Why Betrayal is so Devastating

A partner affected by intimate betrayal experiences a level of pain that is indescribable.  The hurt is so profound and complex, partners often wonder if it will ever get better.” Shira Olsen

If you’ve been betrayed then you know that this is true. But why is betrayal so destructive and distressing? Why can’t we just bounce back, and move on with our live? Some reasons for this are summarized below:

1. It comes from people you trust. People you believed were trustworthy. People who had led you to believe that they were trustworthy.

2. It comes from people you have loved, taken a chance with, and made yourself vulnerable to. This is a great privilege. We don’t make ourselves vulnerable to everyone.

3. You were betrayed by someone you treated well. You gave them respect. You gave them your time. You cared about them. You sent the message that they were important and mattered to you. But they sent the message that you weren’t important, and didn’t matter to them.

4. We feel we’ve been taken advantage of. We feel that we’re the kind of people that others think it’s Ok to deceive and treat badly. Perhaps this how others see you – as someone who’s worth less, and as someone who’s not valued. This greatly undermines our sense of self-worth and self-esteem.

6. We feel we can’t trust ourselves to judge who is trustworthy – and not trustworthy – in the future. If you can’t trust yourself, and your own intuition, then who can you trust!  

7. Betrayal undermines our ability to relax and trust other people in the future. At the back at our mind, there’s always this doubt: “Can I trust this person? Are they really who they seem? Will they mistreat, wound or reject me at some point down the line?” This stops us feeling safe, and destroys our peace of mind.

23 thoughts on “Why Betrayal is so Devastating

    • Thanks for the reblog. I think it is hard to imagine just how devastating and life-changing this is if you haven’t gone through it yourself. I’m really sorry it happened to you – not just once, but more than once.

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  1. Number 4 was huge for me. It’s hard to feel good about yourself when someone you love and trust tells you they don’t love you. Plus, at least in my case, my betrayer shifted some of the blame for her choices onto me. It’s hard to see clearly in such a fog of deception. Putting physical and emotional distance between myself and my ex-wife helped to clear up my feelings of low self-worth. If you’re being gas lighted or betrayed, get away from the perpetrator ASAP! They are unlikely to change.

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    • Yes, when you are in the middle of the situation it is hard to know for sure when you’re being gas lighted. Putting physical and emotional (more difficult) distance between yourself and your partner is so very important. As you say, it is really the only way to be able to see yourself more clearly, and to rebuild a healthy self esteem. Thanks for the input David.

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  2. Being betrayed has many different levels

    Being betrayed being cheated in is damaging

    I could if handled that

    What happens when the betrayal involves Your mate having sex with 15 guys

    It changes the way life develops

    Life can be destroyed in a nite

    The other thing is we never know why or how the betrayal happened

    It is a trauma we were not even present

    I did not know loving someone could ruin your life

    For me risking again is impossible

    How do you ever trust in a relationship again

    Some of us never trusted again

    It is protection but is destructive for our life

    My betrayal changed everything

    Trust was impossible

    I was afraid to trust

    I never overcame the fear

    Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you for your blog

        I never told anyone but everyone knew

        After childhood abuse this broke me

        Her life was ruined she snuck away with a guy and then got to drunk and they gangraped her then bragged about it

        For me everytime a future mate was out of my sight I worried

        Went nuts and now I see I was reliving that nite

        One nite without a death.

        Never thought one nite could ruin two lives

        She was never the same

        You think if her

        Betraying me, sneaking out with one guy and look at the price she paid

        She had to experienced first hand

        Must of been terrifying

        She never gave why or how or how many. Just she got drunk and had sex with more than one

        I tried to contact her thru Facebook and she blocked me

        It still lives inside her I see

        Liked by 1 person

      • I was seriously abused as a kid, so I was vulnerable

        I buried this event deep inside

        It just exploded during this quarantine

        My PTSD has just exploded from this event resurfacing

        It feels like it was yesterday now

        We all have our burdens

        We do not get to pick

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I experienced this exact betrayal, but I only found it after the sudden death of my partner less than 2 months ago.
    The points you raise feel so real to me in that I have no chance to go back, no chance to understand, to give him the chance to explain and prove his love.
    No chance to ask him why he didn’t trust me with his desires? What made that sound difficult.

    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG, I am SO sorry. That is absolutely devastating. It’s bad enough to be widowed but to learn this after your partner dies. It turns your whole world, and your understanding of your relationship, upside down …. And not being able to ask those questions, or even have the answers, must be awful. I really feel for you.

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      • Thanks for your words. I’m doing my best to piece it back together without him but the truth is I’m mourning a man I didn’t really know.
        I’ve seen every word he wrote to other women and it doesn’t even sound like him but now it’s part of him in my mind.

        A different perspective I have that others won’t is that I know I can love the new side I found of him because I have to without explanation. He was obviously a flawed man, more than I knew but I am finding myself loving his flaws despite the pain and betrayal that goes with it x

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, the truth is you are mourning a man who only let you know a part of himself. There are likely many reasons why he never told you what he was doing behind your back – possibly shame being one of them, especially if it was an addiction that he could just couldn’t get control over. It could have been a part of himself (from his youth?) that he cut off and denied even to himself. If that’s the case, he may have felt he was being ‘the real person’ when he was you. The hardest part right now is you can’t ask him about it. And it really complicates the grieving process.

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