A good relationship depends upon loyalty and trust. When this breaks down, we often feel betrayed.

  • What does betrayal mean to you?
  • Why does it hurt so badly?
  • Can we ever forgive the one who betrays us?

Let's look at a family and see how they struggle with this problem.



Your name is Harry, Jr. You are an only child and your father, Harry Sr., died 2 months ago. He was in a restaurant with your mother and his brother (Your Uncle Claude) and he died of food poisoning. Your mother is very beautiful. She has just married your Uncle Claude; they told you that the tax lawyer advised them to marry since they now are co-owners of the family business. (Your father was the senior partner and your uncle was the junior partner.) Your mother and your Uncle Claude look very happy.


  • How do you feel about your mother's marriage?
  • What do you feel like doing?
  • Would you be honest with them about your feelings?
  • Are you suspicious of your father's death?


  • Ophelia is your first real love and she rejects you around the same time that your mother remarried your uncle. Since your mother seems so unpredictable (she was very affectionate with your father and now she is the same way with your uncle), how do you feel about Ophelia?
  • How do you feel about women?


Your name is Harry. Before your father's death and your mother's remarriage, you had been dating a really nice girl named Ophelia. You'v known her since you were little but you just started dating her recently. You love her and also have given her some love letters and a necklace. Her father, Mr. Polonius, works in your parent's business. he finds out abou the romance and says that you are a rich boy who is just playing with her. He forbids Ophelia to see you or tell you why she can't see you. He does this because he doesn't want you or your family to be angry with him. So, when you need her most, she suddenly ignores you for no apparent reason.


Your name is Ophelia. Your father, Mr. Polonius, finds out that Harry is very depressed and he gives you permission to date him again. It is now the end of June. You saw Harry in school and showed him the love letters and necklace he gave you. he rejected you and treated you like a slut by flirting with you in a very rude way. He has now left for summer vacation and a trip to England. (You have known him since you were little and always loved him. He is also your first real boyfriend and you feel heartbroken.) Now you go home and discover that your father has died at work from a heart attach and you are all alone; your mother died when you were little, you have no larger family and your big brother Larry is away at college.

  • How do you feel inside?
  • What do you think will happen to your mental state?
  • If you were to talk to a friend, what would you say and what would be your manner?

  • How do you feel about your sister?
  • How do you feel about Harry?
  • What do you feel like doing?
  • What will you do?


Your name is Larry. You just returned from college because you learned that your father died at work from a heart attack. You are very troubled because you heard at the hospital that your father had a terrible shock at work and then died. You don't know why your father's boss, Claude, did not tell you that. You decide to go to the office to confront him. When you get there you see your sister, Ophelia - she is sitting in the waiting room and laughing, singing and talking to herself. Her clothes are messed up. You go in to see Claude with tears in your eyes and you confront him. He tells you that Harry came to the office and attacked your father both physically and verbally - you don't know why - and then your father had a heart attack.


Your name is Harry, Jr. You have discovered a love letter that Uncle Claude wrote to your mother while your father, Harry, Sr., was still alive. You suspect that they had a secret love affair. Also, you can't figure out how your father died in the restaurant of food poisoning and your mother and your uncle did not. They all ate the same food.


  • What are your suspecions?
  • What do you feel like telling your mother?
  • What do you plan to do?


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Betrayal Index