How to heal after betrayal
We humans are wired such that our wellbeing depends on our connection with others. We learn to rely on those we love for a sense of safety and security. When this is breeched through a betrayal we’re thrown into a world of rejection, insecurity and shame.
The betrayal of infidelity in an intimate relationship is felt through the rupture of the “we-ness”, and the lies and deception that surround it.
But betrayal leaves us with a choice.
We can choose to act in ways that will either enhance or hinder our personal growth; we can stay stuck in the misery or we can learn to let go of fear and anguish and move on to better days.
How we choose to feel is up to us. Want to know how to heal after betrayal? Following these simple steps can help make recovering from heartbreak that little bit easier.
1. Be gentle with yourself.
It sounds clichéd but being gentle with yourself through a difficult emotional time is the best way to begin the healing process. When there’s been a betrayal in a relationship it’s normal to experience an array of emotions and behaviours that can sometimes feel like the five stages of grief. It’s important to recognise your feelings and honour your needs at this time.
2. Regain faith in who you are.
If your partner has cheated on you, it can bring a deep sense of shame and humiliation. You might feel as though you are to blame, you did something wrong, or that your partner’s wrongdoing somehow reflects on you personally. These feelings can impact your identity and sense of self-worth. If your partner has been unfaithful it’s important to remember that it’s not your fault.
3. Stop asking questions.
No matter how much you want answers, avoid asking questions about the affair. It won’t help. In fact, hearing all the details of the deception will only create more anguish. Instead, shift your focus away from self-defeating beliefs and move towards building a stronger sense of self. This post on Letting Go of a Relationship has some simple yet effective ways to take care of yourself when you’re going through a difficult emotional time.
4. Communicate your feelings and needs.
Rather than seeking information about the other person, or about the affair, have a heartfelt conversation instead. It is the unfaithful partner’s job to listen to what the betrayed partner needs without being defensive. If your partner is unable to reassure you or validate your feelings then talk to a trusted friend or family member, but make sure you don’t bottle up your feelings.
5. Plan your emotional recovery.
Time in itself won’t heal the wounds; identify where you feel the most hurt, wounded or victimised and set out to heal those areas. You don’t have to go through a betrayal alone. Seeking a therapist to help you process your thoughts and feelings in a safe environment can help you make sense of your emotions and bring you a greater sense of peace.
At the end of the day, how you choose to respond to the affair is up to you. Some couples will choose to use it as a growing opportunity and become more honest and accountable to themselves and their partners. Others will choose to end the relationship then and there.
Whatever you decide make sure you are looking after yourself first and foremost, and seek help from a trained therapist if you need to.