How to Deal with Backstabbing Family

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Discovering that a family member has backstabbed you can hurt deeply, especially when family is so often associated with unconditional love. When a relative betrays your trust, it’s important to think before you act, communicate honestly with them, and at the end of the day, do what is best for your health and safety. There’s probably some underlying reason or misunderstanding that led your relative to backstab you, and knowing about it will help you move forward. Here, we’ll give you tips for dealing with backstabbing family members, coping with hurt feelings, and working towards reconciliation.

Steps

Method 1 Method 1 of 12:Take time to process.

How to Deal with Backstabbing Family

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After a relative backstabs you, take a step back and cool off. It’s tempting to confront your relative while you’re still furious, but accusations often provoke a defensive response—which means calling them out in the heat of the moment will lead to a big argument. It’s easier to communicate when you have a level head, so wait to approach them until the initial shock of being backstabbed has faded.

  • You can blow off steam by exercising. Go for a run, do a yoga session, or try some other type of exercise you enjoy.
  • Make sure you have some alone time. You can decide how you’ll react to the backstabber when you have a quiet place to think.

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Method 2 Method 2 of 12:Distance yourself from the backstabber.

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How to Deal with Backstabbing Family

Cut off contact with them until you’re ready to talk about what happened. Creating boundaries between yourself and the relative who betrayed you takes away any opportunity for them to hurt you again and gives you time to consider what to do next. Eliminate all contact with them both in person and over text and social media.

  • There’s no rule for how long you should avoid your relative. The worse a family member backstabs you, the more time you’ll probably need.
  • Make sure that when you do talk to your relative again, you’re feeling comfortable about it and prepared to deal with unpleasant feelings that they might bring up.

Method 3 Method 3 of 12:Resist the urge to retaliate.

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How to Deal with Backstabbing Family

Take the high road to resolve your conflict faster and easier. Sinking to your relative’s level by ranting about them on social media, revealing their secrets, or spreading rumors will make reconciliation even harder. It’s natural to be upset and defensive, especially after being backstabbed, but you will feel better (and recover sooner) if you handle conflict peacefully.

  • Often, those angry and vengeful feelings need time to process. Make a plan for dealing with the backstabbing peacefully. Your initial anger will hopefully pass by the time you finish planning.

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Method 4 Method 4 of 12:Figure out how you feel.

How to Deal with Backstabbing Family

Identify the emotions you feel so that you can properly address them. You won’t know how to heal from being backstabbed until you know what about the incident has specifically upset you. Dig deep into your emotions: are you angry, ashamed, sad, afraid, confused? You can write down what you’re feeling and why to keep track of your emotions.

  • Take a moment for introspection at least two or three times. Your feelings will likely change as you process the betrayal, and it’s important to recognize all of them.

Method 5 Method 5 of 12:Talk to someone you trust.

How to Deal with Backstabbing Family

A trusted confidante can give you honest advice and support. Ask a close friend if you can vent to them about a difficult situation, and talk through what happened so that they can understand your feelings. Your friend may have advice if they’ve been through a similar conflict, or they may be able to help you process your feelings about the betrayal. Time with friends can also take your mind off of the problem for a while.

  • Make sure you pick a friend who will validate your feelings without adding fuel to your anger. Your friend should help you calm down—not get you even more worked up.

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Method 6 Method 6 of 12:Speak to the backstabber one-on-one.

How to Deal with Backstabbing Family

Arrange a meeting in a safe place with the family member who hurt you. Involving other relatives may encourage more conflict, so try instead to have a productive talk alone with your backstabbing relative. Be honest and direct when you talk to your family member about the situation, and use details to specify what you’re upset about.

  • You may feel comfortable talking to your relative at home, or it may be easier to speak somewhere in public. A coffee shop or restaurant could be a neutral ground to give you both peace of mind when you talk.

Method 7 Method 7 of 12:Stay calm.

How to Deal with Backstabbing Family

Handle yourself calmly and maturely to reach a positive resolution. Your backstabbing family member does need to be confronted about their actions, but not with hostility. Make it clear that your goal is to work out the problems you have, and they’ll likely be more open to your words.

  • You have more control over your words and thoughts when you stay calm. You can also interpret the other person’s words and body language more accurately.
  • If you feel your anger rising, take several deep breaths until the anger isn’t so overpowering. Think of a relaxing memory as you breathe to help calm yourself down.

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Method 8 Method 8 of 12:Choose your words carefully.

How to Deal with Backstabbing Family

Using “I” statements will help you communicate effectively. Your relative may get defensive when you confront them with whatever they did to upset you. To diffuse some of the natural tension that happens in a confrontation, phrase your sentences to start with “I” and not “you.” That way, your words feel like less of a direct attack or criticism, and more like a simple statement about your emotions.

  • For example, “You lied to everyone and stabbed me in the back!” could become, “I felt hurt when I heard what you said to other members of the family.”
  • An “I” statement doesn’t absolve your relative of what they did, but it can help ensure they don’t get overly defensive when you talk.

Method 9 Method 9 of 12:Listen to their side of the story.

How to Deal with Backstabbing Family

Find out your family member’s reasons for backstabbing you. Maybe resentment has been building for a while, or there was a misunderstanding between you. Your family member may not even have known they were betraying you. Whatever the case, getting to the root of the problem will help you eventually move past it.

  • Let your relative speak without interruption, even if they bring up a complaint with you. It can be tough to talk about family issues, but understanding one another is the only way to progress in your relationship.

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Method 10 Method 10 of 12:Try to forgive them.

How to Deal with Backstabbing Family

Forgiveness is more important for you than the person you’re forgiving. Holding a grudge can cause stress and leave you feeling bitter in the future. Think about what happened, and how you were affected. Then think about why your family member acted the way they did, how they’ve changed since talking to you, and decide whether you feel ready to say the words “I forgive you.”

  • Showing forgiveness doesn’t mean that your family member was right to backstab you, only that you’re ready to let go of the hurt you feel and possibly build a better relationship with the person who hurt you.
  • You aren’t obligated to forgive people who hurt you, but it will be healing for both you and your relationship with this relative if you try.
  • There’s also no need to rush forgiveness. Processing your feelings and talking them over is important because you’ll minimize your own emotions if you forgive too quickly.

Method 11 Method 11 of 12:Cut ties permanently if you have to.

How to Deal with Backstabbing Family

No relationship should take a toll on your well-being. If the family member who backstabs you doesn’t apologize or is a repeat offender, consider whether you want them in your life. You are not obligated to stay close with someone who betrays your trust. Seeing them at family reunions may be inevitable, but you can set boundaries and plan so you won’t spend time alone together.

  • In the end, the decision to forgive or cut ties is yours, so make sure you’re doing what is best for you and your mental health.
  • Cutting ties might also help you to reconcile eventually. If you stop engaging with the backstabber, it may give them the cooling-off period they need to think about their actions and apologize.

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Method 12 Method 12 of 12:Seek counseling for a professional opinion.

How to Deal with Backstabbing Family

A neutral third party is often the best outlet for venting your feelings. Talk therapy is all about working through problems and learning new skills to help you lead a happier life. An unbiased therapist may be easier to talk to than other family members—and even if you do have a trusted confidante, a professional can offer you thoughtful advice and perspectives that other people might not.

  • Consider attending therapy sessions with the relative who hurt you as well. A therapist can mediate your conflict and make communication easier between you.
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