Why do friends betray you

‘Some things can’t be repaired’: how do you recover when a friend betrays you? | Friendship

As the libel suit between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney rumbles on in the high court, the public has heard weeks of claims and counterclaims about Instagram stings, paparazzi ambushes and phones lost in the sea. But one thing has been clear from the outset: one of the two women has been betrayed. Either, as Rooney claims, Vardy sold stories about her fellow Wag to the Sun, or, as Vardy maintains, Rooney’s baseless accusation has dragged her good name through the mud.

It is a messy and sordid tale from which no one – except possibly the lawyers – emerges the better. Rooney has described Vardy’s WhatsApp exchanges about her as “evil”; Vardy has said that the threats and abuse she received after Rooney’s accusations made her feel suicidal. What is driving the former friends to spend millions airing their most intimate details?

Betrayal by a friend is not something you can just laugh off, says Dr Jennifer Freyd, a psychology professor at the University of Oregon. “The very place where you should be able to get help and protection from the harms of life becomes the source of harm.” She coined the term “betrayal trauma” to describe the pain such treachery can cause. “We are a social species; when someone betrays us, it’s a real threat to our wellbeing.”

There are degrees of betrayal, of course. Most of us will have experienced a friend gossiping uncharitably behind our backs, for example – or perhaps we have been that friend. This is hardly Judas kissing Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. “But what we find overall is that betrayal is toxic,” Freyd says. “People who are betrayed are likely to have physical and mental health challenges.”

Annabel, who is in her 50s and lives in Wales, was betrayed by her former friend Jane. They met in the early 2000s. Annabel ran a specialist business at a food market; Jane visited her stand often and befriended her at a marketing event. “We just clicked,” says Annabel. “She was really friendly. We’d go to each other’s houses for meals.

Annabel introduced Jane to her friends and gave her work on her stall, teaching her all about her business. Jane then announced that she planned to set up a rival stand, selling the same products at the same market. Annabel was horrified. “I told her that I was hurt and I thought it would be awkward and strange for other people,” says Annabel. “It didn’t work personally and from a business point of view we were going to be sharing customers.”

Jane was unmoved, even suggesting that, if Annabel was unhappy, she might like to consider moving markets. Just like that, their friendship was over.

At first, Jane’s stand didn’t affect Annabel’s sales too greatly, but over time her income declined. “The market could not sustain two similar businesses,” she says. Eventually, Annabel left. The experience made her feel “very lonely – like I couldn’t trust anyone. I felt that people might just be after what I had got.” She was, she says, “upset for a very long time”.

Better days … Coleen Rooney (left) and Rebekah Vardy watch England play Wales at Euro 2016 in Lens, France. Photograph: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

This is a common response to feelings of betrayal, says Holly Roberts, a psychotherapist with the relationship charity Relate. “When you open up to a friend, you make yourself vulnerable to that person,” she says. “That’s what makes it hard. Because you’ve bared yourself emotionally to that person and been hurt by them.” Roberts says these feelings “can sit with you for a long time”. Annabel has moved on with her life. “I can be philosophical about it now,” she says. “But it ranks pretty highly in my history of painful personal experiences.”

Betrayal stories “are as old as time”, notes Dr Lucy CMM Jackson, an assistant classics professor at Durham University. Tales such as Euripides’ Medea, about a woman’s bloody quest for vengeance after her husband abandons her, “are so fascinating because they articulate a fear”, she says. “We tell stories about betrayal to make sense of it, in the hope that maybe we can avoid it or, if not, be better prepared for it. Ultimately, we come back to the idea of betrayal so often because we do have to trust each other.”

Medea “takes vengeance because her name has been dragged through the dust”, says Jackson. Does she see parallels with Vardy’s attempt to restore her reputation? “It’s all quite petty,” she says. “I don’t get the sense that so much honour has been given up in this modern parallel.”

Like Medea, Stacy Thunes’ story of betrayal revolves around a duplicitous lover. Thunes, a 61-year-old actor and screenwriter from London, was betrayed by her close friend Billie in the early 80s. When Thunes fell in love with a handsome musician, she arranged for the three of them to go for breakfast. At breakfast, to Thunes’ horror, “his foot was actually touching hers under the table”, she says.

That evening, Thunes went to Billie’s apartment. The lights were off and Billie wasn’t answering the doorbell. Thunes climbed in through an open window. Billie emerged from her bedroom. “I knew by the look on her face that he was there,” Thunes says.

