What Is Betrayal Trauma in Relationships? How to Cope with It?

The topic of betrayal is full of myths and stereotypes. We all want to get to the bottom of the causes of betrayal to prevent them. We think that a change in our behavior leads to a modification of the behavior of others. But if there was one reason that leads to one given consequence, we would live well, but it would be probably very boring. Finding the answer to the question of why people cheat is generally fruitless, they only serve to reduce our anxiety. Today we will talk about betrayal trauma infidelity, betrayal trauma triggers, forms of betrayal in relationships, what you should do about feeling betrayed in a relationship, and how to start living and loving after betrayal. Let’s first find out what is betrayal trauma.

betrayal trauma

What is Betrayal Trauma in Relationships?

Let’s define betrayal in a relationship. When a woman or a man, after discovering a case of betrayal on the part of their partner, comes to friends for support, the latter often start to blame them for what happened. There’s a stereotype like, “If one betrays their partner, the reason lies in the second.” No one says that a certain situation led to betrayal. When during consultations, I say, “It’s not about you, not about your behavior, but about some kind of a decision on the part of your partner," a person still wants to get to the bottom of what they did wrong. It is very difficult for us to admit that we are not managing the situation. That you can be an ideal wife or an ideal husband, but a partner may have a reason for a betrayal.

When a woman constantly changes partners, it’s not only about sex but about the fact that every next man confirms her exceptionalism, “You are beautiful, I choose you, you are the best.” We can detect betrayal in 10 years, or we can do it immediately. There are also many questions: are we ready to open our eyes or do we want to keep them shut and avoid the truth? Most likely, the reveal of betrayal is associated with the fact that a person can take care of themselves without the help of their partner. For example, if a woman with the loss of a partner is left without funds, without housing, most likely, she will not reveal that she knows about her partner’s betrayal for a long time. If for a man, the fact of his wife’s betrayal threatens a colossal drop in self-esteem, he will not acknowledge it for a long time. Will he consciously do this? No. This is how our defensive mechanisms work. Thinking that cheating is only about sex is also a way to turn on this mechanism, explaining to yourself what happened, "This is just sex, as a person, my spouse remains with me..." There is no "only sex" relationship.

You can tell a lot more to a lover than you can say to your spouse. There are more attachments with a husband/wife, but suddenly you tell the other person those things that you never trusted anyone. Sometimes my male colleagues told their clients, “If you see that your husband is chatting with another woman in social networks, this is not critical. Even if he talks about love and sexual fantasies. If he does not discuss you, this is not a case of betrayal.” And experts, neighbors, and friends are trying to explain to us that this is not scary, it’s make-believe so that there is no destruction before their eyes. But there comes a period when we are ready to see with full clarity the horror of the situation. Here are the most common signs she is cheating, and signs of betrayal in a relationship can help you be more aware of the situation and address it in a more timely manner, but if you feel like it’s too late, then here are the signs that you are experiencing betrayal trauma PTSD.

Signs of Betrayal Trauma in Your Life

Now that we know the definition of betrayal in a relationship, let’s move on. Betrayal of a loved one is an event that no one is safe. It’s sad but true: nothing is guaranteed in the best of all possible worlds. Including fidelity to the grave. But even if you understand and accept these rules of the game, betrayal of a loved one can seriously injure them and you as well. And it often happens that a person who was once cheated continues to spoil their own life.

Here are the most common ways to make your life even worse after adultery:

  • You become disappointed in relationships and in people in general
  • You lose self-esteem
  • You feel like a victim
  • You are disappointed

Often, survivors of adultery cannot cope with the consequences of such an injury. The most common consequence is a disappointment. In love, in the very idea of close relationships, in men or women, and sometimes in yourself.

A person wants to protect themselves and avoid new pain, new suffering. This is normal, self-preservation is a natural instinct. Therefore, the desire to somehow defend oneself arises. And the most reliable way to protect yourself is to avoid situations similar to the one in which the injury occurred.

The stronger the injury is, the more situations are included in the “blacklist.” Once bitten twice shy. Often, life after adultery turns into a constant escape from a serious relationship, our own feelings and life itself.what is betrayal trauma

This is a Pyrrhic victory. There is no suffering, but no “full” life. The result of such protection is deep loneliness. Fear is generally a bad adviser.

Here it is necessary to recall one more obvious fact: all people are different. And each relationship is unique in its own way. Moreover, the relationship is made by the person itself. Therefore, the chance that cheating is sure to happen again is not too great in a new relationship. Does it make sense to abandon happiness because of the fear of ghosts? If you cannot accept the idea of further life together with your current partner, then you should move on and date women online by using thousands of online dating services one can find online.

