Dear Damaged & Dangerous…
Damaged and Dangerous is the name of my tumblr. You’d think that would warn people about me… and you’d think that all the posts I write about what a mess I am when it comes to relationships would put people off asking me for advice. But some people are immune to how crazy I am… perhaps because they are crazier than me?!
This post is a question I received on tumblr with my answer.
Usually when someone asks me a question like this, I analyse the question itself and what it reveals about the person asking it. Loaded questions usually have the answer within them. However since it was posed anonymously I figured that they did not want me to analyse them, just give them my take on things and that’s that. So I did.
Although I think my answer is not what they wanted to hear, based on the wording of the question itself, and on the fact that it reminded me of a friend* who asks similar questions… and momentarily I wondered if Anonymous was actually this friend*… and only hears what they want to hear as an answer because the question is not a question at all but a statement. Still… maybe this really is a question and the person really wants my perspective.
[The * denotes that I tend to consider everyone I meet and interact with as a friend until they thoroughly convince me otherwise]
Thank you for the compliment. I am not a usually a giver of advice because I only know how to live life from my own experience of it and we all have a different experience of life. So, I will tell you how I see things and then you can decide if any of it applies to the situation.
All relationships are a meeting of two equals who both share responsibility for what happens in the relationship. We bring all of ourselves into the relationship, even the parts of ourselves which we hide, and sometimes we have issues which can only be worked out by playing them out in the safety of a relationship.
How this applies to the situation you have described is that when something happens such as a betrayal, the person who committed the betrayal needs to understand why they did what they did.
Was it perhaps due to a desire to break the relationship up? A fear of getting too close? Feeling too vulnerable? Or to test the love of the other person? What was the betrayal expressing for the betrayer? Was it acting out a past experience? An unconscious urge? Fulfilling a need?
Everything we do expresses something about us, for us. If the person who betrayed does not know exactly why they did what they did, they may do it again. This possibility will hang over the relationship, and the person who was betrayed will always fear that it could happen again. They may not get over it because of that fear. They have to keep reminding themselves and the other person of what happened in an effort to stop it from ever happening again. This is why people sometimes can’t move on, because moving on makes them too vulnerable.
Also, the person who was betrayed may have issues of their own which tie into the betrayal which they need to understand before they can move on from it. Perhaps they blame themselves for what happened. Perhaps they are afraid that the person who betrayed them doesn’t really love them. Perhaps they were betrayed before, so their hurt goes deeper because it is connected to more than just the one incident. The betrayal may be an opportunity for them to face their own hidden self, urges, needs, issues, fears, but they may not want to do this.
I have found in these sort of situations that the best thing to do is to talk openly and honestly about it. Discuss it like equals.
Both people have to be allowed to give their side of the story, express their feelings, their thoughts, without being interrupted, without the other person getting defensive and trying to prove who is right and who is wrong and all those games which create complications. There has to be a moment of truce on neutral ground where both people are right and can safely talk about how they feel and what they need for the relationship to get past this point. Both people also have to listen and acknowledge that they have heard and understood what the other person has said. Both people have to feel that their side of the story is accepted and has value.
But first you have to find out if both of you want to resolve the issue, move on from it, and deal with the problem like equals, sharing the responsibility of the relationship.
A situation like this can result in power games. Power games can be fun, but they also cause havoc in relationships.
The person who betrayed may feel guilty and bad for hurting the other person, and they may place themselves in a position of having to make amends for what they have done. To prove how sorry they are, over and over again, because saying sorry is not enough. They may feel like their actions have made them lose power, that they are now not as good as the other person. The betrayal becomes an IOU which can never be repaid and just keeps accumulating interest.
The person who was betrayed may feel that they have the advantage, their hurt becomes a medal proving that they are better than the betrayer, and that the betrayer owes them something. This power may mean that they never forgive the betrayal because that would mean letting go of power which can be used to manipulate the betrayer later on. Their hurt may also become the only hurt in the relationship, they are the only one allowed to be hurt and feel hurt.
The betrayer will begin to resent this power that the person they betrayed has over them, and this may push them to justify what they did, maybe even blame the person they hurt for pushing them to hurt them in the first place, and they may even do it again just to hurt the other person again, only this time it is because they want to assert their power which has been taken away from them due to the guilt they feel for the previous betrayal.
Relationships are complicated. There are power games, past issues, needs, hidden fears, and so many undercurrents affecting them.
Respect is vital in this sort of situation and in relationships. Self-respect and respect for others. You can’t push someone if they are not ready to move on, it will just complicate matters, they will feel pushed and may become stuck where they are as a reaction to being pushed. What you can do is to tell them how you feel about it and hope that they understand what you are saying to them. They may not be able or ready to understand. It can’t be forced.
If one of you is ready to move on and the other person isn’t, then the person who is ready to move on should do so without trying to drag the other person with them against their will. This will create resentment. The person who is unable to move on needs to let the other person go and not try to keep them stuck in the situation. This too will create resentment.
Perhaps by letting go, the release will allow healing to take place and both people, at their own pace, will find their way back to each other, ready to move the relationship forward together.
Hope this helps. Good Luck.
That’s it. Perhaps I said too much as usual. But it is my blog, so my rules apply…
What advice would you have given?