Being betrayed by Billie, she says, was more painful than being betrayed by her boyfriend. “It made me feel like we were never really friends,” says Thunes. “Like the friendship meant nothing. All those years of feeling that she had my back were gone in an instant.”

Those who are betrayed often feel shame, says Roberts. “People feel embarrassed. They think: how could I have opened myself up to this person and let them do this to me? How could I have been so naive?”

‘It made me feel like we were never really friends’ … Stacy Thunes. Photograph: Steffi Henn

Lisa, a disability support worker, knows this feeling well. “I couldn’t believe how stupid we’d been,” she sighs. Lisa met Anna in the 1990s when they worked in adjacent shops in Edinburgh. “She was funny and kind and generous,” says Lisa. “You knew where you stood with her. I liked that.”

When Lisa and her then-husband moved to a small village on the east coast of Scotland, Anna soon followed with her young son. Lisa helped out with childcare and even acted as a guarantor on her rental property. “She was my family and I was hers,” says Lisa. But everything fell apart when Anna’s landlord got in touch. Anna had fallen behind on the rent.

Lisa offered to lend her £1,500, the last of a small legacy her grandfather had left her. “She initially said no, but eventually agreed,” says Lisa. “I gave her the money in cash. And that was the last time I ever saw her.” Eventually, Lisa pieced together the story: Anna had used her money to run away with a boyfriend. “I felt more angry at myself than at her, for being so naive,” Lisa says.

Anna later wrote a letter to Lisa, apologising for hurting her – but not for taking the money. “She said it was my fault, because I forced her to do it,” says Lisa.

Not everyone will get the closure that comes with an apology, however half-hearted. Cormac and Duncan met a decade ago as teachers at the same school. They became friends quickly and Cormac introduced Duncan to his social and professional circles. When a management post became available, Cormac asked Duncan if he planned to apply for it. “He said no,” Cormac says. “I would have had no problem if he’d said yes.”

Cormac spent weeks going over his interview strategy with Duncan. At his interview, he was stunned to see Duncan there, in a suit and tie. “He’d gleaned all the information from me and he’d used me to lay the groundwork for getting to know everyone on the panel,” says Cormac. Duncan got the job. “I was in tears, because I knew I’d been dealing with someone very clever and manipulative and careful, and it was devastating.”

To make matters more maddening, Duncan not only never apologised, but also spread false rumours about Cormac around the school. “I had to find my own resolution,” says Cormac. “I can’t let him live in my head rent-free. I told myself: ‘That is in the past and everything from here on out will be good.’” Cormac ended up moving to a different school. “I wanted to draw a line under it,” he says.

When you open up to a friend, you make yourself vulnerable to that person. That’s what makes it hard
Holly Roberts

Betrayal usually means the end of a friendship. “That urge to withdraw is a protective response,” says Freyd. “You don’t want to continue to be betrayed. It’s analogous to a fight-or-flight response.” After Billie wrote to beg for forgiveness, Thunes let her back into her life, but she never trusted her again. “Every time I was with someone, I knew she might have her eye on them,” says Thunes.

It is possible to rebuild the relationship “if you’re both invested in it”, says Roberts. “Check in with each other: how does this feel? But the trust may never come back. Accepting that can be a good step.” If you feel unable to trust your friend, walk away. “You don’t have to put yourself through it,” she says. “Some things can’t be repaired, and it’s OK to acknowledge that.”

Surprisingly few of the betrayed wish harm upon their betrayers. They would rather let go of the hurt and move on. “I couldn’t let it drive me mad,” says Annabel. “I had to carry on doing my thing.” But all of them are more careful now; more tentative about who they let in, more thoughtful about what they do with the trust that others place in them. “I am reminded of it daily, not because I want to make myself feel bad, but because I don’t want to be that person to hurt other people,” says Thunes.

But the act of continuing to trust after being hurt so badly is a form of resistance in itself. They will not stop connecting with others, because to close off from the world is to let their betrayers win. Lisa says she would lend Anna the money again in a heartbeat, even knowing everything she does now. “I’ve had so much kindness shown to me over the years, too,” she says. “That’s what makes life beautiful.”

Some names have been changed

Why being betrayed hurts, no matter what stage of friendship

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Written by Amy Beecham

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You don’t have to be ride-or-die besties for betrayal to cut deep. In fact, failed new friendships can often hurt just as much.

