Been betrayed? What to do if you've been hurt by someone you love.
In my last post, I wrote about what to do if you have betrayed someone - i.e. hurt them to the point of a rupture in the relationship. In this post, I'll take a look from the other end - what to do if you've been betrayed, if you've experienced a rupture that is so painful that you are not sure that the relationship can continue.
You're done. Through. This was the last straw. You're tired of overlooking and forgiving and pretending to forget. This time was one too many. Do these thoughts ring true? Often when you are hurt by someone to the point of a rupture it is after a long history of painful events. This hurt was one too many and you don't want the relationship to continue as it is any longer. You may want to end it right now. You may be ambivalent. Perhaps you are focusing on the most recent painful incident, or maybe you are remembering and cataloging all of the other things from the past that hurt as well.
So what can you do when you feel betrayed?
Yes, you should clearly express what is going on for you - your feelings and thoughts around this. Get really clear on what you are feeling, whether it is one feeling or a jumble of feelings. Your partner is likely apologizing. You may be able to hear the apology or the feelings may be getting in the way. That is OK. Stay with the feelings if that is where you are. It is also OK to decide that you aren't ready to hear an apology.
Identify What You Need Right Now
Your partner may be trying to make a repair, learn from her mistakes, or make promises of change. Identify what, right now, will help you to feel safe and secure and stable. Maybe you are willing to listen to your partner, or maybe you need space. Ask for what you need. The idea is that you need to heal, no matter what the final outcome is.
I sound like I am repeating myself - but expect that strong feelings will well up again and again, even after you've expressed them clearly to your partner. Express them again. It is OK to say that you are still feeling angry, sad, or hurt. Your partner may be dismayed that you are still "holding on to this." What is important is to acknowledge what you are feeling.
Identify How You Want to Move Forward
When feelings are less strong, when you feel that you have some space to think - identify how you would like to move forward. You may decide that it is time to end the relationship or you may be willing to try and mend the rupture. What would that look like? What different behavior do you need to see to begin trusting your partner again? Get really clear on this as you communicate it to your partner. Note that this is a two-way conversation of you speaking about your experience and what you need, and being willing to hear what your partner has to say and what they need. It is normal for trust rebuilding to take some time.
Finally, Pay Attention to Your Feelings
If you decide to stay in the relationship, and you've made clear what you need and you and your partner have agreed on what needs to change, then healing in the relationship can commence. Continue to notice your feelings. You may still struggle with strong feelings from time to time as you learn to rebuild trust with your partner. Pay attention to patterns in your feelings - do you find that they are subsiding in strength and that you are noticing more positive feelings toward your partner? Do you notice trust being rebuilt?
Whether or not you decide to continue the relationship, if you notice that strong feelings are not subsiding over time, or you notice that your feelings about the relationship are having an effect on other parts of your life such as your physical health, work, or other relationships, you may benefit from additional support such as therapy as you navigate this process.