What to Do When You’ve Been Cheated On - Transcripts
Hey, it's your friend Mel and welcome to a tough love episode of the Mel Robbins podcast. I'm Mel Robbins, welcome. I'm a New York Times bestselling author and one of the most respected experts in the world on change and motivation. And today I'm really excited to tell you that we have picked two listeners of the Mel Robbins podcast to join me today because they have written in and asked advice about a topic that I unfortunately know a lot about and that topic is betrayal. And unfortunately, at some point, we all experience it. What do you do when you find out that someone you love has cheated on you or stolen from you or lied to you or stabbed you behind your back? Well, today you're gonna meet two people that this has happened to and you're gonna learn what to do and more importantly, how to get your power back because you can get your power back. You're gonna learn today that you always have options no matter how much this betrayal cuts you to the core. And I'm also gonna share stories of betrayal that have happened to me. And so I wanna start by thanking both of our listeners today for not only writing in but for agreeing to come on the show and for allowing me to invite you into their private coaching session because by sharing their challenges and you getting to hear the advice in real time, they're really doing the work for all of us to create a better life. And I wanna thank you because we have been blown away by the number of questions and the topics that you keep submitting at MelRobbins.com. And I also am loving the video questions that you're DMing me on Instagram.
And I'm excited to tell you, we have a brand new call-in number that you can call at any time and leave a question for me here on the show. And that number is going to always be in the show notes from now on. And so when you listen to their private coaching session, listen with intention because whether you're in this situation or not, you will get something amazing out of this. There will be an insight that strikes you right to your core. And this is also one of those episodes that I know you're gonna love having as a resource because you can share it with friends and family when they experience betrayal and you just wanna help them. Because unfortunately, at some point, we all experience it. And that brings me to the very first question. It's from Sonya. And you better buckle up because this first coaching session, it takes an unexpected turn near the end. And it's a doozy. See, Sonya listened to the episode called The Three Lessons I Learned During the Worst Year of My Life. And it's usually during the worst moments of your life that you get the biggest lessons.
And so I share this story about how a year ago at the beginning of 2022, I found out that somebody that I trusted was in my business stealing from me. They lied to me, to my face over and over and over. They lied to team members over and over. And when I finally figured out what was going on, I realized they had been doing this for a long ass time. This betrayal knocked me on my knees. I felt so stupid when I first discovered it. Then I felt hurt. Then I was furious. And it was painful. It was a painful lesson about trust. And it was also a painful lesson, but a lesson that I needed. I needed this lesson in order to be able to establish better boundaries and to level up as a businesswoman.
Sonya heard me tell this story and she wanted more. She wanted to learn more. She had more questions to ask. She wanted to know, Mel, how did you handle the person who betrayed you? What did you do?
Because she was dealing with a betrayal in her life too. Hi, Mel, I'm Sonya from New Zealand. Hi. How did you deal with the betrayals from your friends? Did you confront them and make peace with them in the end? Or can you move on without making peace in some way? And then as you just fill your life
with people who are much better humans? Excellent question. So in this particular instance, I did not confront the person, mainly because they had logins to a bunch of stuff related to our business. And I had to first, once I realized this was going on, get the digital business safe and secure. And so that took a couple of weeks. And I didn't wanna send up any red flags that any issue was going on while we did that. But then I made this decision. I thought, why would I confront this person? And what I realized in this particular instance is that I had already poured so much energy into the situation that confronting the person or trying to close the door and tell them what I had figured out, that that would cause so much negative energy in my life that I chose to not say anything and just move on. And here's what I have to say. I wouldn't necessarily do the same thing in a different situation. I mean, the person that stole all this money from me and damaged my business, they were in a different country.
So even though I could have hired legal counsel and I could have gone after this person, when I thought about the time, the energy, the just emotional cost of doing that, it was too expensive to pursue it. Sometimes your peace of mind is worth way more than the money that you would get by confronting something. And that's what I determined for myself. But here's the thing, there's a lot of cases for you personally and for me where the right thing to do is to confront somebody. And there have been situations that I've been in in the past where I did get a lawyer involved. So what you have to do whenever you're in this situation where somebody's betrayed you, is you have to ask yourself, what's my goal here? My number one goal is protect my business, protect my peace, learn this lesson. What's in it for me? Am I trying to fix the person? Am I trying to make them wrong? Am I trying to repair the situation? Am I looking for a gotcha moment?
