By Kerri-Anne Brown, LMHC
Relationships are hard and take a lot of work to be successful. Often when we think of some of the challenges in a relationship, particularly those that cause relationship demise, we tend to think of some of the more obvious reasons. Physical abuse and infidelity come to mind. I’d like to highlight some other types of betrayals that can cause a great deal of damage also.
1. Keeping money secrets
It’s great for couples to be on the same page about finances and that can’t happen if honest conversations around finances aren’t taking place. It’s pretty common for people to have some discomfort around the “money talk.” Discussions about finances can stir a lot of emotions for people even in long term relationships. Don’t let that interfere with how finances are handled in your relationship though.
If a partner feels financially betrayed, it erodes the trust factor in the relationship. Money secrets destroy trust and cause a great deal of hurt. A financial betrayal is when one partner engages in deceptive behaviors (like lying, stealing, hiding) as it relates to money matters. Things like having secret debt, being dishonest about salaries or bonuses, hiding money – anything that relates to money that’s kept hidden or you’re intentionally not being forthcoming about can be a problem.
2. Throwing your partner under the bus
Can your partner sometimes be annoying or get under your skin? Absolutely! The answer is yes. While you may love your sweetie dearly, there are times you may not feel that you like them very much. It happens. What you don’t want to do, however, is throw them under the bus. What I mean by that is talking badly about them to others.
When engaged in a conversation with a friend or family member, if you were to ask yourself, “Would my partner be okay with me sharing this about him or her or about our lives?” and the answer is no, it’s probably not something you should be sharing. Or if that same friend or family member were speaking badly about your partner and your response doesn’t involve standing up for them, that also equates to throwing your partner under the bus. You wouldn’t allow someone to speak badly about your children or even yourself, so why should you allow it for your partner? Be a united front and stick up for each other like true teammates.
3. Taking advantage of their vulnerabilities
Let’s say your partner has shared some vulnerabilities or insecurities with you. They trusted you and shared some deeply personal and vulnerable things about themselves and their past. You get in a conflict discussion, anger sets in and you begin to throw these vulnerabilities back at them. Imagine the violation and betrayal they would feel. Just think for a moment what this experience would be like for them. It would feel like a violation of their trust in you to not abuse or misuse the information they shared with you.
4. Lying about inconsequential things
Getting caught in lies about small things can hinder a relationship’s ability to reach its full potential. Whatever the motive is for telling the lie, I would strongly suggest that you evaluate whether it’s truly worth it and more importantly, if you can’t be honest about the small things, what happens when the bigger things surface?
A good relationship is based on trust, openness and mutual respect. If you’re hiding things from the person that’s closest to you, perhaps a deeper exploration for why you’re in the relationship in the first place is needed.
5. Breaking Promises
It’s a beautiful thing when you can really rely on someone. When someone keeps their word and you know you can count on them. Partners need to be able to count on each other. To know that they are there for each other in the good times but also when the going gets tough. A pattern of breaking promises can be really hurtful and can feel like a betrayal. Again, it’s that trust factor. Knowing that your partner’s word is their bond. It can create feelings of insecurity and even self doubt. It can raise the question of “What is it about me that causes my partner to keep breaking promises. Am I not important enough?”
6. Putting work or friends above your relationship
Some jobs can be very demanding and require late evening hours or a lot of time away from home. When one partner feels the other is prioritizing work over the relationship, work can become the third party in the relationship. The same goes for other outside relationships. Anything that encroaches on the relationship can feel like a third party and can lead to feelings of betrayal, increase in conflict and general dissatisfaction which no one wants to sign up for.
It’s a tough job keeping a relationship afloat, but it can be even tougher when dealing with betrayal. You can avoid the suffering by preventing these and other types of betrayals from entering your relationship. You can learn more about other ways to tell if you’re relationship is in trouble here.