“It’s hard to tell who has your back from who has it long enough just to stab you in it.” – Nicole Richie. In the realm of relationships, there can be no greater pain than the pain of betrayal. It is hard to forgive someone who betrayed you, be they your spouse, long-term boyfriend, best friend, sibling, or parents. Harder still is being able to figure out what to say to someone who betrayed you.
The saddest thing about betrayal is that it shakes your core and it takes away your ability to believe. It leaves you feeling cheated and inadequate. This mistrust then seeps into other aspects of life and may interfere with your ability to form healthy relationships. There will always be a niggling doubt or suspicion even when you meet someone new as these negative emotions are deeply embedded into your being. And these are just some of the psychological effects of betrayal.
Being let down by a person you have placed your trust in can be heartbreaking. It can really leave you at a loss for what to say to someone who has taken advantage of the trust you put in them. After all, what can you possibly say to them that could undo the damage? Or them to you for that matter? Sadly, there is no handbook on the right way to respond to betrayal.
Each person’s reaction can be unique, depending on the severity and impact of the betrayal as well as their own emotional landscape and coping mechanisms. That being said, our response to betrayal can stem from a place of emotional vulnerability that can make us say or do things that we may later regret. To make sure that doesn’t happen to you, we’re here to tell you what to say when someone betrays you with insights from life coach and counselor Joie Bose, who specializes in dealing with abusive marriages, breakups and extramarital affairs.
What Is Betrayal?
To be able to understand how to cope when someone betrays your trust, you first need clarity on the what is betrayal and the meaning of betrayed in love, so that you don’t overplay a partner or a loved one’s actions out of context, accusing them of betraying you. Yes, your partner eating the last slice of pizza when you clearly asked them to save it can feel a lot like betrayal but isn’t.
On the other hand, a loved one or significant other putting you down in front of others and passing it off as humor is a form of betrayal in a relationship that often goes undetected. In literal terms, betrayal can be defined as “an act of deliberate disloyalty”. When this definition is married with the meaning of betrayed in love, it encompasses any and every action that triggers a sense of being harmed by a trusted person or a loved one through an intentional act or by omissions.
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Some of the most common forms of betrayal in love and intimate relationships include disloyalty, dishonesty, infidelity and harmful disclosures of information shared in confidence. When you trust someone and they betray you, the effects can range from shock to grief, loss, morbid obsession, loss of self-esteem, self-doubt, and trust issues. Betrayal from a loved one or someone as trusted as a romantic partner can also result in life-altering – possibly permanent –changes. This is a manifestation of betrayal trauma, which can lead to mental health disorders like anxiety, OCD and PTSD.
When someone betrays your trust, you could also develop cognitive dissonance (holding conflicting thoughts simultaneously), minimization (downplaying the severity of an act of betrayal), or betrayal blindness (inability to see the betrayal despite clear evidence of the fact). Betrayal can also cause mental contamination, with the betrayer becoming a source of the contamination – leading to unacceptable non-consensual acts gripping the imagination of the one who has been betrayed.
Being Betrayed By Someone You Love
As you can see, there are various forms of betrayal in relationships. Constant lying, keeping secrets, revealing your secrets to others, disrespecting your values, backstabbing you when you need them the most, playing dirty politics at work to get ahead…these are all different shades of betrayal. The result is the same: a deep pain in your heart and difficulty in regaining trust in relationships.
The betrayed definition is underlined by a sense of loss and hurt, however, not every betrayal has the same impact on your psyche. Being betrayed by someone you love, for instance, is far more difficult than being cheated upon by a business partner or colleague at work. The latter makes you angry but the former hurts your sense of self. In both cases though, the reaction of the person at the receiving end is similar.
How does it feel to be betrayed by someone you love? Joie says, “Betrayal is devastating. But it’s also important to understand what causes someone to betray another and once you empathize with the betrayer, it becomes easier for you to accept the reality of the situation and of the relationship. Relationships don’t always work out the way you envisage them to.
“When situations, people, and needs in a relationship change, holding onto it is not an achievement. In fact, it’s a recipe for breaking someone’s trust and betraying them. To realize that it’s over and to end a relationship on good terms before the rot sets in too deep can be a harder choice but it can save you from betrayal in love and help you cherish the good memories.”
New-age guru Deepak Chopra says, you’d either want revenge on someone who betrayed you, wanting them to suffer as excruciatingly as you did or you would want to be the better person, rise above the pain and forgive them. But here’s the catch. According to Chopra, neither of these responses is a solution. The desire for revenge makes you feel as terrible as someone who betrayed you, while forgiveness, if not done with closure, amounts to being condescending toward them.
