Betrayals are not supposed to be common occurrences. But, sadly with no faults of our own, life seems to find a way to teach its lesson through a series of treacherous incidents. Each time, we stand alone with a broken heart, at loss, and not so sure of how to let go of hurt and betrayal.
You cannot restrict betrayals only to infidelity in a relationship. Deception could come in many shapes and forms, out of the blue, and from the most unexpected people. Backstabbing from a dear old friend is as hurtful as the pain of feeling betrayed in a relationship. A deceitful partner may take the liberty to keep you in the dark about serious financial matters and put you through emotional turmoil by breaking the promises they made.
When all is said and done, our faith in humanity is shaken. We fail to observe the inherent goodness in people and universalize the betrayal of a single person as a common characteristic of all. Let’s face it, we don’t have any control over how other people will treat us.
But we can surely adopt a healthier mindset to deal with this suffering. To give you better clarity on the topic, we had a discussion with internationally certified relationship and intimacy coach Shivanya Yogmaya (internationally certified in the therapeutic modalities of EFT, NLP, CBT, REBT), who specializes in different forms of couples counseling.
What Does Betrayal Do To A Person?
Whether you are a strong person or not, betrayal from a partner leaves a wound in every mind. In certain instances, the impact of a betrayal may lead to physical malady too. Other than the gut-wrenching pain of a broken heart, it directly affects your self-esteem.
You find yourself in utter shock and dismay. The possibility of termination of the relationship invites a huge deal of insecurity. And you look for any desperate measure to deal with the feeling of how to let go of hurt and betrayal.
The psychological outcome of a betrayal could be long-lasting unless handled pragmatically. Shivanya explains the multiple effects of betrayal on the brain, “Firstly, it brings about anxiety and depression. When the mishap is exposed, the cheated person gets recurring nightmares. Physical pain in the stomach or a migraine headache is another symptom. They might get panic attacks as they recall the incident again and again. Thoughts of suicide can also come up when the disloyalty is pretty extreme. We can’t rule out the possibility of insomnia either.”
She continues, “Trust issues take an ugly turn after facing a betrayal. Even if they want to restore the relationship, suspicion can continue to haunt them. Considering the attachment style in relationships, the person who has been emotionally invested will feel two kinds of reactions. They will ask for more clarity and become very provoked because they have been defeated or their trust has been broken. Or, it can lead to total detachment, meaning blocking or avoiding any confrontation with the person.
“The effects of betrayal on the brain may also cause eating disorders. The person may, out of emotional havoc, chew and suppress their feelings through eating and craving. Sometimes, a betrayed person might turn to alcohol or drugs because they could not face the pain, and wanted to numb their mind or deny reality.”
9 Expert Ways To Let Go Of Hurt And Betrayal In Relationships
Let’s talk about how to let go of the hurt and betrayal. Is it going to be an easy task? It most certainly is not. You will need to gather the last bit of your mental and physical strength to get past this unfortunate chapter of your life.
Sadly, in the process of trying to transform ourselves into a stone-cold version, we lose our humanly, sentimental touch. In a scenario where a person has been betrayed in love, they tend to build up a wall between them and the world, to avoid any chances of falling in love ever again.
On this, Shivanya has to say, “It is quite natural for the person to pull up their guard and stop loving and trusting another soul again. It does take time. People should not hold on to the past baggage or carry it throughout their life. It’s not supposed to be a ‘once betrayed, twice shy’ kind of thing. If you have been healed and consoled, it becomes easier to embrace life once again. Embrace yourself for being open to giving and receiving love.
“Also, you find it difficult to trust anyone now. Be patient until you know the other person well enough. It’s better to not let everybody in immediately. It’s okay to have your heart and mind in balance while evaluating people or situations of trust.”
So, we have thoughtfully noted down 9 effective ways to get over hurt and betrayal in a relationship, vouched by our expert. Without any further ado, let’s begin.
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1. Accept that it happened – How does it make you feel?
Denial is a perilous zone. It’s more like a vicious circle from which there is no coming back. As the tragic shock shatters their world, people walk into this loop without thinking twice. I have seen the ominous aftermath of this state of denial from close proximity.
