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


As the libel go well with between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney rumbles on within the excessive court docket, the general public has heard weeks of claims and counterclaims about Instagram stings, paparazzi ambushes and telephones misplaced within the sea. However one factor has been clear from the outset: one of many two girls has been betrayed. Both, as Rooney claims, Vardy bought tales about her fellow Wag to the Solar, or, as Vardy maintains, Rooney’s baseless accusation has dragged her good title via the mud.

It’s a messy and sordid story from which nobody – besides presumably the attorneys – emerges the higher. Rooney has described Vardy’s WhatsApp exchanges about her as “evil”; Vardy has stated that the threats and abuse she acquired after Rooney’s accusations made her really feel suicidal. What’s driving the previous buddies to spend thousands and thousands airing their most intimate particulars?

Betrayal by a good friend just isn’t one thing you’ll be able to simply giggle off, says Dr Jennifer Freyd, a psychology professor on the College of Oregon. “The very place the place it is best to have the ability to get assist and safety from the harms of life turns into the supply of hurt.” She coined the time period “betrayal trauma” to explain the ache such treachery may cause. “We’re a social species; when somebody betrays us, it’s an actual menace to our wellbeing.”

There are levels of betrayal, in fact. Most of us may have skilled a good friend gossiping uncharitably behind our backs, for instance – or maybe now we have been that good friend. That is hardly Judas kissing Jesus within the Backyard of Gethsemane. “However what we discover general is that betrayal is poisonous,” Freyd says. “People who find themselves betrayed are more likely to have bodily and psychological well being challenges.”


Annabel, who’s in her 50s and lives in Wales, was betrayed by her former good friend Jane. They met within the early 2000s. Annabel ran a specialist enterprise at a meals market; Jane visited her stand typically and befriended her at a advertising and marketing occasion. “We simply clicked,” says Annabel. “She was actually pleasant. We’d go to one another’s homes for meals.”

Annabel launched Jane to her buddies and gave her work on her stall, instructing her all about her enterprise. Jane then introduced that she deliberate to arrange a rival stand, promoting the identical merchandise on the identical market. Annabel was horrified. “I instructed her that I used to be harm and I believed it will be awkward and unusual for different folks,” says Annabel. “It didn’t work personally and from a enterprise perspective we have been going to be sharing prospects.”

Jane was unmoved, even suggesting that, if Annabel was sad, she would possibly like to contemplate shifting markets. Similar to that, their friendship was over.

At first, Jane’s stand didn’t have an effect on Annabel’s gross sales too significantly, however over time her revenue declined. “The market couldn’t maintain two comparable companies,” she says. Finally, Annabel left. The expertise made her really feel “very lonely – like I couldn’t belief anybody. I felt that folks would possibly simply be after what I had bought.” She was, she says, “upset for a really very long time”.

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

This can be a widespread response to emotions of betrayal, says Holly Roberts, a psychotherapist with the connection charity Relate. “If you divulge heart’s contents to a good friend, you make your self susceptible to that individual,” she says. “That’s what makes it arduous. Since you’ve bared your self emotionally to that individual and been harm by them.” Roberts says these emotions “can sit with you for a very long time”. Annabel has moved on together with her life. “I will be philosophical about it now,” she says. “However it ranks fairly extremely in my historical past of painful private experiences.”

Betrayal tales “are as previous as time”, notes Dr Lucy CMM Jackson, an assistant classics professor at Durham College. Tales corresponding to Euripides’ Medea, a couple of girl’s bloody quest for vengeance after her husband abandons her, “are so fascinating as a result of they articulate a concern”, she says. “We inform tales about betrayal to make sense of it, within the hope that perhaps we will keep away from it or, if not, be higher ready for it. Finally, we come again to the concept of betrayal so actually because we do need to belief one another.”

Medea “takes vengeance as a result of her title has been dragged via the mud”, says Jackson. Does she see parallels with Vardy’s try to revive her fame? “It’s all fairly petty,” she says. “I don’t get the sense that a lot honour has been given up on this trendy parallel.”


Like Medea, Stacy Thunes’ story of betrayal revolves round a duplicitous lover. Thunes, a 61-year-old actor and screenwriter from London, was betrayed by her shut good friend Billie within the early 80s. When Thunes fell in love with a good-looking musician, she organized for the three of them to go for breakfast. At breakfast, to Thunes’ horror, “his foot was really touching hers underneath the desk”, she says.

That night, Thunes went to Billie’s house. The lights have been off and Billie wasn’t answering the doorbell. Thunes climbed in via an open window. Billie emerged from her bed room. “I knew by the look on her face that he was there,” Thunes says.

