Can a Friendship Recover From Betrayal?

It’s no secret that friendships are essential for our physical and mental health. High-quality friendships are associated with numerous benefits, from reduced stress to a deeper sense of purpose to longer lifespans. Both old and new friendships are

With that, the experience of friendship betrayal can be incredibly hurtful. If you’ve experienced a friend’s betrayal, you know just how sad, frustrating, and confusing the situation feels. Relationship trauma is a real thing, and moving forward can be challenging.

However, you can overcome these complex feelings, and you may be able to reconcile the friendship as well. Let’s get into what you need to know.

Common Types of Friendship Betrayal

Friendship betrayal can happen in many forms and within any friendship. By definition, betrayal refers to violating someone’s trust, confidence, or moral standards. Betrayals vary in type and intensity, but they’re usually most painful when it happens by a good friend, as opposed to a more casual acquaintance.

Prioritizing Romantic Relationships

It’s normal for people to distance themselves from their friendships when they start dating a new romantic partner. But if your best friend suddenly seems absent- or acts as if your dynamic no longer matters to them at all- it can seriously hurt.

Gossiping Behind Your Back

This can be one of the most painful types of friendship betrayal. Discovering that a friend talked poorly behind your back- or shared something you talked about in confidence- is a serious breach of trust. In many ways, it can feel like a personal attack on your moral character, causing you to feel vulnerable and skeptical to trust other friends.

Ghosting You

Unfortunately, we live in a time where ghosting has become prevalent, even among good friends. It’s frustrating to rely on someone for support or consistency- if they aren’t dependable, it can make you wonder if they don’t really care about your friendship.

Sabotaging or Downplaying Your Success

Close friends can become competitive or jealous of one another. Instead of being happy about your achievements, a friend may act distant or even vindictive when things are going well.

This type of betrayal often indicates that your friend has low self-esteem. When we’re secure with ourselves, we can freely enjoy the happiness of others.

Not Really Being There When You Need Them

True friends should have each other’s backs during the good times and the bad times. It can feel so betraying if your friend dismisses or disregards your feelings when you open up to them.

You may also feel betrayed if you invest significant emotional energy into your relationship. From this perspective, it can seem like you’re the perpetual giver, and it’s frustrating when a good friend doesn’t reciprocate that effort.

Coming Back From a Friend’s Betrayal

Healing from friend betrayal isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. Broken trust can be so damaging, and you may naturally feel hurt and want to protect your own feelings right now. The good news is you don’t have to decide to take action right away. You can and should respect your emotions and allow yourself space to consider how you want to proceed.

Allow Yourself to Grieve

Grief is a natural response to any sense of loss. Feeling betrayed by a friend can certainly trigger a loss of trust, connection, and safety.

If you’ve had past experiences of betrayal (even if it’s not by the same person), this situation can also make you wonder if you can fully trust people.

Keep in mind that grief fluctuates and that there’s no right or wrong way to feel during this time. Try to practice self-compassion and allow yourself to trust your feelings.

Evaluate the Friendship

How important is this relationship to you? Are we talking about a best friend or a very close friend? Do you distinguish your expectations for new friends versus older ones? What does this friendship bring to your life?

Consider Your Friendship Values

No one friend can meet all our needs, and that’s why it’s important to consider all your other friendships after a friend betrays you.

What do you truly value in your connections in life? Is this something you can overlook and move on from, or is this a sign that you may need to look for new friends?

Consider Having an Honest Conversation

Your friend’s betrayal may be unintentional, even if it’s harmful. But regardless of the circumstances, a good friend will care about your feelings and needs.

Consider sitting down and talking about what happened. See how they respond. Are they receptive to feedback? Do they genuinely acknowledge their wrongdoings? Or do they act defensively? These responses can provide you with important data about how you want to move forward.

Consider Your Grounds for Forgiveness

You are, in no way, obligated to forgive someone who betrays your trust. But it can still be helpful to consider what this friendship meant to you and what forgiveness (if applicable) might look like.

Ask yourself this: what would you need your friend to do moving forward for you to forgive them? If you don’t have the answer right now, that’s okay. But it’s helpful to consider what you really need if you want to resume your friendship.

Seeking Therapy After a Friend Betrays You

Relationships are hard, and it’s normal to feel hurt, angry, and frustrated after a friend betrayed you.

Therapy can help you cope with your feelings, feel supported during this grief process, and set boundaries in your friendships. You don’t have to navigate this difficult time alone.

Contact me today to get started.


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