Some Questions to Consider if You’ve Been Betrayed


It’s difficult to know what’s the right thing to do after you’ve learned that your partner has betrayed you. Should you try again, or should leave and walk away? Not all relationships can (or should) be saved. And deciding the right course is extremely difficult.

Really, this is a decision that only you can make. And it’s wise to take your time, and decide what’s right for you. Don’t let your friends and family influence you too much.

So, what sorts of things should you take into account? Below are some questions that might help with this decision:

1. Is your partner willing to do the work you view as being crucial for recovery (both his recovery and your recovery)?

2. Do you feel he really ‘gets’ how hurt and traumatized you are? Does it upset him to see the pain suffering he’s caused? Or does he seem detached, and unaffected by your feelings?

3. Actions count much more than words. This is absolutely crucial. What exactly is he doing to show he’s different now? What steps has he been taking to deal with the temptations?

4. Do you feel this Is this enough? What else would help to rebuild trust?

5. Do you still want him in your life? This is a really crucial question. Even if he works on changing you might feel that it’s too late. Perhaps you can’t respect him after everything he’s done.

6. Do you enjoy his company? Would you miss him if you parted?

7. Can you imagine being close and intimate again? Perhaps you cannot picture having sex with him again.

8. What are the benefits of staying in the marriage? (You have a history together; your lives are deeply intertwined; you want to stay together for the sake of the children; you want to stay together because you actually still love him, and so on.)

9. What are the benefits of leaving the marriage? (You don’t have to deal with trust related to him possibly betraying you again; it would be easier to deal with all the fall-out on your own; you don’t want to be with someone who hurt you so badly; you would rather start again with someone else, and so on.)    

10. If you look back at your life 10 years from now, what different scenarios can you envisage? Which of those is the most likely to be the real scenario? Which would you choose, and why? Do you want to take a risk, and why? Do you think it’s wise to take a risk, and why?

Other readers may be able to add some other questions that could help you decide the right pathway for you.

But whatever you decide, please be kind to yourself, and make sure that any boundaries are respected and adhered to.          

You are not Alone


Betrayal … The details of our stories might be different but the pain we experience is the same.”

Sometimes we feel so isolated and alone.

Cut off by our pain.

Left to cope, all on our own.

But always remember you are not alone.

It is true – your experience is personal and unique.

But we get what it is like, for we understand that pain.

We have walked the road you’re on.

We have stared into the night.

We have felt the walls close in.

We have cried out in despair.

We know exactly how it feels when your future disappears.

When the past is all torn up.

And your truth become a lie …

We are here, and we care.

Please believe you’re not alone.

Don’t give up. You are strong.

We are with you on the road.

Boundaries 101


“She set her boundaries and rebuilt her life.”

What might healthy boundaries look like to you, if your partner has betrayed you in the past? Perhaps it includes some of the following:

1. Having your partner or spouse see a counsellor or therapist?

2. Requiring your partner or spouse to have an accountability partner?

3. You being the one who has administrative rights for the family computer?

4. Having all the passwords to his laptop, phone and other devices?

5. Having him remove all dating apps, and close down any accounts he has with companies like Ashley Maddison?

6. Being able to check his messages and texts anytime you want to?

7. Having access to all bank (and credit card) accounts – and going through statements together each month?

8. Having him accountable for his time so you know where he is, who he is with, and what he is doing, anytime you are apart?

9. To break all contact with (including ‘unfriend’) anyone he has previously dated/ had a relationship with?

10. For him to tell you if someone from a previous relationship ever tries to contact him again?

There are other boundaries you might want to put in place, specific to your partner, or to your relationship. Feel free to include these in the comments below.

Also, you will want to think about the way you’re going to respond if these boundaries and broken, and especially more than once.

The key thing is: you absolutely need to feel safe. Otherwise, that sense of trust can never really be rebuilt.

So don’t be hesitant to ask for what you feel you want and need. For having boundaries is crucial when you’ve been betrayed.

Boundaries are crucial. They are at the heart of every healthy relationship.”

“First, Do No Harm”


Doctors everywhere uphold the Hippocratic Oath:

Primum non nocere: “First, do no harm.”

And when you’re offering up your body into someone else’s hands, and trusting them to treat it with great tenderness and care, then “First, do no harm” makes perfect, rational sense.

