How Do You Forgive Someone Who Has Betrayed Your Trust?

Feb 16, 2023 | Communication, Family Issues, Relationship Issues

When someone has betrayed your trust, it can be one of the most painful experiences you might ever have to go through, as it is the foundation for building solid relationships. And even if they promise not to repeat the same mistake, the thought of forgiving them or moving beyond it can be challenging. Regardless, it is a work in progress and not hopeless.  

What Does Betrayal Mean?

When we hear the word betrayal, we often focus on the act of someone having an affair. However, it is not just limited to these particular circumstances or relationships that define this term. Therefore, let’s delve into it some more. 

Essentially, betrayal means that a person intentionally commits or omits their harmful actions, whether they are a spouse or partner, friend or family member, or a colleague. These acts entail infidelity, disloyalty, or disclosing personal or confidential information. 

Betrayal in Relationships

As unique individuals, we all have our specific core values and beliefs. Therefore, what one person considers betrayal might not be the same for someone else. However, let’s cover at least a few examples that can negatively impact a relationship. 

  • Infidelity: Again, having an affair with someone else is usually the first thing that comes into mind when you hear infidelity or betrayal. However, other actions besides physical ones have destroyed relationships, and we will include two here.
  • Emotional cheating: Many individuals consider emotional cheating to be just as devastating as physical cheating. It often begins with the partner forming a friendship with someone else to a gradual attraction and bonding with them, such as holding hands, sharing personal discussions, or meeting with them in secrecy. Unfortunately, emotional cheating can sometimes lead to physical cheating. 
  • Cyber Cheating: In a world with advanced technology, it has made it relatively easy to access forbidden social media sites. Therefore, watching pornography or paying for adult video chat can be another form of infidelity.  
  • Lying: When somebody you care for lies to you, it’s because they’re aware their actions were wrong. And whether it was to protect your feelings or even a little white lie, it doesn’t mean it won’t affect you, nonetheless. Now, you’re left second-guessing yourself and questioning what else they might be hiding from you.
  • Breach of confidentiality: Having someone we trust and care for to share our hopes, dreams, fears, and insecurities with is one of the most significant benefits of any relationship. Therefore, suppose you disclose to a friend in private that you are attracted to someone or are now on disability, and they fail to respect your wishes and tell someone else, that can be shattering. 
Why Is It So Hard to Forgive?

It can be beyond frustrating trying to figure out why people do what they do, especially when someone close to you breaks your trust or may not even comprehend what they did wrong. Now, you have all these questions inside your head – “How could they have done this to me? Was it intentional? Why are they so cruel? Do they even care? Is there something wrong with me?” Still, we may never know the answer to why. 

In addition, refusing to forgive someone is another means of protecting oneself. Let’s face it – it makes it very difficult to trust a person once they’ve given you reason not to. Now, you’re left to pick up the pieces, wondering if the same thing will happen to you again. Therefore, the defensive wall of anger or hostility comes up as a means to protect oneself from any future pain. 

Learning How to Forgive

Forgiving someone who has betrayed your trust takes a lot of work. However, forgiveness doesn’t mean excusing one’s behavior or accepting their wrongdoing. But it’s about letting go of the resentment, freeing yourself from the emotional pain, and allowing yourself to live in peace. So, how do we do that?

  • Give it time. Caring for someone who has betrayed you can be an agonizing experience. Therefore, it’s essential to understand that forgiving this person and undoing the damage will not be an overnight process. So, rather than beating yourself up if it’s not happening fast enough for you,  try to remind yourself that there is no set time limit when it comes to healing. 
  • Talk about your feelings. Bottling up your emotions may only cause your resentment to grow. Therefore, putting your feelings into words allows you to express how their betrayal has affected you is a way to release the pain inside. It’s okay to say that you are hurt or angry. 
  • Take back your power. Betrayal often causes one to feel a sense of powerlessness, but unless you resolve these feelings, it makes it almost impossible to forgive. Consequently, telling the person that you are worthy of being loved by others shows them that you know you are valuable, allowing you to take your power back.
  • Let go of control. Letting go of control in an ever-changing world can be one of the most challenging things to do in life. But just as we can’t change what’s happening around us, we can’t change people or what has been done by them. However, the one thing we have control over is ourselves and our reactions to circumstances. 

Unfortunately, you may never get the “I’m sorry” you were hoping you would. Still, if you don’t learn to let go of that need for external control, it will just eat you up inside. Therefore, the sooner you allow that to happen, the easier it will be to move on with your life.  

Forgiveness is Doable

Remember that forgiveness is not about excusing a person’s behavior, nor does it make you a weak individual – it is a way of taking your life back. Therefore, whether you decide to repair the relationship or let it go, forgiving someone can set you free from the internal chains that have been binding you. 

Therapy Can Help!

If you are having trouble letting go of past hurts, therapy can help.  To learn more about how therapy can help you deal with betrayal, visit our partner, MHThrive’s website at or call us at 713-477-0333.  You can also learn about more intensive treatment options at

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