Have you been betrayed sexually by a significant partner?
Being betrayed by your partner hurts
Being betrayed sexually by your significant other can be difficult at the least and traumatic in many cases. The term used to describe what occurs when your partner lies about acting out sexually is called betrayal trauma.
Betrayal trauma typically refers to the lasting pain and turmoil experienced after betrayal by a romantically significant other. Betrayal trauma is real, although some individuals will discount your pain and even tell you that you need to forgive and forget because all men cheat, that can be very dismissing, degrading and just plain wrong. Although many men and women cheat, that is besides the point, this is your significant other, so it becomes very personal and painful.
Different forms of betrayal
Although betrayal in a romantic relationship usually takes the form of infidelity, betrayal is not simply having a partner cheat on you sexually in a digital or physical way. Betrayal can also be a partner stealing money or having secret credit cards or bank accounts. It can a partner stealing from a 401K or C.D. It can also be a partner that keeps any information from their partner that should have been discussed and can cause betrayal. Due to this betrayal, cheating partners can manipulate the betrayal partner, which can also provoke a trauma response in which you start to feel like you are losing your mind, otherwise known as “gaslighting”.
The discovery of infidelity often leads to:
- loss of self-esteem and self-worth
- loss of faith in others
- intrusive thoughts about affair details
- physical symptoms, including insomnia, pain, and stomach distress
- difficulty controlling emotions
- suspicion and hypervigilance
- and other mental health symptoms
What betrayed partners need
Betrayed partners generally do not want to be told to:
- To just forgive and move on.
- See what you did to encourage or cause the cheating behavior.
- That you should have been more sexual or paid more attention to your partner.
- That you are too emotional and irrational.
- That you should look at what you did to cause your partner to cheat.
This can be so demoralizing and such a slap in the face. Even though a partner may have done things that have affected the relationship, the partner who has betrayed had many options that would have been so much more loving and caring. Some better options would have been to:
- To ask to read a book/workbook together on how to improve their relationship.
- To have weekly conversations on how they could improve their relationship and meet each other’s needs.
- To listen to a podcast or psychoeducation videos on improving a relationship.
- To decide that the relationship may not survive and to let the partner know that they want to go to couples therapy to see if it was salvageable.
These would be better options, and the partner who cheats may say that they tried this option, and it did not work. This may be true, however; they may have only tried once or they have been very controlling or disrespectful when asking. Bottom line if a partner does not feel that the relationship is going to last, they should tell their partner and break up/separate, and to let their partner know they want to date other people, rather than keep this a secret. It is the secret, most betrayed partners share, that hurts even more at times than the cheating behavior. To find out about a cheating behavior may make a partner feel foolish, used, and totally betrayed, than if their partner would have simply told them that they wanted out, although painful and shocking still, would be better than finding out that there partner was cheating on them.
Should I stay or should I go?
You may not feel like you need your partner to survive, but you might still feel unable to leave, for any number of reasons — children, lack of options, no income or sufficient income of your own.
Relationships also fulfill important social connection needs and belonging, and a betrayal can leave you wondering how you’ll get those needs met in the future.
Instead of staying alert to signs of cheating, you might choose (often unconsciously) to ignore or overlook clues in order to safeguard your relationship and protect emotional health.
How Therapy Can Help
Trauma can be hard to deal with on your own. Professional support can make a big difference in the healing process. In therapy, you can begin to identify and work through a betrayal before it causes lingering pain and regrets.
At Charlotte Counseling Associates we have therapists trained to work with survivors of abuse and neglect who can also help with unpacking the long-lasting effects of childhood trauma (click here to learn more). If you have challenges attaching to significant others, for example, a therapist might help you identify underlying causes of these challenges with bonding in relationships and explore strategies for building more secure relationships.
Most mental health experts recommend some form of couples therapy when attempting to heal a relationship after infidelity. At Charlotte Counseling Associates, we can help with that as well (for more information on couples therapy click below: https://www.charlottecounselors.com/couples-therapy-in-charlotte-nc/
It’s also important, however, to work with a therapist on your own to:
- examine any feelings of self-blame
- work to rebuild self-esteem
- learn healthy strategies for coping with difficult emotions
- Develop boundaries with your significant other
- receive the support you will need during this difficult and traumatic time.
Don’t wait Another Day to Begin Feeling Hope
When someone you love and trust does something to shatter the foundations of your relationship, the resulting trauma wounds can be very painful.
There is hope. You can heal and you might even come back stronger as you rebuild your authentic self and gain tools for developing healthy relationships and boundaries. Ready to take the first steps? One of our therapists can offer guidance along the way.
Send Us a Message
New clients, please send us a message to schedule your free 15-minute Q/A call with Charlotte Counseling Associates, so we can answer any questions you may have and find out if we’re a good fit for working together to help you achieve your goals.