9 Expert Tips On How To Let Go Of Hurt And Betrayal

Suffering and Healing | | , Expert Blogger
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how to let go of hurt and betrayal

Being betrayed by someone you love is not a pleasant experience. But sadly, even with no faults of our own, life seems to put us through a series of such traumatic experiences. Each time, we stand alone with a broken heart and overwhelming emotions, not knowing how to let go of hurt and betrayal.

An act of deceit can take a toll on your physical and mental health, especially if it’s from a partner. It chips away at your self-worth, leaving you surrounded with all kinds of negative feelings, and you just don’t know how to let it go or how to feel good again. Falling for someone else seems like a distant dream, now that your faith in humanity is shaken. 

Let’s face it, we can’t really control how other people treat us. But we sure can adopt a healthier mindset to cope with the emotional pain and stop obsessing over betrayal. To help you understand how to deal with betrayal, we bring on board expert psychologist Nandita Rambhia (MSc, Psychology), who specializes in CBT, REBT, and couples counseling. We hope we’ll be able to answer all your queries regarding how to forgive someone who betrayed you and how to cope with being betrayed by a special someone.

What Does Betrayal Do To A Person? Understanding Betrayal Trauma Theory 

Before you get on cracking how to let go of hurt and betrayal, we need to give you a clear picture of what exactly you are dealing with here. So, let’s talk betrayal trauma and betrayal trauma theory, introduced by American psychologist Jennifer Freyd in 1991. Nandita explains, “Betrayal trauma is the sum total of the negative, complex emotions that are felt when a person’s trust or their concept of well-being is broken, especially by someone significant in their life.”

You feel a niggling pain and agitation in your heart when someone you are dependent on for survival or other needs, such as emotional attachment or social security, breaks your trust. The betrayal trauma theory looks into how a person processes and remembers this traumatic experience coming from a relationship that they cannot exactly discard right away. That’s why figuring out how to deal with betrayal trauma is often complex and challenging. 

People often fail to acknowledge the degree of the betrayal and don’t react in a befitting manner because they dread that the consequences might put their well-being at stake. In the case of romantic partners, the possibility of termination of the relationship invites a huge deal of insecurity in terms of financial or social status. If something sounds relatable, read on to know how to get past betrayal and build healthy relationships. 

Related Reading: 10 Things To Do If You Are Feeling Unappreciated In Your Relationship

Signs of betrayal trauma 

While talking about the signs of betrayal trauma, Nandita says, “Initially, there will be a nagging sense that there is something wrong in the relationship, but the person will be unable to identify what it is, since they don’t want to face the trauma itself.” 

A Reddit user shares the emotional ups and downs they went through after being cheated on by their partner, “First I was numb (shock), then I was bewildered and hurt, then I was angry, and now I still feel all of those things every now and then but they’re more toned down. I realized what really helped was recognizing that this person is not ‘the one’ — nor will they be my life partner.” 

To be able to figure out how to deal with betrayal trauma, one needs to recognize its existence. So, look out for these signs of betrayal trauma. These are your first clues to seek the necessary help and unravel the complex emotions you can’t make any sense of:

  • You have frequent mood swings, making life difficult for you and those around you
  • You are always afraid of another blow of betrayal coming your way
  • You keep getting intrusive thoughts and flashbacks about a particular unpleasant experience
  • You stay aloof, keeping yourself at a safe distance from all the social interactions and merry-making
  • You blame yourself for everything that has gone wrong in your life
  • You find it difficult to make sound decisions 
  • You sabotage your relationships because of the fear of abandonment 
  • On most days, you feel sick or too tired to go to work or do the bare minimum
  • You can’t eat or sleep and resort to substance abuse instead
being betrayed by someone you love
Betrayal trauma makes you aloof staying away from all social interactions and merry-making

Impact of betrayal trauma 

So, how serious are the effects of betrayal in marriage or any relationship? Depending on the degree of the deception, betrayal trauma can take a pretty bad shape and impact the physical and mental health of the victim adversely. Did you know that the effects of betrayal on the brain can make the trauma last for decades? Studies show that a person who has faced maltreatment as a child has a higher chance of developing adult betrayal trauma and an anxious attachment style. Our expert lists the impact of betrayal trauma on human mind and body:

