A friend of my friend, Jane, committed the biggest BFF sin there is—betrayal. She was envious of Jane’s successful business and sabotaged Jane’s client. She lied to the client about Jane’s abilities and claimed she could serve the client better. When my businesswoman friend Jane found out, she was so stunned she had to retreat to the office ladies’ room to have a cry.
What do you do when a friend breaks your trust? How do you recover from your soul-wrenching, gut-punching blow? How do you avoid becoming bitter and angry? How do you ever learn to trust again?
- First, make sure the breach happened with malice. Maybe your friend made a mistake. Maybe she saw the issue in a different way. Maybe she wasn’t aware that her actions were a betrayal. In my friend Jane’s situation, there was no doubt. The client admitted Jane’s friend tried to steal his business away from Jane.
- Let the gravity of the situation sink in. You’ve undergone a terrible experience. Broken trust leads to a broken heart. Wallow in your emotions all you want, but for a limited time only. Re-run the disaster in your mind for a maximum of five times. Look at all the angles. Acknowledge that this has happened to you. It’s important to fully take in the tragedy before you can let it go.
- Salvage what you can. That is, if you want to and you’re feeling up to it. Maybe there’s some part of the betrayal that wasn’t totally reprehensible. Maybe your friend exhibited some positive behavior. Maybe she had some good intent that you can get behind. If, after you’ve had some time to recover, you want to maintain your friendship, plan your talk. Because you can’t go forward without telling your friend what’s bothering you. Do it as objectively and calmly as possible.
- Evaluate your friend’s response. If you’re going to talk to your friend in the hopes of mending your relationship, be sure to listen with an open mind. Otherwise, you really don’t want to mend, you just want revenge. So hear what she says. She might have an explanation for her behavior that redeems her and makes sense to you. But if she is defensive, if she doesn’t apologize, if she doesn’t offer to change her behavior, then it’s time for you to think about a break.
- Shift the distance between you. If you decide to make a clean break, do it unequivocally. If you decide to remain friends, also make the decision about how close you want to be to this person. You might not want to return to your former status. You might want to protect yourself by keeping the relationship but distancing yourself so there is less of a chance you’ll be hurt again. And if your friend breaks your trust again, then resign yourself to the fact that she’ll probably do it a third time. If you keep her friendship, you are likely setting yourself up for future betrayals.
You need to choose your relationships carefully because you deserve to be healthy and happy. Friends who betray you are not friends. You can do better.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact