dealing with betrayalThis is a guest post from Mary C. on the topic of finding a supportive person to help you in dealing with betrayal.

When we are dealing with betrayal and pain, most of us instinctively need a shoulder to cry on, but whose shoulder should it be?

I think our first response is friends and family. They are the ones that will listen and be the most sympathetic. Do you think their advice is the best advice? I found out, not so much in my case.

Why? They care about you and are going to be upset that you have been hurt. They will be on your side no matter what. That sounds like it would be a good thing, and it is; however, in most cases, they’re not going to care about anything regarding your partner.

All they know is he or she hurt you; therefore, anything concerning reconciliation would most likely be looked upon harshly. That’s only natural. You probably felt the same way in the beginning.

You are going to have a huge decision to make, which will be extremely hard as it is. At that time, any kind of action your loved ones suggest is probably not going to be geared toward saving the marriage. Of course, that’s not always the case, but I think most loved ones would react that way.  

There is another reason they may not give the best advice. If and when you decide to rebuild the marriage, they’ll be thinking about how badly you were treated when they encounter your spouse.

For instance, get togethers with family or friends could be a tense situation. Has that happened to you? With time, they might forgive your spouse if he or she honestly tries to amend their ways, but it would most likely be difficult and uncomfortable for a while.

So, what’s your alternative?

We probably need to talk to someone who is more objective. Of course, seeking counseling is always the best thing to do. Unfortunately, that’s not always financially feasible or if it is, you can’t go as frequently as you would like.

I know that when I went to counseling, I would feel so much better when I walked out of the office. I always wished I could go at least two or three days a week, but that wasn’t possible for me. However, it helped me so much and I went as much as I could.

Coming here is very therapeutic. You can come here every day and talk to hundreds of people going through the same thing. It helps us realize we’re not the only ones going through this heartache. I know that’s how I felt sometimes. During my time, there were not only no sites like this one, there were no home computers. Yes, I’m old.

So how would you avoid talking about your problem with friends and family?

You probably wouldn’t be able to. You could tell them you are having problems and you’re trying to work through them yourself; however, that’s probably not realistic. You can try not to say any more about the situation than absolutely necessary in order to head off negative feelings should you have reconciliation.

You can attempt to remember that their advice is not necessarily the best way to go. That being said, it all sounds good on paper, but it’s not how human nature normally works. In the long run, I wound up talking and crying and talking and crying. My friends knew every single tidbit of information.

In the long run, I became totally confused. Luckily, in my case, I had one great friend that told me to knock it off and stop listening to everybody. With some coaxing from her, I thanked my loved ones for all their help and support, but told them I needed to have some time to myself to figure it all out. Low and behold, they understood.

I’m curious about how you let your friends and family know what was going on. Did they know about everything? If so, how did they react to the affair? In addition, I wonder about the person having the affair as well. How did your family and your spouse’s family react to your affair? 



    16 replies to "Dealing with Betrayal – On Whose Shoulder Should We Cry?"

    • A few years ago, a dear friend of mine learned that her husband was having an affair and planning to leave her for the other woman. Naturally, she was distraught, in terrible pain. She talked about it almost constantly to anyone who would listen – family, friends, neighbors. I wanted to comfort and advise her. But at the same time I felt uncomfortable about hearing all the horrible details and being expected to agree with her about what a jerk her husband was. Yes, he was a jerk! But my concern was that if they did reconcile (which for a while she thought might happen) that I would always harbor very negative thoughts toward him and that it would be difficult (maybe impossible) to socialize normally with them. I would always think about how badly he had behaved and it would have been very hard for me to feel truly supportive of her getting back together with him after all he had put her through. Her friends and relatives had lost all respect for the husband, and had they reconciled, we would all have been scrutinizing his behavior, feeling skeptical about his sincerity, etc., perhaps forever.

      At the same time, I wouldn’t suggest she keep the whole thing a big secret. Perhaps the best thing would have been to let family and close friends know about the separation, without going into a lot of details. Save the blow-by-blow descriptions of his betrayal for a therapist, or one trusted person (perhaps someone who was her friend but not his). So if reconciliation occurred, it would be much easier to return to a normal life, with those close to her being able to accept him back into their lives.

      The good news for my friend is that she now is in a better relationship without someone who treats her really well.

      • Rosemary

        Oops – I said “without someone who treats her really well,” but of course I meant WITH someone who treats her really well!