When we think about the most painful betrayals, we’ll often picture life-long friendships falling by the wayside, or profound emotional connections fizzling.

But while not every friendship betrayal will end in flames as violently as that of Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy, even in surface-level relationships, with new friends, colleagues or acquaintances, deceit can hurt just as much. 

“Humans are tribal creatures and we have evolved to depend on each other practically and emotionally,” explains Olivia James, a Harley Street trauma specialist.

Trust is a huge part of our survival as humans, so when somebody betrays that trust, it can make you question everything. And because our friends are chosen, their deception can cut deep.

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“Friendship betrayal in particular hurts so much because friends are people who we have actively chosen to bond with,” adds Jessica Alderson, co-founder and relationship expert at So Syncd.

“We have used our own judgement to decide that they are someone we trust and want in our lives. Not only does the betrayal itself hurt, but it can also cause us to question our own judgement around relationships and it can make us wonder whether other people close to us might act in a similar way,” she says.

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“One of the most difficult friendship break-ups of my life was with someone I’d only known for two weeks,” Rianna*, 24, tells Stylist. She met Katie* while travelling, and their relationship quickly grew close. 

“When you’re travelling, relationships are accelerated because you spend so much time together,” Rianna shares.“Even after a week of knowing her, we already felt really close. We spent every day together and had already planned on visiting one another when we got home.”

Katie soon started inquiring about a casual relationship she’d started with someone else from the travel group. “I assumed she was genuinely interested in me,” Rianna says. “She asked me a lot about my feelings for him, what the sex was like and how invested I was in the relationship.

“Afterwards, when we went out as a group, the two of them disappeared together. Given that they weren’t close friends, and there was no reason for them to leave together, I immediately assumed they slept together.”

 “One of the things I like about myself is my ability to make genuine connections with people, especially new friends, quickly. But now I wonder if I was too gullible” 

“I felt really upset by it – not because I had a lot of feelings for the person, but because I felt really manipulated by the way she tried to get information out of me beforehand. I have friends of 12 years who have never even come close to betraying me, so I took it as a pretty bad sign that she’d be willing to go behind my back like this within just weeks of friendship.”

Rianna says she initially felt embarrassed that she was so affected by the behaviour. “It made me feel stupid and that I should trust people less. One of the things I like about myself is my ability to make genuine connections with people, especially new friends, quickly. But now I wonder if I was too gullible.”

“I had really thought that Emma would become a long-term friend for me and I valued my relationship with her far more than the casual fling. But I guess I’m mourning more of what could have been than what was lost.”

How to cope when a friend betrays you

Can a new friendship survive betrayal?

Whether a friendship can survive depends on the betrayal, the type of friendship and the individuals involved. When something like this happens, you need to make a clear decision about whether you think the friendship should end or if you want to try to work it out. Even if you both want to overcome the betrayal, there’s no guarantee it will happen.

Alderson says that the first step to overcoming a friendship betrayal is to accept your feelings.

“You probably feel deeply hurt and that’s completely normal. If you do decide to try to overcome betrayal, you need to have an honest conversation with your friend. Share your thoughts and then take the time to listen to their point of view. When you feel hurt, there is a natural tendency to focus on your own feelings but it’s essential to hear them out. . Until you communicate with someone, you don’t know what they are thinking and you might not know the full story.

“Don’t feel the need to make a quick decision because traumatic emotional events often require processing time. When you feel ready, reconnect with your friend and let them know how you think you should progress. If you choose the path of overcoming the betrayal, it probably won’t happen overnight. It will likely be a process involving regular, honest communication. Only you will know whether it’s worth the effort.”

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Why friends betray and what to do about it


  • What is betrayal?
  • What betrayal looks like
  • What to do if you have been betrayed

Life is amazing and beautiful. It is full of wonder and charm. But the most unpleasant and unexpected things happen, for which a person is not always ready. Fortunately, not everyone experiences betrayal. But many have gone through this negative life experience. And you should not despair, because there are always both negative and positive aspects. Therefore, it is better to focus on the positive.

What is betrayal?

Betrayal has many varieties. And there is always some cover or reason. And if you think about it, every individual once betrayed someone in something. It could be some deeds, deeds, words, relationships. Such is life, and resentment has no place in it.

