Building romantic relationships is quite a difficult job, but loving couples can overcome many problems without extensive effort. But it is a different story when a loved one betrays. After all, betrayal is one of the most difficult and hurtful emotional experiences – it bends the heavens for a cheated partner. Millions of people wonder, “How to get over betrayal in love relationships?” “How to cope with pain and what to do next?” Today, we’ll talk about betrayal trauma, discuss its signs and effects, and learn some useful tips for recovering from betrayal.
What Is Betrayal Trauma?
It does not matter whether you want to fix a romantic relationship or end it and move on, you should know how to get rid of the trauma of betrayal. The very term of betrayal trauma means damage that is caused to a person who has been betrayed by a loved one. The betrayal of the closest person is the most painful because you trusted and counted on the support and help of your beloved one in difficult times.
The concept of betrayal trauma theory was first introduced by Jennifer Freyd in 1994. Betrayal trauma causes strong psychological experiences that can last quite a long time and negatively affect the general well-being of a person. Therefore, it is important to learn how to get rid of it.
What Can Be a Betrayal in Love Relationships
Physical cheating is hardly the only reason that undermines trust and negates relationships, although some people are able to overcome cheating in relationships. There are some other forms of betrayal that seem much less dangerous but can have the same deplorable consequences as adultery. People are not always able to recognize betrayal as the main cause of their relationship troubles. Therefore, you should know what types of betrayal exist.
Lying is a kind of poison for a romantic relationship. It can gradually penetrate into relationships, being nourished by empty words and apologies and undermining the atmosphere of trust that previously prevailed in relationships. It does not matter whether this is a blatant or hidden lie, it destroys love. Do not embark upon the path of deception, tell the truth to each other!
2. Emotional remoteness
Romantic relationships imply that you support or protect each other in difficult life situations. There are many cases when a person needs care and support of a loved one. But some people are not able to express warm feelings at all, sometimes they manage to build relationships, provided that both partners keep an emotional distance.
Men demonstrate emotional remoteness more often, and there’s a rationale to that. In such a way, they want to "run away" because they do not know how to do it, or are not sure that they can cope with a difficult situation. Unfortunately, a woman is none the better for it. A double burden falls on her shoulders – the difficult life situation and emotional betrayal of a loved one. Thus, it is one of the surest betrayal trauma triggers. The absence of emotional ostents of love is extended in the range – from callousness and reticence to cruelty. And single women know how it is important to hear words about love, tenderness, and appreciation.
3. Failure to keep promises
An unkept promise is akin to a deliberate lie. When building a romantic relationship, people inevitably make promises to each other. An unbroken promise makes the relationship stronger, and unkept causes disappointment and distrust. You should understand the true value of words and learn not to promise what you cannot fulfill. Thus, you will neither undermine the trust of a loved one nor make your beloved feel betrayed.
Psychological Effects of Betrayal: How Does It Affect Our Life?
Before learning how to get rid of betrayal trauma, you should find out about the psychological effects of betrayal.
1. Health impairment
Betrayal causes great fear, capturing the entire human body. It activates stress response and causes a range of physical, mental, and emotional symptoms – problems with the adrenal glands and digestion, fatigue, confusion, haze and chaos in the head, depression, anger and rage, and a feeling of deep humiliation. Health deteriorates, and a person feels unwell.
2. Lower self-esteem
After the betrayal of a loved one, you feel abandoned and rejected. In addition, you are tormented by a feeling of unworthiness. Accordingly, your self-esteem and self-confidence deflate. It is anguish that your loved one took advantage of you for their purposes without even caring for you.
3. Inability to enjoy a normal life
Under the influence of betrayal trauma, you as if become a hostage to the past. The fear or unwillingness to recall traumatic memories not only strengthen the power of betrayal over you but also create internal tension and lead to anxiety and subdued spirits. Until you overcome the trauma, you are not able to enjoy a normal life.
4. Psychological disorders
The trauma of betrayal can affect a person very much and even cause a number of psychological disorders. In most cases, this happens if this person is left alone without the support of loved ones and dearest people. In this case, it is very difficult to get rid of the trauma of betrayal yourself.
5. The inability to trust people
This is one of the most common psychological effects of betrayal trauma. After you have been betrayed by a loved one whom you believed most of all, you begin to lose confidence in all people and suspect deception and betrayal at every step. Accordingly, it is becoming difficult to build relationships not only with the opposite sex but also with all people around.
Main Symptoms of Betrayal Trauma
When you are betrayed by a person whom you trusted most of all, you are overwhelmed with many incomprehensible and contradictory feelings. This is a very strong mental shock; therefore, you may not be aware that you are experiencing betrayal trauma. But there are some obvious betrayal trauma symptoms that will help you find this out.
