“When someone betrays me, I have a hard time getting over it. Any tips?”
—S.B.*, University of Victoria, British Columbia
It feels terrible when someone betrays you. It might seem like the relationship is broken forever. How could you ever trust this person again? Before you remove them from your life completely, take a step back.
Get the facts
After you have gotten over the shock of the betrayal:
- Talk with the person (just the two of you) about what happened.
- Your goal is to find out the truth. There might be rumors going around, but you want to hear it straight from this person.
Take time and get space
Once you get the facts, you may need some distance between you and the other person. It is OK to tell the person that you need time away.
To make some space for yourself, try these simple, effective, ways to change your habits:
- Take a different route to class
- Spend time with other people (for example, sit with your other friends at meals)
- Unfollow this person on social media (this can be temporary)
- The most important thing is to take the time you need to process your emotions and grieve. It can take a while for you to feel you’re back in balance.
Figuring out what you want next
It’s important to reflect on the betrayal and what has been done to the relationship. This will determine whether you consider re-establishing your friendship or whether you choose to walk away from it.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Is the other person apologetic? Do they want to make things better?
- Can you move beyond what happened? You don’t need to share your decision; it’s personal and shouldn’t be swayed by anyone else.
Trying to forgive
Forgiveness doesn’t mean acceptance. It’s a very personal act. You are relieving yourself from the anger and hurt, acknowledging what happened, and making your decision about the future of the relationship.
Sharon Sevier, PhD, LPC, is chair of the board of directors of the American School Counselor Association.