When you feel like a friend has betrayed you, the experience is much like infidelity in a marriage. Your trust is shaken and your feelings are hurt. You question your judgement and you may lose a relationship that’s important to you.
Sometimes a friend may make an honest mistake or lack the capacity to stand by you through a serious illness or other hardship. Sometimes they may even harm you deliberately.
Whatever the reasons, try these tips to help you promote healing, whether you decide to salvage your friendship or go your separate ways.
Steps to Take With Yourself:
- Clarify the situation. Friendships have natural ups and downs. Did your friend snub you or are they just busy with a new job or baby? Is your relationship with your old college roommate too valuable to lose over one careless remark?
- Hold yourself accountable. Take responsibility for your role in the situation. You may find that you contributed to the rift.
- Boost your self-esteem. Feeling betrayed can make you question yourself and your worth. Remember that you deserve love and respect. Engage in activities that build your confidence. Tackle new challenges like running a charity race or indulge your creativity by taking a painting class.
- Take action. You may be tempted to hide yourself away when a friend turns on you, but it’s more constructive to address the facts directly. Speak up and advocate for yourself.
- Catch your breath. At the same time, you need to be gentle with yourself. You may want to put off making any long term decisions about the future of your friendship until you have time to sort things out.
- Consider counseling. If you notice troubling patterns in your relationships or a recent conflict stirs up old issues, you may want to speak with a therapist. A counselor can help you make positive changes that can lead to more satisfying relationships.
Steps to Take With Others:
- Talk it over. If possible, sit down for a conversation with your friend. Let them know how you feel and listen to their side of the story.
- Consult others. You may find it helpful to get some additional perspectives. Ask a mutual friend or someone you trust to give you feedback on how you’re handling things.
- Resolve conflicts promptly. Disagreements are easier to fix when you act quickly. Keep touchy situations from getting out of hand by communicating directly and tactfully.
- Practice forgiveness. Letting go of grudges will give you more peace of mind. Pardon your friend and wish them well even if you don’t approve of their behavior.
- Proceed gradually. If you decide to maintain your friendship after a serious betrayal, you may want to take things slowly. See if your friend is willing and able to follow through on smaller commitments before you take bigger risks.
- Distance yourself. On the other hand, you may decide that you’re better off ending contact with your former friend. You can still be gracious by letting them know your decision and refraining from gossipping about them.
- Reach out. The most important challenge for you may be to keep your heart and mind open to making new friends. Trust is the basis for any healthy relationship. It’s impossible to avoid disappointments, but you can know that you’re strong and resilient enough to bounce back.
Losing a friend is difficult, especially when you think they’ve let you down. By working through your feelings, you can restore your trust in yourself and others. You’ll be able to repair your relationship or build new and more supportive friendships.