You expect a friend to have your back, to have your best interests at heart and to be someone you can trust. Unfortunately, even good friends can make bad decisions and mistakes, leading to the betrayal of a friend. A friendship can be repaired after a betrayal, but it will take time to rebuild your friendship and repair lost trust.
For a friendship to move past betrayal, the betrayer should sincerely apologize to the person she betrayed. Apologies that are sincere are more readily accepted, notes psychologist John M. Grohol, founder and CEO of Psych Central. The betrayer should acknowledge what she has done, accept responsibility and give her word that the behavior will not happen again. For example, she might say, "I'm sorry that I lied to you. I should have been truthful and I won't lie to you again." She shouldn't try to place blame or rationalize her behavior.
Talk It Out
The person betrayed and the betrayer should discuss the circumstances and situation of the betrayal. The person who has been betrayed most likely will have questions regarding the situation. He may need clarification as to why the transgression occurred and what the betrayer was thinking. The person betrayed should be able to discuss how he feels. The betrayer should listen without interrupting and with respect. If the betrayed's hurt is overlooked or minimalized, his pain is likely to grow, and repairing trust will be unlikely, advises counselor David Bedrick, author of "Talking Back to Dr. Phil: Alternatives to Mainstream Psychology."
Move Forward With Forgiveness
Forgiveness isn't about releasing the betrayer from consequences as much as it is about moving forward emotionally and facing the situation with understanding and compassion towards yourself and the betrayer, suggests San Francisco-based clinical psychologist Melinda Douglass. Forgiveness doesn't mean that the betrayed will forget about the betrayal. However, it does allow the betrayed person to move on, releasing her anger and hurt.
Be Patient With the Process
It's important to be patient when repairing a friendship and rebuilding trust. It will take the betrayed person time, compassion for himself and support of other people to work through the hurt, says Philadelphia-based licensed clinical social worker Tonya Ladipo. You can't expect your friendship to go back to how it was with a simple, "I'm sorry."
Stacey Elkins is a writer based in Chicago. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and a Masters in social work from the University of Illinois in Chicago, where she specialized in mental health.