The Betrayal of Blindsiding Breakups
We were at an oyster bar, staring into each other's eyes, our smiles wide and true. He reached his hand across the empty shells between us and took mine. I was so happy and so grateful.
“This is real love,” I remember thinking, “and it’s mine.”
Our love felt safe and everlasting, except that it ended abruptly a couple weeks later. Not the love—that still lives somewhere out in the ethers—but the relationship.
We hadn’t gotten into a fight in the in-between time. Our nearly one-year young relationship wasn’t a roller coaster headed for destruction. From my vantage point, all signs pointed to the finish line (if one of those were to ever exist).
The train jerked to a halt, he stood up and left. I continued on without him, far out into a land where nothing was alive but my throbbing heart. I spent a long time out there alone trying to push it away. I didn’t want to process the pain because—who does?
The trauma that comes with blindsiding breakups often has less to do with the breakup itself than we often think. I have loved dearly and deeply and let go of people who I knew weren’t right for me. Those experiences hurt greatly—but not like this.
Nothing compares to the sudden loss of love.
This breakup pulled me into the purgatory of life. I lost all sense of meaning and purpose. The forever consistent love and support in my life bounced off scar tissue encasing my hollow being. I became pain through and through. None of my other breakups ever felt this destructive.
Love and relationships give us a sense of safety and security that is foundational to our health. Most of us couldn’t handle waking up every single morning wondering if our partner will choose to be with us today. That’s why most people suffer when they try to date someone who is noncommittal.
When we commit to being in a relationship we trust that we’ll wake up the next morning and everything will be pretty similar on the love-front. It’s the betrayal of that trust that leaves us scarred.
There is an unspoken agreement in relationships that you let each other know when things aren't working. You give each other the courtesy of communication when it matters—not when you’ve already made up your mind about it being over. Lack of communication and “fair warning” is like breaking the law of common decency.
Blindsiding breakups appear like an easy way out, but they actually create more suffering for both people than addressing the truth from the start.
The betrayer has to live with guilt and shame knowing that their cowardice has deeply hurt someone they care for. For those of us who are betrayed, our entire sense of selves come into question. We wonder if we can trust ourselves. We ask ourselves what warning signs we didn’t see.
All human beings deserve and desire the care to be heard, a chance to do better, and the dignity of honesty. When that is taken from us, it signals to our wounded selves that the secret we’ve been living with is actually true—because only someone truly unworthy of love wouldn’t deserve the dignity of a fair chance.
This isn’t the truth, but it’s the old story sewn into our systems.
It’s time to rewrite the betrayal script.
Someone suddenly leaving you says more about them than it does about you. The old stories and beliefs that are triggered when they leave is your opportunity for healing.
But let’s be clear here: You deserved honesty. You deserved communication. You deserved to be heard and your feelings counted. You didn’t get some big things you deserved, and that is a tragedy worth mourning.
Your former partner is not a monster. They were in pain. They got lost. They didn’t know how to communicate the uncomfortable truths. They will have to live with this pain until they are ready to heal.
Blindsiding breakups aren’t fair, but they can teach you a great deal about yourself.
The key is to be unwilling to take on your ex’s pain and instead deal with your own. Your job is to take the best care of yourself you possibly can.
Devote yourself to giving yourself the love you deserve. It might be a long road but it gets better from there.