Betrayal: 5 Steps to Help You Move Forward

by eHarmony Staff

Betrayal: 5 Steps to Help You Move Forward

If you’ve recently suffered the sting of betrayal, you probably feel like your life is spinning out of control right now. Between your mind filling with madness and your emotions flipping from outrage to sadness, it’s natural to keep asking, “How could this happen to me?”

You may also be beating yourself up, wondering how a smart, savvy, somewhat idiot-proof individual like you could have gotten so blindsided by someone you trusted and loved. Between the tears, humiliation, and confusion, you may wonder how you’ll ever survive. What follows are five crucial steps to successfully move forward and beat the bite of betrayal. When implemented, you will rise above the pain, and ultimately achieve peace of mind and forgiveness.

Step #1: Practice Forgiveness

If your partner’s betrayal has you trapped in a prison of pain, blame, and resentment, it’s time to forgive yourself so that you can be free from the pain, confusion and anger. Yes, your life has been turned upside down, and yes, betrayal is unconscionably bad behavior. But until you can forgive yourself and at least consider forgiving your partner, your heart, soul, and body will become a toxic receptacle, holding onto all negativity like a sponge. Do yourself a favor, spare yourself months of self-loathing and blame by instead giving yourself the gift of forgiveness. Bear in mind forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. You are not letting the other person off the hook for hurting you, but you are lessening the grip betrayal has over you and allowing greater focus on the many positive points in your life that can help you move forward. Ultimately, practicing forgiveness is the pathway to healing.

Step #2: Self-Worth vs. Blame

Instead of blaming yourself for your partners’ betrayal, appreciate your worth, know you are enough just as you are, and recognize the infidelity or other betrayal had nothing to do with you. On the flip side, if you’re stuck in a cycle of intense anger and blame towards your partner, you need to decide if you can start to let go and rebuild your relationship, or if it’s time to walk away and move on. To help you decide whether to stay or go, you first need to understand the origins of betrayal. Most people who cheat and/or betray in some other way suffer from low self-esteem. They also have a high need for acceptance and approval. If your partner fits this description, you need to decide if you can deal and heal or give your partner the heave ho in order to recover. Either way, it’s essential to stop taking the betrayal personally. Instead, free yourself from the blame game, live in the present, and move forward with productive, positive thoughts. Bask in the knowing that you are not to blame.

Step # 3: Permission to Heal

Instead of punishing yourself and hanging on to the “story” of your betrayal, give yourself permission to heal, starting right this minute. Sound impossible? It’s not. Start by turning down those obsessive thoughts about the past and what can’t be erased. Next, practice self-love, reminding yourself that you are a loving and caring individual who didn’t deserve to be betrayed. Next, start thinking about what you can learn from this agonizing experience. What lessons can you now apply to create a rock solid relationship in the future? Will you listen to your gut, question red flags, and pay attention to warning signs along the way? Will you love yourself enough to only allow in that happy, healthy, and loving relationship you deserve? If betrayal is part of your journey (and like it or not, it is), what enlightening insights can help you heal in the months to come (and hopefully avoid any future betrayals)?

Step #4: Rebuild Trust

While it’s easy to fall into the betrayal trap of massive mistrust towards your partner moving forward, be aware that projecting your fears will not help you heal. If you plan to stay with your partner, you’ll need to focus on rebuilding trust. If you can’t forgive, then don’t waste time staying in the relationship and trying to make your partner pay for their past transgressions. Instead, give yourself the opportunity to pick up the pieces and start again. Start by learning to trust yourself and your life choices. Instead of focusing on your ex and the betrayal (not to mention past relationship disappointments that may be adding up to a mistrust in yourself right about now), think about all the amazing people in your life who you can trust, including yourself. Make a list of ten fantastic choices and decisions you’ve made in the last few years. Reflect on the people who have kept your confidences, honored their word, and stuck by your side. Soon, you’ll be slaying the beast of betrayal and going from victim to victor. Plus, by slowly and steadily rebuilding trust with your partner (or simply with yourself if you leave the relationship), you’re better able to let go of fear, doubt, and insecurity.

Step #5: Don’t Punish Future Partners

Another travesty of betrayal may not present itself until your next relationship. Still, now’s the time to ask yourself if you plan on punishing future partners for your ex’s sins, or if you’ll be strong enough to give them the trust they deserve. For example, if a future date says or does something that triggers a memory of betrayal, instead of treating them unfairly, accusing them of lying, and then pulling away without explanation, why not calmly and courageously express your fears and concerns? If you cop to your insecurities and give your date a chance to hear you out, you’ll maximize your chances of building an open, honest, and successful relationship.

Truth be told, every relationship has its rough patches, but if you proceed with clarity, you’re guaranteed a smoother ride. After a betrayal, it’s all too easy to fall into a funk of doubt, anger, and uncertainty about the future. By working the five steps above, you’re more likely to beat those betrayal blues, and ultimately build a more stable and satisfying future. When in doubt, stay focused, practice patience, and persevere!

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