Revising Your Relationship’s History to Cope with Betrayal

Discovering a betrayal can lead to extreme ways of coping. Finding out that your partner has been keeping secrets, cheating, or having an affair can lead you to cope with anger, fear, anxiety, depression and even denial. There are countless ways that people cope with betrayal. Some cope with chaos, intensity and volatile. Others detach from their relationships. However, there is one method of coping that I think often gets overlooked. One reason that it gets overlooked is because it’s a romanticized way of coping with the pain of such a difficult situation. This is something I call forcing the past. Let me say a little bit about what this is and why I believe it happens.

So many couples who are dealing with betrayal will try to force their lives into a more idealized version of what they think should’ve been doing, feeling, and experiencing before (and sometimes while) the betrayal happened. The problem with this is people can cling to morals and ideas that aren’t based in the reality of how things were. They often make it seem as though simple fixes can make the relationship safe from trauma in the future. Unfortunately, there’s no going back to a time before the betrayal.

On the surface, trying to make these quick fixes seems logical. However, it often leads to future problems. It leads to disconnection and even resentments as authentic needs get skipped over to match roles and ideals.

Trauma Makes Your Sense of Time Confusing

When a trauma happens, you can lose yourself in space and time. you can detach from yourself and lose touch of who you are and how you feel. It makes sense to then idealize playing a role or trying to fit in to something that seems like it would fix things. What ends up happening in the short term is that things may seem more workable and hopeful, but in the long run more and more problems tend to surface.

Some of the most common problems I hear about in office that clients face include the following:

  • People feeling unseen and unheard in their relationships.
  • Good sex but lack of connection.
  • No sex at all.
  • Mood and anxiety issues that get worse over time.
  • Life dreams that are given up.
  • Lack of personal lives outside of the primary relationship.
  • Avoidance of feelings.

Over-romanticizing the past.

When stressed or heartbroken, it’s natural to search for some sense of stability. Some look at the places in the past where their relationship seemed stable, ok, and reliable. The past was arguably easier to deal with than the present situation. You’re in the center of a betrayal at this time.

Many times when we’re going through a difficult time, we look at the past with rose-colored glasses, which can make us feel more depressed or frustrated. You might find yourself asking yourself “how did I go from that situation to the situation I’m in now?” Other questions may pop up like “how did I ever trust this person?”

Thus, you may find yourself struggling with shame or self-blame about the situations that you’re currently facing. A betrayal isn’t your fault. However, as time goes on, you want to be able to look at what happened in the past that everyone in the relationship needs to address. This is the way to make real, new and meaningful reconnections that will last.

Build a new future.

When you focus on the present with authenticity and mindfulness, you can build a connective future where you can build a life of better connections. You can learn how to communicate about issues in a way that identifies solutions that work for both you. You can learn how to reconnect through new traditions and through sex.

But you have to heal with newly found trust. Many relationships identify that the past included trust that wasn’t deep and sustainable. Trust is a foundation that has to be built upon. As you learn about your partner with increased dialogue, you’ll learn about meaningful ways of increasing trust that aligns with your partner. Many of these things will be small gestures of understanding, appreciation, and listening.

Healing open wounds.

In order to build a new future, old wounds have to be healed. Healing happens with transparency, consistency, and reliability. This may also mean that there are no more assumptions that can be allowed. Many of us go into relationships with assumptions about relationship structures, personal desires and goals, and even sex. When cheating and betrayals occur, dialogue has to open up to prevent misunderstandings, secrets, and future lies. Therefore, it’s good to talk about relationship goals and desires. It’s also important to learn how to talk about insecurities, fears, and boundaries.

Talking about this stuff may not be easy. If you struggle to figure out how to talk about these things without getting extremely activated, it may be important to participate in individual or even trauma therapy . You may also need to engage in couples therapy to help with dialogue

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