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.
What To Do When A Friend Betrays You
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.
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.
Why Did My Friend Betray Me?
It can be surprising when someone you care about betrays your trust. Why would they do that to you?
Here are some possible explanations:
1. They didn’t value the friendship as much as you did.
Were you in a one-sided friendship?
If you cared more about your friendship than they did, it could explain what happened. And why.
If your friend didn’t value your friendship, they weren’t afraid of losing it either. So, backstabbing you was worth the risk to them.
Your friendship was less important to them than doing what they did to hurt you.
They prioritized their happiness over a friendship that they were fine with losing.
2. They wanted to end the friendship.
What if your friends did this to sabotage your friendship?
If they didn’t want to end the friendship directly, they could have been two-faced to make the friendship end on its own.
At best, they didn’t care if the friendship ended. But they may have betrayed you on purpose because they wanted things to end.
They were too afraid to face you and tell you this, so they caused you a trauma to make you leave on your own.
It’s one of the more brutal explanations for friend betrayal.
3. They made an impulsive mistake.
Let’s give your friend the benefit of the doubt. What if they didn’t mean to hurt you?
If what they did was an impulsive mistake, they will feel bad about it, apologize, and try to make up for it.
Sometimes people do things out of impulse that they regret later on.
If your friend regrets what they did, you might want to consider giving them a chance to regain your trust.
People make mistakes, and if your friend wasn’t thinking straight when they did what they did, they probably didn’t mean to cause you pain.
4. They were suffering from poor mental health.
People sometimes do bad things because they’re suffering from stress, depression, anxiety, or some other mental health issue.
How has your friend been feeling lately? Were they in a bad mood for a while now, and could some major stress in their life explain what happened?
If your friend is suffering from poor mental health, you should try to show some understanding. They probably regret what they did.
Maybe they can explain to you what made them feel like it was the right choice at that precise moment.
Of course, you may not want to let them off the hook if this is a repeated behavior. It is okay—healthy even—to let a friend go if their poor mental health is harming your well-being over a prolonged period of time.
5. They were mad at you.
People will want to hurt you when they are mad at you, even if they are your friends.
If you betrayed your friend first, they probably wanted to hurt you back.
But they could want to hurt you even if you did nothing to them.
They could be mad at you because of a disagreement you had and decide to punish you by breaking your trust.
Backstabbing can often be used as a form of revenge or punishment.
6. They are just self-centered.
Does your friend only think about themselves? Did they prioritize their needs like they always do?
If your friend is self-centered, they probably put their happiness, needs, or wants above a friendship with you.
Your friend only cares about themselves and may even be a narcissist. To be honest, this is a classic sign of a fake friend who doesn’t really care about you.
It could have been a situation where they had to choose between you and themselves, and they put themselves first like they always do.
7. They couldn’t control their emotions.
Emotions can cause people to do crazy things, and spiteful things as well.
Your friend may have betrayed you because they couldn’t control their emotions.
Maybe they were mad at you, in love with someone, or sad about something that happened.
They could have even been too drunk to control themselves or under the influence of drugs. If your friend would never betray you sober, they may have done it because of too many drinks.
8. They prioritized their romantic relationship.
Most people will prioritize a romantic relationship over a friendship.
If your friend betrayed you because they had to choose between their partner and you, they just prioritized their romantic relationship.
This may not feel right to you, but it’s a choice most people will make in that situation.
Although friendships can last longer than romantic relationships, people tend to prioritize the latter.
Examples Of Betrayal
In which way did your friend betray you? Here are the most common examples of betrayal in friendships:
You have every right to doubt your friend’s loyalty if they have been dishonest or deceitful.
Sometimes friends tell white little lies to protect your feelings, but even that could be considered a betrayal of your trust depending on the context.
For instance, a friend could lie to you that your zit is barely noticeable when it’s actually huge. That is certainly not the same as if they would lie about their feelings for you or their true intentions.
Do your friends talk behind your back?
If they gossip about other people to you, you can bet that they gossip about you to others too.
They could even be spreading rumors, whether those rumors are true or made up.
If your friend is two-faced, you should reconsider your friendship.
But, bear in mind that gossip is not always the same as badmouthing you to others.
It’s not the same when your friend gossips about how much your new car costs and when they badmouth you by highlighting your negative qualities.
But they could also be spilling the beans about your personal life. Revealing your secrets is a huge break of trust.
Your friend could steal from you. They could steal your money, your personal belongings, your credit cards, or even your boyfriend or girlfriend.
It’s better to have enemies than bad friends like these, but it happens.
