In your relationships, you hope that people will be honest, faithful, loyal and trustworthy. There is a certain sense of security inherent in a trustworthy relationship. When you have been betrayed, it affects you internally and externally. You have trouble trusting others, and more importantly you have trouble trusting yourself. When people let you down, it creates a sense of uncertainty.
Betrayal happens to everyone at some point in his or her lives. Betrayal can occur with a spouse, a family member, a friend or a coworker. Most people who experienced betrayal saw the signs, but continued to give that person the benefit of the doubt.
The reality is that people will fail you—due to their own motivations, impulses, stupidities, and rivalries. Approximately 25% of all betrayal occurs with absolutely no forewarning. This is by far the most difficult type of betrayal because it leaves you shellshocked and devastated. However, in most cases of betrayal, there are warning signs that were ignored or minimized.
I worked with a woman who was chronically betrayed by her family. They had badmouthed her and colluded against her. Although she was devastated, she continued to hope that she could rebuild the trust. Many of our sessions were spent breaking through that layer of denial that she could get what she needed from her family. Unfortunately, this woman fell into the “abused child syndrome” .She emotionally wanted to return to her abusive family no matter what the cost to her emotionally.
I am a believer that any relationship deserves another chance, but if a pattern has been established whereby a person multiply betrays you, it is your responsibility to avoid contact with them at any cost.
If your buddy has cheated with your wife and he has a history of unsavory behavior there is no reason to expose yourself to the potential betrayal that lies ahead.
People make honest and unintentional mistakes. In these situations, you must clarify your feelings and expectations, before trust can be rebuilt.
When you have been betrayed:
1. Handle it with integrity: It’s normal to want to retaliate. Don’t stoop to their level.
2. Assess the risk factors: Decide whether you’re going to rebuild trust or end the relationship.
3. Confront: Confrontation is a necessary step in growth. Although some theorists believe that you have the choice to say nothing and walk away, I believe that confrontation increases self-growth and may even assist you in breaking patterns if you fall prone to betrayal-type relationships.
4. Be clear and direct.
5. Set boundaries that keep you safe.
6. Go slow.
It is important for you to assess your relationship with the betrayer. Look at the person’s history. Have there been a lot of chaos, boundary violations, and drama in this person’s previous life? Has the person repeatedly violated smaller boundaries in your life? Perhaps they have shared too much of your personal life, used your credit cards, borrowed your things without asking? If you question the past choices that the betrayer has made- you are likely headed for a rocky road with that person. Is the person generally honest with others? If your partner or friend is telling small white lies there is a good chance that you will also, be a recipient of that type of relationship behavior.
In dealing with betrayal, the most important thing you can do is work on creating trustworthy relationships with people. Don’t ignore the warning signs. Keep your eyes open and trust your gut. Betrayal has much to teach you—not only about others, but also about yourself.