What To Say To Someone Who Betrayed You
So what should you do to heal a betrayed heart then? What to say to someone who betrayed you? You may feel at a complete loss as you grapple with these questions. For instance, if you’re dealing with a wife or husband who betrayed you, it may seem like there aren’t enough words in the world to sum up the extent of the hurt and pain you’re feeling. And you’re not wrong.
That’s why when you trust someone and they betray you, you must be prepared to face and embrace whatever uncomfortable emotions you’re experiencing. When you feel terribly let down by a person you held in high regard, your aim should be to recognize what you feel and deal with it. Do not deny your hurt. The best way to heal a betrayed heart is to learn how to rebuild trust, albeit with caution.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Just as your hurt is personal, so is your healing. But there are some steps you can take to get over all those terribly negative feelings and find some peace again. Here’s what to say to someone who betrayed you to be able to heal and recover from the setback:
1. “I am angry with you and I won’t deny it”
The worst thing you can do at this time is to pretend that all is well. Joie says, “Denial doesn’t help. What helps is doing all that you need to do to move on, and that includes owning the extent of hurt their actions have caused you.” That’s an important piece of advice to bear in mind when you’re wondering what to say to a husband who betrayed you or a wife who took advantage of the trust you placed in her or a partner who stabbed you in the back.
Sasha, an accountant, learned this the hard way. She found that her partner had been lying to her about finances, spending more than they could afford, and then concealing his extravagant ways with one life after the other. Naturally, the financial infidelity in the relationship felt like a crushing breach of trust but she went about like it was business as usual waiting for him to come clean.
All because she didn’t fully grasp what does betrayal do to a person and how bottling it all up can make a bad situation worse. His constant lying caused her to resent him more and more, and this eventually drove them apart. Remember that all cannot be well when you cannot trust someone again and the very foundation of your relationship is shattered.
Let your anger and frustration out. Dig deep into the recesses of your mind through meditation or by talking to someone empathetic. Write out what you are feeling, it can be a cathartic process. Once you know exactly what is hurting you and you list out your feelings toward someone who betrayed you (is it disappointment, shock, anger, hurt?), you can work toward resolving them. If you’re dealing with a partner/wife/husband who betrayed you, the first order of business is to acknowledge and vocalize how their actions have made you feel.
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2. “I do not want you back”
This can seem like the perfect betrayal message to a boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse or even a close friend. However, arriving at this decision prematurely and without due deliberation over what the end of the relationship will mean for you and the other person can be a knee-jerk reaction. And that’s exactly what we’re trying to avoid here – the need to respond to betrayal from a place of emotional vulnerability and overwhelm.
However, on the other end of the spectrum, is an inherent fear of losing someone you love that may want to push aside that strong intuition that’s telling you it’s best to call it quits and move on. Often, people choose to stay in a relationship even when they’ve understood the meaning of betrayal in love first-hand because they don’t want to accept what happened or they may be partly feeling guilty for the betrayal.
Now, someone who betrayed you has indirectly told you that your feelings and concerns don’t matter to him or her too much. If it did, he or she would not have stabbed you in the back. So, factor that in and evaluate the dynamics of your relationship pragmatically before you decide what to say to someone who betrayed you. Once you’ve had the chance to work through your feelings and are 100% sure about what you want, just go ahead and tell them what you feel.
There isn’t much sense in being with someone who betrayed you and can’t be trusted. This is especially important if they’ve betrayed your trust in the past or show no remorse for it. When someone betrays your trust, you have every right to weed them out of your life and move on. However, make sure that you do not make this decision lightly. Wait until you’ve calmed down and weigh the magnitude of the betrayal vis-à-vis their value in your life before you decide to end a connection with a loved one.
3. “I forgive you, I understand”
This is a hard-hitting message to someone who betrayed you because this may well be the last thing they’d expect you to say. When you get cheated upon, it is natural to want to have nothing to do with the betrayer. The person who has betrayed you may expect that you’d want to just cut your losses and move on, however difficult it seems. While the decision of whether you want that person in your life or not is yours to make, it is not one that you should be making lightly.
Acting from a place of understanding and compassion can help you make a decision that stands you in good stead in the future. “The best way to respond to betrayal is to tell your significant other that you need to evaluate your relationship and expectations from each other. If it works, well and good, otherwise, you’re prepared to part ways,” says Joie.
Your betrayal message to boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse should convey how shocked and hurt you are but also reflect your empathetic side. So, what to say to someone who betrayed you to convey how they’ve made you feel? Tell them that what they did has left a deep scar on you. Reiterate your own sincerity even at a time when they’re caused you such deep hurt. However, make sure they know that you’re not afraid to walk away from a relationship where you’re not valued.
