Like anything in life, relationships can go exactly as we would like them to, or they can present us with situations we have no way of planning for or predicting. Whilst difficult when one is actually in the throes of a bad situation, it may be possible to gain some reassurance from the fact that these times are mostly transient. However immense the pain of betrayal or disappointment, there is always solace in the lessons learned and the possibility of a better future. Here are some pointers on how to begin again.
Let go of blame
It’s natural that the first reaction after being betrayed is to assign blame to whoever it is that’s let you down. It gives the appearance of making us feel better, of giving us an outlet and a rational route for emotions that feel confused, stuck or difficult to quantify. The only thing blame will do however, is sap your energy and distract your attention from the things which really matter, such as healing and moving on.
Give blame its moment in the spotlight if that’s what you need to do, but also know that long term, it isn’t going to help you move forward. If anything, it will keep you rooted in the past and fill your present moment with nothing but painful flashbacks. Once you know who is at fault in a situation, it’s more important to work out what you’re going to do with that information.
First things first, let it be acknowledged that betrayal is always a choice. The person doing the hurting needs to be aware of this, as does the one who has been betrayed.
If you have been hurt, always take the time to investigate whether or not you’ve played any part in what has happened. This is not about excusing other people’s behaviour, but being fully aware and realistic about your own. So, for example, yes, she cheated, it’s inexcusable, but were you out six nights a week and did you ignore her when she communicated her loneliness?
Never leave a situation without asking yourself whether you could have done any better and if you also have lessons to take away. Awareness is the fastest way to safeguard history from repeating itself.
If it’s you who have hurt someone else, you too need to address your actions before attempting to move on to your next relationship, or even the new chapter in this one. Being forgiven, as you’re probably painfully and frustratingly aware, doesn’t absolve you of guilt or automatically put you in your partner’s good books. With this in mind, if you truly want to move on, don’t blanket apologise for an event unless you’re truly sorry for it. Be honest, separate out the actions you regret and those you don’t.
For example, if you’re the one who cheated, you may be sorry you made your partner upset, but not sorry you satisfied something that had been missing for you. These will be hard conversations, but this comes with being an adult. Be compassionate in your approach and make your intention truth rather than justification.
Don’t lose yourself
If you’ve been hurt in love, this next piece of advice is admittedly easier said than done. At some point during the situation, you need to check-in with yourself and see if your response and general behaviour to what has happened is in keeping with the person you believe yourself to be. Also check if this is the type of relationship you want to be part of and the future you want.
Forgetting who you are, your standards and your limits, or brushing things under the carpet is the quickest way to end up back at square one a few months down the line. Always stay true to yourself and remain sure of your worth.
To forgive or not
Here is the reality of it: forgive or not, there is no in-between. If you choose to forgive whatever it was that hurt you, and you decide to stay with your partner, you need to make sure you’re truly capable of drawing a line under the event. Give yourself time to do this, have the conversation about what went wrong and try to fully satisfy your questions or doubts. After all is said and done, in order to have a healthy new start that has any chance of success, you need both feet in the present.
It’s also possible, and in some cases admirable, for people to forgive but still choose to end the partnership. If the hurt was so severe, or the realisation that you’re worth more was so powerful, that you choose to leave, ensure any self-work is completed before you enter into the next relationship. Taking baggage from one love to the next makes for a cluttered existence, and this is a prime time to let it all go.