Getting Past a Friend's Betrayal

Moving On When a Friend Betrays You

Arguing With a Friend
Getting past a friend's betrayal. Thinkstock/Getty Images

Is there anything more hurtful than a friend’s betrayal? Friends can behave poorly for a variety of reasons, many of which have nothing to do with you at all. Perhaps they are jealous of you, secretly irritated, or suffering from low self-esteem.

You don’t need to figure out the reason for a betrayal in order to get over it. Here are some tips on moving beyond the betrayal and reclaiming your life.

Figure Out Which Kind of Betrayal You’re Dealing With

A betrayal to one person doesn’t mean the same to someone else. Figure out if your friend’s actions were truly a betrayal (here’s how to do that) and then give yourself a short time to reflect. When you do finally react, let it be from a place of forgiveness and strength. (Here’s some myths about forgiveness that will help you get to a healthy place.)

Forgive – Even When You Don’t Stay Friends

The first step in moving on is forgiveness, especially when you don’t feel like it. Make the decision that you will forgive, then work on this emotion and let it transform your feelings. The decision to forgive needs to come first, though.

If you’re having difficulty with forgiveness, try this exercise. Picture your heart as a holding place for all your emotions. Envision the anger and hurt you feel from your friend’s betrayal, and picture it taking up space in your heart.

Now picture a happy thought, like having a great time with a new friend you haven’t met yet, or falling in love. Imagine these happy thoughts trying to take up space in your heart and there not being room because of the anger and hurt that is there from your friend.

While this visual might be a simplistic way of looking at forgiveness, it makes the point that your heart and emotions don’t need to hold on to negativity from a friend’s betrayal.

Doing so limits the good that you can experience. Make up your mind to let it go so that thinking about what your friend did won’t become your focus.

Staying Friends? Allow Yourself Some Time

While it’s admirable to tell a friend that you immediately forgive them, the reality is that you might need to take some time before you’re in a place where you can go back to being good friends. In fact, your friendship may never get back to that point.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t have a friendship of some sort, just that you have to give it time before you can work your way back to where you were. Just because you’ve forgiven doesn’t mean your friend has earned your trust back. While you shouldn’t bring up the betrayal again and again or hold it over their head, you should be careful not to say you’re “over it” when you’re really not.

Friendships can get stronger after a betrayal, but it won’t happen overnight. Your friend might want you two to go back to the way you were but let your friend know you need to take it slow and do things in your own time. See your friend and plan outings, but monitor how you feel. The way you hang out with a friend will probably be different than before.

For example, you might feel better if:

  • Other people are along.

 

  • You set a limit on your get-togethers (an hour for dinner, meeting for coffee, etc.)

 

  • You agree to make certain subjects taboo if they involved the betrayal. For instance, if your friend cheated on you with an ex, avoid the subject of dating for a while. If they gossiped about you behind your back, be careful about gossiping about other friends.

 

If this sounds painful, it is! It’s not an easy thing to move forward after a betrayal but it is possible. You might need to explain to your friend what you need in order to build trust again.

For example, maybe you prefer that your friend doesn’t call you to chat away mindlessly for a while because you don’t care to listen to the trivia of their life. Or maybe you’d like to go out for dinner instead of meeting at his or her place because a restaurant feels safer and more neutral to you.

Spell out what you need in a kind way. Even though your friend betrayed you, you’ll always feel better having taken the high road than if you engaged in pettiness or acted snarky with them.

If You Break Up With a Friend – Do So Without Regret

Ending a friendship is always hard, even with someone who treated you poorly. You may feel guilty about ending the relationship, which is why you need to make sure it’s something you really want to do before you officially break up with your friend. But once you do, don’t beat yourself up about it.

It’s hard to understand why certain people that we care about treat us poorly, but don’t overanalyze it. Poor behavior is a reflection on your friend, not you. Allow yourself the time to grieve the loss of the friendship, and then move on to meet new people.

The best way to get over a friend’s betrayal is to spend time with friends who are good to you or meet a few new ones. Getting out and talking to others will help you put the betrayal behind you.