  • According to a qualitative study, 30-60% of victims of betrayal trauma suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression
  • The person might feel zoned out all the time or start dissociating from reality in many cases
  • Being betrayed by someone you love takes a serious hit on your self-esteem
  • Feeling betrayed may cause one to develop severe trust issues and a suspicious nature
  • Your stress levels might go off the charts, and you can face difficulty in emotion regulation and carrying out everyday activities
  • Not knowing how to control your temper when someone betrays you often leads to anger issues
  • Along with the effects of betrayal on the brain, your physical well-being suffers a great deal
  • Symptoms of such trauma include headaches, body aches, nausea, and sleep disorders
  • Your immune system may get weak if there’s constant betrayal or a sense of negativity surrounding such betrayal

Related Reading: Relationship Bully – What Is It And 5 Signs You Are A Victim

How To Overcome Betrayal In A Relationship — 9 Expert Tips

Speaking from personal experience, let me tell you, moving on from betrayal is not going to be a smooth ride. I wish I had someone to hold my hand and tell me how to deal with betrayal in a relationship when my first boyfriend cheated on me some twelve years back. Unless you handle it right from the very beginning, any form of betrayal leaves an imprint in your mind – a long trail of negative feelings, fear, and anxiety that may come in the way of all your future relationships. 

But hey, you are not that helpless, naive teenager who had no idea how to cope with the overwhelming emotions after their boyfriend kissed someone else. For one thing, you have Bonobology, your very own relationship coach, by your side. We have 9 solid tips to help you if you’re still wondering how to let go of hurt and betrayal and are clueless about how to move forward:

1. Accept that it happened

If you keep asking yourself how to deal with betrayal, we’d suggest accepting the fact that you’ve been cheated on or betrayed. Denial is a deadly place to dwell in. It’s more like a vicious circle from which there is no coming back. As the tragic shock of betrayal shatters their world, people walk into this loop without thinking twice. 

When my friend, Kate, got to know about her husband’s series of affairs on office tours, she refused to believe their mutual friends who called her and confirmed the incidents. She used to think, “Should I believe other people over my husband, that too on a matter of such grave importance? Like he can ever cheat me!” 

Wondering what to do when someone betrays you in this way? Well, 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, in case you’re wondering how to overcome betrayal in a relationship, is acknowledgment. 

When you are feeling betrayed in a relationship, you should start by jotting down your feelings. Name them one at a time. How do you feel? Angry? Shocked? Or sad and humiliated? Emotion regulation will be easier once you have reflected on them and processed the negative feelings.

Nandita says, “Initially, it’s extremely difficult to acknowledge being betrayed by someone you love. People usually go through an entire step-by-step process, the 5 stages of breakup grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. And then comes the process where you finally take some actions to move on. These stages are extremely helpful, although they don’t apply to all.”

2. Allow yourself to grieve

Still clueless about what to do when your partner is emotionally cheating or has had sex with someone else? Well, cry it out, scream, let all hell break loose. Let’s break a myth here — grieving doesn’t make you weak. And yes, this is true irrespective of any gender. You are feeling betrayed. Someone you love to the core just broke your heart in a way you never really imagined was possible. Of course, you are sad. Instead of hiding from the pain, it’s time you embrace every bit of it, for the sake of your physical well-being and mental health. 

