might even deem object infidelity or obsession as a form of love betrayal. This happens when one partner focuses too much on their work and hobby that they have no time for their intimate relationship.
They don’t want their partner to know everything.
Other types of betrayal that are commonly seen in marriages and intimate relationships including lying and withholding information. Even though openness and honesty make a good marriage, couples don’t always agree on every single thing and situation. So to avoid conflict or to please their partner, some people might choose to lie or keep secrets from their partner.
One common example is lying about money. You might not want to let your partner know how much you spent on the latest handbag or car. Or you do not want your partner to know that you keep a secret stash of cash for rainy days.
Why Does Betrayal Hurt So Much?
Betrayal is a heavy word to use. When we put a lot of trust in another person, expecting them to do what they promise and treat us kindly, we feel hurt and disappointed when they don’t.
In our mind, the other person is a liar. They deceive us and they take advantage of our trust in them. We suffer a lot because we perceive that the other person intends to hurt us. We might even want to hurt the other person that we once love or take revenge because of the anger that we are experiencing.
There is also an element of shock and self-blame.
When someone close to us betrays us, we don’t get it. We are confused. How is it possible that someone who cares a lot about us do something like this to us? How could they deceive us and make us look like a fool? We have so much faith in the other person that we can’t see why they would betray us.
Sometimes, this means that we end up blaming ourselves for the betrayal instead of being angry with them. We think that we might have done something wrong that causes them to hurt us, so we deserve to be betrayed by them.
Betrayal brings out a lot of unpleasant and difficult emotions such as shame and anger. The closer you are with someone, the harder it is to stomach and accept the betrayal. We might find it difficult to trust others again. But as human, we all have the desire to belong and connect. Without trust, it prevents us from feeling a sense of belonging and connection.
That’s why betrayal hurts so much.
Here’s How to Get Over Betrayal and Trust Again
Healing the Emotional Pain
1. Focus on the act of betrayal, not the betrayer.
As mentioned in the previous section, betrayal hurts so much because we perceive that the other person has the intention to hurt us. We paint a negative image around the betrayer. We think the other person is a liar, a cheater, a manipulative person, and etc.
However, this perception doesn’t help us to deal with betrayal. Instead, it keeps our emotional pain intact via anger and we will find it difficult to let go of our suffering. To get over the betrayal, we need to first separate the act of betrayal (something that we hated) with the betrayer (the person who break our trust).
The betrayer might not have the intention to hurt you.
For example, I have students or parents who engage in other tuition services without telling me that they don’t need my service anymore. I kept their slot for them during the holiday only to realize that they have found another teacher and they don’t notify me in advance. They waited for me to contact them.
If I were to perceive that they do it deliberately, then I will feel rather hurt and angry. But I know that most of the students didn’t want to tell me because they don’t know how to break the news to me. They didn’t want me to hurt my feelings. But what they didn’t realize is that not telling me hurts me more because I could have gotten new students during the holiday. Also, the parents might not have thought in terms of my perspective. They might not be considerate but that doesn’t mean they are malicious.
Focusing on the act instead of judging the person helps to lighten up and reduce the strong, negative feelings towards the betrayal.
2. Don’t blame yourself for the betrayal.
For some of us, when we are reflecting upon the betrayal, we have a tendency to blame ourselves instead. For example, we might think that we are a fool, we are so naive to believe the other person, or it’s our fault that the betrayer act this way.
The truth is the act of betrayal has to do more with the betrayer than it has to do with us. When people cheat on their partners, they are looking for someone else to have their desires filled. You might think that it’s because you are not caring, loving or sexual enough, so they have to seek love somewhere else.
But you are not to be blamed. Yes, perhaps you didn’t satisfy all of your partner’s physical and emotional needs. But if your partner has problems in the relationship, isn’t it his or her responsibility to bring up the issues and have an open discussion with you? If they truly want a healthy relationship with you, shouldn’t they at least let you know where you can do better instead of doing something secretly behind your back?
It’s not your fault if your partner doesn’t wish to communicate with you.
Betrayal is mostly about the betrayer, their character, and how they choose to deal with problems. Communication is a key ingredient in a relationship. But they have an immature way of handling relationship problems. They rather avoid conflicts and choose the easy way out than work things out with you.
