While everybody makes mistakes and disappoints us at times, one can usually forgive another’s a careless mistake by remembering that none of us are perfect. However, sometimes somebody you love does something that is so hurtful you are left with a deep feeling of betrayal. You don’t know if you can ever trust that person again, and may even feel foolish for trusting them in the first place.
And yet your loved one has told you he or she is sorry and seems genuinely contrite. You want to forgive, but you’re scared. How do you know that your loved one is genuinely sorry and that it won’t happen again? What if they take you for a fool and do something even worse next time?
Start By Evaluating How Important the Relationship Is To You
The level of hurt and betrayal you feel is likely connected to the level of love and trust you gave the other person. You need to ask yourself if the relationship is worth the time and commitment necessary to heal and begin to trust again where trust was broken. A few hard questions you should ask yourself include:
- How much do you love this person?
- Why did you fall in love with them, to begin with?
- Are they still the same person you committed to a relationship with?
- How have they changed?
- Are they normally loving and supportive?
- For the most part, was the relationship satisfactory before they broke trust?
- Was the hurtful incident a solitary mistake or was there a series of betrayals?
- Have they been sliding into the habit of disrespecting you and disregarding your needs?
- What would they have to do to earn your trust back?
Forgiving Another Who Has Hurt You Deeply
Whether you choose to continue with the relationship or not, you’ll need to forgive the other person in order to heal. It’s crucial to remember that forgiveness is not so much about them as it is about taking your spiritual wellbeing back. When we don’t forgive a wrong done to us, the anger and hurt we feel festers like a wound that refuses to heal. You are giving the one who hurt you the power to continue to hurt you indefinitely and the hurt can affect any future interpersonal relationships you may have.
Forgive Yourself for Trusting That Other Person
You may feel like a fool for trusting the other person and allowing them the power to hurt you so deeply. You should remember that you wouldn’t be so hurt if their behavior at some point prior to the betrayal wasn’t trustworthy.
Maybe you feel like you did something to provoke the other to wrong you. However, we are each responsible for our actions. If your loved one found your behavior problematic, it was up to him or her to try and communicate with you and work out a solution or a compromise.
Honest Communication is the First Step to Healing Your Relationship
It may be that you’re too scared and hurt to talk about it with your loved one calmly. Also, your loved one may be too scared of losing you to open up and communicate honestly about what happened. Maybe they don’t even understand fully why they did what they did.
After evaluating your feelings and examining the pros and cons of staying together and working through this difficult time, if you both decide the relationship is worth salvaging it’s probably a very good idea to seek professional help from a licensed relationship counselor.
An impartial, experienced professional counselor can help you both to feel safe in expressing your needs and communicating with each other about what went wrong and what needs to happen to move forward and heal your relationship.
If you are both committed to repairing the relationship and going forward together your bond can gradually heal and will likely grow stronger than ever for having refused to give up on your love for and commitment to each other.
Mike Williams is a California native who has written about the field of behavioral health for over 15 years. He is a frequent contributor to By The Sea Recovery.