    • Tryinghard

      The first people I called were my sons. The came over right in the middle of it. The poor things had to hear more than they ever cared to know about their parents. They were of no solace what so ever. Big mistake to call them. My sister came over that night and tried very hard to support me but didn’t have the stomach for it. They tried. I told most everything to my two best girlfriends and of course they wanted me to kick him to the curb. I’m sure 18 ,onths later they would still like to see me leave him although the are very supportive of me. I know they have no regard for him. It’s sad because they used to like him. Most all our friends have abandoned us. We used to have a very full social life but none now. Everyone was so surprised about what he did and with him I just think they see him as an untrustworth person, a fraud. I know it bothers him but he would never admit it. He says he doesn’t care but I know he does. He wants people to think good of him and he knows they don’t. We were supposed to go to a graduation party and a wedding the summer all this came down and he refused. He said it made him physically ill thinking about going and people judging him.

      There was no way I could have kept this quiet in our little town. Everyone knows us, even people I don’t know!!! My therapist was my best confidante. Again he didn’t think through the repercussions. Even if we hadn’t reconciled most people would have shunned him or he would have thought they were.

      These blogs have been great outlets for me. Sometimes I will confide in my 2 friends but no details because unless you’ve gone through this you really can’t understand. You think you can but the don’t.. My friend advised me that I needed to “let it go”. Now I know she meant it with love and concern for me but I wanted to say”….duh, why didn’t I think of that”. Seriously I don’t think anyone knows what to say because what they would really like to say is”what the f..k are you thinking you foo.” But they just can’t say that because they want to act like they support us.

    • Battleborn

      I consider myself very fortunate in this regard. I have two close friends who have been through an affair. What makes it a God send is that one stayed and one didn’t so I can see both sides of the after effect. Granted every affair is different, but at least I could understand what the trials and tribulations would be. They are my best support even though I would consider my counselor number one for an outside source.

    • kelbelly

      I did turn towards family. My H left our marriage emotionally months before his affair and my mother and grandmother were my rocks during this time and since the affair. If anything our family and friends have pulled us closer. They see that we are trying to work through everything so they support us.

    • Lynsey

      I told no one what happened and went through the whole EA hell alone…well almost- this site was and still is my “friend” which got me through the worst times. I didn’t want relationships with friends & family to be uncomfortable should things work out between my H and myself. Fortunately they did, and friends and family are none the wiser. It was very difficult, but for me, it was a wise decision. I guess I was able to hold it together enough when with other people.On the other hand, if my H and I couldn’t reconcile, the whole world would know ALL about his EA and the whore he was with!!!!!

    • ataloss

      I have not confided in anyone. I knew right away that I wanted to work through this if possible, and somehow had the immediate wisdom to know that we did not need all the opinions and criticisms that would come from family and friends. I was also concerned about how he would be treated by others and if we were to stay together if things could go back to normal. And I was concerned about if he could deal with the shame of having everyone know.

      It has been 15 months, and we are still together. It has been VERY difficult to not have someone to confide in. One of my struggles is in trying not to throw this up in his face every time I am upset, and yet having no one else to vent to. But despite that, I think this was the right decision for us. We are in a better place now than we have been in years.

      And yet, I also struggle with the fact that this is the same secrecy that allows affairs to happen over and over again in our society. I sometimes feel that it is very selfish of me to keep it to myself and not be open about it. My decision to keep it from our family and friends was most certainly a selfish one, as I did not want to face the criticism and judgements of others. I didn’t want to hear that it was my fault or be perceived as a bad wife. So maybe it wasn’t the best thing after all.

    • AnnaB

      I told a couple of people who don’t know him, and our sister-in-law, who is married to his brother. She eventually told his brother because he wondered what all our hushed conversations were about. And luckily for me and my husband (we are making things work and it’s been a year and a half) they have been very supportive of both of us. Naturally they were shocked and disappointed in him, but they were literally saved saved my life since day one as I was on the edge. How I’ve managed to keep it from the rest ofnthe family I don’t know, because I felt like screaming it from the rooftops. But I knew that once I’d said anything to them I wouldn’t be able to take it back and they would be so upset. I’m glad I didn’t mention it, but if he doesn’t again I definitely will!!!!!

    • Heather

      I have not told any family only 2 friends. They have been my best support. I still feel very alone at times though.

    • Magdalene

      I told my friends, his mother, brother and cousin and finally, GOD sent me an angel (a counselor from our church) who has helped us a long way.
      It’s past 15 months and I have learned to let go bit by bit, releasing all the anger, resentment , betrayal, hurt and buckets and buckets of tears. I told myself “enough of hurting yourself already” so I picked myself up and dived into prayers everyday, telling my Heavenly Father that I do so want to forgive my H and the OW.
      Surprisingly, this has healed me and I thank this site for giving us BS an avenue to let go of all negative thoughts and feelings and to know that “Hey, I am not alone in this. There are some many people out there who are going through the same things as I am” and that makes it a little more bearable. To all BS out will get better, trust me. Cheers!

