15 Reasons & Motives for Relationship Betrayal

Anyone who’s ever felt a cold touch of betrayal was left with only one question on their lips: “Why?” 

However, what most victims don’t realize is – that’s not always the best “Why?” to focus on.” “Why did I deserve this?” “Why did it happen to me?” “Why did I allow it to happen?”

All of these questions, as well as their variations, start from the same premise: that the victim is somehow responsible for the actions of the perpetrator. While this couldn’t be further from the truth, feeling betrayed in a relationship seemingly often leaves a person with no other choice other than to think in that direction. The pain is hard to bare. And, internalizing and personalizing the breakup is often what people do. 

However, the operating word here is “seemingly”. If we turn the attention outwards, towards the actions of a perpetrator, rather than inwards, toward the effect said actions had on a victim, the reasons for betrayal in a relationship become crystal clear.

What Causes Betrayal In A Relationship?

For anyone who was ever left feeling betrayed in a relationship, this question was the cause of many a sleepless night. The reason for this is that victims often end up blaming themselves for their partner’s betrayal.

They may even go as far as to think it’s their actions (or lack thereof) or behaviors that are causes of betrayal in a relationship. Before we go any further, it is critical to understand that this way of thinking is just plain wrong.

The responsibility for betrayal lies exclusively with the betrayer, and victims are not to blame for the actions of their partners – unless the partner truly has a part. Years of withholding physical touch, constant criticism,  etc. With that established, we may now move on to explain different reasons and motives behind the betrayal.

What Are The Motives For Betrayal?

Betrayal, both as a concept and behavior, is incredibly complex. There are many contributing factors leading up to it, most of which can be difficult to comprehend, especially for individuals on the receiving end.

Given the multifaceted nature of the issue, the causes of betrayal in a relationship are seldom one-sided and rooted deeply in the person’s psyche. Therefore, if we were to view this issue through the lens of psychology, reasons for betrayal may be sorted into several distinct categories:

  • Unmet needs: If a person feels that their needs (emotional, physical, or sexual) are consistently being unmet within a relationship, they may be inclined to seek fulfillment outside the confines of the established partnership.
  • Lack of communication: Misunderstandings and unresolved issues resulting from poor communication practices can potentiate betrayal as a way to cope or express dissatisfaction.
  • Desire for novelty: Craving something different, more stimulating than the current partnership offers, whether it be excitement or new experiences, can be a potential trigger. Unsurprisingly, this is among the most common causes of betrayal in marriage or other long-term relationships characterized by uneventfulness or staleness.
  • Unresolved issues: Individuals caught in a perpetual internal struggle may view betrayal as a “solution” to their problem or distraction.
  • Insecurity: Low self-esteem and self-worth often drive a person to seek attention and affirmation from others, and betrayal can be their source of validation outside of the relationship.
  • Poor impulse control: Acting on immediate desire, without forethought or consideration for the consequences, is among the common betrayal reasons in a relationship.
  • Lack of empathy: A person who struggles to understand the emotions of others, may exhibit a blatant disregard for their partner’s feelings, going as far as to view betrayal as completely acceptable.
  • Mental health issues: Some psychological problems, such as depression, anxiety, or substance use disorder, can be more prone to engage in actions that constitute betrayal.
  • External factors: In some instances, peer pressure, societal influences, and cultural norms may be the underlying cause of betrayal in a relationship.

It’s critical to note that, while the above reasons can help explain betrayal, they do NOT excuse or justify it by any means and under no circumstances.

Why Would Someone Betray You?

Now that we know what causes betrayal from a psychological perspective, it’s time to take a different approach and explore the problem in the context of learned behaviors. Here are several personality traits of individuals prone to betrayal:

  • They’re entitled: Some individuals consider themselves “above the rest”, thinking that societal norms and rules don’t apply to them. Often, this (mis)leads them to believe that there will be no consequences for their actions. Or, they are entitled to “love” because they come from complex trauma and are entitled to “love.”
  • They’re irresponsible: People who avoid taking responsibility for their actions or behaviors often resort to lies as a “get out of jail free card”. Whether it’s omission or blatant dishonesty, lies in any form more often than not constitute betrayal in the eyes of a victim.
  • They’re unscrupulous: For integrity-deprived individuals, betrayal can be a means to an end; a simple tool to be used for personal gain, regardless of the consequences it may leave on a receiving party.
  • They’re selfish: If we were to oversimplify betrayal, we could say that it is putting one person’s needs above the other’s. Selfish individuals act without consideration for other people’s needs or emotions, prioritizing their own fulfillment at the expense of their partner and relationship as a whole.
  • They lack commitment: Painful as it may be to admit, betrayers may simply not care for you enough to prioritize mutual well-being. They may even go as far as to consider a relationship a “disposable resource”, to be discarded when a better opportunity arises.
  • They’re opportunistic: Impulsive and unprincipled individuals may engage in behaviors that increase the likelihood of betrayal simply because the opportunity to experience something new or different presents itself.

Finally, two important things must be noted here. First, the aforementioned traits aren’t mutually exclusive and individuals may exhibit them or their combination to various degrees. Second, human behavior is influenced by a myriad of factors. Just because someone possesses certain personality traits does not guarantee that they will commit to certain behaviors.

Address The Root Causes Of Betrayal In A Relationship With PIVOT’s Help

If you’re feeling betrayed in a relationship, struggling to understand the reasons and motivations behind such actions, it is time to turn to PIVOT. Our dedicated coaching sessions delve deep into the intricacies of human behavior, helping you gain clarity and chart a course toward a future free of the pain of betrayal.

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Workshops take place in the safe and serene environment of our Glass House Retreat, perfectly complementing our tailored approach to introspection, self-growth, and empowerment. Get in touch with us today and let our mindful team guide you toward emotional rejuvenation!

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