A partner’s betrayal can be a gut-wrenching, life-changing experience. Being betrayed by a partner can leave you feeling devalued and disrespected. And when your partner puts his or her needs ahead of what’s best for you or your relationship, it can also create a lot of uncertainty and confusion (“How and why did this happen to me?”).
While being betrayed can be a devastating experience, like all negative events, it also represents an opportunity for reflection and reevaluation.
A partner’s betrayal can force you to focus your attention on core principles of your relationship. Specifically, a betrayal can cause you to think about:
- Your partner’s true goals and motivations. Do you and your partner’s goals align? Do you share the same values and want the same things out of life? A partner’s betrayal can get you to focus on whether you and your partner actually share the same goals.
- How responsive your partner is to your needs and concerns. Does your partner take your perspective into account, try to make you feel understood, and show concern for how you’re feeling? A partner’s responsiveness to your distress is very telling. A betrayal can reveal just how responsive your partner is – a partner who dismisses your needs or who acts more defensive than concerned isn’t ideal.
- A partner’s betrayal can help you identify your expectations and standards. How exactly do you want and need to be treated in order to feel loved, valued, and care for? A betrayal can help you articulate exactly what you want out of your relationship.
- A partner’s betrayal can force you evaluate your relationship. Is your relationship worth the occasional pain and suffering? Does the good outweigh the bad?
While no one wants to experience a betrayal, a partner’s betrayal can motivate people to engage in a detailed evaluation of their relationship.
The core principles listed above are adapted from Finkel, E. J., Simpson, J. A., & Eastwick, P. W. (2017). The Psychology of Close Relationships: Fourteen Core Principles. Annual Review of Psychology, 68, 383-411.