Being betrayed by Billie, she says, was extra painful than being betrayed by her boyfriend. “It made me really feel like we have been by no means actually buddies,” says Thunes. “Just like the friendship meant nothing. All these years of feeling that she had my again have been gone straight away.”

Those that are betrayed typically really feel disgrace, says Roberts. “Folks really feel embarrassed. They suppose: how may I’ve opened myself as much as this individual and allow them to do that to me? How may I’ve been so naive?”

‘It made me feel like we were never really friends’ … Stacy Thunes.
‘It made me really feel like we have been by no means actually buddies’ … Stacy Thunes. {Photograph}: Steffi Henn

Lisa, a incapacity help employee, is aware of this sense nicely. “I couldn’t consider how silly we’d been,” she sighs. Lisa met Anna within the Nineteen Nineties after they labored in adjoining retailers in Edinburgh. “She was humorous and type and beneficiant,” says Lisa. “You knew the place you stood together with her. I favored that.”

When Lisa and her then-husband moved to a small village on the east coast of Scotland, Anna quickly adopted together with her younger son. Lisa helped out with childcare and even acted as a guarantor on her rental property. “She was my household and I used to be hers,” says Lisa. However every little thing fell aside when Anna’s landlord bought in contact. Anna had fallen behind on the lease.

Lisa provided to lend her £1,500, the final of a small legacy her grandfather had left her. “She initially stated no, however ultimately agreed,” says Lisa. “I gave her the cash in money. And that was the final time I ever noticed her.” Finally, Lisa pieced collectively the story: Anna had used her cash to run away with a boyfriend. “I felt extra indignant at myself than at her, for being so naive,” Lisa says.

Anna later wrote a letter to Lisa, apologising for hurting her – however not for taking the cash. “She stated it was my fault, as a result of I compelled her to do it,” says Lisa.


Not everybody will get the closure that comes with an apology, nevertheless half-hearted. Cormac and Duncan met a decade in the past as lecturers on the identical faculty. They turned buddies rapidly and Cormac launched Duncan to his social {and professional} circles. When a administration publish turned obtainable, Cormac requested Duncan if he deliberate to use for it. “He stated no,” Cormac says. “I might have had no downside if he’d stated sure.”

Cormac spent weeks going over his interview technique with Duncan. At his interview, he was surprised to see Duncan there, in a go well with and tie. “He’d gleaned all the knowledge from me and he’d used me to put the groundwork for attending to know everybody on the panel,” says Cormac. Duncan bought the job. “I used to be in tears, as a result of I knew I’d been coping with somebody very intelligent and manipulative and cautious, and it was devastating.”

To make issues extra maddening, Duncan not solely by no means apologised, but additionally unfold false rumours about Cormac across the faculty. “I needed to discover my very own decision,” says Cormac. “I can’t let him stay in my head rent-free. I instructed myself: ‘That’s prior to now and every little thing from right here on out can be good.’” Cormac ended up shifting to a unique faculty. “I wished to attract a line underneath it,” he says.

Betrayal often means the top of a friendship. “That urge to withdraw is a protecting response,” says Freyd. “You don’t wish to proceed to be betrayed. It’s analogous to a fight-or-flight response.” After Billie wrote to beg for forgiveness, Thunes let her again into her life, however she by no means trusted her once more. “Each time I used to be with somebody, I knew she may need her eye on them,” says Thunes.

It’s doable to rebuild the connection “in the event you’re each invested in it”, says Roberts. “Test in with one another: how does this really feel? However the belief might by no means come again. Accepting that may be a very good step.” For those who really feel unable to belief your good friend, stroll away. “You don’t need to put your self via it,” she says. “Some issues can’t be repaired, and it’s OK to acknowledge that.”

Surprisingly few of the betrayed want hurt upon their betrayers. They might slightly let go of the harm and transfer on. “I couldn’t let it drive me mad,” says Annabel. “I needed to stick with it doing my factor.” However all of them are extra cautious now; extra tentative about who they let in, extra considerate about what they do with the belief that others place in them. “I’m reminded of it day by day, not as a result of I wish to make myself really feel unhealthy, however as a result of I don’t wish to be that individual to harm different folks,” says Thunes.

However the act of continuous to belief after being harm so badly is a type of resistance in itself. They won’t cease connecting with others, as a result of to shut off from the world is to let their betrayers win. Lisa says she would lend Anna the cash once more in a heartbeat, even realizing every little thing she does now. “I’ve had a lot kindness proven to me through the years, too,” she says. “That’s what makes life lovely.”

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