What is Betrayal?
Betrayal occurs when a person you care about lies, cheats on you, abuses you, or harms you because they put themselves first. It causes us to lose trust in the individual, which can be difficult to gain back. While many individuals commit small betrayals, larger betrayals are life-changing for the victim.
A betrayal is typically done within a relationship, but the betrayer is not necessarily a significant other. He or she can be a minister, friend, family member, boss, or anyone else that we regularly interact and depend on.
How do We Handle Betrayal?
While the way we handle betrayal often depends upon the type of harm caused to us, there are some best practices for handling the pain and learning to heal. These include –
1. Express Your Feelings
To begin the recovery process, you must define how the betrayal has made you feel. Possible emotions include angry, sad, frustrated, shocked, frightened disgusted, ashamed, isolated, confused, or insecure. Your feelings will probably alter throughout the healing process, so don’t be surprised when they do.
2. Wait to Retaliate
The most common response to betrayal is a desire to retaliate. When we are in pain, we want that person who caused us pain to suffer the way we are. It gives us a sense of control when we feel ashamed, insecure, and enraged. While it’s certainly tempting to seek revenge, it’s not a good idea to act out when you are in a highly emotional state. Revenge is also a lie in that we think it will make us feel better, but it usually worsens the pain and makes it more difficult to heal.
3. Psychoanalyze the Betrayal
To help speed along the healing process, it can help to analyze the betrayal and consider motives. While it’s not helpful to fall too far into the rabbit hole, it can be therapeutic to reflect upon why the person did what they did. Consider whether the person was being careless, weak, or deliberate. If the act was careless or weak, it will probably be easier to forgive. If the act was deliberate, it will take some more time to process and recover from it.
4. Think About the Relationship
Has this person betrayed you before? Were there warning signs that you possibly ignored? If this person has betrayed you numerous times, then it’s time to consider why you value the relationship and what makes you stay in the situation. Many people make terrible mistakes and learn from them, vowing to never do them again. Other people continue to make the same mistakes over and over, then apologize, and do it again. If this person acted in the latter way, it’s time to consider leaving the relationship and setting some boundaries so you aren’t exposed to a similar situation in the future.
5. Speak to the Person
It’s best to wait until you have reflected and calmed down before speaking to the person who betrayed you. Otherwise, you may say something you later regret. After you have healed from the experience, calmly talking to the person can be a helpful way to further understand the situation. Perhaps this person feels badly about the situation and is happy for the chance to apologize. Or maybe this person tries to turn it around and make you feel bad for the confrontation. Speaking to the person can further help to understand who this person is and why they did what they did, which will assist in the healing process.
6. Speak to a Therapist
If you find yourself unable to cope with this betrayal, it may be time to speak to a neutral third party. A therapist, close friend, or spiritual advisor can teach you coping mechanisms or provide advice that help put the situation in perspective. Because a betrayal can impact our future relationships, it’s essential to get help now before entering a new one. For example, if a significant other had an affair, we may struggle with trusting future spouses. This can dampen our relationships with others and prevent us from getting close unless we receive help for the initial betrayal.
Did someone you love betray you? Are you struggling with heartache, pain, and loneliness? If so, please contact Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at straighttalkcounseling.org. One of our professional counselors would be happy to speak with you.