You feel undervalued

An equally sad consequence of treason is the collapse of self-esteem. The logic here is simple: if they changed me, it means that one or the other is better, and, therefore, I'm bad. Despite the absurdity of such a conclusion, many people come to it.

Reduced self-esteem prevents you from moving on no less than disappointment. If a person feels unworthy to be loved and faithful to them, they will, most likely, receive what they expect. A kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. No one will value a person who does not value themselves.

In fact, this is another way to avoid possible injuries. Even more damaging than the first. A person changes after adultery, everything changes around them, they become afraid of things, they become suspicious, and constantly worried about something.

But in fact, betrayal is not always the result of a search for the best option. Especially if a person that is involved in infidelity likes to try new things. Anyway, it doesn’t make sense to operate with such definitions as “better” and “worse.”

The partner that cheats solves their tasks. And, perhaps, the one with whom they cheated just satisfies certain needs. They are not better overall. And just at the moment, they can give what you cannot give. The fact of adultery rarely says anything about who they cheated on. More often it characterizes the one who cheated.

You feel like the victim

Finally, the third way to ruin your life after treason is to become a victim. The victim combines the two previous protection strategies: there is also disappointment in people and low self-esteem. The position of the victim is this: I am weak and defenseless, and everyone around me uses it.

The danger here is that the victim always attracts the one who will cause pain to them. That is the one who will treat them as they expect.

There is only one way to get out of this circle: to realize that all the people on earth were not born specifically to scoff at the victim and accept the simple idea that the one who cheated, and not the injured party, bears guilt for treason.

How to Overcome Betrayal Trauma

It has been a year and a half since the day I learned about my husband’s betrayal. In appearance, everything is fine with us now, but I find myself believing that I can no longer believe him. I don’t know how to continue to live with it. We worked on relationships for a long time after his love affair, and everything seemed to be fine again. And here again, we are arguing. Sometimes it seems to me that I stopped loving him. I’m tired every day of thinking about what happened, but I can’t help myself. Is there any way out? Jessica, 42

Record and analyze your thoughts and emotions - this will help you manage them

Do not despair. I’m familiar with this situation because most of my clients are struggling with the same dilemma. In short, I can reduce my approach to five simple tricks.

Accept your feelings

Please do not blame yourself for not being able to magically leave it all in the past and live on as if nothing has happened. Perhaps the husband’s infidelity has become the biggest shock in your life at the moment, and it poses a serious threat to your well-being, so I'm not surprised that the pain is returning now and then, and the same thoughts are spinning in your head. And you still cannot understand how this monstrous betrayal could even happen.

Tip #1: Talk about your feelings out loud, instead of letting them endlessly boil somewhere inside — it really helps. Tell yourself, “I feel angry, I'm worried, I'm confused” or something else. You do not have to do anything with these feelings - just admit them. Sometimes I ask my clients to start keeping a diary of feelings, where they record the time, feeling and reason that caused it at the moment (some kind of event or thought). Lead it for several days or weeks, and you will find certain patterns. Believe me: if you notice your feelings, watch them, and not suppress, they will gradually weaken and eventually become more manageable.

Work on your thoughts

Many feelings arise as a result of our thoughts. We tend to believe everything that our inner voice broadcasts, as the ultimate truth. However, it often exaggerates or combines events from different life situations to provide us with irrefutable evidence that life is over. (I call this "catastrophic thinking.")forms of betrayal in relationships

Tip #2: Do not let harmful thoughts poison your life but write them down for this. Write as if your inner voice dictates to you. And when you write everything, you will see that there is nothing particularly frightening there. Go back to the beginning of the text and look for exaggerations. For example, you wrote, "I am so exhausted every day to think about treason." The phrase "every day" would catch me. I think that the word “often” more accurately reflects reality.

I know this is a very minor change, but the new word is no longer perceived as helpless, right? And then you might want to add a few clarifications. And write, "I often think about treason and sometimes I feel exhausted after that, although it also happens that after that I feel better." I guess that the latter option is not only softer but also more accurate. Re-read the text and pay attention to “always,” “never,” “should,” “need” and other words from the category of black and white vocabulary.

Think about what these memories want to tell you

You remember the husband’s infidelity for a reason. Not because you are a bad person who is not able to forgive a partner or does not want to save a marriage. Most likely, your feelings are trying to tell you that some issues remained unresolved and that your relationship needs to be paid more attention to. For example, your sex life has become too fresh or your husband is constantly in conflict with your daughter, and you are forced to break between them, like between two fires. If you continue to ignore these alarms, your unconsciousness will send them again and again.