Do I deserve to make this wrong or right? Do I need to go after them legally? And then you gotta ask yourself, well, what do I need to say for closure? And should I do this because it's gonna make me feel confident? And there may be a time in your life where you have to hear yourself say out loud to the person that betrayed you. I know what you did. And I will not have you in my life because I will not surround myself with people who do this kind of thing. And I forgive you, but you're not welcome back in my life as a friend, as a partner. You can just shut the door after that conversation. You can forgive somebody, you can call them out, and you don't have to let them back in. You don't have to give them a second chance. And so it comes down to what you want out of this.
And if your goal is to stay in the relationship, to use this betrayal as the door that needed to get kicked open in order for you to face stuff that's not working, if you do decide to stay in the friendship or the relationship, you have to have a conversation. You have to explain that you know what they did and that you know what they're doing is wrong and how their behavior is impacting you. And one way that you can set the conversation up if that's what you're inclined to do because you want to see if you can repair the relationship or you need to say something in order to feel like you're complete, is you can say, I need to apologize for something, which always kind of makes people feel a little like, oh, what? You did something wrong, so they're not gonna be defensive. And then you say, yeah, there's something that's been bothering me, and I need to apologize that I didn't come to you sooner with this. And then you can also say, I take responsibility that it's impacting me this way, and then explain how their behavior is making you feel. You're not attacking them. You're not telling them they did X, Y, and Z. You're explaining how it's impacting you. And based on their reaction, you will know whether or not this is somebody that you want in your life. If their reaction is, that's ridiculous, I didn't mean that, bop, bop, bop, bop, bop, bop, bop, you're being too sensitive, bye. That's what you do.
You got all the information you need. But if their reaction is, I had no idea you felt that way, I feel terrible, tell me what I can do. Like, that's a friendship that you wanna save.
Does that make sense? Yeah, absolutely. It's something that I've already, I've moved on from these people whenever I've shared anything with how any of their reactions made me feel or the impact it had on my life,
they just simply aren't interested. Yeah, well, there's all you need to know, right? And so here's the second piece of transformation that I want for you. You ready? Mm-hmm. There are patterns in life that repeat until you get the lesson. And for me, the biggest lesson about this betrayal by this person in business is that when I look back through my life and I think, hmm, what other relationships or friendships or colleagues, anything, what other relationships had the same feeling for me as this relationship, I can see a very similar pattern of the kind of person that I was drawn to or that was in my inner circle or that I was a really good friend with. And then all of a sudden I realized, oh my gosh, this person's mean and the gossip behind people's back. And now I'm scared because they're a friend of mine and like, I don't know how to get out of this. I could see a very distinct pattern. And so maybe the lesson for you goes even deeper, which is not only when something's working or feels off to say something, notice somebody's reaction. And that tells you whether or not this is a friendship to lean into or one to pull away from.
But the other lesson could be, are there particular personality types or relationship dynamics that draw you in
that turn out to not be good for you? I feel like I've learned the lesson because this is with my husband and everything that happened. And so I just, yeah, he keeps reaching out to try and have a friendship going forward,
but because of everything that happened, I'm not interested. Yes, you don't need to have a conversation with somebody in order to have closure. We often chase other people down and we say we want closure, but what we're actually looking for is confirmation or we're looking for some sort of assurance, we wanna feel better. You can do that for yourself if you're very clear about why this isn't working for you and what your boundaries are. And it sounds to me like you're very clear. You don't need to have a conversation. You've already had the conversation
and their behavior in it told you everything you need to know. Yeah, that's a feeling. Cause anytime I bring anything up about how anything's impacted me, it just brings up all of the old stuff again and it's just too hard. So I just have to let them all go
and just like let my life carry on. Yeah, and you also, is there a request you need to make of your husband? Like is my ex-husband. Oh, your ex-husband, excuse me. So he was friends with them.
So he's not part of this really. No, he is. It was like the stuff that happened that ended my marriage.
Oh. With my best friend.
