Posts Tagged: betrayal

After Betrayal: Now What?

You didn’t see it coming. But your broken heart tells a different story. You’ve been betrayed. The pit in your stomach, the inability to think clearly, the loss of security and everything you thought you knew. You question your future, your kid’s future, and worry settles in like an uninvited cat. You’re faced with decisions on how you will respond. What do you do next?

How Should You Respond?

The feelings of betrayal can be so intense that you can feel completely off your game and unlike yourself. I think that is where the phrase, “beside myself” came from- feelings of betrayal give us a sense that we are outside of ourselves powerlessly watching the bad thing happen. Last week, we discussed what true repentance looks like, and without true repentance, reconciliation is not possible. If you missed it, click here to read.

trustworthy again


How do you put together the pieces again, and make sure that you move forward instead of get stuck in anger and bitterness?

  1. Determine the state of repentance your partner is experiencing. Repentance means that your partner identifies the gravity of the injury, makes reparations and commitment for change. Last week’s post addressed the steps in true repentance. Click here if you missed it.
  2. List your needs: this may be difficult if you haven’t been in the habit of recognizing and asking for your own needs. You may be out of practice when it comes to identifying what you need, because you’re used to feeling other’s needs first. Take some time to list some things that you’ll need, in order to move forward. Maybe you need your partner to go to counseling, go to a 12 Step program, come clean to your family, switch jobs, join a marriage group at church with you, or take a parenting class.
  3. Determine if reconciliation is an option. Remember, forgiveness does not mean that you have to trust or reconcile with the other person. You do not. Reconciliation is a much different process than forgiveness. Forgiveness can be done with or without the offending person’s repentance or willingness. If the offending person has proven himself emotionally safe, trustworthy and remorsefully repentant, then reconciliation can be an option. If he only offers lip service, without true behavior change, then reconciliation is not a safe idea. If the offending person offers no admittance of wrongdoing at all, he is showing you that he is not a safe person to trust again.
  4. Recognize your own part, if appropriate, in the breakdown. I’m not saying that the betrayal is your fault. Not at all. However, it is important to identify your contributions to the breakdown of the relationship whatever they may be. Maybe you ignored some warning signs, or neglected to set good boundaries in the beginning. Maybe your people picker was broken and you picked the wrong person. Maybe you tolerated disrespect too long. This is an important step to your recovery because it prepares you for self-forgiveness.
  5. Determine what Forgiveness looks like for you. Forgiveness is choosing to no longer hold the person accountable for that particular transgression. It’s as if the trial is over, the sentence is in place, and you no longer have to be the judge, the jailor, or the enforcer. You may be experiencing fear of getting hurt again, but don’t let that fear determine whether you forgive or not. Forgiveness may mean that you reach out to the person and offer to take steps toward reconciliation. Or, forgiveness for you may mean wishing the person well, and keeping your distance.
  6. Signs of forgiveness. How do you know if you’ve really forgiven or not? Well, you’ll experience less anger, hurt and fear when you are with or when you think about that person. You feel confident that you can take care of yourself, and wise about decisions you make. You feel compassion for the other person, and truly wish the best for him/her. Whether or not they have changed, you have peace with yourself and extend peace toward him/her. Forgiveness is the freedom from the power of past pain.


Before agreeing to “Work things out” after betrayal, it is important to take the time you need to discern your true feelings about this. Since trust has been broken, it takes time to see whether your partner has what it takes to repair trust. True friendship and love cannot exist in an unsafe relationship, so give yourself permission to take your time and space to determine the safety of the relationship.




Is Your Partner Truly Sorry? Or just Sorry they got Caught?

How do you know when someone is really sorry? After a relationship betrayal, a heartfelt apology is the first step needed for relationship to continue or heal. If you want to work things out, it’s important that neither partner skip any steps in the healing process. An apology sets the stage for more repair work. So, what is true repentance?
sorry not sorry

How can you tell if your partner is just saying “Sorry” to stay out of trouble, or to cover up a deeper secret? How can you tell if the sorry will stick? Is it safe to trust again? These are the questions that victims of relationship betrayal ask themselves.

A Story About True Repentence

An old Hebrew tradition, I once heard seems to say it best. The story goes like this. Benny and Lucille were next door neighbors. Benny trained sheep dogs on his little farm, and Lucille raised goats. One day, Benny’s friskiest dog chewed out of his pen and attacked Lucille’s baby goat, Abigail and killed it. Lucille was sick about it. She cried and cried over her little Abigail. When Benny discovered the news, he couldn’t believe it. How could his dog do such a thing? And especially to Abigail, Lucille’s pride and joy?

Benny knew what to do, however. He knew he had to make it right with his neighbor. A simple apology wouldn’t do. When he went over to Lucille’s house, he could tell that she had been crying and he knew then just how much her little goat meant to her.

“I know I can’t bring back your little goat, and I’m so sorry that my dog attacked her last night. I’m just sick about what happened. I know you loved your little lamb. I want to make it up to you. I want to buy you two little goats of your choice. One for Abigail and one for our friendship.

Lucille knew that she could never replace little Abigail, but she appreciated Benny’s sincerity so much, she wanted to extend her hand in forgiveness.

“I also found a new home for the dog that did this,” Benny said, “So he won’t be a threat anymore.”