This is not the same as borrowing small things and never giving them back. Although that is a nasty habit too, it is not the same as deliberately stealing valuable things from you.
4. Keeping secrets.
Did your friend keep secrets from you?
If you needed to know something and they kept quiet about it, it is similar to lying to you.
Withholding information could be a form of being dishonest.
Your friend shouldn’t have to tell you everything that happens in their life, but they should tell you things that affect you, as well as the important information about them that could affect your friendship.
5. Being disrespectful.
An act of betrayal could be a sign that your friend doesn’t respect you.
If they disrespect your boundaries, they’re not a good friend to you.
They should respect your boundaries if you’ve clearly communicated what you will and won’t tolerate.
A friend might also act disrespectfully to you in public by putting you down or even humiliating you. You don’t need friends like that in your life.
Don’t tolerate it if your friend puts you down or humiliates you when you’re alone either. Friends tease and joke, but good friends never cross the line.
6. Breaking promises.
What if your friend constantly makes promises that they can’t keep?
They get your hopes up for nothing and leave you disappointed.
If they promised to do or not do something, they should stick to their word.
Sometimes, it can happen that a person can’t keep their promise for reasons that are out of their control. But frequently making and breaking promises is a whole other thing.
7. Using you.
Unfortunately, your friend could be using you, whether it’s for your money, time, attention, or something else.
When someone has a hidden agenda for being friends with you, they’re not really your friends.
Your friends should genuinely like you for who you are, and you should help each other and support each other.
But using someone is never mutual like that, and one person always gives more while the other just takes.
How can a friend cheat on you? Obviously, this is not the same as cheating in a romantic relationship.
But, betraying your loyalty is a form of cheating.
Whether your friends broke your trust by lying to you, revealing your secrets, or in any other way, they cheated.
Cheating could also mean that your friend befriends someone else and prioritizes them over you, even if you introduced them in the first place.
The Damaging Effects Of Friend Betrayal
What can a betrayal from a friend do to you and your mental health? Here are the most common effects of friend betrayal:
Naturally, this situation will cause you a lot of stress.
Why did they do it? What else did they do that you don’t know about yet?
Can you ever trust them again? Can you trust anyone again?
Questions like these could put you under a lot of stress. You could also have mood swings, from being stressed to feeling numb and back and forth.
2. Feeling hurt.
It hurts when someone you love betrays you.
Betrayal is a type of trauma that needs a lot of time to heal.
You could be feeling hurt for months after the incident happened, or even hold onto a grudge for years.
It’s hard to forgive someone for hurting you so much. But it is advised that you forgive your friends whether you want to stay friends with them or not.
It will help you move on and recover from this faster.
3. Being disappointed.
It’s only natural to feel let down by your friend. You expected more from them.
What they did left you disappointed in them, and possibly in the the whole world.
How could they have done this to you? How could you have let yourself trust them?
If you didn’t see the betrayal coming, you’re probably asking yourself tough questions like these.
You might even be disappointed in yourself for letting yourself trust this person and not noticing the truth earlier.
4. Being shocked and confused.
You probably didn’t expect your friend to betray you, so their behavior left you shocked and confused.
You could start doubting everything they ever told you because you don’t know what to think anymore.
It’s confusing how someone so close to you could stab you in the back.
You don’t understand their motivation and reasoning for doing what they did.
Didn’t they know that they could lose you? Why were they willing to risk that happening?
5. Low self-esteem.
Your self-esteem may take a hit by all this, especially if your friend was putting you down or badmouthing you.
Maybe they even betrayed you by stealing your boyfriend or girlfriend.
You could have problems with low self-esteem because of it.
Luckily, you can work on your self-esteem and feel better again.
But never let your friend repeat what they did.
6. Trust issues.
This bad experience could leave you with trust issues.
It’s not just that you’ll have trouble trusting that particular friend, but you’ll also find it hard to trust people in general.
You can work on your trust issues with a therapist.
Don’t let one bad experience ruin more of your friendships and relationships.
7. Feeling grief.
You are probably overwhelmed with a sense of loss. You’re grieving the loss of trust, and possibly the loss of the friendship.
If you need to cry or let out your pain in another healthy way, don’t hesitate to do so.
Take all the time you need to grieve in peace before you are ready to move on.
8. Need for revenge.
What if you want to get back at your friend for hurting you?
If you’re angry, you could be thinking about revenge.
However, this is a very bad idea.
Even if they did something terrible to you, don’t stoop to their level. It’s a much better idea to learn to forgive them and let go.
You may also like:
- 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