Tip #3: Return to the diary entries dictated to you by your inner voice. After you filter out the exaggerations, you will still have some pretty clear tasks. For example, balance work and home life; going out together because you haven’t done this once in the last couple of months. Since you guessed what the memories are telling you, it will be logical to take practical steps to solve these problems. For example, turn off the phone after 9 pm or book a table in your favorite restaurant.

Stop waiting for the impossible from your partner

Sometimes I meet people who expect from their partners some special spiritual subtlety, the ability to be aware of their own and others' feelings, which does not correspond to their upbringing and character traits.

In particular, to the question, “Why did you need this romance?” in many cases, the answers will be unintelligible, simply because until this moment, no one has asked a person about motivation. Perhaps you expect that the partner will listen to and sympathize with you even when you are angry, criticizing or shaming them, while they are most in need of working with a therapist now who can reach through the shell to the person who is looking for support.

Tip #4: We tend to see our partners as we like to see them, and not as they really are. And for some reason, we are sure that they think in the same way as we do. Although girls are usually raised slightly differently than boys, the appearance of children affects women and men in different ways. Try to accept not only your partner's strengths but also their shortcomings. Be aware that there is something impossible for them, excessive.

Get rid of perfectionism

The most destructive of all emotions is a shame. You will feel embarrassed about the recent hysteria or a surge of anger, and you will be even more ashamed of the fact that you have been cheated, and that you, apparently, are not good enough. Since this feeling is unpleasant for us, we are desperately trying to avoid it. The most typical way is to try to be perfect in everything and hope that this will protect us from possible suffering in the future. We try to be the best for our partner and hope that they will also be an ideal repentant sinner. And I often meet people who describe their relationship before the betrayal as ideal and then doubly angry at the spouse who destroyed this whole idyll.

Tip #5: I like the phrase of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, “You can’t cut anything straight out of such a crooked log as a person.” In other words, we cannot be perfect because we are human beings. And when we are mistaken or we are unable to achieve the impossible, we, however, are ashamed of this. Returning to the first point, accept this feeling in yourself and analyze the thoughts that arise about this. Of course, it is worth aiming to become the best version of yourself, but please, let's not strive for absolute perfection.

Do I Need Help from a Specialist?

My world collapsed, I am experiencing betrayal trauma, lots of pain inside. I don’t know how to live on. Stress and anxiety go wild. Constant pressing pain inside ... this is how my clients describe their condition after the betrayal of a loved one.

Indeed - treason is one of the most difficult emotional experiences. Along with the death of loved ones, divorce, serious illness, etc. Therefore, if there has been a betrayal in your life, the first thing to do is take your feelings seriously. Understand that you are deeply wounded. Which takes time and treatment. Alas, there is no magic pill here. But there are scientific, proven ways of working to overcome the emotional crisis after treason.

Why you should not ignore your feelings after infidelity?

If you do not treat emotional trauma after the betrayal, most likely, the relationship will not be restored. The couple may physically break up. Or they continue to be together but distance themselves emotionally. Unplanned pain will be felt by outbursts of jealousy, sarcastic remarks, seemingly unreasonable insults, lack of sexual attraction and even body diseases or material problems.betrayal trauma infidelity

Pain (both physical and mental) is always a signal. A signal that we need help. And ignoring this signal is like ignoring the cry of a hungry baby. Of course, after some time, the baby will die down, but not because everything became good. But because there is no more strength to cry. And it remains to die quietly because no one paid attention to the cry for help.

How does psychotherapeutic work on experiencing adultery happen? Such work takes place in several stages.

The task of the first stage is to reduce the pain and intensity of emotional experiences.

Internal psychological stabilization. It occurs due to the so-called “containment” of the client’s feelings by the therapist.

Second phase

Analysis and awareness of previously unconscious internal motives, attitudes, and scenarios of a person that led to treason. Treason is always an unconscious arrangement between both partners. And to avoid the recurrence of this injury in the future, this stage of work is necessary.

The third stage

Building the future. Here, the focus of work moves from the inner (mental) world of the client to the outside world. Thanks to the two previous steps, it becomes possible to plan future constructively and soberly. Including to decide whether you will continue relationships with the same partner and look for new ways of interaction in these relationships. Or you want to create a new relationship.

I will say it again: building up yourself, your ego, your identity does not guarantee success, it won’t return your partner. You don’t do it for your partner, but for life to turn out to be full. And when you are at your best, you will feel better, you will attract other people, and they will value you more.

Comments (0)
There are no comments. Your can be the first
Add Comment
Search Gallery
Search Gallery