Oh, so is he with your best friend? He is, yeah. He came out as bisexual. So he's with both of them. Wow.
Yeah. That's a lot, a lot. Yeah, it was a lot. And that's exactly why you don't need to have them in your life. Yeah.
And you don't owe anybody an explanation.
You deserve peace. Yeah, it's been really good. I've got so many beautiful new humans in my life and just, yeah, experiencing that kind of love and friendship from all my new friends and my new boyfriend. It's really beautiful.
Wonderful. That's great. I'm proud of you. You've helped a lot. Thank you. Well, I appreciate you being here,
but you keep the credit cause you did the work.
Thank you very much for all you do. You're welcome. I'll tell you what. There is no doubt. Life is always trying to teach you something. That is for sure. And I hope that one of the lessons that you learned, not only from my story, but also from the coaching with Sonya, is that you don't need to seek closure from somebody else. You can do that for yourself. And what I need to say to everybody listening is if you've been broken up with or if you've got a friendship where the behaviors turn toxic or you've got something going on, you don't need to have a conversation about it. Their behavior has told you what you need to know. If you're still questioning it, have the conversation in the way that I suggested where you apologize for withholding this. You tell somebody how their behavior or lack of behavior makes you feel and then watch their reaction.
If they're caring and kind, wonderful. If they're not, wonderful. You know what to do. Close the fricking door on that relationship. Do not accept that behavior in your life, period. Not from somebody that's not willing to do the work to repair this. All right, we got to take a short break to hear a word from our sponsors, but when we come back, we have got a second person that is dealing with betrayal and this one is even more emotional. Welcome back. It's Mel and I'm so glad you're here because our next question today comes from Jen. And the reason why I invited Jen on the podcast is because there was something about the way she wrote this initial question and she wrote to me that like me, she too had had one of the most difficult years of her life and I thought, now this woman, Jen, she seems like a person who's gonna put her heart on the line. I can just sense that about some people. She is ready to be vulnerable.
She's ready to have a breakthrough. And I sense there was a lot more under the surface here. So Jen, I wanna welcome you to the podcast. Can you start by just introducing yourself
and asking your question again? So my name is Jen and I am from Pennsylvania. I have a lot of difficulty giving myself credit as you suggested that we do, especially this past year, which has been just extraordinarily painful.
How can they overcome that? I love your question.
So why has this last year been extraordinarily painful? Not getting into too much detail in life. And it's just affected every of who I am. Like I question everything now, like everything I thought I was, everything I thought I could do. Like it's all just been ripped away
and I can't overcome it. You can overcome it, you won't at the moment. And let me give you advice about betrayal, okay? And this is really hard to get. And as somebody who has both been betrayed and who earlier in my life was somebody who was the betrayer, I can speak to both sides of this. And what I wanna say, and this is the hardest thing to grasp, it has nothing to do with you. What that person did in your life has nothing to do with you. It has to do with their pain. It has to do with their neuro chemistry. It has to do with their coping mechanisms, their trauma, their dysfunction, their pain. It doesn't make it any easier when you're on the receiving end of it. say and just repeat, it literally has nothing to do with me.
This is a very hurt and loss person who is coping with that hurt and that loss in an incredibly destructive way, but in no way, shape or form does their bullshit determine whether or not I'm lovable or whether or not I trust people or whether or not I'm good enough. They have revealed a very broken side of themselves that they have chosen to escape, numb, deflect, all of it instead of facing it in the mirror. And it's really hard because you got to go through a process of grieving what you thought it was in order to have yourself unhook from it because what you're actually grieving right now, and I'm just gonna, you haven't given me any details, but I'm just going to talk from my own experience, you're grieving the future that you thought was gonna happen and you're grieving the reality of what you thought was going on. Yeah. And that's incredibly destabilizing. And so you got to give yourself time, I'd say a year, to really just move through the anger, the pissed offness, the hurt, the how could they have done this? How could I not have seen this? How could they have lied? All of it. And then at some point, you're gonna hit this saturation point where you have soaked up so much of the misery that you will no longer wanna feel it. And the only thing that will help you like a sponge squeeze that shit out of your being is when you say, wow, I actually feel sorry for that person. I feel sorry that they're so screwed up that their only way to cope with that is to either cheat or lie or steal or whatever because it's easier than facing the truth.
