Will I Learn to Trust Again After Being Betrayed?
Human beings are imperfect, as are human relationships. Although some people experience deeper and more significant amounts of betrayal than others, it is rare for people to navigate through life without feeling betrayed on some level. Betrayal erodes trust, and rebuilding it often takes both time and intentionality.
Broken Agreements in Relationships
In a Psychology Today blog post, author David Bedrick notes that there are two parts to betrayal. Betrayal involves the violation of an agreement and the resulting injury.[i] The agreement can be one that is implicitly spoken, or one that is unspoken, but understood.
An example of a spoken agreement is marriage vows, in which partners promise to be faithful to each other. Unspoken agreements include the understanding that people in power, such as parents, teachers and doctors, will protect those under their care. Bedrick notes that lying and deceiving are generally interpreted as betrayal because of an unspoken expectation of being treated honestly.
Loss of Trust
When betrayal occurs, it is common for people to become less trusting, not only of the person by whom they feel betrayed, but also of people in general. Although withholding trust can provide a degree of psychological protection, it can also impede progress in many areas of life. The President of the National Association of Social Workers notes that, “trust is at the core of all meaningful relationships. Without trust there can be no giving, no bonding, no risk-taking.”[ii]
After a betrayal, it may or may not be wise to work to restore the broken relationship. There are many factors that influence the decision, including the willingness of the other party to acknowledge issues and work to correct any unhealthy patterns. Sometimes a relationship can be restored in stages, with boundaries in place for a period of time.
Whether or not the broken relationship is restored, it is important for people to be aware of the tendency to withhold trust from others not involved in the betrayal. It is easy to over-generalize and to assume the worst of everyone. Learning to trust again involves learning to evaluate people and relationships on their own merit.
Acknowledging and Evaluating Feelings
Rebuilding trust begins with acknowledging the feelings of betrayal and hurt. Pain, both physical and emotional, exists to warn of problems, and the pain of betrayal reinforces the fact that honest and trustworthy relationships are important. This knowledge can help give people the motivation and desire to work at building or rebuilding these vital connections.
Acknowledging and naming emotions raised by a betrayal is also important in helping them decrease in power. People who have been betrayed are likely to experience many concurrent emotions. These commonly include anger, sadness, anxiety and embarrassment. People may also feel worthless, dishonored, or hopeless.
It can be helpful to examine these emotions one by one and to evaluate them for truth, helpfulness, or the beliefs behind them. Anger, for example, may be completely justified, but after a certain point it may no longer be helpful. Hopelessness may arise from the belief that all future relationships are likely to be similar to the damaged one. People may begin to feel, sometimes on a subconscious level, that they are not worthy of love. Bringing thoughts and beliefs into the light and counteracting them with other thoughts, such as “The actions of another person do not define me or predict my future,” can be very helpful in the healing process.
Healing and building trust generally involve forgiveness. Forgiveness is not the same thing as excusing someone’s actions or removing consequences. It is an emotional decision in which the desire for revenge is released. It frees people to devote energy and thoughts to other things.
Accepting Risk and Overwriting Negative Experiences
Learning to trust again involves learning to evaluate risk. It also involves accepting that no relationship is risk-free. The benefits of human connection come with the inevitability of experiencing a degree of hurt. Clear communication about the expectations that people have of each other can help lower the potential pain caused by misunderstandings, but expecting relationships to be problem-free is unrealistic.
Trust is built as positive experiences overwrite negative ones. The amount of time this takes depends on personal factors and history. Humans have a tendency to remember negative events more powerfully than positive ones, a phenomenon known as negativity bias. Author Rick Hanson explains that the brain has specialized circuits to register negative experiences, but that positive ones are recorded by standard memory systems.[iii] He suggests working against the brain’s bias by holding positive experiences in awareness long enough to transfer them from short-term memory to long-term storage.
Betrayal and Addiction
When people are betrayed, the strong feelings that are provoked may prompt people to turn, or return, to the use of drugs like clonazepam. Part of the addiction recovery journey is developing healthy skills for dealing with negative emotions and learning to combat relapse cues. A positive therapeutic relationship between counselor and patient can also help people who have been betrayed to rebuild trust.
If you or someone you love needs clonazepam addiction treatment, we can help you find it. The individuals who staff our toll-free helpline understand the issues and can answer your questions. They can help you identify and understand your treatment options and can even check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, so there is never a wrong time to call. Call now and begin to rebuild your life.
[i] “Building & Repairing Trust: Keys to Sustainable Relationship,” David Bedrick, Psychology Today, October 2013, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/is-psychology-making-us-sick/201310/building-repairing-trust-keys-sustainable-relationship (March 3, 2016).
[ii] “How Can You Learn to Trust Again?” Psychology Today, January 2015, https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200203/how-can-you-learn-trust-again (March 3, 2016).
[iii] “Overcoming the Negativity Bias,” Rick Hanson, February 2014, http://www.rickhanson.net/overcoming-negativity-bias/ (March 3, 2016).