No we are not talking about traitors selling off state secrets to the highest bidding foreign power or similar high-fly political events. We are talking more about the types of betrayals most of us face oneor several times during our life time. Most common is probably betrayal between partners, yet many experience being betrayed by friends. Betrayal means the violation of a presumed contract, trust or confidence. Betrayal can create conflicts between individuals, between individuals and organizations and between organizations. Yet, the concept and understanding of what ‘betrayal’ actually means remains somehow unclear and has been surprisingly little researched. Is this because we have difficulties differing between genuine and perceived betrayal?
Maybe so, so let’s quickly examine what betrayal feels like. Khalil Gibran has expressed it this way; “Thus with my lips I have denounced you, while my heart, bleeding within me, have called you tender names.” It feels like a loss. Loss of something you thought you had but that the betrayal took away from you. The betrayal of a lover, betrayal of a close friend; no other form of betrayal gets to you more and cause you more emotional pain. It really does feel like – as many describe it – as if someone stabbed and twisted a knife in your heart.
This brings us to the next question. Why does betrayal hurt so much? The answer is simple; prior to betrayal comes trust. In other words, you would not feel betrayed by someone you did not trust and had confidence in the first instance. It’s personal which explains the emotional distress connected to it. Betrayal is difficult to forgive and even when forgiven one might never again be able to establish the same level of trust that existed prior to the betrayal. Do you think that every human being has a triggering point that could cause them betraying a close friend or a partner? I personally think it is a matter of two qualities; integrity and respect which will make a person refrain from betraying anyone.
Arthur Miller once said; “Betrayal is the only truth that sticks.” There is no denying it and what you will remember is the betrayal, seldom the good things the other person did prior to the betrayal itself. From ancient times to present day, betrayal has formed a central part of peoples’ lives. In fact, it influences a lot of the choices we make in our lives. To have the unconditional trust of someone is seldom – I believe it is a gift, a treasure one should worship and cherish. Under certain circumstances not to fall for the temptation of betrayal may cost, it may involve sacrifices but at the end of the day, betrayal is likely to cost you even more in loss of own integrity and the close relation you lost