When Trust is Broken: How to Recover from Partner Betrayal Trauma
Few events in life are more painful than betrayal. When your partner violates your trust, it can be completely destabilizing. The places you felt safe in may no longer feel that way. It can feel like there are few spaces where you can find support.
If you are going through partner betrayal trauma, it’s natural to think you may never recover. Regaining your sense of safety and security with your partner will take time, but it is possible. You can even rebuild trust and intimacy with yourself and with your partner. Getting the support you need is an essential first step in your journey toward healing and recovery.
How Do I Recover from Partner Betrayal Trauma?
Partner betrayal can leave a host of confusing emotions in its wake. You may be going through internal upheavals you’ve never experienced before. Knowing the common reactions of people going through partner betrayal trauma can help you feel grounded and less alone.
Understand the Stages of Partner Betrayal Trauma
As with any other type of loss, the process of going through a partner betrayal trauma occurs in stages. There is no definite timeline for how long it takes to go through the stages but can range from 1 to 5 years. It is also normal to move back and forth between several stages before healing is complete.
This stage begins when you first learn of the betrayal. Whether you were caught completely off-guard or had your suspicions, uncovering the betrayal is a devastating experience. People in the discovery stage can have varying reactions. For example, it is normal to feel numb, highly agitated, or even in denial.
You may also experience intense physical responses.This is because partner betrayal can set off your fight-or-flight response, just like any other kind of trauma. You may have difficulty concentrating, poor sleep, or digestive issues.
The shock of discovering your partner’s betrayal can challenge your sense of self to its core. In reaction, you may behave in ways that betray your own values.
You may start spying and rummaging through your partner's belongings. As your trust has been violated, you violate theirs.
You may become highly sexual with your partner and make rash attempts to salvage your connection. You may also become vengeful. You aim to humiliate your partner through sexual or financial betrayal. Your emotional desire for revenge may drive you to sabotage your partner’s employment, relationships with their friends or even your children.
The shock from partner trauma can last from 6 months to 2 years. Fortunately, support from a well-trained therapist can move you out of this stage and help you regain control of your emotions and your life.
After the shock of the discovery, you enter the reaction and emotional response stage.
You may feel extreme bouts of anger, sadness, and despair. Some people at this stage try to hide their negative emotions. Betrayed partners may also seek control over their partner or relationship. This behavior inhibits healing and moving on from this tragic situation.
Finding a healthy release for these tough feelings can prevent the anger from spilling into other areas of your life. As your emotions rise to the surface, re-examining yourself and your relationship will serve you. Reflecting yourself and your relationship is a painful but necessary process.
At this stage, you’ve accepted the reality of the situation and begin to grieve what you have lost. This could be your trust in your partner, your sense of innocence, or even the relationship you had before the betrayal.
Intense feelings may make way for an all-encompassing feeling of hopelessness. When you are in mourning, it is important to turn to your support network for comfort. Allow yourself to feel and process each feeling as it comes.
You may feel an urge to express each of these feelings to your partner. While they may be part of your support network, remember that they are also working on themselves and only have so much to give you. They, nor anyone else, can make your pain go away - that remains your responsibility.
When you approach the release stage, it seems as if the light has appeared at the end of a dark tunnel.
You have not moved past the betrayal or forgotten about the situation. Instead, you are able to adjust to your new reality and what it means for you, your family, and your relationship.
Releasing or ending the relationship with your partner will not remove the pain. Do not leave your partner immediately after discovery for it is unwise to make a decision while in horrible pain.
If you end up reconciling with your partner, you will re-enter the relationship with a better understanding of each other’s faults, strengths, and dreams. You are also able to identify what you can work on to come out stronger in the end. Your relationship may or may not continue. Either way, you have the ability to grow from your pain.
The healing journey is not an endpoint, but another chapter in your life. At this stage, you learn to rebuild your sense of trust. Eventually, you can open your heart again.
No matter which stage of your journey you find us, our caring therapy team will support you throughout the recovery process.
How Long Will It Take Me to Recover from Partner Betrayal Trauma?
The time frame for recovery varies from person to person. On average, recovery from partner betrayal trauma can take anywhere from several months to several years. No matter how long it takes to feel whole again, there are steps you can take to help you move forward.
Avoid placing blame
There are many factors that contribute to a betrayal. Trying to place blame on yourself or your partner will not stop the pain, build trust, or promote healing. Putting your energy into the here and now will help you heal.
Follow a self-care plan
When you are going through such an emotionally trying time, it can be difficult to remember your own needs. Making time and space for yourself is essential to your recovery. Fill your time with the people and activities you love. Give yourself grace when you have a tough day.
Talk to a Trauma-informed Professional
Partner betrayal is a profound type of trauma that can have deep and long-lasting effects. A qualified therapist can work with you to process your feelings and rebuild your sense of trust and intimacy.
If you are recovering from a partner's betrayal, you do not have to persevere alone. Lani Singer, our on-site Certified Partner Trauma Therapist, employs a caring, skilled approach to walk alongside you every step of the way. If you are interested in working with our compassionate, trauma-informed therapists, we invite you to schedule a FREE INTRO CALL call with Lani TODAY.