This is just a little story, but it does help to understand what is needed for a broken relationship to feel whole again. The old tradition basically states that the responsible party replaces what was lost, and then adds a 1/5 to restore the relationship. It emphasizes that an apology should not merely be words or sentiment, it must also include an offer to make amends. It should cost something. It must repair the emotional and relational damages, not just the financial.


If you have sustained an injury, like betrayal or broken trust or damaged reputation- a simple apology may not be enough to repair the relationship. Here are some steps to recognize a sincere apology.

The responsible person:

  1. Recognizes the extent of the damage done, and accepts his/her responsibility
  2. Actually feels some of the pain he/she has caused through empathy
  3. Doesn’t minimize, excuse or justify the wrong-doing
  4. Doesn’t say things like, “I’m sorry, but…” or “I’ll say sorry if…”
  5. Asks, “What can I do to make amends?” and insists on making reparations.
  6. Doesn’t shift the blame to you, reporting that “It is really your fault. If you wouldn’t have….”
  7. Follows through with his/her commitment. This may be a promise to seek support, counseling, rehab, extra accountability, or change bad habits. This usually takes time and consistency.
  8. Helps in other ways, like helping with the house, the finances, the kids, and general willingness to serve.

If you see evidence that he/she is truly sorry for the relationship transgression, you will slowly be able to trust and forgive. However, if you sense that the “Sorry” is half-hearted, lip service or just for show, then trusting again is a big mistake.

Learning to trust is a very long process. It’s ok to take your time to figure out what your next steps are. Sometimes the best solution is to “wait and see” if the changes are short lived or not. You can take all the time you need to discern if the relationship is safe enough to move forward. If the other person is pressuring you to hurry up, that is a strong sign that he/she is not truly repentant.

When Someone Does You Wrong

Good morning to all the Super Bowl Winners, Football Haters, Valentine’s Day Protesters and Googly-Eyed-Love-Birds! Today we will be talking about What To Do When Someone Does You Wrong.

Like the guy who lead you on and then didn’t respond when you asked him out.

Like the guy you were dating for years expecting a proposal that never came.

Like the person who anonymously logged a complaint against you without coming to you first.

Like the person who cheated on you and wants to take the kids on vacation with the person they cheated with.

Like the boss that implied you’d be the next one promoted right before you were laid off.

You know what it feels like to get hurt, rejected, left behind and lied to. You know what it feels like to be the “first to say sorry,” and the “last to know.” These things hurt. People hurt people, and when you’re in the middle of feeling abandoned or hijacked, you start to lose your confidence.

You wonder, “What did I do to deserve this,” and “What could I have done differently to avoid this,” and “what was he thinking,” and “How could she?” These are questions that leave us feeling powerless. They do us NO GOOD. In the middle of our pain, we analyze our short comings and their intentions to death. 

The brain loves resolution. It’s a constant problem solver. Think of the brain like a master puzzler, working tirelessly until all the pieces fit to make a complete picture. The brain won’t stop working until the puzzle makes sense. That’s why it wakes you up in the middle of the night, and interrupts your work day with memories, and stops you mid-sentence with its obsessions. It craves resolution. And when you don’t have answers to WHY THE BAD THING HAPPENED, it just keeps puzzling. Enter stage right- SELF DOUBT, SHAME, and FEAR. 

Self doubt, shame and fear all too gladly will answer your brain’s puzzling questions with, “You were such a fool to believe him,” and “You should have known better,” and “You’re doomed to be alone forever,” and “This is how it always turns out,” and “There must be something wrong with you.”


Exit SELF DOUBT, SHAME, and FEAR. Their parts have been cut. There’s a new sheriff in town! and it’s called Love.

Love says, “You’re going to be ok,” and “You’ve done hard things before,  you can do hard things again,” and “You’re never alone,” and “Though they hurt you, they do not define you,” and “You are not a victim, you are an Over Comer.”

One way to get LOVE mobilized in your life is to let love speak.

Come on, just let it come out.

Love advocates for justice. Love tells the truth. Love casts out all fear. Love redeems what is lost. Answer your brain’s puzzling with some solid answers. I find it is helpful to write these things down in a journal, address them to the person who hurt you, or shout them in a closet. It’s inadvisable to speak your mind to the person who directly hurt you, unless you have very specific conditions (we can talk about this in another blog.) It’s more important to express yourself FOR YOURSELF. It’s not really for the other person as much as it is for you. 

One of my friends went out on his boat in the middle of a quiet lake and shouted unfiltered thoughts and feelings until they were released. Your Love statements may sound something like this,

I didn’t deserve that treatment.

Your betrayal has nothing to do with me.

Your anger (choices, abuse, addiction) is not my fault.

I am for cherishing, for nurturing and for respecting.

I will not take on your judgment any more.

How sad that you missed the opportunity to really know me.

How sad that you gave up the chance to work together.

I am loved.

You may need to practice these statements until you get a sense of relief. Your brain will tell you when it’s puzzled is solved. If it’s not solved with exercises like these, then, talk to your counselor about it- there may be some unresolved trauma that got stuck.

Each of us have to navigate through rejection, betrayal, loss and grief. Sharing these experiences together with God’s help, makes us stronger and more resilient. You got this!

My “Relationship Savvy” blog gives you tips, advice, and flippin’ fantastic feel-goods to help with your most difficult relationship challenges.

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