Nandita says, “Yes, it’s the end goal for a relationship therapist to help their patient stop obsessing over betrayal and move forward. But not at the cost of shutting their feelings. It is difficult to find a solution when you are pushing the problem aside and not wanting to look at it. Obviously, it will continue to remain and fester in different formats.” So, here are some suggestions to overcome that feeling:

  • Accept it and allow yourself to grieve and show your emotions
  • Yes, it can be painful and sad. But going through the process will help your emotions to come out
  • You can grieve alone or share your sorrow with someone you are close to 
  • By the end of the grieving process, your mind will be clear enough to look at other possible solutions or options and embrace positivity to get yourself out of this misery

Related Reading: How To Protect Your Marriage Against Internet Infidelity

3. Take all the space and time you need

The key to how to deal with someone who betrayed your trust isn’t necessarily storming out instantly and never looking back. Even if that seems to be the right decision in your case, it shouldn’t be made in the heat of the moment. If you are living with this person, you can move out for a while and live with a friend or family member. 

It’s better if you 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. When you don’t know what to say to someone who betrayed you, allow yourself the time and space to reanalyze the relationship, the probable reasons you ended up here today, and the possibilities of planning the future of this relationship. Once you have some clarity, go ahead and communicate your terms and your feelings to your partner. 

Nandita says, “Whether the betrayer wants to keep distance from you or not, keep the decision solely in your hands. It is up to you. If you feel you need a break, please go for it. And for that, it’s also necessary to have a social circle, so you can lean on other people.”

Infographic on how to let go of the hurt and betrayal
Expert tips to let go of the hurt and betrayal

4. Repeat after me: There is nothing lacking in you

Betrayals of any kind tend to take the first strike at your self-worth. It’s one of the adverse effects of betrayal on the brain. As a consequence, you may 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

Nandita says, “Sometimes we don’t know what to say to someone who betrayed you or how to get past betrayal, because we believe that our own actions might have led our partner to go to this length. Oh, don’t be so harsh on yourself. People who are extremely vulnerable and who want to hold on to the relationship against all odds usually try to take on the blame. If you want to know how to let go of the hurt and betrayal, learn to set boundaries with your partner, so that you are not pushed into the self-blame game.” Here’s how to go about it:

  • If it is true that you are actually responsible for this drama and chaos, you should take ownership, rather than be in the victim mode
  • If not, don’t let your partner’s allegations, such as “You are the reason for whatever happened between us,” get into your head
  • Be conscious if you are falling into the loop of negative talk
  • Admit that you are a normal fallible human being and you deserve all the compassion kindness and love
  • Seeking validation from others is not the answer. One has to see the reality for what it is
  • Owning your voice is important here to make things clear. Making yourself seen and heard is a way to release self-blame

Related Reading: 40 Relationship Affirmations To Use For Your Love Life

5. Discuss your feelings and expectations with your partner

Clear communication and setting boundaries – these are the two most crucial cards you play when you are trying to figure out how to deal with someone who betrayed your trust. How? Think about it. Do you need a break for a month? Do you want to go no-contact for a while? Make it explicitly clear to your partner. Emotional boundaries are the best remedy in a delicate situation like yours to alleviate the pain of feeling betrayed in a relationship.

When you finally come back and decide to work on repairing the damage, it’s only open and honest communication that can reconnect you and your partner. Before you even think about burying the hatchet, you have to discuss what exactly went wrong in the relationship, how you both feel about getting back together and how earnestly you want to make it work. Are you strong enough to let it go? Is your partner apologetic for their actions and ready to make amends? Communicate and clear the air.

6. Retaliation is not the answer

One of the first things we do while we’re clueless about how to deal with betrayal is go into attack mode. We don’t blame you for looking at this betrayal as an extreme form of insult that makes you furious every time you think about it. The rage while wondering what to do when your partner is emotionally cheating or has betrayed you with a sexual affair might turn you into a totally different person who doesn’t hesitate to plot evil plans to get back at their disloyal partner.

From revenge sex to calling their boss to jeopardize their career or damaging their car, crazy ideas must be popping into your head. How about we take a deep breath and calm down? Even if you successfully execute any of these plans, it might hurt your partner for the time being. But will it heal your trauma? It won’t. Then how should you control your temper when someone betrays you?

Shift your focus to the things and people that make you happy. Listen to some soothing music and practice meditation – it will help you calm your nerves. You can always visit a relationship therapist to help you keep a check on your anger issues and find peace and harmony within yourself. Just so you know, skilled and licensed counselors on Bonobology’s panel are always here for you.

