It’s easy to forget that emotional pain can hurt as much as physical pain. When you’re hurting and have been hurt by someone, it often feels as if you’ve taken a punch to the gut or a stab to the heart. And once you’re in the middle of something, it’s hard to see the end of it—you’re too busy feeling what you feel and experiencing the moment you’re in. But just as we can recover from physical pain, we can also recover from emotional pain, even if it comes from an intimate betrayal.
After living through the betrayal of someone they loved, many people find that they just can’t imagine their next love interest being loyal.
“We suffer quietly through disloyalty from a partner, but this embeds harmful emotions deeply into our being. Our trust in others erodes if we don’t process the reality of betrayal and work through its painful impressions,” says clinical psychologist and relationship expert, Dr. Carmen Harra.
When betrayed, we’re given two choices—let ourselves get stuck in a bad mindset forever or we can put the incident behind us for good. These 7 steps will help you move on from a romantic betrayal:
1. Recognize the betrayal and your emotions.
After learning that someone you love has betrayed you, your emotions can become a life-altering mess. You can’t move forward without processing these feelings. Take time to work through the shock, sadness, anger, and hate with family, friends, or even the help of a therapist.
“In order to heal from betrayal and keep it from reoccurring in the future, you have to keep your emotions in check. If you obsess, you become stuck in the past. But if you can think logically and understand the need to move forward, you can master your emotions,” says Harra.
2. Learn to forgive.
It may seem absurd to forgive someone who has hurt you so badly, but you’ll need to if you want to get your life back. Holding onto grudges will only keep you holding on to the past and rob you of happiness.
“Forgiving does not mean accepting the wrong behavior of others; it means detaching from the pain, frustration, and bitterness buried within you. As long as we harbor hatred or anger against others, personal progress is stifled,” says Harra.
3. Don’t blame yourself.
The first person you may look to blame is yourself, but remember that you deserve to be treated with respect.
“Unresolved guilt can cause anger and resentment, not only at ourselves, but also toward others in order to justify our actions. Anger, resentment, and guilt sap our energy, cause depression and illness, and stop us from having success, pleasure, and fulfilling relationships,” says licensed marriage and family therapist, Darlene Lancer in her book, “Freedom from Guilt and Blame: Finding Self-Forgiveness.”
4. Detach from people you don’t trust.
Why put up with people who act in bad faith? You’ve already dealt with one betrayal; you don’t need anymore. If you feel someone in your life is not trustworthy, get rid of them.
“Be selective about the people you bring into your life for your own well-being. Choosing to cling to people who don’t inspire your faith in them will only lead you to distrust everyone as a whole. Walk away from those you know are not right for you,” says Harra.
5. Don’t Betray.
You know what betrayal feels like so strive to not betray others. Sometimes being betrayed can inspire those who aren’t over being hurt, to hurt others as a way of getting even.
“If you’re unhappy in a relationship, simply move on. Do not knowingly deceive or mislead to satisfy your ego. Revenge only perpetuates bad karma and traps you in a cycle of recurring action,” says Harra.
6. Envision a future free of betrayal.
Visualization is one of the key elements in getting what you want. Don’t be afraid to dream. This will also help you be more cautious of letting potential betrayers back into your life.
“What you fear most, you most attract, and if you quiet your fears, you can control what you draw in,” says Harra.
7. Take a leap of faith.
You may be reluctant and even scared to get back into another relationship again, but taking a chance on love again is crucial if you want to move on. Putting your hopes in others again will show you that there are goodhearted people out there.
“You might find it hard to trust anyone,” says Harra. “But slowly and surely you’ll redevelop a sense of confidence in the good will of others. All you have to do is be willing to do so.”