    • Carol

      I told my mother on D-Day. She was very supportive, and very angry with my H — predictable, I suppose. At first he didn’t want me to tell anybody — but I told him I would not be going through this alone and needed my mother’s support. I think that’s when it dawned on him (!) that his supposedly private actions — quarantined, as he thought, from everything else in his life — were going to affect everything around him. My sisters found out because my mother told them. One of my sisters still hasn’t forgiven him, and my brother-in-law hasn’t really, either. His own parents excused his behavior completely, and his brother — a computer whiz — blocked me from having access to my H’s cell phone account. That was revealing, too — I’d always suspected that they didn’t really accept me, and sure enough they turned on me right away, even told my H that for all he knew I’d probably had an affair, too, so he shouldn’t feel too badly (!).
      I suppose I agree that one should be careful about the people one chooses to confide in. But on the other hand: I also think that CSs have to face the music. If that means losing the respect and affection they once enjoyed from their spouses’ family members, so be it. How the hell did my H *think* my mother would react when she found out about his lies and his EAs, one of them conducted while on a family vacation paid for by HER? That’s right, folks: she was PISSED. And maybe this is bad for me to say, but her anger was helpful in smacking him out of his stupid fog. As was his family’s bad behavior — he saw them in their true colors, and it was like a bucket of cold water over the head.

    • Dakota

      This are his words this morning; Why ar’nt you helping me with the outside yard work ..In a jokingly but sarcastic way..
      You are only a companionship to me & F…..buddies..
      We are not equals..
      He did apologize almost righ away…but I was already to angry for what i hear.. I said to him.. So I guest that is the way you feel need to appologize …I know you have done worst and to you that is all we have…a F…buddies and it must be true if you said it..
      It did trigger something in me again so i went for a walk and sobbed all the way …
      Aprox.. 2 and a half years since my Spouse ended his EA relationship with the other woman..and he ended because he was having a nervous breakdown ,,as he said he was trying to keep to woman happy..and that cause him to have a nervous breakdown…so he ended up with her..
      Today..I feel like I did have him back ..but, then, not really because our relationship is not in a good you can see…And I still feel miserable and very unhappy..and to make it worst I am not even married to him ..we beeing living together since 2004..

    • forcryinoutloud

      I’ve told my Mom, sister and 2 friends the complete story. They have been wonderful and supportive of me and my marriage.
      A few other friends knew we were (are) having issues in our marriage due to an old girlfriend and meddling MIL. From their initial responses I withheld any further info. Let’s just say they were less than supportive for me to work on it…they assumed the worst and were quick to judge us both.

      I have always been an extremely private person, never been one to put my garbage out there for public consumption. But when all this affair malarkey blew up I didn’t have a clue how to cope. I think I would have talked to anyone just to get some morsel of knowledge on how to deal with it. So, I’m on the fence about who you tell and not tell or if you tell anyone. I will say I believe holding all my junk in from the past made it more difficult for me to deal with this ordeal. My childhood BFF told me this weekend she always thought I had the perfect life until she found out about my H’s EA. I then expounded on my many shortcomings, hell I’m only human, which had her mouth hanging open. This is a woman I have known all but the first 6 weeks of my life. So, maybe now I believe in letting the walls down.

    • Healingperson

      No way I could keep it in! To my counselor, I tell the details, to close friends a tell some, to family only that we are working out some mid-life crisis, and to God everything under the sun. If I don’t have these venues, and since it’s only been 4 months since DDay, I would not be able to look at him everyday without blowing up! Emotions as you probably have experienced by now, come at weird times. In my case, my husband works with the OW, and everyday he sees her! It’s at my kids school, so often I have to see her too! Never exchanged a word with her. She runs away from me like we would the plague. I think its actually comical. I recite in my head the words I will exchange with her should the right opportunity present itself!

      • Bob

        What words would you say to the OW?

        My wife works with her former AP too. I have no clue what I would say to him. I’m thinking maybe just a cold smirk.

        I’m so sorry that it involves your kids’ school. That sucks.

        • Healingperson


          Well, many scenarios have been played in my head!

          Most likely I would end up thanking her for bringing my husband and I back together (emotionally) again. I would also probably say that she obviously did not measure up and that I hoped that she could find someone who would be willing to settle with her.

          Bob, what I have realized is that the kind of emptiness the OA must feel from being seconds, and/or left-overs from several broken relationships (in her case) is punishment enough beyond anything I can offer. She has bagged my husband, and has used my disabled son (down syndrome) at school to pump information about his whereabouts! I gave him every opportunity to unite with her, hew has not taken it.

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