I don't think there is one person reading this who hasn't been betrayed by a friend before. I will also go so far as to say that there are very few situations that can be as painful—and sometimes also as blindsiding—as this kind of experience either. But as you get older—and hopefully wiser—you come to accept that no one is perfect, folks mess up and not everything should come with an immediate "Bye. I'm done."
Some friendships are far too valuable to be that…immediately reactionary.
So, how can you know what to do when you find yourself in a set of circumstances where you're hurt, maybe even mad as hell, and you really don't have a clue what you should do? I'm hoping that this article can help to provide you with some of the clarity that you seek, sis. Ask yourself these six questions and see if the answers can't point you into the direction of what you need to do—next.
Betrayal Has Layers. What Kind Was It?
If you spend enough time on this planet and you make it a personal point to actually learn as you go, something that life will teach you is most things have layers to them; betrayal is certainly no exception. And, if you're someone who accepts that you are human and flawed, just as much as the next guy or gal, you'll also humble yourself enough to admit that you've probably betrayed someone before too; maybe even the person who just betrayed you.
Why do I say that? Because betrayal has several different definitions:
- to deliver or expose to an enemy by treachery or disloyalty
- to be unfaithful in guarding, maintaining, or fulfilling
- to disappoint the hopes or expectations of
- to reveal or disclose in violation of confidence
- to reveal unconsciously (something one would preferably conceal)
Back when I wrote the article about why I prefer my friends to not be friends with each other, some of y'all went on and on about how insecure that kind of boundary is. First, it's always a good idea to read more than the title of something; the entire piece oftentimes offers up a broader perspective. Second, I'll tell you this—having that boundary has eliminated A LOT of the betrayals that I used to experience before I had put the boundary in place (especially when it comes to things like disclosing a violation in confidence, even if it was unconsciously). Sometimes, a betrayal isn't calculated or intentional. Sometimes, folks just mess up.
So yeah, before deciding if you should immediately cut someone out of your life (by the way, check out "Why I Don't 'Cut People Off' Anymore, I Release Them Instead"), think about the level of betrayal it was. Did your friend do something that was calculated and/or malicious? Or was it simply a mistake? It's important to really take this step into account because, when emotions are running high, we can oftentimes make a rash decision without taking everything into account before we do so—including processing the facts, not just how we feel at the time.
This brings me to the next important point.
What's Their Previous Track Record Been Like?
I remember when one of my closest friends betrayed my confidence. Whew. One of their friends was going through something and so my friend shared one of my deepest secrets, hoping that it would give their friend some perspective. Problem was, even though they didn't say my name, my friend gave enough "clues" that their friend was able to figure it out and ended up talking about it on some podcast, believing that it would help others as well. All of this happened without my permission. I. Was. Pissed. Still, while some people might see this as an automatic deal-breaker, I didn't. I didn't because the friend who did this to me had been a really good friend before this major snafu. They were committed. They were supportive. They were loyal. They were honest. They are just human and they messed up. Big time. But not big enough for me to, as grandma used to say, "Throw the baby out with the bathwater."
Betrayal hurts, no matter what "layer" or form that it comes in. But when you've got a good friend in your life, getting rid of them because of one mistake can end up hurting you a lot more than forgiving them and moving on. Try your best to not only think about the one way that they royally f'ed up. Factor that in, along with the kind of friend that they've been to you since they've become a part of your life.
Are They Truly Remorseful?
A while back, I wrote an article for the site entitled, "Why Regret Might Not Always Be A Bad Thing". If you don't have time to check it out right now, the gist is that, I'm not big on people who don't believe in having regrets in life. Regret means remorse and we all do things from time to time that result in us (hopefully) regretting wrongdoing (unless you're something along the lines of being a raging narcissist or something). In fact, regret is oftentimes what we need to feel in order to make some real and lasting changes in our lives.
Same thing goes for a friend who betrays you. If when you confront them about what happened, they are on some, "I don't regret anything in life" or the phrase that irritates me like no other, "It is what it is", that doesn't sound like someone who feels badly about what they did to you. And if they don't really care, there is a huge chance that they could do it again (or that they've been doing some shady stuff that you just haven't found out about…yet).
