As I’ve counseled and coached clients over the past 25 years either individually or as a couple, my professional experience has consistently proven many times over that a betrayal of trust in an intimate relationship is amongst the most painful of ways that it ends. Confidential sessions are available by secure, encrypted video-conferencing worldwide and locally in Durango, Colorado.
Loving, healthy relationships and marriages require trust to succeed. Building that trust is the very first step in building a lasting relationship. It is the necessary and solid foundation upon which the relationship is built. The making and keeping of agreements and boundaries in your relationship is absolutely critical to establishing and maintaining the trust between you and your partner. It’s how you are able to function with ease in your day to day life without fear, suspicion and worry. Being able to relax into the love between you and your partner and continue to build upon it is essential to the well-being of both of you. Both you and your partner may bring trust issues into your relationship. However, if you create trust in your relationship you will find healing for those issues from the past.
When trust is breached in a relationship or marriage because of the failure of one or both partners to keep relationship agreements and appropriate boundaries, the agonizing pain of betrayal is the result. Betrayal involves lies, deceptions, broken promises, cheating and stealing. Cheating in a relationship can come in the form of flirtation, emotional affairs and sexual infidelity. What most people who cheat don’t want to admit is that flirtation and emotional involvement with someone outside their relationship reflects broken agreements and boundary violations of their intimate relationship.
There are natural stages that people experience once a betrayal is discovered in an intimate relationship. These stages are not linear, but rather represent the experiences of emotion, cognition and somatic or body memories as a result of the betrayal. Therefore, the process of healing can bring up different stages in non-linear and ever-changing ways.
1. The discovery of betrayal produces shock. In this stage there is an awareness of the betrayal, which may involve cheating in one form or another. Your mind is still trying desperately to grasp what has occurred. Likely, you were seeing and feeling signs of what was happening, but couldn’t get to the complete truth of it yet. Some of those signs may have been your partner’s strange or inconsistent behaviors, stories that didn’t make sense to you, a sick feeling in your gut, a growing suspicion that you couldn’t shake off as inconsequential or actually catching your partner in his or her lies or deceptions. How is it that this person you trusted with your heart and soul, your love and your body has betrayed what was so precious and sacred to you?
It has been my professional experience consistently that when betrayed partners begin to experience ‘a knowing’ through their intuition about what is happening with their deceiving partners, that the one who is betraying the other tells him or her they are ‘paranoid’ in another effort to cover their lies and deceptions. Placing the focus on the one they are betraying is their way of avoiding truth-telling about factual information that is really happening and represents emotional dishonesty within the relationship.
2. Slowly, as you come to terms with the betrayal in your relationship, you will experience the process of disillusionment. You will question what was real and what was illusion throughout the entirety of your relationship with your partner. You will grieve the loss of the relationship you believed you had and the loss of the lover and partner you thought you knew.
3. You will grieve the loss of the person you loved, regardless of how you did or didn’t know him or her because of the lies and deceptions. Undoubtedly, as hard as it is to believe right now, there was truth and honesty from your partner somewhere along the way in your relationship. The truth and honesty as much as the lies and deception allowed you to fall in love with your partner and believe he or she was worthy of your love, even though your partner proved to be unworthy of your love and trust at some point in time.
4. You will feel humiliated because of your partner’s betrayal, and in some ways blame yourself for not believing the signs you were experiencing sooner and instead continuing to try to trust your untrustworthy partner. You will also experience a very personal loss of your self-esteem. You can be harsh with yourself doubting your judgment about the person you were close to and even believing you are stupid for not seeing it sooner. There is a tendency now to not trust yourself. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself as you would be with a close friend, and know that you believed your partner’s lies and deceptions because you love him or her and you wanted to see and believe the best in your partner. At its best that is what love calls us to do. Loving someone always places you at risk that your trust may be betrayed at some point in one way or another. Still, as with all of us who choose to love we take the risks to experience the love.
5. You will find it easiest to let go and move on with your life, or rebuild the trust in your relationship when you can forgive your partner for the betrayal of your trust. Inevitably, when your trust is betrayed you want to ask, “Why did he or she treat me this way?” You will look for answers to this often unanswerable question and feel obsessed with trying to find the bottom line truth of it all. You may look for ways that you contributed to problems in your relationship, but please understand those problems did not cause your partner to cheat on you. Your partner made a decision to dishonor his or her agreements with you and the boundaries of your intimate relationship.
6. When your relationship ends, you may discover that your partner has moved on with someone else much sooner than you are able to. Those who cheat and are sexually addicted almost always have someone else waiting for them in the wings before they leave a current relationship, which means they began cultivating that relationship before you discovered with certainty what was happening. So, while you may still be struggling to move forward with your life and are dealing not only with the loss of your relationship, but the betrayal as well, your former partner was making an exit for some time emotionally and / or sexually before you learned of the betrayal and the subsequent ending.
The devastating post-trauma of sexual and emotional betrayal takes time and great effort to heal. When I’m working with partners who’ve experienced this form of betrayal, I help them heal with two modalities that are excellent for trauma of any kind – EMDR (Eye-Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing) and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique).
If you are experiencing the agonizing pain of betrayal in your intimate relationship, please know that healing yourself is first and foremost your responsibility. Don’t expect to get your healing from the one who betrayed your love and trust.
If you decide you want to try to rebuild your relationship after betrayal(s), here are some things that are necessary to make it happen:
- Your partner confesses and gives a full disclosure of what he or she did to betray your love and trust.
- Your partner expresses genuine heartfelt remorse for getting involved with someone outside your relationship.
- Your partner is willing to make substantial amends for their poor choices and how you were injured because of those choices. Making amends isn’t just an apology. An amends is a substantial means of making it up to you. You as the injured partner get to request the amends that would feel healing and restorative for you.
- Your partner is willing, able and committed to get therapy for themselves and for the two of you as a couple to work through the devastating consequences of the betrayal and establish new agreements, boundaries, much greater accountability, and a trustworthy commitment for your relationship.
- You partner agrees to no further infidelities of any kind and refrains from keeping secrets from you about his or her communications and experiences with others. He or she agrees to full disclosure in your relationship and honors this agreement without fail.
- Your partner agrees to random polygraph tests at your request to validate he or she is remaining faithful.
- Your partner agrees to a substantial penalty for any further acts of infidelity.
If you decide to rebuild your relationship or marriage after an intimate betrayal, both of you are in for a lot of hard work. It won’t be easy to repair the damage that was done. However, it is possible to do with time and the work it takes to rebuild consistently over time. I’ve helped many couples rebuild their relationships and marriages after betrayal and I’m willing to help you also. I’ve also helped many injured partners heal and move on without their partners after a betrayal is discovered.
Give me a call today for your 15 minute, complimentary consultation to learn how I can help you to heal yourself and your relationship! Call me at 970-422-6102!