I’ve work with people who have betrayed loved ones or have been betrayed. Both the frequency and types of betrayal have exploded: as if people seem to feel entitled to betray the trust of others. Betrayal in intimate relationships occurs when a partner lies, cheats, condemns, obstructs, shouts, or exploits. Each violates the promise that gives us the strength to love at all. No matter what, the person you love and trust will never intentionally hurt you, and will care about your well-being.
Why It Hurts So Badly
Love relationships are reflections of your inner self. We learn how loveable we are and how valuable our love is to others by interacting with the people we love. Children rarely question the impressions created by parents and friends. They don’t think that their stressed-out, critical mothers and fathers are having a bad day or are trying to recover from their own damaged upbringing. Children assign the destructive reflections of themselves from family to their own failures and worthlessness.
Suppose you accepted your body image based on reflections from a skewed carnival mirror. Once you’ve internalized this deleterious image, you doubt all mirrors. People skeletal from eating disorders see themselves as fat when they look in a mirror reflecting only skin and bones.
Many other mirrors compare to the funhouse reflections. But there are no reflections of love other than those we receive from others. If you judge how loveable you are based on reflections from someone who cannot love without hurt, you’ll receive that unrealistic “funhouse” view.
Believing the information about the self that loved ones reflect decreases over time but never disappears. A stranger who says you have green hair is laughable, but if your partner says it, you’ll consult a mirror. If your partner is displeased, there must be something wrong with you.
You argue with loved ones about their criticisms and put-downs, but you are likely to believe a little. We don’t agree about the particular flaw, but on some level, we’ll imagine a defect that must be defended. Part of us believes the “imperfections” reflected in the mirror of love, despite knowing they are distortions of who we are. This belief explains why successful people are as vulnerable as anyone in their love relationships.
The mirror of love also reflects good. Realizing how loveable and valuable you are, you’ll have a more realistic view of yourself. You’ll rarely feel deficient, undeserving, or unlovable. When you feel sad or disappointed, you will know that you can improve your mood, if not your situation! Your sadness won’t last; you’ll regroup and feel valuable once again. The mirror of love generates energy when it reflects value, and depletes energy when it doesn’t.
Blaming the Mirror
A misbehaving child makes parents feel like failures. A rejecting parent makes a child feel powerless and unlovable. A distracted, demanding, or hostile lover leaves us feeling marginalized, undervalued, and spurned. In my experience, I’ve learned we use resentment and anger to punish loved ones because our painful reflections in the mirror. We attack the mirror because we don’t like the reflection.
Don’t view emotional pain as a punishment inflicted by another; use it to improve yourself. Achieve a deeper level of self-compassion to get in touch with your core values, which will inspire more compassion. You can love without hurt, but only if you use pain as a sign to heal and improve.
Intimate betrayals share a central motivation, whether the betrayer cheats, lies, exploits, pilfers, evades, shouts, or condemns. They try to feel empowered; a self-indulgent adrenaline rush, violating values including the emotional well-being of loved ones. The adrenaline rush makes them feel alive. As the rush ebbs, uncertainty and melancholy emerge. More adrenaline is needed to get the rush. Without intervention, betrayal increases in frequency and intensity.
Creating value and meaning in life is required, whether a couple struggling with betrayal decides to repair the relationship or not.
Repairing the relationship with open wounds, or building a new life, is ineffective. Betrayal requires healing; growth begins with the realization that you are not damaged, but your relationship is. You must heal first and repair later.
SEE A LIFE COACH IN BATON ROUGE
Frank Hopkins is a life coach in Baton Rouge who is certified as a Professional Coach (CPC) by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). Frank has helped numerous people to go through emotional change in a way that is positively transformative.