Kristi sits on my couch concerned that she’s losing her mind. “I don’t even know who I am. I can’t stop obsessing about who he’s with or what he’s doing. I’m constantly checking his phone and driving past his work to make sure he’s there. Every time we’re together I get so mad that I yell at him and remind him of all the horrible things he has done. I feel like I’m going crazy!”
I look her in the eyes and reassure her. These behaviors are typical responses to trauma that manifest through a variety of emotions and behaviors. You are trying to cope with the pain and confusion caused by betrayal.
While these responses vary from person to person, Dr. Doug Weiss, a noted expert in the field of betrayal trauma and sexual betrayals, reports the following partner behaviors as common to betrayal trauma, from the thousands of couples he’s worked with over 30+ years:
85% Checking up on their partner
78% Trying to control their environment through hyper-vigilance, a heightened sense of alertness where individuals constantly monitor their surroundings and relationships for signs of potential betrayal.
76% Looking for more proof of betrayal such as checking texts or monitoring cell phone
68% Spiritualizing or rationalizing staying together when their relationship is not recovering
68% Feeling threatened or insecure around other people when they are with their partner.
58% Not having sex or being hyper-sexual
66% Reinforcing fears of abandonment individuals may withdraw from social interactions and isolate themselves as a way to protect themselves from further hurt or to process their emotions privately.
65% Trying to think about what their partner may be thinking. Betrayal trauma can consume an individual’s thoughts, leading to obsessive thinking, rumination, and replaying of the betrayal in their mind.
64% Not being able to physically separate when it makes sense
61% Sarcasm to mask hurt
58% Scoping out people their partner might be looking at in public
54% Raging–individuals may experience intense emotions such as anger, sadness, or frustration, which can manifest as outbursts or emotional volatility.
52% Continued Shaming their partner or themselves for the betrayal
51% Changed boundaries with their partner or others. Trust is often deeply affected by betrayal trauma, and individuals may struggle to trust others, even those who were not involved in the betrayal. This can lead to difficulties in forming new relationships or maintaining existing ones.
47% Pretending they are in a perfect relationship with each other or others around them
46% Imagining ways their partner may be acting out, creating a story, or building internal fear
These behaviors are not exhaustive, and each individual may exhibit a combination of these or other behaviors differently as they navigate the complexity of their situation. If you or someone you love is struggling through trauma recovery, seek professional help with a trained Betrayal Trauma Recovery therapist. Receive support and guidance in identifying, understanding, and managing these behaviors, moving towards healing and recovery.