Dr. Wendy Walsh

Dr. Wendy Walsh

Dr. Wendy Walsh holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and teaches at California State University. She does not hold a license to practice therapy....Full Bio

 

How to Deal With Betrayal

Devastated Woman Finding Out Cheating Husband has Secret Affair

Photo: Getty Images

There are different types of relationship betrayal.

1. Romantic Betrayal: Between 30% and 60% of those who experienced romantic betrayal showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety. Betrayal trauma can also affect self-esteem, lead to distrust in relationships and mental health challenges.

2. Friendship Betrayal: When a friend crosses the line, their betrayal can be devastating because it threatens a sense of belonging. So, it makes sense that a person might not be as open to future friendships after such a hurt.

3. Family Betrayal: Family love is the foundation for your secure attachments. For infants and young children who rely on caregivers emotionally and physically, a lack of care can be a form of betrayal. Not having foundational nurturing can lead to long-term damage.

How to Cope With Feelings of Betrayal While it’s challenging to manage your feelings after a betrayal, how do you move on and heal?

1. Acknowledge the betrayal. The first step is to acknowledge the situation and that the betrayal happened. Go through the process to clarify and accept, rather than be in denial.

2. Sit with your feelings. It’s perfectly reasonable to feel anger, disappointment, shame, or emotional pain. It’s helpful to name your emotions, too. After all, an intimate bond has been broken so it’s reasonable to feel these things. After a while, though, you shouldn’t be immersed in negative feelings. That includes self-pity and regret.

3. Reflect on how your relationship was before the betrayal. Be honest with yourself. While what happened isn’t your fault, did you inadvertently play a role or contribute in some way? This isn’t about blaming yourself, but objectively looking at the big picture. Were you both moving in different directions anyway? Take a look at what the relationship provided you with. Did it add value or remove value from your life?

4. Consider taking a break. If you feel that the relationship is salvageable, you can decide to take a break from the person who betrayed you. This can help you gain more clarity about the situation. You can also use this time to set any boundaries and address what may need to change in the relationship.

5. Take time to grieve. Know that it’s OK to grieve. The relationship is now changed whether you’re seeking to repair it or let it go.

6. Practice self-compassion. Recognize your own bravery and that you discovered more about yourself and life. Betrayal can lead to growth, wisdom, and maturity.

For more information check out Very Well Mind.


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