Some people are so scared of disappointment or upset or pain that they are willing to drug, smoke, drink, or fuck their way through life. Because the momentary rush of dopamine that you feel when you snort cocaine or you have an orgasm or you're flirting with somebody in secret or you're stealing, that relieves you of the deep pain that you're feeling. That's why people do that. And you were hurt, you didn't deserve it, but I'll tell you what else, you don't deserve and you shouldn't be in a relationship with somebody who is not willing to face that shit, who is not willing to heal with you, who is not willing to do the work. And so, I'm being tough with you because this person already got how many years of your life? 14. In my opinion, if two people are willing to do the work, any relationship can come through and be stronger, even in the face of betrayal, no question. But only if both of you are willing to come to the table and do the work together, you to forgive and the other person to face their shit that led to this. And if they're not, then all you can do is grieve what wasn't and grieve the future you thought you were gonna have and take a hefty amount of empathy to feel sorry for somebody that this is who they are, as hard as it is, and at some point to truly honestly be grateful that all this crap got revealed so that you can move forward with somebody who's healthy
and the somebody I'm referring to is you.
Yeah, I like that. And one other thing, even though this has nothing to do with you, when you look across the 14 years, there are probably things that you can see where you let shit slide or you didn't say what you really meant.
I blame myself when I look back and kind of assess all of those things. Like I do find things that I have let slide.
So then I blame myself for letting it go. No, it's just a lesson. And sometimes lessons we learn easily and sometimes we use sledgehammers. And this is a sledgehammer. And so as you move forward in your life, whether you do so on your own, or you do so working through this with somebody, one of the things to do is not to blame yourself. It's to say, oh, I now know that I will never do this again. That when I feel a certain way, I won't be silent. When I have a hunch, I won't talk myself out of it. That when I'm being disrespected, I will address it. And that's what you're learning from this. It's one of the thousand things that you're about to learn for this. And one other thing I wanna tell you is, I promise you the road ahead, you got the best years of your life ahead of you.
You do, and I think you know that. I hope so. I want to know that. I want to think that. It's just, then I get into my head and that's kind of where I live. What's the thing that you say that tortures you the most? That I'm not good enough. That it happened because I'm not good enough, not pretty enough, not thin enough, not all
of it. How's that feel? Do you want a different story? I do. Great. I want a different story for you too because there's a very different interpretation of this whole thing, you know, and I'm going to tell you what it is after the break. Welcome back. I'm Mel Robbins and today we are coaching listeners who have experienced betrayal and unfortunately as you're learning, this is a topic that I have a lot of experience in and we were just talking with Jen and I was explaining the fact that one of the most important steps that you need to take is you've got to start telling yourself a different story about what happened. Great. And so here's one, Jen, that I want you to start telling yourself. It happened because he's an asshole who has a lot of trauma, who doesn't want to face it and who's been avoiding it. And we also know who will likely do the same thing to the next person if he doesn't face it now because people who avoid the hard things, the pain they're feeling or the trauma that they experienced when they were little, when people use avoidance as a coping mechanism, guess what they continue to do?
To avoid. And again, this is where it comes down to the fact that this betrayal has nothing to do with you. And I know that's hard to grasp. I really do. But I want you to start to tell yourself the story that this has nothing to do with me. This has to do with his shit. This has to do with him not having the coping mechanism to face his pain. And this is a wake up call. That's what this is. It has nothing to do with me.
I do want to be clear that he is trying to own his crap. It's just me living in my head. And like I know that part of me knows that it's not my fault, that it's not, that I'm not good enough and all of the things that you said, it's just like I'm a highly sensitive person, I'm an empath, I'm 88. Like all of those things
and I just, me trying to overcome those things for me. Then let me give you a different interpretation and a different story because you two are trying to work together through this. Yeah. Great, and let me tell you why I think that's great. I don't know a single couple that has gone through something horrible, and, look, Chris and I have gone through horrible stuff. I don't know a single couple who spends time in therapy and works through it, who doesn't come out on the other side and say, I wish I hadn't worked on it. Right. But I do know a number of people that have gotten divorced that wish they had tried to work through it. And so working through it matters, not so you can stay together, but it matters because if you don't stay together, you will be better co-parents and friends, and that's important. But the likelihood is if you're both willing to come to the table, and he in particular is willing to do the work, then the odds are in your favor, and you will come through this stronger. So the story I want you to tell yourself is this. What if he did this because it was the only way he could stay in the marriage because he was feeling so lost and so depressed and so whatever, that he was the one who didn't feel good enough, that it's not about you or the other person being thin or whatever else, that he was at a point in his life that he lost who he was, and he might as well have been having sex with a frickin' dinner plate for crying out loud because it's not about the other person.
