Patterns of betrayal go beyond betrayal of marriage vows by having an extramarital affair. One can be betrayed in business, have secrets betrayed by a confident, be betrayed by a friend who gossips about you, or makes promises they don’t keep. One can have money stolen, things stolen, or intellectual property stolen. One can be betrayed into the hands of an enemy. There probably are many ways of being betrayed. Ironically it all follows a similar pattern.
1. You give of yourself to someone in some way. Usually, you have given yourself fully to this person. Certainly you’ve trusted them. Often you’ve loved them. By giving you’ve made yourself vulnerable, but you believed in this person. You’ve let them close to you. Allowed them into your inner circle.
2. At some point the betrayer wants something that isn’t theirs. It can be love, friendship or sex with a person who is not their spouse. It could also be a desire for a sense of significance, money, power, recognition, admiration, control, and even revenge. These things can be driven by lust, greed, pride, self-promotion, and low self-esteem, but whatever the emotions that are driving it, selfishness and pain lay at the core. Pain in the sense that there is something that is making this person vulnerable to engaging in something that deep down they know is morally wrong.
3. The betrayer has to give himself/herself permission to make this bad choice. Generally this is done, by building a case against the person they are betraying. If the person they are betraying has been good to them, it makes them a bad person. But if the person whom they are betraying has not been good - has failed them in some way, it seems justifiable to them. (Of course it isn’t, but in the subconscious somewhere this irrational reasoning is going on.)
4. So they become critical and fault finding of the person they are betraying, and in this way begin to give themselves permission to betray.
5. The betrayer begins to fantasize, to make plans in their minds, and to think about the betrayal. They tell themselves that they are “really not doing anything wrong because ….” Usually the first moves towards betrayal are slow and subtle. Sometimes it can appear quick, such as in the case of a one night stand, but truth be told, if they were a good moral person who really felt one night stands were wrong, they did not just wake up one morning and decide to have an affair. In their minds they’ve been slowly entertaining thoughts of unfaithfulness, lustful thoughts, thoughts of what they deserve, of how great they are. Interestingly enough thinking you are “all that” is directly connected to exactly the opposite, deep down believing you are not, struggling with low-self-esteem, so you are vulnerable to admiration and praise from other people, exactly because you need it to feed your week ego that deep down wonders whether you are worthy, adequate, or loved.
6. The betrayer begins, usually slowly and subtly, to engage in the betrayal, dabbling at first.
7. The betrayer agrees that when others do it, it is wrong, but they twist reality and truth in their own minds. They tell themselves that their situation is different because ….. They find ways to make what they are doing not wrong. They lie to and deceive even themselves, and the longer they stay in it, the more deceived they become. It’s self-deception. Black has become white and white has become black.
8. The betrayer compartmentalizes. There is the home world and the affair world, the work world and the personal world, my business and your business. They keep lines between these two things as best they can, to somehow live with themselves and make things okay.
9. The betrayer begins to hide. In one way or another they are hiding from you. It’s hard to put your finger on it, but something is different. They become emotionally distant. You just can’t seem to connect with them, but there seem to be a million and one reasonable explanations for the distance; too busy, not enough time, stress, extra deadlines at work etc.
10. In advanced stages, the betrayer stops responding, answering your emails, or take a long time to answer with only an evasive bare minimum. You’ll see less text messages, if any. They stop answering the phone when you call. When you reach out to them, they’ll engage as necessary, but you’ll find yourself wondering why you can’t seem to get through to them. Something is off, but you can’t define what it is. If you believe in someone or love someone or care for them, you’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and wonder what you’re doing or not doing that seems to be resulting in a failure to connect. The betrayal is going on behind your back.
11. The betrayer will talk a smooth line, and will gain support of whomever they can. They will spin a mighty tale to make what is wrong right. They’ll be bad mouthing you behind your back, exaggerating any faults you may have, taking them out of context, and minimizing your good qualities and completely overlooking all the good and kind things you have done for them. In fact, they’ll even often turn your good and kind things into offenses, when speaking with others. Often times they can succeed in turning others who are dear to you against you. They’ll even involve other people in the betrayal, and those involved won’t even realize they’re involved. This can be among the many multiplying factors present in a betrayal, that your own friends, family, people who care about you, your inner circle, believe the lies and the tale, supporting the betrayer and not defending you – not understanding that a story sounds right until someone sets the record straight and tells the other side.
