But what if you were able to look at the situation from a different perspective? What if you were able to take a step back for a moment and look at the problem as something that happens to many people at some point or another? What if the betrayal isn’t a reflection on you or your partner’s character, love, or devotion? What if the problem is simply due to an aspect of our romantic relationships that we tend to overlook? That is, what if betrayals tend to go hand in hand with our relationships, and we have biases that make it hard for us to acknowledge this reality. We place a ton of expectations on our romantic partners. Sooner or later people are likely to mess up. It’s probably not realistic to expect someone to always live up to your expectations.

The Paradox of Intimacy

To understand why your partner betrayed your trust, it helps to grasp one of the most important and universal truths about our romantic relationships: that even in the most ideal circumstances, relationships are incredibly complex and difficult to manage. In fact, making a romantic relationship work is one of the most challenging tasks you will ever do. The idea that relationships are difficult to manage—that love creates both rewards and constraints—is what we call the “Paradox of Intimacy.” Learning how to reconcile this paradox is the key to effectively understanding and dealing with an intimate betrayal.