It's about him chasing an old version of himself. And if there's a dynamic in your relationship where he thinks he's failing or he thinks he's not good enough, that's what this is about. It's not about you not being good enough.
It's about him not measuring up for you.
Yeah, I like that story a lot better. And you know what else I like a lot better? That it was sex or an emotional connection
and not heroin. And I'd kind of prefer the heroin.
Right now you would. Yeah. Because we wanna make this stuff about us. Of course it hurts you. Of course, it's devastating. And one of the biggest things you will learn from this if you allow yourself to, is you'll learn that forgiveness only happens when you stop wishing things were different and that you can love somebody profoundly and at the same time do shit that hurts them profoundly. And that through the act of understanding what happened and really allowing yourself to be in a space where you can hear how broken, hurt, lost, whatever, regretful, whatever the feelings are, you will truly connect with this person at a level you never have. Yeah. And this is not easy. It will be worth it, regardless of what happens. And the more you tell yourself, this is nothing to do with me. This is about him being broken.
It's about him not measuring up. It's about him needing to escape these feelings instead of dealing with them. And it takes a lot of courage on both of your parts to face this. And if you guys can get to a point where you understand what happened and you keep the lines of communication open and you keep going to therapy, you'll have a stronger marriage than 99%
of the people out there. Yeah, I keep hearing that. That's what I'm holding on to.
Yeah, you're on the bridge. I love using this metaphor that all changes a bridge. And this happens to be one that's about as long as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. And it's a suspension bridge, which means when the winds pick up, it blows. And it will get better. And it will get in the rear view mirror. And by going to therapy together, whether you stay together or it ends up not being what you want, you will have such a better understanding of yourself and an understanding of what happened that you won't carry the resentment and the self-blame because it's not about you. It has nothing to do with you. In fact, in the best of all scenarios, what you're gonna learn is that when somebody feels inadequate or that they've failed you, it has more to do with how much they love you,
as screwed up as that sounds.
That's hard for me to follow. Ask your therapist. Yeah, yeah. Oh, I will. I don't know the details of what happened, but I just am trying to tell you that if he didn't love you, he would have left. When you look at what the experts say about affairs, psychotherapist Esther Perel, she's a New York Times bestselling author, she's the expert on why people cheat, even people who are still in love with their spouses. And what Esther says over and over again is that affairs are often people searching for parts of themselves that they feel that they've lost. That's what they are. And they're not fair, and they're not right. And you don't deserve this. And he's very fucking lucky that you didn't just end it because you both have a chance to grow from this now if you're willing to work on it. And you said that he is trying to own his crap.
And that's a good thing. Because the other reason why people have affairs is they have affairs because of past trauma, because of addiction, and the affairs and the dopamine rush is an escape from a very painful life or a very painful existence. It's just like an addiction to drugs, to porn. It is a way to numb out. And so I am glad that he hasn't left. I am glad that he is trying to own his crap. And I am glad that the two of you are going to turn toward each other and try... to grow... even though it doesn't fucking feel like one you wanna unwrap.
and that to gather into it,
it doesn't fucking feel like one you want, you're on the bridge. Just keep crossing the bridge and trust that when you get to the other side it's gonna be way better than you can imagine. I hope so. Thank you. You're welcome. You're gonna be okay. Just let yourself feel this shit, dude. Like that's what you gotta do. And the thing that I also want to tell you is like when you get pissed, like write it all out. Like you're probably past the lashing out part and screaming, but maybe not, I don't know. But yeah, like it just allow yourself to be a little human. And now that you're kind of through that part, keep steering yourself toward, okay, how do I understand what happened?