When my dear friend, Kate, got to know about her husband’s randy affairs on a series of office tours, she refused to believe anyone who called her and confirmed the incidents. She used to think, “Should I believe some outsiders over my husband, that too on a matter of such a grave allegation? Like he can ever cheat me!”
If you are not ready to accept the damage in your relationship, how can you expect to reach the next step and start the healing process? So, the very first solution to your plight of “How to get over betrayal by ex?” is acknowledgment.
Shivanya thinks, and we completely agree, “One of the foremost ways to deal with betrayal or infidelity that I suggest to my clients is to accept and acknowledge the pain. You have to accept the reality of what happened rather than going into denial or suppression. Because only then can we move forward with the healing part.
“Some of the betrayed partners are very vulnerable and fall into self-blame. The other category gets involved in blame-shifting in the relationship instead of taking ownership of what caused this betrayal. The victims of betrayal require serious help in growing awareness and identifying the pain. They also have to analyze if they contributed to the incident or what their part in this story was because simply blaming others is not good enough.”
When you are feeling betrayed in a relationship, you should start by jotting down your feelings. Name them one at a time. Do you feel angry or shocked or disgusted or sad or let down? It will be easier to process your emotions once you have reflected on them.
2. Stay away from the one who broke your heart
“How to let go of the hurt and betrayal?” – the obvious query we face after a tragic deception. Sometimes, distance can be good to re-evaluate and re-analyze the whole situation to gain a more sensible perspective. Imagine, you wake up every morning and sit to have breakfast with someone who betrayed you and can’t be trusted. In a way, you are inflaming the wound all over again.
It may sound textbook, but time and space are all you need to mitigate the effects of betrayal on the brain. Kate decided to stay with her husband and work through their marital issues, “I can’t forgive my husband for hurting me. But I would like to give him a chance to explain his side.” You know what the end result was? As she was gradually comprehending the gravity of his deception, all her rage overflowed like lava. Not once, not twice, but in a series of ugly feuds.
Even if you think you can handle the matter in a civil way, the hurt of the humiliation and being cheated on will eventually resurface. We were wondering how long you should stay apart to decide if you want to walk away after the infidelity or give the relationship another chance.
Shivanya suggests, “Taking 3 weeks to one month away from your partner would be helpful. When the wound is too much to bear, you can shift to another place, maybe a hostel or a different apartment. Because living under the same roof and trying to repair it would be difficult. It hardly gives you any time and space to reflect on the issues. So, it is important to take time away from each other.”
Related Reading: How To Protect Your Marriage Against Internet Infidelity
3. Repeat after me: There is nothing lacking in you
Betrayals of any kind tend to take the first strike at your self-worth. You may consider it as one of the adverse effects of betrayal on brain. As a consequence, you will start questioning every life choice you’ve made so far and reconsider every little decision. The worst part is, without any outside intervention whatsoever, you hold yourself solely responsible for this tragic event, leading to severe relationship insecurity.
Shivanya explains the circumstance more clearly, “People who are extremely vulnerable and who want to hold on to the relationship against all odds usually try to take on the blame. Sometimes, it is projected on their mind repeatedly as their partners have blamed them – “You are the reason for whatever happened between us.” Such a person gets victimized by thinking that something is inherently wrong with them.”
We asked Shivanya how a person can think more positive thoughts in such a state of mind. Her answer is, “The person has to learn to overcome this negative thinking. If it is true that they are actually responsible for this drama and chaos, they should take ownership, rather than being in a victim mode.
“On the other hand, if the victim had nothing to do with the outcome of the incident, but their partner chose to do it anyway because they were greedy, tempted, they gave in to their lust, got carried away at the moment, or were influenced by some third party, then the betrayed person should see it for what it is and not point it all toward themselves.”
Shivanya addresses the victimized people, “If you are trying to understand how to let go of the hurt and betrayal, you should learn to set boundaries with your partner so that you are not pushed into the self-blame game. Owning your voice is equally important here to make things clear. Making yourself seen and heard is a way to release self-blame. To alleviate the pain of feeling betrayed in a relationship, you need to work toward mindful actions. Because the self-pity mode will make you feel victimized for years. Also, seeking validation from others is not the answer. One has to see the reality for what it is.”