For you’re making yourself vulnerable, and taking a great risk. Their actions and decisions can have life-changing effects.

Of course, doctors are just human, and they can’t fix everything.

But saying “they won’t harm us” is a crucial starting place.

How else can we feel safe, and freely trust ourselves to them?

What About Other Relationships?

Perhaps we should adhere to this in all relationships. It’s easy to do harm, and wound – quite unintentionally.  

And where this matters most is in our close relationships, especially with our spouses, or with those who share our lives.

We’re trusting them with everything – all aspects of our health, our reputation, self-esteem and, yes, our peace of mind.

This isn’t a small matter; we are taking a huge risk.

But we believe they’re safe, and they would never injure us.

The Impact of Betrayal

And that is why betrayal feels like twisting in the knife. We offered them ourselves; we offered everything we were.

How could they be so cruel; how could they trash this sacred trust?

We thought they would be faithful; that they’d love and care for us.

Primum Non Nocere

If only – like physicians – they had taken seriously the fact that we had trusted them when we had tied the knot.

If only they had cared enough to put our welfare first.

If only they’d been guided by the the Hippocratic Oath, and acted on the principle: “First, do no harm.”

Betrayal Trauma

What is betrayal trauma?

I think the following description sums it up pretty well[1]:

You certainly know it when you experience it. It is a gut-wrenching experience, a searing knife into your heart. You feel it before you even think about it. Then, when you start thinking about it, it plagues you day and night.

Betrayal is treachery, deception, and violated trust. It can appear as a broken promise, duplicity, lies, sexual affairs, and even affairs of the heart. The injury is so great that some people seem to never recover.” 

Betrayal is a trauma like no other trauma because it occurs in relationship.

It takes time to trust a person.

To weigh up who they are.

To take them at face value when they tell us that they care.

We watch the way they treat us.

We look for all the signs that indicate they’re safe.

That they’re consistent.

Genuine.


And when you trust a person you slowly drop your guard.

You let them see the part of you that’s hidden from the world.

This is a very sacred trust.

It is isn’t given easily.

You don’t give it to someone who is going to break your heart.


“Betrayal represents a traumatic death—not of a person, but of a relationship.”  

Betrayal marks the end of this ‘naïve’ relationship.

It shouldn’t be this way. We’re meant to form attachment bonds.

But once that trust is broken, life can never be the same.

You can’t turn back the clock.

Pretend that everything’s the same.


It’s true. We can rebuild. And over time we may forgive.

But always there’s the memory, and the truth of what they did.

Our brain has stored the trauma.

And the faded scars remain.

I wish that it was different

But betrayal changes things.


[1] https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/when-disaster-strikes-inside-disaster-psychology/201806/the-trauma-intimate-partner-betrayal

Quote of the Day


Trust me when I say that I know how it feels to cry in the shower so that no-one can hear you.

And having to wait for everyone to fall asleep so you can fall apart.

For everything to hurt so badly that you can’t see a way out.

I know exactly how it feels.

But I also know that there is always hope and that the tide always turns.

Hang in there, and know that you are not alone.”

– Ella Hicks


Beautiful words.

Take them to heart.

Hold on to hope.

You are not alone.

He Loves Me; He Loves Me Not

When you love someone, you protect them from pain. You don’t become the cause of it.”

You were right to want the person you loved to care for you, and protect you from harm.

That is the very essence of love.

You trust them because you think they are trustworthy.

You think they are safe.

You think you matter to them.

You think your well-being matters to them.

Your happiness.

Your emotional, mental and physical health.

You think they care about you in the same way you care about them.


Real genuine love is gentle and kind.

It is loyal.

Steadfast.

Faithful.

True.

It doesn’t injure.

It doesn’t destroy.

It doesn’t gaslight.

It doesn’t deceive.


So weep for yourself, and weep for your wounds

And weep for the trust that was trashed and betrayed.

Let the grief you express be the start of your healing.

This is the way you must love yourself.

You must deeply and tenderly love yourself.

Does Betrayal Change How You Feel About Your Spouse?

pink sparkly rose

“Does betrayal change how you feel about your spouse?”

I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that question.

It is clear. Life can never be the same again. So, of course, it changes the relationship.

It also changes how you feel about your spouse.

Everyone is different in the changes they might list; but below are five areas I’d definitely include:

1. Betrayal leads to a loss of respect: Most of us respected our partner or spouse. After all, we chose them, and we fell in love with them. There was something we were drawn to. There was something we admired. There was something that was more than just chemistry, or sex.

