Betrayal is never pretty.
The focus tends to be on betrayal in romantic relationships, but the reality is that a betrayal by a close friend can be just as upsetting.
If this has happened to you, it’s not necessarily going to be an easy thing to get over.
If you decide that your friendship has come to an end, it’ll take you a while to adjust to life without them in it.
But if you want to keep this friend in your life, you’ll need to face up to what’s happened and work through your feelings before you can start to repair the relationship and move forwards.
Here are the steps you should take either way.
1. Accept that being betrayed by a friend is deeply hurtful.
If you find that you’ve been betrayed by a friend, it’s completely normal to be devastated by it.
Some people try to fight these feelings, not understanding why a friend could have such power over them, and why a betrayal on the part of the friend can rock their world so.
That’s largely down to the fact that we tend to place far more value on romantic and even familial relationships in our society and often ignore the power of friendships.
But if we’re honest with ourselves about our feelings, we start to appreciate just how important friendship is to us, and what a big impact it can have on our lives when it goes wrong.
Our friends are the ones who are there for us when we need them and are a constant presence in our lives.
They’re the family we choose, and the people we confide our innermost fears and desires to.
Whereas we don’t get to pick our families, and romantic partners often come and go, good friends are there for the long haul.
They see us at our best, and our worst, and every step along the way. And they love us just the way we are.
So, it’s important to remember that it’s totally legitimate for a friend’s betrayal to have cut you so deeply.
Don’t beat yourself up about it, but accept the feelings, give them their due importance and be prepared to examine them and work through them.
2. If you can, have an honest conversation with your friend.
Your friend might have betrayed you to such an extent that you’re not willing to speak to them face to face (at least not for a long while). And that’s your prerogative.
But if you can bring yourself to speak to them, an honest conversation could be the salvation of your friendship, or could at least help you to move on, even if you choose not to remain friends with them going forwards.
You both need to be totally honest about things, without letting your ego get in the way.
Give them a chance to explain the situation from their point of view. Even if it doesn’t make things better between you, hearing their reasons for acting the way they did might help you to understand the things that have happened.
This might not be relevant in your case, but you may also need to consider whether you’ve had a role to play in what’s happened.
If you haven’t been the best friend to them in recent times, that might have contributed to their behavior. That’s not an excuse for their betrayal, but it’s something to bear in mind.
3. Figure out why you feel so betrayed.
What is it specifically about what your friend did that has hurt you so?
You need to take some time to yourself to reflect on why this is hurting you so badly. What elements of what they did bothered you the most?
Was it a concrete action that you felt was a betrayal, or was it them withholding the truth about something from you?
It might be fairly obvious, but the main reasons you’re so hurt by it might be more complex than they appear to be on the surface.
You may also like (article continues below):
- 9 Ways Of Dealing With Betrayal And Healing From The Hurt
- How To Forgive Someone: 2 Science-Based Models Of Forgiveness
- How To Accept An Apology And Respond To Someone Who’s Sorry
- How To Let Go Of Anger: The 7 Stages From Rage To Release
- 10 Signs Of A One-Sided Friendship + How To Escape One
4. Ask whether the relationship is worth saving.
So, you’ve had an honest talk with them about what happened, and you’ve had a chance to analyze the way it’s made you feel.
It’s now time to look to the future and decide whether the friendship you had with them is salvageable and, if so, if it’s really worth your while putting the effort in to patching things up with them.
How important are they in your life? Would your life be poorer without them in it? Are you willing to put the necessary work in to rebuild the friendship?
Was this betrayal entirely out of the blue, and out of character? Or has this person never really be the kind of friend you deserve?
Don’t just focus on how they’ve betrayed you in the present, but think back.
If they’ve consistently been a good friend to you in the past, there for you when you need them, providing you with good advice, being loyal, and enriching your life, then one betrayal might not be enough to counteract all that.
Or it might be. It’s entirely your decision.
5. Ask whether they are sorry.
Of course, a large part of how you move forwards will depend on how your friend is dealing with the situation.
If they can’t understand your feelings of betrayal and haven’t apologized or done what they can to improve matters and make things up to you, that might be an indication that the friendship doesn’t have a future.
If, on the other hand, they’ve shown remorse and are doing their best to make things up to you, that might be a sign that your friendship could survive their betrayal.
6. Don’t rush into a decision.
When we’re angry, we all make decisions that we later regret, and you don’t want the loss of a good friend to be the result of an impetuous decision you made in the heat of the moment.
Give yourself time to calm down and mull over the situation before you make any decisions.
It might be best to avoid speaking to the friend in question until you’ve regained some kind of equilibrium, so that you don’t say anything you might want to take back later on.
After all, if you know someone well, you’ll probably know just how to hit them where it hurts.
Try to focus on the fact that it would be horrible to sacrifice a lifetime of friendship by saying something you don’t mean when the red mist comes down.
7. Say goodbye.
Some betrayals are things you can work past and come back from. But sometimes, a betrayal can spell the end of a friendship.
If you’ve decided that that’s the case with this friendship, it’s time to cut the cord.
It’s your decision if you’d like to have a formal break-up conversation with them, or not. But you wouldn’t just end a romantic relationship without letting the other person know that it’s over, so maybe you should apply the same logic here.
It won’t be an easy conversation to have, but you might want to speak to them, letting them know why you can’t find it within you to forgive them, and that you no longer want them to be a part of your life.
That’ll provide closure for you both and might stop them from trying to contact you if you don’t want them to, which can make it easier for you to move on.
8. Or, forgive them.
On the other hand, you might come to the realization that, despite the betrayal, this person is extremely important to you, and you’re willing to forgive them and work toward building the friendship up again.
In order for you to be able to be friends again, you need to forgive them for what they did. You don’t necessarily have to forget about it entirely, and you probably never will, but you do have to genuinely forgive them in your heart of hearts.
Any lingering resentment will only spell trouble further down the line.
9. Don’t expect miracles overnight.
If you’ve decided to try to rebuild a friendship, don’t expect the two of you to be back to normal within the blink of an eye. Your friendship has been through the mill and is going to need some significant time to recover.
You both need time to process what’s happened and figure out what this new stage of your friendship is going to look like as you move forward.
Be patient with one another, and whenever you find things tough, remember why you’ve chosen to keep this person as part of your life.
And remember, just as it won’t be quick, it won’t be easy. When you decide to try to patch things up, you need to be aware that it’s going to take work and determination.
10. Remember: a good friend is a treasure.
If you want to forgive your friend and move on, but you’re finding it tough, just remember that good friends don’t grow on trees, and friendship is worth fighting for.
Betrayal can spell the end of friendships, but with a commitment on both your parts and love and care for one another, the best of friends can overcome anything.