4. Make a short and long-term to-do list for the future
If you are honestly interested in how to get over betrayal by ex or how to survive betrayal in a relationship, you have to brainstorm your plan for the future outside this relationship. We emphasize this part because you cannot mourn all eternity for someone who betrayed you and can’t be trusted.
Nobody is denying your pain or the mental trauma that you are enduring. But playing the victim for a long, long time or fixating on the past events will only doom your growth as a person. Getting drunk day after day, ignoring work calls, and avoiding any sort of social attachment will look plain dramatic after a certain time.
Life doesn’t stop for anyone, does it? It’s too short to waste our valuable time without a roadmap to get out of an unhealthy relationship. So, how to let go of hurt and betrayal once and for all? Once you are able to control the overwhelming emotions and calm down, think about the living arrangement, finances, and shift of life goals now that you are on your own.
Prepare a thorough checklist for the things you need to get done immediately, and an extensive 5-year plan. Shivanya suggests, “Develop a game plan to overcome the betrayal. You can plan a trip or start journaling. You can also try to embrace life with new hobbies, a new social circle, or new ways of offering your service like in an NGO where you can find a more secure environment.”
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5. Forgive but don’t shut your doors on love
In the valuable words of Jodi Picoult: Forgiving isn’t something you do for someone else. It’s something you do for yourself. It’s saying, “You’re not important enough to have a stranglehold on me.” It’s saying, “You don’t get to trap me in the past. I am worthy of a future.”
Forgiving is no job for weak minds – it takes time to reach that stage. You are probably thinking, “I can’t forgive my husband for hurting me.” Fair enough. But then you ask, “How to let go of hurt and betrayal?” You choose how to liberate your mind and soul from this damage. It’s totally up to you if you want to stay or walk away. For some people, forgiving is the only key even if that means moving on without closure. At the end of the day, you get to decide if the sinner in your life deserves forgiveness or not.
Once this burden is off your head, you will be able to see the world is not such a terrible place after all. It may seem right now that you can’t trust anyone ever again. Let these emotions age. They will not stay so rigid. Eventually, you will meet someone and your heart will urge you to believe in them over all logic.
In our discussion regarding forgiveness, Shivanya mentions, “While you are taking the time off, it’s important to go through the 5 stages of breakup grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These stages are extremely helpful although they don’t apply to all.
“You should also avoid the temptation to reconcile too fast or forgive too soon without even understanding or reflecting on your pain. People like to close the matter in a hurry at times, which is not good. That being said, you may find a way to forgive your partner through a careful healing process and rebuild the relationship. This will help repair the relationship more mindfully and avoid the common reconciliation mistakes after infidelity.”
6. It’s time to vent: Anyone there to listen?
Sometimes, when you are trying to deal with the intense pain of feeling betrayed in a relationship, all you need is a release of those negative emotions. I am sure we all have that one person in our lives who will listen to us without any judgment or passing unnecessary comments.
Be it someone in the family or a friend, a heart-to-heart is one way to answer your query “How to let go of hurt and betrayal?” Even better, do you know someone who has gone through and overcome a similar situation? Call them right away. Knowing that you are not the only one enduring this god-awful circumstance may provide solace to your aching heart.
If the world is really bitter for you and you can’t find anyone to open up to, you always have a seat on the couch at a therapist’s office. Whenever you feel the need of professional intervention, feel free to visit our Bono counseling panel to find the right therapist or counselor to remedy your problem.
Let’s see what Shivanya has to offer in this matter, “Open up to someone you can trust. It could be a counselor you have hired, someone in the family, or your friends’ circle with whom you can really share the pain and process it. Bottling it up will only make you feel more volatile inside. But by confiding in somebody, you might find some of the weight lifted off your head and chest.”
7. How to let go of hurt and betrayal? Pamper yourself
The whole betrayal and blame-game scenario damage your happiness and mental sanity. You feel humiliated and belittled. The lack of mutual respect in the relationship eats you up inside. There is one quick fix to these problems – reinstate affection and respect for yourself. Enough of ruining your night’s sleep for someone who hardly deserves all this importance.