Friends betray friends, girlfriends betray girlfriends. When this happens, a person seems to fall into a dead end or a maze. Not everyone can survive such a blow without consequences for themselves. And when this happens to you, different thoughts spin in your head and a lot of questions appear: “Why?”, “How to live on?”, “Forgive or take revenge?”. In order not to get confused, you need to reflect on this topic somewhere inside yourself and give clear guidelines.

It is important to try to put yourself in the place of your friends, assess the situation and decide: is it worth it to forgive and be friends further or end the relationship?

What betrayal looks like

  • First, it is an act. And how to act, everyone decides for himself, but also bears responsibility too. And we have no right to judge anyone. If something not very pleasant happens, friends behave differently than before, you should think about the reason. It is important to try to put yourself in their place, assess the situation and decide: is it worth it to forgive and be friends further or end the relationship?
  • Secondly, this is a change. And there is no way to return anything back and change. Here everyone decides for himself what to do next. Sometimes people do not want to accept changes in order to maintain friendship, and in their thoughts they try to forget and cancel someone's bad deed. But a person is not a computer. What happened cannot be changed. And true friends will never betray.
  • Thirdly, betrayal and devotion stand side by side. And the first goes against the second. Therefore, only the closest people betray, those in whom we are most confident. If some simple acquaintance does something unpleasant in your direction, this cannot be called a betrayal. After all, this person means nothing to you.
  • Fourthly, this is not just some kind of oversight. If friendship is real, there is a certain trait or edge of trust between people. And the closer and dearer a friend or girlfriend, the more painful it is to survive betrayal. Therefore, friends should trust each other, always come to the rescue, especially at the most difficult moment. Who cares about you and who does not, any difficult situation can show. Such moments make true friendship stronger, and imaginary ones are broken. And immediately it becomes clear: who is who. Therefore, the line of trust should never be crossed.
  • Fifthly, betrayal is not a simple insult. Situations are different, as well as the relationship of people to each other. And why it happened, no one knows. If a person is not close, he cannot know everything that can offend you. If a girlfriend or friend decides to hurt on purpose, they know the line that should not be crossed. If loved ones betray, this is a sign that you are no longer important to them, they don’t care. Therefore, you should draw conclusions and move on with your head held high.

And, of course, it must be remembered that betrayal is a choice that a person makes intentionally. Although situations are different. For example, your best friend fell in love with your girlfriend and took her away from you. It is very painful, because at one moment both a friend and a loved one are lost. It's hard to forgive. But perhaps, because life is given to everyone for happiness. To appreciate pleasant moments and moments of joy, you need to survive a storm with rain.

To appreciate pleasant moments and moments of joy, you need to survive a rain storm.

What to do if you are betrayed

No one is safe from betrayal. What to do next? And why is this happening? Because people think more about themselves, selfishness does its job. True friends do exist, but they are few and far between. After all, friendship is like a family, it is important to maintain it, and not to remember each other only when bored or there are problems. So that in the future there is no question why this happened, you yourself need to try to be a good friend. Not only to take, but also to give.

The world is not perfect, it must be loved as it is. And the traitors look funny and stupid. By the time they realize their mistake, it will be too late. There is nothing more for them to do in your heart. Betrayal will mark the end of friendship. Yes, people are different. Quite often, envy, anger, hatred arise in the hearts of some representatives of humanity. It is better to delete such subjects from your life and try to have less contact with them. Why waste your time and nerves, because there is a lot of beauty and magic in the world?

Friends who betray are not worthy of your attention. Why? Just because there are a lot of good, kind, noble and wonderful people in the world who are waiting to meet you. When betrayal happens, you need to help yourself. What to do with resentment and pain in the soul? You need to try to forgive and reconcile. Sometimes it's not easy, but it's real. It is important to find the strength in yourself to be yourself. What happened should be calmly dealt with. Sometimes it's difficult. But if you change your attitude to the situation, look at the prism of what happened from a different angle, you can understand a lot.

You can't be prepared for this. But when betrayal is on the face, it is advisable to accept the situation, not torturing yourself with reflections on why it happened, to forgive a friend and move on with your life. But already without him. And even better to succeed and become the happiest. To stay positive and less sad, life needs to be filled with new bright moments and impressions, every day to do something pleasant for the soul. You can do something useful and interesting, then pleasant like-minded people and comrades will appear, and the last lesson will be remembered with a smile and calmness.

