Betrayal: how to overcome broken trust
Whether it’s a friend or a romantic partner, being betrayed by someone close to you is one of life’s most painful experiences. But you can get through it. Rachael Lloyd shares her personal story of overcoming betrayal
My own experience with romantic betrayal was barely a dress rehearsal compared to what many others go through. But it did serve as a useful insight into a trauma that polite society so often relegates to the realm of soap opera.
In my case, it involved my partner and the friend I’d been confiding in most about matters of the heart. Upon learning of their betrayal, I emphatically fled the relationship. Yet I found myself grieving the man whose duplicitous actions had me bursting into tears in supermarkets.
I scratched my way through the following months with good friends, self-care, and therapy. My family fed me with roast chicken and warm hugs on lonely Sunday nights. Thankfully, I discovered recovery is an enlightening process and a chance to reevaluate life.
So, whether you decide to stay with your partner or leave, here is some advice on coping with betrayal.
How to overcome betrayal
Take your time
Expect to feel disorientated for a little while. Betrayal is a shock to the system. Your reality has shifted and it’s normal to question everything you previously believed about the relationship. You might also question who else colluded in the secrecy, and whether you can ever trust anyone again. Rest assured, these feelings will recede, and you will find your feet again.
Stay connected to good people. You’ve been wounded and isolating yourself with Netflix and dark novels will only heighten your sense of being alone. Build a tribe of feel-good friends and relatives. If you feel socially isolated, why not try group therapy or a 12-step fellowship specialising in relationship issues?
Surround yourself with positivity
Stick with the winners. In other words, healthy people. Distance yourself from tactless trolls and gossips. Unfortunately, human nature is such that some people will fix on others’ misfortunes to relieve their own boredom. Don’t concern yourself with empathy vacuums. Detach with grace.
Don’t waste precious time on revenge fantasies. You’re entitled to feel angry. But taking a shovel to his (or her) car or destroying old photos won’t mend a broken heart. Talk it out, go for a run, or sweat it out at hot yoga. You’ll feel better for it.
Be prepared to look at your role in things, even if it seems counter-intuitive. While it might seem logical to blame someone else for causing this pain, we all play the lead role in our own lives. Could it be that you chose to be with someone emotionally unavailable because of your own intimacy issues? If so, now’s the time to heal those challenges.
Try to forgive
It’s natural to vent over betrayal with friends. But in the long-run, resentment can be highly corrosive. Forgiveness is far more healing and leaves you able to move forward with more happiness and optimism.
Finally, have faith. This too shall pass. It might pass like a rhino, but it will pass!
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