In the throes of a betrayal, it may seem impossible to even think about forgiveness. You may feel as though your heart has been broken and that you can never even be close to your betrayer again. This initial reaction is a normal part of the grief process that accompanies any betrayal experiences. Once the anger stage of the grief process passes and you move toward acceptance of the betrayal, you can begin to think about forgiveness.Broken heart Compassionate forgiveness can help you heal accumulations of past physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual wounds from previous betrayals and other kinds of developmental trauma. It can also help you open your heart again so that you can begin rebuilding the fracture in your relationship. The goal is to repair the trust, empathy, reciprocity, and love you once had with this person. However, your motive for wanting to forgive should not be to help the other person. It should be about helping yourself and freeing yourself of the anger and resentment that can, if not healed, continue to hurt your body and mind. Weinhold and Andresen (1979) wrote, "Forgiveness is basic to all change and growth." The tension from self-judgment and judging others produces a chronic level of stress in your body that depresses your immune system and causes illness (Borysenko, 1996). You have the power to end this kind of destructive cycle by moving beyond the acceptance stage of grieving and work toward forgiving your betrayer and yourself. Forgiveness is a attitude that only sets the forgiver free. The healthiest choice in a betrayal trauma is to forgive yourself and the other person for creating the betrayal situation. The word forgive is often misunderstood. To some people, it means to rise above your feelings or to deny or passively condone the act of betrayal. To forgive actually means to "give back, give before, or for-give." What are you willing to give back or take back in a betrayal situation What responsibility do you have in this betrayal This approach will help you give back or take back your projections and misperceptions about the other person’s behavior. You may find the other person feels shocked to hear your perceptions about them or the situation. Perhaps you were not fully truthful with the other person in ways that contributed to his or her misperceptions about you. Perhaps you need to give back the full truth to this person. You may also have unconsciously set up the betrayal by pretending to like something the other person said or did, when in truth you didn’t like it. Compassion is a companion tool to forgiveness. Both are necessary for clearing betrayal traumas. Compassion doesn’t necessarily help the person who betrayed you, but it will surely help you heal your own wounds. If you cannot feel compassion for those who betray you, you may continue to draw people into your life that play into your pattern of betrayal. To heal your developmental traumas and stresses related to betrayals, it is important to practice compassion toward yourself. An excellent way to develop self-compassion is to eliminate the word mistake from your vocabulary. Mistakes imply judgment and failure, that something went wrong, and that you or someone else is bad, all of which can create intrapsychic splitting. A more compassionate framework is to see everything, including your betrayal traumas, as learning experiences rather than as mistakes. Learning how to heal your developmental traumas and stresses involves you in the process of discovery, exploration, and adventure, all of which are fun and exciting. When you try something new and it turns out the way that you expected, you probably dont learn very much. Rather, it just reinforces your previous learning. When you try something new and it turns out to be different from what you expected, you have an opportunity to learn something new. This unexpected turn of events stimulates your thinking, activates your curiosity, and promotes more exploration and discovery. An attitude of learning fosters synthesis or unitive thinking and increased self-esteem, which help immensely in being able to move on.


Borysenko, J. (1996) Seventy times seven: On the spiritual art of forgiveness. Audiotape, Boulder, CO: Sounds True.Weinhold, B. & Andresen, G. (1979). Threads: Unraveling the mysteries of adult life. New York: Richard Marek Publishers.

Further Reading:

Share →

3 Responses to Forgiving Someone Who Has Betrayed You

  1. ann says:

    My male friend who I knew for years have lied to me this year. He was giving me wrong address of where he lived. I discovered he was lying when he would change the story (address) to me. I felt very lied to and played with. I confronted him about my betrayal. He answers seemed matter of fact instead of showing real concern for my hurt. He says he wasn’t getting along with his family and he didn’t want me to be a part of it and he told me that is why he gave me a false addrsss. A few months will go by and when I confronted him that I am still confused about why wouldn’t he tell me at the time before he gave me a false address that he wasn’t getting along, no answer but then he would throw a guilt response by saying he was avoiding me for 2 months because he couldn’t handle my anger. This is very confusing.

  2. says:

    I adored & loved my daughter in law very much. Being a mother of 3 boys I was thrilled I finally had my daughter. I did everything for her more than her own mother. Then 2 yrs later we were blessed with our granddaughter. All along I sensed she was holding back something but wasn;’t sure what. Until one day I stubled across her old cell phone and Facebook was open. I know it was wrong, but I had to see what was wrong. Boy was I heartbroken to find out she betrayed me with my worse enemy, my ex-sister in law. I was crushed because not only were they friends but they both lied to each other about me. How do I forgive her and move on?

  3. sam says:

    my husband-to-be lie to me in worse why ever . he hide his past and present life from me i feel like i can forgive him , i want to just don’t known how to forgive him its killing the relationship .how do i get pass it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop us a note so we can take care of it!

Visit our friends!

A few highly recommended friends...