Staying Friends with Someone Who Hurt You

Sometimes people make mistakes, and you get caught in the crossfire. When you are friends with someone, you open yourself up to getting hurt. It’s not always a big deal, like when they just say something a little insensitive and then apologizes and you move on. Other times, it’s more complex and an apology won’t fix it.

In my case, I stayed friends with an ex and later found out that she cheated on me. It wasn’t fun and I found out in a group setting where I felt I couldn’t get upset over it because we were all supposed to be having fun. So, I swallowed my pain and I continued on with life, but I had to wonder, how do I move on from this? My ex and I had always been close, and we had always had the intention of staying friends after the breakup. She matters a whole lot to me, and I trust her with my life, but she also cheated on me and didn’t tell me until almost two years later. For some people, this would be a deal-breaker. And honestly, for most people, staying friends with their ex probably would have been a deal-breaker, but the fact of the matter is she was my friend first and foremost and I genuinely can’t imagine life without her as my friend.

So, I was left with a dilemma. How do I stay friends with someone who really hurt me and betrayed my trust?

Take a break from them.

You can’t expect everything to be okay if you keep them in your life in the same capacity as before. If you can, distance yourself from them for a while. You need time and space to process your emotions, which is something you won’t get if you’re seeing them every day.

Accept and feel your emotions.

Accept that you are hurting and have been hurt. Let yourself feel the pain they’ve caused you. Emotions are meant to be felt and the longer you delay it, the harder it will be. Don’t avoid feeling your emotions just because you think you should just get over it. You won’t.

Talk it through with a friend.

One of the things that helped me the most was talking to someone I knew would put me first and take my side. It sounds selfish and in some cases, it might not be the best idea, but it can be pretty lonely when you feel like someone’s wronged you and no one cares. Talk about it with someone you know will prioritize your feelings over the feelings of the person who hurt you.

Slowly reintroduce them to your life.

When you’re ready, start reintroducing them to your life. If you stopped texting them, send them that meme you wanted to share with them back when you were still hurting. Don’t go zero to one hundred. Take your time. When they hurt you, they lost the privilege of being a strong presence in your life, and now that you’ve decided you still want them in your life, you have to build your way back up. Letting them back in at full force without re-establishing that trust will only cause you more issues.

I ultimately believe that people change and grow. I don’t think someone should be cut out of your life for hurting you if the circumstance allows it. In some cases, yes, you should probably cut them out of your life, but in others, it can be more beneficial to take some time away from them. It’s all about what you feel comfortable with.