You can start by sketching a mindful morning routine including yoga and a cup of herbal tea. Play relaxing music for stress relief in the background while you are working, to increase your attention span. Throw yourself into a new hobby or get back to an old one. Do whatever you feel like – learn salsa, go to the park and paint, travel the city with a group of foreigners. Basically, discover yourself every day in a new way, and practice self-love.
Shivanya stresses reconnecting with nature to heal your mind, “It’s important to go for a holiday in nature. Don’t go to your friends and beat the drum on the same topic. Don’t go to your family to seek rescue or refuge. Seek aloneness with yourself, in nature and in silence, because your reflections on the past and the wounds would help you overcome this phase.”
Related Reading: When Is It Time To Break Up With Your Partner?
8. To retaliate or to walk away? Take the leap of faith
“I can’t forgive my husband for hurting me,” you said to the therapist. While that is perfectly acceptable, what is not okay is your uncontrollable urge to retaliate. At times, the rage and fury will try to grasp you alive. You won’t be able to think straight until you hurt the one who betrayed you.
But is it a constructive solution to understanding how to let go of hurt and betrayal? Honestly, what good will come out of it? You only drain your physical and mental energy in plotting the perfect revenge plan. Rather, we suggest channelizing that energy into something productive like anger management in relationships.
According to Shivanya, “Some people like to retaliate by being furious for what the other person did to them. So, they like to take revenge or make the other person suffer, and make them feel responsible for their pain. The fact is, retaliation can lead you to do something very grave. It can backfire too and make things worse.
“It’s important to retreat rather than retaliate. Walk away, follow the no-contact rule after breakup if you need that. The other person might try to intrude into your pain recovery process. So, it’s better not to go through a push-pull behavior with your partner.”
Related Reading: How To Help A Friend Through A Breakup
9. Practice let-it-go meditation
Once you have set your mind on ending this relationship for good, let’s do it right. Yes, you had a good run but it’s time to let go of the past and be happy because you deserve it. It’s time to allow new experiences and let new people in your life. As the last tip on how to get over betrayal by ex, we suggest let-it-go meditation.
Shivanya suggests, “Meditation can have an additional benefit. It helps you release the pain without any effort. It helps heal your heart, to see things more clearly.” So, how do you perform it? Find a tranquil spot in the house and sit in your comfy home clothes.
Imagine you are sitting in front of a sprightly stream in the midst of nature. Now, think about all your worries, anxieties, and insecurities that have been bothering you and give each of them a materialized shape. In the vision, you take a leaf, put your worry on it and float it in the stream. As it slowly glides away on the water, you watch it go and grow a distance with the troubles in your mind.
So, do you think our tips and suggestions suffice to resolve the issue of how to let go of hurt and betrayal? We have tried to break it down into actionable steps for your well-being. If you have chosen to stay and mend the partnership, Shivanya focuses on clear communication.
She says, “Have a conversation with your partner, the one who caused the hurt. Once you have made some peace with yourself, taken some time away, then returning with the desire to face the issues through open dialogue and communication would be a wise decision. Especially when the partner is ready to apologize for cheating and breaking your trust. In this case, talking to your partner and giving them another chance is a good thing to do. After you have cleared the air, forgiveness happens more realistically rather than being an imposition to forgive and forget.”
If you decide to opt for the other way, we wish you all the strength and courage in the world. There’s absolutely no harm in giving life another chance. Moreover, you give yourself new possibilities when you decide to leave the past in its place.
The word betrayal itself means breaking a person’s trust, crossing boundaries, or revealing information that was confidential between two people to a third party.
Betrayal may cause severe anxiety and depression leading to trust issues and insecurities. It can push a person to binge-eating disorder or alcoholism. They might find it difficult to sleep at night or concentrate for long hours.
It depends on that person’s mental setup and characteristics. Chances are, they will feel extremely remorseful for hurting a close person in their life. Or, they won’t care at all about the consequences of their action and try to shift the blame on their partner.