Stories about suffering and healing

7. Find yourself again

Wondering how to let go of hurt and betrayal? We would say: don’t feel pressured to wipe off the entire episode super quick and find a solution. Life has handed you an opportunity to rediscover yourself. Grab it! And it will benefit everyone involved in these circumstances if you prioritize your needs before worrying about something or someone else. Nandita, very thoughtfully, has created a course of action for you to follow in your life after betrayal and dig out the confident, charming person that you truly are:

Related Reading: When Is It Time To Break Up With Your Partner?

  • Don’t push yourself too hard, but increase engagements in your life even if that means going back to everyday activities like making a meal
  • Start keeping a journal or share your experiences with your confidants
  • Get more involved in other healthy relationships in your life, like your friends and family members. Do go out and meet them more often. It will give you a sense of support and belonging
  • Go back to an old hobby or inculcate some new ones. Spend your time and energy on that to revitalize positivity and increase focus in life
  • It is important to take care of your own body. So, nourish yourself with healthy food and opt for some form of exercise
  • Go for a walk, as it is an excellent way of releasing endorphins 
  • Go through regular medical checkups, especially when you are going through a stressful phase because many health issues do crop up at this time
  • Focus on your personal growth, whether it is your career or social goals. Do make a clear-cut plan to achieve them 

8. Forgive but don’t shut your doors on love

Still thinking about what to do when your partner is emotionally cheating or if they have had a physical affair with a coworker or a friend? Forgiving is no job for weak minds, and 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 must also be wondering how to heal from betrayal in marriage! For some people, forgiving is the only key, even if that means moving on without closure. Once this burden is off your head, you will be able to see that the world is not such a terrible place after all. 

At the end of the day, you have to choose how to liberate your mind and soul from this damage. Right now, it may seem like 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. 

Related Reading: 20 Forgiveness Quotes to Help You Move On

Nandita says, “Forgiveness is as important to the person who is forgiving as it is for the betrayer. So even if you feel that the betrayer does not deserve any kind of forgiveness, it is very important for the person who is suffering trauma to let go of the negativity and the high stress levels attached to the betrayal. This act of letting go and not sinking deeper and deeper into resentment will actually help you heal. You can focus more on yourself and other positive things around you and get rid of the negative talk constantly running at the back of your head.”

9. Practice let-it-go meditation

Wondering how to forgive someone who betrayed you? Whether you decide to make the relationship work or take a temporary or permanent break from your partner, it’s important for us that you stop obsessing over betrayal and mend your broken heart instead. Your life after betrayal should be a time to let go of the past and be happy because you deserve it. As the last tip on ‘what to do when someone betrays you’ we suggest let-it-go meditation. So, how do you go about it? Here’s how:

what to do when someone betrays you
It’s time you let it all go
  • 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
  • Envision it this way: you take a leaf, put your worry on it, and float it in the stream
  • As the leaf slowly glides away on the water, you watch it go and grow distant from all the troubles in your mind

Key Pointers

  • Betrayal trauma occurs when someone you love, trust and depend on for emotional, social, and financial needs breaks your trust
  • At times, the effects of betrayal in marriage or a relationship are so severe, they might cause long-term trauma
  • To get past trauma in a relationship, first, acknowledge the betrayal and let yourself feel what you are feeling
  • Don’t fall into the trap of self-blame and take the space and time you need to find clarity instead
  • Try to choose forgiveness over retaliation
  • Focus on your own needs and on finding yourself before you decide to repair the relationship

So, do you think our tips and suggestions suffice to resolve the issue of how to let go of hurt and betrayal? We hope you’re no longer wondering how to forgive someone who betrayed you. We have tried to break it down into actionable steps to make healing from betrayal in marriage/relationship easier for you. If you have chosen to stay and mend the partnership, focus on clear communication.  

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.


1. What does it mean when someone betrays you? 

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. 

2. How does betrayal affect the brain?

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. 

3. How does the betrayer feel after betraying someone?

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. 

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