However, respect disappears in the blink of an eye when you learn that your partner’s betrayed your trust and love.

2. Betrayal leads to a loss of trust: Trust is destroyed when your partner cheats on you. It’s not just the betrayal. It’s the fact you were deceived.

How on earth can you feel safe if your partner lies to you. In your mind, they’re just a cheat, and you cannot trust their word.

3. Betrayal can unleash hidden feelings of resentment: Typically, we women will juggle many plates. We take care of the family, and stay on top of things. We remember all the birthdays. We buy and wrap the gifts. We take care of appointments. We organize events.

But after a betrayal, we won’t just do it all. And especially when it comes to our partner’s family.

4. We struggle more with anger when we have been betrayed: In the past, when minor issues would annoy or irritate, we’d choose to let them go, or we’d quietly bite our tongue.

But things are different now. We are on a shorter fuse. What else would you expect when they’ve treated you like that.

5. Being affirmed by our partner doesn’t matter much at all: I think it’s fair to say that in the past we might have hoped our partner would have noticed and commented on things – like if we’d bought new clothes, or had cooked a special meal.

But once we’ve been betrayed, we’re indifferent. We don’t care. We’ve no desire to please them. We’re pleasing ourselves now.

“‘It was a mistake,’ you said. But the cruel thing was, it felt like the mistake was mine, for trusting you.”

David Levithan

Dear Self, You are Beautiful

Do not doubt yourself

Do not speak badly of yourself – for the warrior within hears your words and is lessened by them.”

It’s a very sad and painful fact of life that betrayal causes us to doubt ourselves.

We start looking at ourselves with harsh, judgmental eyes.

And we pull ourselves apart, and we focus on ‘what’s wrong’.

We denigrate our body, and attack the way we look.

And we think that we are dull, and lack personality.

You would think that we were trash – how we’ve come to see ourselves –

Through that cracked or shattered mirror that we’re staring into now.

broken glass

But that’s isn’t who we are.

Those distortions are all lies.

We are thoughtful, talented and – it’s true – we’re beautiful.

How I wish we had compassion, and were kinder to ourselves.

How I wish we didn’t feel we were so inadequate.

If only we’d believe – and could really take to heart –

That this isn’t a reflection of our value and our worth.

 

Getting Over the Torment of Betrayal

there are no shortcuts

There are no easy answers for recovering from betrayal. It’s not the kind of thing you get over easily. But I’d like to offer you a few suggestions that might be of help at this difficult time.

1. Try to achieve some degree of detachment. One way of doing this is to try to take yourself out of the picture (temporarily) and to view yourself, and what has happened, as a compassionate and caring ‘outsider’.

2. Admit to yourself there’s a hole in your heart, and allow yourself to grieve over all the different losses. The intense and painful feelings will likely ebb and flow. Allow them to surface. Don’t suppress your emotions. Also, you can’t speed up this process. In the end it will backfire. Instead, you need to experience, and work through, all the feelings.

3. Don’t keep it to yourself. You need support at this time. Maybe try to find someone who’s survived the same betrayal, and who knows what it is like, and is further down the road. We need to feel understood, and to have our story witnessed.

4. Fight off any tendency to blame yourself. It’s natural to think we must have played a part. But it usually has nothing to do with us at all. And that is the truth – even though it’s hard to see when we’ve just been triggered, and our feelings are intense. Keep repeating to yourself that  this isn’t about me. And focus on the good things that others say about you. These are the real facts. Hold on to these truths.

5. Once the shock has diminished (or has worn off a little) try to think about a plan for your recovery. This is best worked through with a counsellor. Here, it is important to remember that time is not a healer. You will need to be both active and deliberate in your healing.

6. Be alert to the danger of idealizing the past, or of completely demonizing the person who’s betrayed you. It’s easy to deceive ourselves, and wrongly start believing that everything was magical before we learned the truth. At the same time, it is common to believe that everything must have been a total lie or some kind of fantasy. Usually, the truth will lie between these two extremes.

7. Try to work towards creating a new tomorrow that is better than today (and maybe better than the past). It doesn’t help for us to fixate on what could or should have been. The past is history now, and we’re on a different page. Please don’t let this bad experience destroy the rest of life.