So, how can you know if someone is truly remorseful? It's hard to give an across-the-board answer because people express remorse in different ways. But if they happen to bring the betrayal to you before you find out another way, if they apologize without offering up a lot of excuses or justifications and/or they ask you how they can make it up to you—those are some indicators that they probably get the magnitude of what they did; that you should at least consider hearing them out and giving the friendship another shot.
Do You Absolutely Suck at Forgiving?
People who aren't good at forgiving others either don't have many friends or they are constantly getting into and out of friendships. That's not a random happenstance either. It's usually because they want to receive the kind of grace and mercy that they absolutely have no intention of extending to others. I know this because I used to be a lot like that. Because I grew up surrounded by people who basically weaponized forgiveness (in my family, at my church, in my so-called friendships and in my private Christian schools), I saw it as a manipulative tool rather than a peace offering. So, I used to think that forgiving someone meant I was giving them carte blanche to keep hurting me over and over…and over again. So, I struggled with fully doing it.
It took getting some space from people who abused forgiveness in my world to understand that 1) from a spiritual standpoint, forgiveness makes things right between me and God (Matthew 6:14-15); 2) forgiving someone doesn't automatically mean that things go back to the way they were. The person in need of the forgiveness needs to be remorseful, be open to things taking time to heal, and we both need to assess if we should be the same kind of friends again, and 3) if I don't forgive, it's just gonna make me bitter; bitterness ultimately stagnates my growth and typically infects the other relationships around me too.
I know a lot of people think that some things don't deserve forgiveness. I disagree. If you want to keep life's situations from harming your mind, body and spirit, forgive it all. Just don't think that means you have to still engage the person, place, thing or idea that you needed to forgive. Anyway, whether you agree with me or not on this, if you're contemplating not forgiving your friend because, in your mind, they don't "deserve" it, ask yourself if this is how you feel every time someone disappoints you. If the answer is "yes", I'd venture to say that the internal struggle you're having has less to do with the betrayal and more to do with you needing to learn how to forgive better. And more. For your own sake.
What Are the Pros and Cons of the Friendship?
Here's something else that you might want to ponder, just a bit. Chances are, if this is the first time that your friend betrayed you and it wasn't something huge like stealing your money or sleeping with your man, you wouldn't be contemplating ending the relationship unless things have been on the verge of destruction for a while now anyway. That's why, if you're not 100 percent sure what you should do, it can also be helpful to take out a piece of paper and jot down the pros and cons of the relationship overall. While there are certain hacks that can help you to make split-second decisions (check out "Need To Make A Big Decision Quickly? Do This."), deciding whether or not to end a friendship deserves some real pondering. The benefit of coming up with a pros and cons list is it can help you to process your situation from a logical and obsessive point of view. For instance, if the pros far outweigh the cons, it's probably worth working through the betrayal rather than ending things altogether. On the other hand, if the cons outweigh the pros then…maybe this latest "shake up" is nothing more than the straw that has broken the camel's back. A list can help you come to this kind of conclusion.
Can You Let the Ish Go?
This last point? In all actuality, it has very little to do with your friend and what they did, and all to do with you and if you can truly heal and move on from it. I know from very personal experience (both on the giving and receiving end of forgiveness) that you haven't truly forgiven someone if you're constantly going to bring up what they did or if you're going to try and use their offense against them in order to "trump" some of your own BS in the future. Some foundational truths about a healthy friendship is both people are able to accept one another's humanness, forgive each other's faults and then move forward—together. If this betrayal runs so deep that you know you can't do this, don't waste each other's time or further cause harm by trying to stick it out, knowing that you can't let it go—if not immediately, eventually. If the betrayal is going to keep you both stagnant, discuss, forgive and then bring things to an end with the hopes and prayers that you both learned from this betrayal—so that you know how to handle things…differently with others. In the future.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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7 Sex-Related Problems That Ruin Sex (And Possibly Your Relationship)
Not too long ago, while in an interview, someone asked me to define one of the main purposes of sex in a long-term relationship: “Probably the most intimate form of communication that we have is sex because it’s an act that connects one’s physical, mental and emotional state to another human being simultaneously — and communication doesn’t get much more profound than that.”