1. You blame yourself
You think, "If only I had acted the other way round, everything would have been different." But the reality of betrayal is that you cannot prevent it. Your loved one decided to betray you without thinking about your feelings or desires. It’s not your fault. And therefore, you should not take responsibility for the actions of other people.
2. Physical symptoms
- fatigue, lethargy;
- muscle hypertonicity, especially in the calves and back;
- inability to relax and rest;
- sleep disturbance;
psychosomatic diseases (according to psychologists, from 80% to 100% of psychosomatic diseases develop due to trauma).
3. Emotional symptoms
- dependence on the partner;
- isolation, difficulties in communication with other people;
- lack of trust in the outside world;
- difficulties with learning and concentration;
- you do not feel like a whole person, you are as if lost;
- problems in building relationships.
4. Super vigilance
Excessive vigilance can manifest itself in the "protective" actions of a person who has suffered from the betrayal of a loved one. It is about a “detective work” (checking accounts, wallets, computer files, phone applications, browsing history of a loved one, etc.).
5. Emotional lability
Emotional lability (excessive emotional reactions and frequent mood swings) are about repeated tearfulness, frequent mood swings from rage to sadness, unjustified aggression, etc. Even a small impulse can trigger strong emotional experiences in a betrayed person. Increasing anxiety, rage, or fear may arise from a minimal hint that the betrayal may be repeated or continued. For example, if a loved one arrives home late, sets passwords on the phone and computer, etc.
6. Bad sleep and nightmares
Scientists have found that about 60 percent of people who have survived the trauma of betrayal often experience sleep problems and nightmares. And this is not strange because such a psychological shock has negative effects on the sleep of a person.
7. Suicidal thoughts
Half of the people with the trauma of betrayal have suicidal thoughts. It clearly shows how serious the effects can be. If you have been betrayed by a loved one and feel so bad that suicidal thoughts appear in your head, this is a definite sign of betrayal trauma. To overcome this disastrous condition, it is better to seek the help of a specialist.
Proven Ways to Embark on Betrayal Trauma Recovery
When a relationship begins to destroy under the influence of any kind of betrayal, then promises, apologies, and romantic evenings may not be enough to get rid of betrayal trauma and return the relationship to its previous level. However, there are some proven ways to recover from betrayal trauma.
1. Accept the pain
This is one of the best ways for healing from betrayal trauma. Although each situation is exclusive, there are certain things you can do to embark on betrayal trauma recovery. When you find out about the betrayal of a loved one, you are immersed in an emotional whirlwind of anger, fear, and a sense of loss. The point is to understand that you are not going crazy. Other people experienced the same pain but managed to overcome it. Remember that you are not alone. Your feelings are quite a normal and adequate reaction to such a traumatic experience. You have not recovered yet not only from the loss of integrity of your relationship but also from the loss of illusions about happy relationships. It would be strange if you do not feel lost after the betrayal of a loved one.
This may seem paradoxical, but as soon as you acknowledge this pain, only then it begins to dissipate. There is one good saying, “Betrayal is a whip that hit you only once – at the moment when you find out about everything. All the rest of the time, you do it by yourself again and again.”
2. Discuss the problem with a partner
It is important to discuss what happened with a partner not only to understand your loved one but also look at the situation from the outside and identify the problem areas of your relationship. A properly structured conversation will help you never return to this topic ever again – neither in reproaches nor in painful memories. Do not be afraid to be emotional and sincere – it is important to give vent to the strong emotions, otherwise, they can begin to destroy you and your relationship.
3. Build a relationship from scratch
After you forgive your partner, it is important to realize that you are not returning to where you were before the betrayal – you are building your relationship from scratch. One of the most damaging aspects of betrayal is broken trust. Therefore, this is the first thing you should restore. It may take months or years, but if both partners are ready to struggle for their wellbeing and move on, they will have a great reward in the form of shared happiness. Switch your energy to building new relationships, getting closer, and getting to know each other again, rather than trying to forget about what happened. Throw everything unnecessary out of your head – the old relationship was destroyed, so build a new one.
Of course, any kind of betrayal can undermine trust in a relationship and lead to a break-up. However, betrayal is not an unambiguous doom for love – it is possible to overcome the betrayal trauma in relationships and restore trust. It is important to realize that all suffering is in your head, and if you decide to get rid of it, you will surely succeed. Try to realize the existence of the problem and recognize its role in your relationship and discuss the essence of the problem with your partner. After overcoming the betrayal trauma, relationships should be built on a solid foundation of mutual trust and respect – only in this case, there will be no place for betrayal.