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5 Reason Betrayal Hurts

Dr. Shira Olsen gives five reasons that explain why being betrayed hurts more than anything else.

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1. Betrayal is relational. / Via

The closer you are to someone, the more devastating it feels when they betray you. You would not, for instance, feel the same level of devastation if an acquaintance lied to you versus your spouse. When someone you love and trust hurts you, it’s difficult not to generalize this experience and fear that other people in your life could easily hurt you as well. This belief is unsettling and can impact your ability to be open and vulnerable with others.

2. Betrayal threatens our instincts / Via

We are hard-wired for belonging and connection. After we select a partner and emotionally attach to them, we naturally believe that they will never hurt us. When we are betrayed, our judgement and intuition about this person is now called into question. No longer believing that you can trust your gut feels scary.

3. Betrayal is traumatic / Via

No one plans on being betrayed. You are in a relationship because you believe that your significant other is safe, trustworthy, and will not hurt you. When betrayal occurs, these beliefs are shattered in an instant making you question your views about yourself, your world, and the people in it.

4. Betrayal is confusing / Via

When intimate betrayal is not something you would ever do and thus outside of your values, it's difficult to comprehend how someone could do such a thing. Trying to make sense of someone’s betrayal is exhausting and can lead you to believe it is somehow your fault. Our mind wants a simple explanation, and unfortunately the quickest solution leads us to blame ourselves (or doubt ourselves), even when it’s not our fault.

5. Betrayal feels personal / Via

When you are betrayed, it’s personal. When it's someone else, we find every excuse to not make it about them. Although irrational, this personal bias exists for a reason. When faced with extreme pain our mind tries to quickly make sense of it in order to regain safety — the logic is, if I can figure this out, I will no longer feel as hurt. With no good explanation on hand, we resort to the simplest solution, which is, it must be something about me.

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