That’s part of the reason why the term “casual sex” irks me to the billionth degree (check out “We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'”); it’s because, even if you think that sex with someone is next-to-nothing, there is so much going on within you (oxytocin highs, if you’re unprotected, fluid bonding, chemical reactions in your brain, etc.) that doesn’t know if someone is “the one” (in your mind) or not. So, in many ways, it acts like they are (check out this YouTube video from a Catholic woman who studies some unexpected ways that sex affects us physically here; sex goes deep, y’all!).
Yeah, sex is so much more than a notion, and that’s why I’m a firm believer that it is such a barometer for long-term relationships overall — because, as I’ve shared before, I once read that, “Good sex in a relationship is 10 percent of the relationship while bad sex in a relationship is 90 percent of the relationship because sex tends to set the tone for what’s happening in the rest of the house.”
And that’s why I think that there are certain sex-related issues that can not only damage your sex life with your partner but could also end up ruining your relationship if you’re not careful (very careful). Let’s get into seven of them now.
1. Being Unaware of Your “Body Clock”Giphy
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had who’ve come to me in some serious trouble, in part due to their flailing (or partly nonexistent) sex life. When I ask them if they went to premarital counseling (if you’re engaged, please do; you have a 33 percent greater chance of avoiding divorce when counseling transpires), many say “no” and the ones who say “yes” usually say that it was no more than 3-5 sessions and the topic of sex barely came up (le sigh). Meanwhile, with my premarital meetings, I try and stick with intimacy for three months if I can because there is a lot to unpack, from what you learned as a child, to your first time (or if you are a virgin), to your needs and fantasies, to how you see it from a spiritual perspective — like I said, there is a lot to unpack there.
Take the mere practicality of sex, for example — and more specifically, your body clock. Do you prefer to have sex at night or in the daytime? A lot of couples struggle with intimacy because one prefers the former while the other likes the latter. Do you keep track of when you’re ovulating? It’s pure science why you are probably hornier during that time of the month (because your body is signaling that it’s time to conceive) vs. the fact that you might not be the most interested in sex when you’re PMS’ing. Are you premenopausal? Hormones shift a lot during that time, and here’s the thing — while menopause only lasts a year, the premenopausal stage (which typically starts between 45-55) can last between 7-14 years. Even paying attention to when you have more energy (some do in the day…morning sex, anyone? While others do early in the evening) can play a role.
So yeah, getting to know your body clock (and discussing your partner’s clock with them) can play a role in how much — or how little — sex you have…and that can add life or drain it from the relationship overall.
2. Comparing Your Present with Your PastGiphy
There is a wife of almost 20 years I know who, when I asked her if she thought that her husband was good in bed, she paused for a second, shrugged her shoulders, and simply said, “I was a virgin when I got married, so I have nothing to compare him to. I mean, he’s good to me.” On the flip side, there’s a now divorced couple who I also know (who almost made it to 20 years) who had multiple partners before each other while also having a deep interest in porn who once said to me, “Sometimes, there’s as much as 15 people in our bed because of all of the people from our past and the porn that we’ve seen that’s running through our heads.” Yeah, y’all can act like body counts don’t matter, but there is so much evidence out here that says otherwise — that couple just gave one that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should.
You know, one of my favorite throwback shows is King of Queens (Kevin James, Leah Remini). A few weeks ago, I watched a rerun where Doug and Carrie were talking about the images that come up in their minds, sometimes during sex. Neither was too happy about it, and I can totally see why. I mean, if sex was just about “getting off” (and it’s not), then whatever. However, AGAIN, it’s also about connecting with your partner on a mental and emotional level, and that’s hard to do if you’re there with them in the body while you’re fantasizing about a celebrity, a porn actor (porn is usually acting, don’t let it fool you) or an ex (check out “You Love Him. You Prefer Sex With Your Ex. What Should You Do?”).
