How To Walk Away From Untrustworthy People And Heal From Betrayal

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Walk away from people who are not trustworthy.

Why Trust Is Important?

Trust is central to all types of relationships. It enables one to believe another person's actions. In other words, they say what they mean and mean what they say. 

Trust occurs when you have confidence and security in your romantic partner, family member or work relationship because you know they care about you. They treat you well with respect and integrity.

The problem with trust is that it can be hard to earn but easily lost. Betrayal occurs when a partner puts their own needs and desires above what's good for the relationship. Mistrust causes real damage to the relationship as well as to the betrayed partner's security.

“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be given trust with important matters.” ~ Albert Einstein


Can Trust Be Earned Back After Betrayal?

In some cases, yes. In other cases, the betrayal can destroy the relationship beyond repair if the actions were intentionally planned and hidden from the other partner. This pattern of behavior is selfish and deceitful and puts one partner's desire over the other partner's as well as the relationship as a whole.

However, broken trust can be earned back based on four elements:

  1. The intent of the betrayal. Was the action one time, an accident, or impulsive?
  2. The duration of the betrayal. Did the action happen once or a few times?
  3. The betrayer's repentance. A sincere apology has three parts: I'm sorry I did "X" (specific action of betrayal) that caused you to lose trust in me and I promise to earn back your trust by "Y" (specific actions). A sincere apology includes direct eye contact and remorse for the betrayal. A simple or brief apology without eye contact or remorse could indicate the betrayer is more sorry they got caught and will be more careful in the future. It's up to the one betrayed to decide whether to accept the apology or not.
  4. Healthy boundaries to earn and keep the regained trust. If the one betrayed accepts the sincere apology then healthy boundaries need to be agreed upon by both partners of the relationship while the trust is being earned. Earning trust takes time because the betrayer has to be accountable for their actions over time. It's also recommended to establish consequences if the agreed upon boundaries are not followed. For more tips on setting boundaries, read my blog 4 Tips To Establish Healthy Boundaries With Difficult People.


What If The Relationship is Destroyed From The Betrayal? 

When trust is so broken that it's beyond repair, it's time to end the relationship and move on to the healing process. Betrayal can cause low self-esteem, low confidence, and low self-image.

It's time to focus on self-care and build your self-confidence such as making a list of your strengths. You can also ask friends and family to tell you what they think your top three strengths are. When your list is complete, make a word cloud picture of your strengths to print off so you can be reminded how awesome you are to people in your life.

If your betrayal was deep and you are struggling to move on then I would recommend talking to a licensed therapist, especially if you want to discuss sensitive or confidential issues that you don't want to talk about with a friend or family member. When my ex-husband chose to end our marriage of 27 years, I went back to our marriage counselor for individual counseling because she knew our marriage history. It was so helpful to my healing process to be able to bare my soul during the grief process. I started out with weekly sessions, then every two weeks and finally a few monthly sessions for accountability of the goals I set. It was empowering to see how far I had come with my recovery. 


What If I Can't Avoid The Betrayer?

Violations of trust in a work environment can be tricky depending on whether you work directly with them or not. For people you work with indirectly, avoid them. Do not talk bad about them to co-workers. If they betrayed your trust and show no remorse then they will likely do it again to someone else. Be patient and let their actions tell the truth.

If it is a co-worker you cannot avoid then try to have a short discussion with them about the facts of their betrayal and try to work it out together. Even if they won't admit to what they did to you, state the facts of the betrayal and what's in your control to prevent it from happening again. For example, "Pam, in the presentation to our client yesterday, you took full credit for the work I actually researched.  I don't approve of your actions. Therefore, in upcoming presentations, I will present my research work myself then hand it over to you."

Family gatherings can be a venue for unpleasant confrontations but don't make it uncomfortable for everyone else. The goal is to avoid being too close in proximity to the family member who violated your trust. Indoors or outside, enjoy yourself and be polite if you find yourself having to be in a conversation with this person.  You can always make an excuse to leave the conversation without giving a reason. Again, don't talk bad about them to family members and especially don't roll your eyes or scoff at them when they speak. Actions speak louder than words so let them show their true colors. Most of the time, other family members know the truth.

Romantic relationships ended by betrayal are hard to recover from but you can experience positive growth. If you went through a divorce with grown children then you may have no need to stay in contact with your ex. That makes the healing process a little easier to move on because you can concentrate on your new life with no distractions. I recommend letting your grown children understand that your life is your life and not to be shared with their other parent and the same goes for the other parent. Do not talk bad about your ex to friends or family and especially with your children. As difficult as it is, the truth will come out on it's own.

If you are a Christian, rest assured that God sees everything and knows everything that happened in your relationship even if you don't. He promises to take care of his beloved children who obey His word, the bible. He rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked (read Psalm 1).


Surround Yourself With Trustworthy People

Trustworthy people say what they mean and mean what they say. They are kind, compassionate, have consistent behavior, humble, respectful, honest, genuine, positive, and selfless. Their goal is to do good for all involved.

It's said that you can learn a lot about someone by the company they keep. That's not always true. I've known a few people who act like a good person in public but have a secret life they've hidden for a long time. These people have trustworthy friends and family that unknowingly perpetuate this person's deceptive public persona.  They've been duped, too. That's okay because God sees everything and God knows everything. Put your trust in God to handle things in His time.

What about you? Have you been betrayed? Were you able to recover the relationship and regain trust or did you have to walk away?

Who are the people you surround yourself with? Are they trustworthy? Why or why not?

Can you walk away from untrustworthy people or would you rather set healthy boundaries to keep them in your life?

You can transform betrayal into positive growth.

Daily Mantra: Hunt the good stuff, find the humor, stay positive, and focus on your blessings. God can bring good out of every situation!

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