How do I create a space for healing? How do I forgive what happened? Like that's the North star, because where these stay together, especially if you stay together, but even if it ends, I don't want you to carry this resentment or this lack of trust into what happens next. Heal this for yourself. And if the marriage is the right thing for you, you'll know. Thank you for being so honest with us and vulnerable. Thank you for helping me change my life, so thank you. You're welcome and you're continuing to do it. And I think sometimes too, this is happening because you're not supposed to have that kind of shit going on in your life. That is you level up your own standards for yourself. What's amazing is all of the crap that's not working comes to the surface. And that's because you're not supposed to have a life that's out of integrity.
That's not what you want. That's not what you stand for. And sometimes bringing things into integrity means a lot of shit comes to the surface and you gotta get a shovel. you are gonna be just fine. You're not only gonna be fine, you're gonna be happy, and you're gonna be stronger because of this, and you're gonna have a deeper capacity for love, and you are going to surprise yourself. Yeah. Oh, I have. I already have, for sure. Name one thing that has surprised you about yourself or that you're proud of because I want somebody that's at the beginning of this kind of breakdown to hear somebody
further across the bridge. I am very surprised. I had no idea how strong I really am. And you hear that all the time, you know, you don't know how strong you are until it's time to be strong. So honestly, if there is anybody, just honestly, if they're believing in yourself, just you're stronger than you think.
You absolutely are. Yeah. Is there anything else that surprised you
as you've navigated this? Honestly, my ability to kind of try to be compassionate, like I've always been, you know, of the mindset, you know, I won't say in a relationship where there was infidelity, it's just, it's not how I'm gonna work. And then you're in the situation and it's completely different than anything you thought it would be. But just to be able to overcome, I mean, like I know I already said this, but like just the being, I'm so much stronger than I thought. And that's how I get through my days. And like, I just, I grace, grit, gratitude. I say that to myself all day long, just learning to show myself grace, finding things to repeat, do the hard work,
all of the things, grace, grit, and gratitude. You're crossing the bridge in the fog in a rainstorm. Yep. And here's what I also want you to be proud of. You are compassionate because you have a very deep capacity to love. And part of loving is also being able to accept and understand someone else. Now, that doesn't mean condone. Right, that doesn't mean you're responsible for it. That doesn't mean that you're making excuses for it. But attempting to understand somebody else's pain. And bringing compassion to something that somebody is dealing with, even though their dysfunction profoundly broke your heart, that's an act of love. That's why you're gonna be okay.
I love you.
I love you, thank you. You're welcome. Can we just take a minute and collectively send some positive energy and some gratitude at Sonya and Jen? I am just, I'm proud of them. And I appreciate what it took to come and talk to me about this deeply personal thing. I mean, this is not easy stuff. This is what people are dealing with and not talking about. And so I so appreciate Sonya and Jen for sharing everything that they shared and being open to going even deeper than they thought they probably would. And if you had a light bulb moment, I hope that you will take whatever insight that you gained and you will find the courage and the confidence to apply the advice that rang true for you. And there may be somebody in your life who's going through something very painful right now. And it's been very hard for you to figure out what to say to them. Don't worry, that's where your friend Mel Robbins comes in.
I'm always here as your friend and theirs. I'll be here to give you a push, to share my experiences, my wins, my heartbreaks, so that you know you're not alone in this. I'll also tell you the truth and I'll probably give you a little bit more tough love than you're ready for. But that's why we do this podcast twice a week. It's not just for listening, it's for doing. Because at some point, you're gonna have to do something that scares you or you're gonna have to do something different to create a better life and the life that you deserve. And one more thing, in case no one else tells you, I'm gonna be sure to tell you that I love you and I believe in you. And I believe in your ability to face the really hard shit that goes down in life, to call people out or to silently, confidently, just close the fucking door and move on and learn the lesson. Because it's in doing these things every day that you create a better you and you create a more meaningful life, a better life, a trusting life, a life that you love already. I'll see you in a couple of days. Oh, one more thing, it's the legal language. This podcast is presented solely for educational and entertainment purposes.
It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a physician, professional coach, psychotherapist or other qualified professional. Stitcher.