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4. “Thank you for teaching me what not to accept”
What to do if someone betrays your trust? Remember that every negative incident occurs to teach us a lesson, so treat it as one. When you trust someone and they betray you, it feels like someone has lodged a dagger in your gut and twisted your insides. There is no denying that. But it also brings in its wake a valuable realization of what you’re willing to accept and what you’re not.
When you are dealing with someone who betrayed you, treat it as a chance to learn some important lessons from the failed relationship. Perhaps your cheating partner or friend taught you not to be so wide-eyed about your trust. Maybe it all happened to teach you the importance of boundaries. Joie says, “This is the perfect attitude for dealing with a breach of trust and just the right way to respond to betrayal in a relationship.”
It may not seem like it when you’re constantly asking, “Why does betrayal hurt so much?”, but this experience will make you wiser. When you enter your next relationship, you won’t make the same relationship mistakes again. The lessons may even benefit you in other aspects – like your career and family relationships. You will learn to value yourself more.
5. “I will try to move on gracefully”
While you need to acknowledge your anger and learn your lessons, you should also learn to let go. It doesn’t mean you forget the incident; just focus on the positives from it. Karl found out that the woman he was engaged to had a whole other life he knew nothing about. She had been through a messy divorce, and had just erased her past, down to her identity, and moved across the country to start afresh.
When her ex reached out and told him everything about her past, Karl was shattered. “On some level, I understood her need to protect herself. But that didn’t change the fact that it was a fake relationship and the woman I wanted to marry had built the foundation of our bond on lies and deceit. So, I told her I couldn’t continue this sham and wanted to move on without making things messy. It was what I needed to heal a betrayed heart, and she understood,” he says.
On the other hand, if someone who betrayed you is sorry for what he or she has done and you both are ready to reconcile, do so with full awareness. Things may not go back to how it was before but don’t carry it in your heart for too long. Never rehash the incident in the future. If you have an argument later, try not to throw it in your partner’s face. Be graceful; truly move on from the episode.
6. “You are not important, my recovery is”
What does betrayal do to a person? It can hinder your ability to trust others and may even impact the way you form relationships in the future. This is why it’s vital to focus on your own healing in the aftermath of a breach of trust. In this realization lies the answer to what to say to someone who betrayed you.
Do not linger too long on the pain caused by someone who betrayed you. “When figuring out what to say when someone betrays you, it’s important to remind yourself that you needn’t give that person the luxury of watching the havoc they’ve wreaked on your emotional state. Focusing on self-preservation is the best way to tell them that they didn’t live up to the love and expectations you had from them,” says Joie.
Try and make a concrete plan to recover and be healthy again. The best way to get over a betrayal is to be happy and successful so focus on things that would make you come alive again and resurrect the neglected parts of your life thus far. Self-love is the best antidote to betrayal and telling the person who caused you so much hurt that you’re choosing yourself over them is the best betrayal message to a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/spouse.
Your life is much more than your relationship (though it may have seemed otherwise when you were cheated upon). You have your friends, career, family and a whole future to look forward to. Enroll in some class that you wanted to do, learn something new, take that solo trip, and most importantly, try and meet new people.
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7. “I will seek a true friend who is unlike you”
It can be a truly isolating experience when someone betrays your trust. These are times when you need a true confidant. While life may or may not present you with an opportunity to set things right with someone who betrayed you, you can certainly seek a friend who has perhaps gone through the same pain and has come out of it successfully.
It will help to realize that you are not the only one who has suffered a betrayal. If your hurt is too extreme, do not suffer in silence. Seeking professional help can be immensely helpful in situations like these. A counselor will help you process the pain and look at the situation objectively. It aids healing. If you’re looking for the right support and help to navigate the pain of betrayal, skilled and experienced counselors on Bonobology’s panel of experts are here for you.
8. “I will not obsess over your betrayal”
This is something you need to say to yourself more than someone who betrayed you and can’t be trusted. Reiterate this over and over until you learn to put a full stop after the period of mourning over the relationship is over. It is very difficult to get over a betrayal but obsessing over the past is not going to help the healing process. Meditate and attain mastery over your thoughts and make peace with your past.
No one should get away with breaking someone’s trust and no one should have to live under the shadow of having been betrayed by someone they placed all their trust in. “When someone betrays you, tell them that the pedestal that you placed them on was too high for them. You get it and aren’t going to repeat that mistake or let it define you. They can either rise up to your level or leave,” says Joie.