And what if that is what’s going on? I once spoke with a sex therapist about this very thing. What she said is people should be less concerned about celebs (if it’s on occasion) and more concerned about that ex because rarely is sex with an ex…just about the sex.
And that’s why this point made the list. If you’re physically with your partner and mentally or emotionally with your ex at the same time, please don’t ignore that. There are definitely some unresolved issues there that you need to work through, whether it’s with a therapist, counselor, or coach, a trusted friend (who won’t add fuel to the literal fire), or even with your ex — although you might want to run that by your partner first because…I’m pretty sure you’d want him to do that with/for you. RIGHT?
3. Not Being Clear About Your Sexual NeedsGiphy
Question — if someone were to walk up to you right now and ask you what your top seven sexual needs are, along with what your top five sexual dealbreakers are, would you be able to answer? It really is kind of wild how many people get upset with their partner for not being able to sexually satisfy them when even they can’t articulate what they need/require in order for that to happen. Yeah, it’s another article for another time about how many people UNREALISTICALLY (and yes, I am yelling it) think that someone loving them well means that they should be able to read their mind. Nope.
It truly can’t be said enough that sex — especially good sex — is about communication. Hmph. It makes me think about a clip that I saw from Tonight’s Conversation podcast (can’t find it at the moment; sorry) where a woman asked how she should tell her partner that he hasn’t been pleasing her, I believe she said for years. My first thought was if he doesn’t know that, she must be faking orgasms (more on that in a bit) which is not only lying — well, it is —, but it’s also pretty counterproductive because while he thinks that he’s “getting the job done,” she’s not fulfilled and resentment is setting in.
Please don’t let rom-coms (fiction) and social media (which is oftentimes fictitious) have you out here thinking that a good lover is someone you automatically gel with who knows exactly what to do; sometimes that is the case, and oftentimes it isn’t.
So, if the sex-related issue that you’re having in your relationship is that your sexual needs aren’t being met, first do you (and your partner) a favor by doing some sex journaling (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”) so that you can tangibly see what those needs are and then plan time within the next week or so to pour a couple of glasses of wine, put on some 90s R&B and discuss with your partner what you need. Because actually, what a good lover is, is someone who listens and retains. This brings me to the next point.
4. Minimizing Your Partner’s Sexual NeedsGiphy
A husband once told that when he and his wife were in premarital counseling, something that he mentioned was a bona fide need was fellatio. According to him, his wife told both him and their counselor that she loved giving head. Fast forward to eight years of being in their union, and guess how many times that act went down? A measly four. FOUR TIMES (check out “Sooo...What If You HATE Oral?”).
It’s another message for another time, the amount of people who will “false advertise” during the dating stage in order to get to their goal of marriage. It’s also another message for another time how much that is a form of manipulation that tends to backfire in ways that the manipulator is oftentimes not prepared for.
For now, what I will say, is never think that just because something may not be a need for you that it isn’t a legitimate one for someone else. I mean, how would you feel if that’s how someone treated you? Yeah…exactly.
Yet that is just what happens in a lot of relationships, including when it comes to their bedroom. They will think that their needs should be met, hands down, yet when their partner comes with what’s important to them, all of a sudden, there is dismissiveness, nonchalance, and/or excuses — and how could that not rear its ugly head on so many levels?
Your partner’s sexual needs are essential, even if they are not your own. Never assume that you automatically know everything about them. Also, never assume that what worked two years ago is what will “scratch the itch” now. Hmph. Come to think of it, while you’re sipping on that wine and clearly articulating to him what turns you on, use that as an opportunity to ask him to return the favor. Listen with humility, receptiveness, and intent — the best kind of relationships process their partner’s needs with this kind of vibe…across the board.
5. Taking the “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” ApproachGiphy
Lazy lovers. When you hear that phrase, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? If it’s someone who is just lying there during sex, that would certainly qualify; however, I’m actually speaking of a different kind of laziness here. Believe it or not, some synonyms for lazy include words like apathetic, inattentive, tired, passive (cough, cough), procrastinating, neglectful, and slacking. So yeah, if you and/or your partner can use any of these words to define what sex is consistently like between the two of you — red flag, red flag…RED FREAKIN’ FLAG.