12. The betrayer then usually becomes brazen in how they lie, in the depth of the betrayal; for example by bringing someone who is not their spouse into the home, into the marital bed, being with the other person in front of you, making them a friend of the family, introducing them to your children, having sex in a parked car in some relatively public place (something they would normally never do).
13. The betrayer becomes fully submersed in the affair (betrayal) fog. They are not thinking logically anymore. They are so involved in the fantasy, that they have lost sight of reality. Trying to reason with a person in this state is next to impossible. If they were thinking logically, they would not be doing such a thing. That’s the problem. They are not thinking logically. They are fully in the grip of evil. Really they’ve become prisoners of a sort, prisoners of the lie. On the other side of the betrayal, some betrayers say they wished the people in their lives who had noticed something was off would’ve said something instead of, maintaining society’s “code of silence,” which states, “Don’t get involved in someone else’s problems. Don’t tell. Don’t rock the boat. It’s none of your business.” Long after it's all over and the consequences have played out, some betrayers may say they wish someone (not their spouse) had confronted their brazenness at this stage, because if they’d been confronted it may have jolted them into ending it before so much damage was done.
14. If confronted with evidence of the betrayal, or asked directly, “are you having an affair?” If the betrayer is not ready to come clean, they will go to great lengths to deny their actions. The stories I’ve heard from people in this stage have been utterly ridiculous. I could practically write a joke book based solely on real lies told by betrayers. Sadly they can be so good at it, that most betrayed people find themselves second-guessing their own intuition and knowledge. This happens, too, because we do not want to believe the betrayal is taking place. We want to believe the best about the person. We, too, are in denial, not wanting to acknowledge our worlds are crumbling apart. The betrayed feels like they are losing their mind.
15. Many betrayers when they reach a certain place come to grips with the fact that they have crossed the moral boundary. For some this takes place when they actually have intercourse with an affair partner. Some recognize it sooner. Others can be blatantly confronted with evidence of their sin, and still deny, maintaining their own self-distorted view of the events.
16. At this point many betrayers want out of their affairs, however, they themselves don’t want to take action. They tend to wait and hope for something or someone else to do something, which of course doesn’t happen, and so they remain in the affair. Many do feel bad, and some will even end the affair, but without accountability, as long as it remains a secret, they are too likely to go back to the affair person when they are at a low, or the affair person reaches out, because they are under the illusion they can be “just friends” with the affair partner.
They find themselves conflicted, hoping it will all somehow go away and resolve itself. They are afraid of being found out, afraid of hurting someone, afraid of the repercussions of coming clean, however, the only way out of their prison is to tell the truth.
17. The betrayal is discovered/revealed. The two worlds fully collide. “The shit hits the fan.” Devastation results. And usually chaos too. People get hurt. Some betrayers will remain convinced that they’ve done nothing wrong. Others will own their stuff right away and be remorseful. Some will further their cover up, and may even succeed in winning others to support them. Most betrayers will blame you for their betrayal. Most will tell you they love you, but are not "in love" with you. Many will say the affair partner was/is their soul mate. The hurt and devastation are overwhelming, and the multiplied affects of how often the innocent party is made to be the guilty one is beyond hurtful.
Even marriage counselors will often say, "let’s not talk about the affair, let’s talk about what was wrong in the marriage that caused the affair," which inevitably leads to a discussion about how the betrayed person wasn’t meeting the betrayers needs. The fact that many times it’s the other way around, and the betrayer was not invested in the marriage the way they should’ve been, is rarely considered. More often it is the one who is more invested in the relationship who is betrayed, and the one who is less invested does the betraying.
Certainly troubled marriages are more vulnerable to patterns of betrayal than good marriages, but there does not need to be significant problems in the relationship in order for an affair to occur. To blame the one who is betrayed for the betrayal is misguided and unfair.
Whether you can identify with the patterns of betrayal above because you have been the betrayer, or you’ve been betrayed. There is hope. Lots of hope! But it's imperative to get good help. We specialize in helping people restore their lives and relationships after betrayal. To find out more call us at 360-306-3367 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
©Copyright 2014. Anne Bercht. All rights reserved.