On First Love, Betrayal Trauma, and Moving On

June 7, 2023 Mahevash Shaikh

I am one of the many people who consider their first love a life-changing chapter of their lives. Unfortunately, betrayal marred my first love, and the resulting betrayal trauma made it hard for me to move on.

The Significance of First Love Can Lead to Betrayal Trauma

What is first love? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as,

"the first person one loves in a romantic way."1

I believe that first love is the first romantic relationship in which you love and not just like your partner. Therefore, it is not a crush or an imaginary relationship and is much more meaningful than a fling. So while I had many crushes, none of them evolved into relationships because I chose to lock up my heart. I was so afraid of heartbreak that I only got into a relationship at the age of 24 -- and with the intention of dating to marry. This relationship soon blossomed into love, and after a year of dating, my partner and I got married. I still remember the euphoria of being lucky enough to marry my first love. Little did I know then that my marriage would soon fall apart.

What Is Betrayal Trauma? 

Choosing Therapy defines betrayal trauma as:

"a type of trauma that refers to the pain and emotional distress that occurs when a trusted institution, loved one, or intimate partner violates someone's trust. It occurs when a person or organization that you depend on goes outside your expectation of them in a way that hurts you. The amount of trauma caused has to do with the impact. If your car gets rear-ended in traffic, your level of trauma may not be as profound as if you were to find out that your spouse of 20 years has been carrying on an affair with your best friend."2

My ex-husband gave me betrayal trauma when he broke my trust in the worst way possible. For legal reasons, I cannot state what he did. All I can say is that his disrespectful actions abruptly ended our marriage and broke my heart into a million pieces. The trauma of betrayal at the hands of my first love instantly turned me into a shell of a person. My marriage ended on April 9, 2017, and even today, I feel significant pain whenever April 9 comes around. This is the day that I remember instead of the day I got divorced.

How to Move On from Betrayal Trauma

It is challenging to overcome betrayal trauma, especially if it is your first experience with it and the betrayer is your first love. I had to undergo therapy and take antidepressants to escape the fog of disbelief and move on to anger. It took me years to go through the five stages of grief, and even today, I cannot claim that I have made a full recovery. I still have days where I cannot believe the events of April 9 took place; I still feel like it was all a bad dream. But thanks to grounding techniques, I am usually able to snap back to reality faster and without having a breakdown. The trick is to avoid triggers, work on self-love, and express difficult feelings instead of bottling them up.

And I am no superhero, so if I can do it, so can you. 


  1. Definition of first love. (2023). In Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

  2. Choosing Therapy. (2023). Betrayal Trauma: Signs, Recovery & Getting Help. Choosing Therapy.

APA Reference
Shaikh, M. (2023, June 7). On First Love, Betrayal Trauma, and Moving On, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 23 from

Author: Mahevash Shaikh

Mahevash Shaikh is a millennial blogger, author, and poet who writes about mental health, culture, and society. She lives to question convention and redefine normal. You can find her at her blog and on Instagram and Facebook.

June, 10 2023 at 11:28 am

Hey, that was short,but too Deep, and i could imagine while reading.
World and life has its unpleasantness, hope this experience doesnt stop you from getting what you deserve.
I can't say that leave it behind,cause it will be there,its better to cope up and be strong even though that experience is there.

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