You Are Not Stupid for Having Been Deceived

Part 1: You Are Not Stupid for Having Been Deceived
Part 2: After Betrayal: Don’t Second-Guess Yourself Using 20/20 Hindsight

"How could I have been so stupid?" Anyone who's been betrayed has thought this, felt this and owned this at some point in time. But take it from me: You are not stupid.

Adding salt to the wound of betrayal is a series of self-doubt about who we are, what we are and how we are. After betrayal, we can doubt our value as a spouse and as a person, and we can doubt our intelligence and intuition. When we learn we've been tricked and deceived by the person we love, we can even turn on ourselves and join the proverbial pack of self-hating lions, devouring any shred of self-assurance or confidence that might have remained.

Why We Miss the Signs of Betrayal

Often, we can miss or ignore the signs that something is wrong. Sometimes it is so well hidden there may not be any signs at all. After betrayal is revealed, we naturally want to play Monday morning quarterback and eviscerate our former selves for not seeing it. We may think we "missed" the signs or enabled our mate's behavior in some way. But here's the reality:

When we begin to have an inkling that someone is betraying us, we might not be ready to admit it to ourselves.. Admitting that the betrayal is happening makes it real, and it means we have to do something about it.

It's understandable why some of us want to turn our heads and look away rather than deal with the pain before us. Not only do we not want to deal with the pain, but we may not know how to deal with the pain. We may not believe we even can deal with the pain.

The possibility of infidelity threatens the life you've made with the person you love the most. It leaves you totally confused and unprepared, and you don't have any idea what to do with any of this. That's why it's so intuitively protective to deny it, even to yourself, and shut down those nagging voices whispering to you from the corners of your mind. We can explain our suspicions away with seemingly logical explanations. We want to give our spouses or mates the benefit of the doubt. After all, they promised to be faithful; they meant that, right?

We can develop knots in our stomachs as we consider the possibility that something is just not right, which can grow as we chalk our feelings up to paranoia or too many imaginary scenarios running around in our heads.

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How the Art of Deception Works

There's also such a thing as the art of deception: When someone makes an active effort to conceal or misrepresent the truth. If someone is trying that hard to cover their tracks and we aren't looking for a trail at all, we can't expect ourselves to see it — much less be prepared for it. Add in some active storytelling and gaslighting on the part of your mate, and maybe sprinkle in blatant denial, and it's no wonder why we can second-guess ourselves.

We may also miss the signs of betrayal because they can be incremental: one small question here, a strange feeling there. It reminds me of the analogy of the frog in boiling water:

If you drop a frog in water that's already boiling, they would certainly jump out; but if you start with cold water and increase its temperature gradually, the frog might not notice or interpret that danger is on the horizon.

When the heat increases just one degree at a time, it's easy for the frog to get used to each new temperature and believe everything is normal and OK. Suddenly, the water begins to boil and they've missed all their opportunities to take control and jump out.

It's easy to miss or ignore the signs of betrayal when you're actively being deceived, but please know you are not stupid or alone. We can all feel this way initially. Just because you were betrayed by someone you love and trust, it doesn't mean that you're stupid, unexceptional or a failure. Even the people most of us would view as having it all together can be betrayed. Anyone can be betrayed, and the act of infidelity itself does not devalue you — even though it can hurt like hell.

Why This Isn't Your Fault

Here's the thing: It's not your fault that you didn't know something was wrong or didn't trust your intuition. We aren't supposed to expect infidelity — or know how to handle it, for that matter — because it isn't supposed to happen. So please don't beat yourself up. After betrayal, give yourself the same grace and comfort that you'd offer a hurting friend who's trying to make sense of this situation.

And take time to prioritize yourself and find support. Affair Recovery's Free First Steps Bootcamp is a good place to start your healing journey, even if you read through its materials without your mate. Additionally, Harboring Hope is an online, facilitated small group for betrayed mates that can be a lifeline after betrayal. Over the course of 13 weeks, you'll gain understanding and support from Group Leaders who've walked this road as well as others who are currently travelling this difficult journey.

There is comfort and reassurance in knowing that others understand what you are feeling, have experienced the blinding pain and disorientation of betrayal, and have taken steps toward healing. Regardless of the outcome of your marriage or relationship, it's important to take steps to make sense of this mess and forge a path forward. I encourage you to lean on those who understand what you're going through, healthy people who can show you the way. Remember, you are not alone, and you are definitely not stupid.

Jen is a betrayed spouse and Affair Recovery alumna, who's seeking God's grace to find meaning and purpose in her pain. She hopes to share her life raft with others drowning in the despair of infidelity.

Registration for Harboring Hope Opens Soon!

You don't have to do this alone! Join other betrayed spouses on the path to healing with our Harboring Hope online course. You are not alone, you are not crazy, and you are not stupid. Harboring Hope can help you discover what you need to heal and find hope in your circumstance. Space is limited!

"I definitely recommend the Harboring Hope program as a support for healing. To be in a safe community with other people who know what you're going through and how you're feeling is comforting. Whether you're able to reconcile or not, there is hope." — M., Michigan | April 2021.

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“You are not stupid for having been deceived”

Warming, encouraging blog. Thank you. Much appreciated on the eve of my 50th wedding anniversary. Not sure how many ‘faithful’ years in that half century- but decades of infidelity from my ‘lovely’ clergy ‘husband’ that I started finding out about four and a half years ago.

Thank you. I'm glad you were

Thank you. I'm glad you were encouraged. 50 years is a long time and I can only imagine unpacking all that time now looking back. I'm so sorry. I hope you can find peace in believing that not knowing what was happening was never on you. I wish you the best as you navigate this terrain and truly hope you find healing - for yourself and your marriage.

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