Even if the conclusion results in a divorce or breakup, at least both parties decide on the outcome together and will have a mutual understanding. It’s better than hurting each other and having to recover from the pain caused by deceptions. By cheating, the betrayers have decided the direction of the relationship on their own based on their fear of confrontation.
So why are you to be blamed? You were not even involved in the decision-making. You didn’t even have a say.
3. Understand that we all make mistakes.
If we don’t blame the betrayer and we don’t blame ourselves, so who do we blame?
No one! Blaming anyone keeps the emotional pain alive.
You have to understand that sometimes as humans, we don’t even know why we do what we do. We are so unconsciously controlled by our past pain, experiences, and habits that we do things automatically or unintended. Your partner cheats because of the unresolved issues that they have and their lack of awareness or denial of their problems. Cheating is just one of the ways people use to run away from their issues, their sense of unworthiness and shame.
People don’t always do what they say.
Our behaviors are not always consistent.
People usually say what they hope to do, not what they know they can do. You probably have a similar experience with this too. For example, you wanted to go to the gym tomorrow to exercise. But when tomorrow came, you feel that you are too lazy to do so. On the first day, you have good intention to keep fit, but on the second day, you realize that you can’t do it. You are too busy or tired to go to the gym.
This is the same with other people breaking their promises with you. Perhaps at that time when they promise you something, they really intended to do it. They had good intention and hope for the best. But after some days, they realize that they can’t commit to what they have promised. Should they force themselves to do what they don’t want just to fulfill their obligations with you? Isn’t that inauthentic and a form of betrayal to themselves too? And will forcing them to commit make you happy?
Instead of holding onto the pain of betrayal, realize that we all have made the same mistake of over-promising other people things that we can’t do or have acted in ways that hurt others. Understand this will help you to forgive the betrayer and not take things so personally.
Restoring the Trust
4. Let go of your expectations and have standards.
Betrayal has to do a lot with our expectations. What we consider as betrayal depends on our expectations of others. For example, if you feel that your partner should tell you everything, you will feel betrayed if they share information about themselves to their friends and not to you.
On the other hand, if you are okay that your partner doesn’t tell you everything because you also don’t want to share everything to your partner too, then when the same situation occurs, you wouldn’t feel as betrayed.
The more expectations you have on someone, the more hurt you will feel when they don’t do what you expect of them. That’s why we feel more hurt when people close to us betray us, we expect a whole lot more from them and these expectations prevent us from loving the other completely. So learn to let go of your expectations.
However, an expectation is not the same as a standard.
An expectation is external, while a standard is internal. When you said, “I lost someone I thought was my friend”, what you mean is that you expect your friend to have your back, keep their promises, and what you desire of them. In other words, you are giving your power away to the other party. You are letting them choose whether they want to meet your expectations or not.
But having a standard is different. It’s your criteria for selecting your friends. If you hate being lied to and you make that your standard, then anyone who doesn’t make your standard doesn’t get to be your friend, including those who are currently your friends. If they want to be your friend again, they would have to come to you with honesty and show you that you can trust them. It’s their job, not yours. There are plenty of loving and trustworthy friends out there.
So to restore your trust, surround yourself with trustworthy people by setting higher standards.
5. Start by giving trust to events that have low consequences.
Being betrayed by your loved ones and friends hurts a lot. Sometimes, even if you forgive them, it’s not easy to trust the person again because you are afraid that they will betray your trust once more.
Trust is not always about how trustworthy the other person is. You can never be 100% certain that the other person will do what they say.
Your faith in others also depends on your level of lack of trust in yourself. If you don’t trust that you can handle another betrayal or broken promise, it’s difficult to restore your trust for others. You will rather not take risks and expose yourself to potential betrayal because you doubt that you can overcome or survive it again.
Be aware of the consequences you might potentially face.
One way to restore trust in others is to start small. Instead of giving all your trust to another person, trust them to do things that have low consequences i.e. even if they don’t do what they promise, you won’t feel as hurt.
The level of trust you can have for others varies. You can trust a person to be on time or you can trust a person with your deepest secret. If someone is late, you don’t suffer much because all you have wasted is your time. But if someone is to reveal your deepest secret to others, then that will make you feel very vulnerable.
So if you have a problem trusting others, give incremental trust instead and allow yourself to slowly get better at taking bigger risks.
Featured Photo Credit: Larm Rmah