Every relationship is different, but all strong relationships have a solid foundation of trust. That trust can take years to build, and once it’s broken, it can be difficult to rebuild. Part of rebuilding that trust is learning how to heal a betrayed heart.
When You Choose to Stay
It can be difficult to trust your partner again after discovering they have a sex or porn addiction. But you also need to heal if you choose to stay in the relationship while they undergo their recovery.
It can be tempting to ignore the issue and pretend it never happened. You may experience grief-like symptoms where you mourn the loss of the relationship you believed you had. There are therapists available to help you cope with intimate partner betrayal trauma. Begin Again Institute offers a Partner Support Program that runs parallel to our 14-Day Men’s Intensive Program.
To rebuild a solid trusting relationship, it’s essential to learn what betrayal trauma is, how to heal a betrayed heart, and how to rebuild your relationship.
Betrayal is Traumatic
Experiencing betrayal from a loved one not only erodes trust, it’s also traumatic. Betrayal is a violation of trust. In the case of an intimate partner relationship, that is trust you put in someone to respect your needs and commit to a monogamous relationship.
Because we all depend on our intimate partners for love, emotional support, and companionship, a betrayal is traumatic. It can make us question everything we believed about the relationship, and it can cause us to experience grief.
Everyone experiences trauma differently. But there are some common symptoms to consider.
Common symptoms of betrayal trauma include:
- Trouble describing your emotions
- Feeling disconnected
- Intrusive thoughts about the betrayal or intrusive memories of when you found out
- Panic attacks
- Developing a substance use disorder
- Difficulty trusting others
It can take a lot of time to work through the issues that can arise from betrayal trauma. You may experience ongoing trust issues and self-doubt. Though betrayal can be traumatic, healing is possible.
How to Heal a Betrayed Heart
When it comes to healing a betrayed heart, it’s vital to remember that it’s a journey. If you’re married to someone with sex addiction, it can be tempting to put yourself on the back burner and repress any feelings that may arise. But to heal, it’s important to feel these feelings. Here are some necessary steps on the journey.
Form a Support System or a Support Community
It can be tempting to isolate yourself during the healing process. But it’s not easy to go through a situation like this alone. Your healing journey will be easier if you have a support system. It may feel embarrassing to talk about being in a relationship with someone with a sex addiction, but it’s worth it to have someone to talk to and share with.
It’s critical to choose this support system carefully. Find one or two friends or family members you can speak with openly.
Educate Yourself on Sex and Porn Addiction
As part of your healing journey, educate yourself about sex and porn addiction. You may wonder if you somehow caused your partner’s behavior. This response is typical. But it’s also important to know that your partner’s addiction has nothing to do with you.
Addiction affects brain chemistry. People with addictions are in a cycle they can’t break. Many of them want to change or have tried to do so. But in many cases, they lacked the knowledge and support they needed. Understanding addiction and how it affects your partner will help you understand that it has nothing to do with you. This understanding enables you to move forward in your own healing journey.
Understand Trauma Symptoms
Understanding signs of betrayal trauma can help you on your healing journey. You may be experiencing anger, guilt, loss of self-esteem, or hypervigilance as a result of the betrayal. It’s essential to acknowledge these emotions, so you can move forward.
Create your own plan of recovery for your healing journey. Set boundaries and put yourself first. Be compassionate with yourself. Make space in your day for things you love, like engaging in new hobbies or learning a skill. Write in a journal to get things out of your head. Your healing is just as important as your partner’s. And it’s vital that you give your recovery the time and attention it deserves.
Self-care is more than treating yourself to a bubble bath after a long day. It’s the hard work of meeting your own physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. During your healing journey, put yourself first and make some time in your day to do things just for you.
Going for a walk or hitting the gym is a great way to practice self-care. But you can also take time to journal or meditate. Everyone is different. The self-care that everyone needs in a particular moment depends on that person. It can be difficult to make time for these things, particularly for women who have a hard time putting themselves first. But self-care can do a lot for your recovery.
Rebuilding your Relationship
You may wonder if rebuilding your relationship is even possible, or if someone with sex addiction can be faithful. Rebuilding your relationship is possible after they are in recovery, and you heal your betrayed heart. After each of you commits to your recovery journeys, create a list of criteria of what a healthy relationship is for each of you. Avoid using language that could start a fight, like “always” and “never.”
It’s important to acknowledge the trauma you experienced, but not to hold it over your partner’s head. Set reasonable goals together and work toward forgiveness. Openly discussing your feelings with your partner can pave the way for new trust.
How Begin Again Institute Can Help
In the end, both parties have to want the relationship to work to rebuild it.
If you’d like more information about how to heal a betrayed heart, or how Begin Again Institute can help you and your partner through betrayal trauma and sex or porn addiction, contact us today.