Ask us – Sexual Betrayal: A Taboo Topic

In this post we will briefly answer a question that was asked by one of our clients. Here is today’s question:

Why is experiencing sexual betrayal such an isolating experience? It feels there is no-one who really understands. If I’d been bereaved, or in a car accident, I know that lots of people would offer me support. Why is this so different?

There could be a number of possible answers to this question. Here are a few of my thoughts on the matter …

1. Committed intimate relationships are attachment relationships. Apart from the relationship we form with our primary caregivers (usually our parents), these are the closest relationships we form.

When we enter into a committed relationship with someone, we automatically expect that person to be trustworthy, safe, reliable and honest. We expect them to love us, care for us, and be there for us.  We don’t expect them to hurt and cause us harm.

In fact, we simply cannot function, and lead a normal life, if we’re constantly assessing if our partner’s still trustworthy.

Thus, when we learn that a relative or friend has been betrayed (and sexual betrayal is a serious betrayal), it is deeply disturbing and unsettling for us.

We realize we’re no different – so we too could be deceived. This is threatening and scary – so we want to keep our distance.

In a way, this strong reaction is a form of self-protection.

2. Another factor that might play into the way people react, is a fear of the emotions that a trauma can stir up.

People can imagine how they’d feel if it was them. They can picture the strong feelings, and how they might react. Again, this is unsettling to contemplate.

Hence, the safest thing to do, is to simply walk away. This keeps things superficial, and under their control.  

Note: Sometimes our friends would like to help is, but they feel they’re at a loss. They don’t know what to say so they feel inadequate. As a result, they just say nothing, and act like nothing’s changed.

3. A third possibility relates to the fact that many have experienced a trauma in their past. Hence, our pain and trauma symptoms now remind them of their own. And they don’t want to face it. They would rather bury it. Hence, they cope with their discomfort by distancing themselves. That way, they can pretend that everything in life is fine (at least for them).

9 thoughts on “Ask us – Sexual Betrayal: A Taboo Topic

  1. I would not know what to say specific to that type of betrayal.The only thing I could get close enough to understanding would be a person cheating on me. Sexual betrayal is something that would be hard to talk about because I wouldn’t want to add to the pain, don’t know what to say or would not knoiw how to not share my thoughts on the betrayal. You know what I mean. HAHA, I’m tired this morning. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very plausible explanations indeed. Also every relationship is so unique, it’s hard to imagine.
    As friends we’re also maybe quick to judge. ‘This wouldn’t happen to me’ ‘I would have seen it coming’ or ‘No, wonder, with that boyfriend!’ And coming to terms with our own anxiety in that moment it’s difficult to react to someone else’s story.
    What can make it easier is just to listen to feelings that our friends are expressing. The feeling of disappointment, losing the mutual future and self-doubt are so common that we can easily find a common theme.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, it’s hard to imagine, and it often creates anxiety as we rarely think our partner would hurt us so deeply. We genuinely believe they are trustworthy. Yes, just listening to the feelings is the most helpful and therapeutic thing we can do. Thanks so much for reading and commenting 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow. Cheating on me ! Strange human reaction? That statement is self opinion. And what is the word opinion in a court of law deemed to be. Look up the dictionary. Humanity is something that you should learn . NO HUMAN OWNS ANY RIGHTS TO JUDGE others until you walk in their shoes. Why do people use the word cheat. Ask yourself do you own other people. When you learn all these aspects of ownership of life are not your possessions the would there be no power struggles within relatships falling apart at the seams . Love yourself first. Shalom. Respect for your writings . Wisdom shines through between the lines Master of the pen


  4. As a society we are in love w/ the idea of love, but have very little concept of the many challenges real love involves. Coming face to face w/ shattering betrayal threatens the fantasy that we all get the chance to ride off into the sunset.

    Liked by 1 person

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