Speaking of being passive, another potentially serious sex-related problem is taking on the attitude that if something ain’t broke, you shouldn’t fix it. What I mean by that is, just because you know that getting on top and riding for exactly six-and-a-half minutes is what will get your partner off, that doesn’t mean that it should be your automatic go-to all of the damn time.
Why? Because. While a part of the fun of having sex is “reaching the peak,” another component that should never be underestimated is discovering new territory: trying new positions, creating a sex bucket list, taking (more) sexcations, playing sex-themed board games (put that phrase in Amazon or on Etsy’s site and go ham!)…you know, doing what will inspire creativity and deter either of you from becoming bored.
That said, a husband of 17 years once told me, “A man can be satisfied with the same woman. We just don’t want the same kind of sex with her.” Words to live by. Yes, indeed.
6. Using Sex as a Deflection or Coping MechanismGiphy
A few years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good” — and with good cause. Words cannot express how many divorced (or soon-to-be divorced) women have told me that a part of what kept them in their marriage, for as long as they stayed in it, was the fact that the sex with their husband was beyond amazing…even though so much other stuff completely and totally sucked. Hey, good sex isn’t a bad thing (c’mon now); however, if it’s the only real thing that’s keeping you with someone, it can turn out to be a toxic deflector.
The reason why I say that is the purpose of sex isn’t to make love; it’s to celebrate it. And if all you’re doing with your partner is f — king and fighting or avoiding issues by stripping down or thinking that sex will “make it all better,” all the while not really knowing what the problem/issue is or what needs to be done to get down to the root of it, that is using sex as a pacifier and again, that’s not what sex is designed to be. Sex doesn’t deserve the pressure of being the end-all to “fixing” ish.
So, if what’s transpiring in your relationship lately is very little talking and a whole lot of sexing, and then once the sex is over, something still feels “off,” that’s a good indication that you’re misusing sex on some level. Get out of the bed, put on a robe, and do some talking (preferably in a room other than the bedroom; leave that space for sex and sleep only as much as possible). Because remember — as much as the wives that I mentioned said that their husbands once had them climbing the walls, those men are still ex-husbands now. Bottom line, sex is good, yet when it comes to keeping a relationship together, it will never be enough. Again, it was never designed to be.
7. Faking ItGiphy
I will never be a fan of faking orgasms. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini (we may be a lot of things, but “fake” isn’t really our style). Maybe it’s because I’m a very word-literal individual, and I know that fake means things like “prepare or make (something specious, deceptive, or fraudulent)” and “to conceal the defects of or make appear more attractive, interesting, valuable, etc., usually in order to deceive.” Or perhaps it’s because I don’t get how acting like you’re sexually fulfilled when you actually aren’t is doing anyone any good. Whatever it is, whenever a client (or someone in general because men fakealmost as much as women do) tells me that it’s something they do, I immediately find myself on a mission to shut that mess down (check out “Why You Should Stop Faking Orgasms ASAP”). ALL THE WAY DOWN.
The main reason is that, regardless of if the motive is to hurry things along, not hurt your partner’s feelings, or it’s something more cryptic than that (cough, cough, some form of manipulation tactic), there’s no way around the fact that fakeness is tied to deception and deception is a word that should never be connected to a healthy sexual dynamic.
Besides, one could argue that faking is a form of deflection as well because…wouldn’t it be better to just get it all out in the open WHY you are doing it than to keep pretending when life is too short and great sex is too good to not get the absolute most out of it, as much as possible?
Besides, again, chances are that if you’re faking that you’re sexually pleased, you’re probably faking something else in your relationship (or situation), and how could that possibly be good, right, or beneficial?
Yeah, when it comes to being satisfied across the board, please don’t fake it. State your case in the way that you’d like to hear something said to you, and let the chips fall where they may. If you’ve got a good man, he’s gonna — no pun — rise to the occasion. If his ego can’t handle it, well…that’s something that you should find out sooner than later — when it comes to the bedroom and outside of it? Right? #shoyouright
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