Betrayal is a kind of real test of our nobility, tolerance, kindness, love and humanity. From such trials, you will only get stronger, and your new wings will take you high up to new achievements, goals and success. This is much more important. After all, life is wonderful and extraordinary, no matter what. Only the weak can betray, and the strong will become wiser and richer spiritually.


The betrayal of friends always comes as a surprise to us, if not a blow. And this is what happened to you. There are a lot of questions in your head, in comparison with which the question "What to do?" seems simple. And so that you don’t get completely confused in trying to argue someone else’s behavior, let’s first understand what betrayal is.

In essence, betrayal is an act , and although we are accustomed to calling "deeds" only something positive, it's still true. True, after such an act, there is no place for trust.

In order to make it easier for you to imagine the essence of betrayal, we will turn (don't be surprised) to scientific and technological progress. Recently, we thought about the fact that the person who invented the computer was trying not only to make life easier for the whole world, but also to create an ideal version of himself. He created something, but he himself did not learn anything from his ideal version. A computer, for example, can not only prevent/delete/correct other people's mistakes, but also accept and undo changes that have occurred due to someone else's fault. A person, as before, can only be responsible for his own actions (changes), he is not given the ability to program other people's.

So, betrayal - is a change that cannot be undone and is very difficult to accept. Sometimes, in order to accept betrayal, we pretend that nothing happened, which means that we try to mentally cancel someone else's act. In this case, in order to accept, we need to cancel, and this is impossible (and even for a computer). Well, now that you have understood what betrayal is, it is time to give answers to the questions that have accumulated in your head.

Betrayal directly affects friendship
Betrayal is something that goes against loyalty, but is directly related to it. Devotion is a sure sign of friendship, therefore, only a close person can betray . And a classmate who told the teacher that you did not prepare for the lesson does not count.

Betrayal is not an oversight
That closest person or friend knows perfectly well your hidden line of trust, which should not be crossed. Therefore, no matter how your friend tries to convince you that she did not know that her action could hurt you, betrayal is an absolutely conscious act .

"Betray" is not "offend"
Resentment is, in fact, harm through negligence. In life, we often hear - "I did not want / did not want to offend you", and in most cases these words are true. But only not in case of betrayal. The person who can offend you, most likely, does not know you very well yet. The traitor is well aware of what he is doing. At the same time, insult can also be intentional, but it is just as easy to distinguish intentional insult from betrayal. Even offending intentionally, a friend knows the line that should not be crossed. Thus, by offending you, a friend is trying to draw your attention to something important. By betraying you, a friend shows that there is nothing more important for her anymore.

Betrayal is a choice
The main mistake that many of us make when we learn about betrayal is trying to find out why from a loved one. Remember, no matter how many times you ask this question to a friend, it will still remain unanswered. And not at all because “such is life”, but because betrayal is the same choice as your choice to watch Titanic today, and not another, perhaps even newer and more interesting film. But after reading this article, you should not run to your friend and ask how she could make such a choice. Most likely, she will not understand you, because this choice was natural for her, which means she did not have to think long to make it. Only one conclusion follows from this: she easily deleted you from her life, and now you need to do the same.

Betrayal has nothing to do with you
No matter how strange it may sound, a betraying friend at the moment of betrayal thinks of you least of all. Sharing your secrets to the main gossip of the school, a friend thinks about how to maintain a dialogue or like that very gossip, but in no case about the fact that the subject of the conversation is you and your innermost. Kissing your boyfriend or sending him cute VKontakte messages, a girlfriend is focused on the fact that she herself would like to be with him, and not on the fact that you are still in his life. And, finally, having made friends with your main ill-wisher, without stopping communication with you, figuratively speaking, “trying to sit on two chairs at once”, a friend, again, thinks about her comfort and benefit, but not about how you feel you.

Usually the strong are betrayed
Of course, before betraying you, a friend will not measure the strength of your punch or test your strength in an arm wrestling match. That is, betrayal does not imply any prejudices about your stamina. Most often, betrayal is an attempt to level the scores, coming from the inability to come to terms with someone else's success and at the same time unwillingness to admit one's own weakness. In this case, a friend is simply jealous of some side of your life and wants to show by her act that she doesn’t give a damn about this very side, and, of course, to make your life not as sweet as she imagined it to be.

Betrayal is bad
As you can see, betrayal is a really terrible way to end a friendship and, moreover, it is evil, because betrayal does not carry any good intentions.

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