Observe and acknowledge the after-effects of a betrayal but do not hold on to them for too long. You don’t want the pain of being betrayed by someone you trusted to define who you are. Every step you take should be toward healing and not getting stuck in the same place.
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9. “I will love me more than I loved you”
The road to restoring your faith in relationships will be slow since your trust would have been destroyed by someone who betrayed you. It’s okay, you will slowly fit the pieces of the puzzle one by one. First, try to have faith in yourself by not judging yourself too harshly or holding yourself responsible.
Then, identify people who win your confidence while gradually detaching yourself from those you don’t get a good vibe from. Respect your instincts. Whatever you do, keep yourself at the center since there is no better way to heal a betrayed heart than by learning to love yourself. Don’t let notions of selfless, unconditional love hold you back in a relationship if your heart’s no longer in it.
“I’m choosing myself over you” is the best thing to say to a husband who betrayed you, a wife you took unfair advantage of your trust, or a partner who downright stabbed you in the back. What “choosing myself” means is up to you to decide – it can mean taking some time off to focus on your healing or cutting out the person who broke your trust. Whatever you decide is a legitimate choice, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Related Reading: 8 Steps To Completely Forgive Someone Who Cheated On You
Dos And Don’ts When Someone Betrays You
As we said before, there are no absolute right or wrong answers to what to say when someone betrays you. Your responses can depend on your emotional state, the nature of your relationship, the magnitude of the betrayal as well as your understanding of what causes someone to betray another. For instance, figuring out what to say to a husband who betrayed you can be a lot harder than coming up with a betrayal message to a boyfriend. Not to mention, your responses in both situations can be drastically different.
Even so, having a certain set of broad guidelines can make navigating the after-effects of a betrayal in a relationship somewhat easier on you. These guidelines can serve as an anchor that tells you how far you can go in expressing your anguish and dismay and where to draw the line so that the betrayal and your response to it don’t continue to haunt you for years to come. To that end, here is a lowdown on some basic dos and don’ts for dealing with being betrayed by someone you loved and trusted:
|Reach out to your loved ones and your inner circles of people for support when dealing with betrayal in a relationship||Do not isolate yourself and wallow in the pain all alone. You don’t have to go through this alone|
|Look for answers, try to understand what causes someone to betray another. Educating yourself on what happened and why can make it easier to deal with the breach of trust||Don’t turn your quest for answers into an obsession. While it’s helpful to have an insight into why someone you trusted betrayed you, you must also accept that you may never have all the answers|
|Allow yourself to tackle this situation one day at a time. Know that it’s okay to not know whether you want to leave or stay or even have conflicting feelings about the situations you’re in||Do not make any big decisions when you’re in the midst of emotional upheaval. Even when you feel sure that you know how you want to handle the situation, sleep on it|
|Reach out for professional help as soon as you can. It will help you sort through all those jumbled up, conflicting emotions in a more methodical manner as well as aid your healing||Do not shy away from seeking help that you clearly need. Getting help does not make you weak or incapable of taking care of your own emotional needs|
|Be kind to yourself. Do not blame yourself or accept guilt for someone else’s betrayal, even if that person is your partner||Let the person get away with betraying you and breaking your trust in the name of cutting them some slack or taking a compassionate view of the situation|
- Betrayal from a loved one can be a shattering experience that can change your entire outlook on relationships
- The right way to respond to betrayal depends on a host of factors – your emotional landscape, the nature of your relationship, the magnitude of the betrayal
- Your response to betrayal should not come from a place of emotional vulnerability
- Self-preservation and focusing on your healing is far more important than knowing what to say when someone betrays you
Betrayal or disloyalty can be life-altering. But the choice is up to you whether you want to emerge stronger and wiser from it or if you want to wallow in self-pity, and paint the rest of the world with the same brush. Don’t deprive yourself of the love and friendship you richly deserve. Choose wisely.
There can be several reasons for betrayal. Selfishness, insensitivity to the needs of the partner or friend, the requirement to protect self-interest, and greed are some of the factors why a person betrays another.
You should definitely communicate what you feel to the person who betrayed you. Let him or her know the hurt that his or her actions have caused. Figure out the reasons why they let you down and judge if they deserve a second chance.
The ultimate betrayal in a relationship is having an affair with someone your partner knows. Letting your partner down in a crucial moment in their life is also a very hurtful and insensitive thing to do.
To get over the betrayal by an ex, learn to detach yourself from the feeling. Invest in yourself, practice self-love and healing and slowly learn to trust the right person again. There is no better way to get over betrayal than by being happy.