Why it’s Crucial to Overcome Fear After Being Cheated On
Getting betrayed can ruin your life — but only if you allow it to destroy you. This simple game will show you exactly how to prevent that from happening.
It’s called the honesty box game. Here’s how it works:
Isabella Bunny wants to buy carrot cake for a party she’s throwing. In order to buy it, she has to leave her money in box A. Nearby, there is another box (box B) for Chef to leave the carrot cake in.
Neither side gets to see what the other is putting in the box — it runs completely on the honor system. If both sides put in what they said they would, the bond between them strengthens, and they can do bigger transactions in the future. If either or both sides don’t put in what they said they would, the relationship is permanently destroyed from the betrayal.
It’s time to play!
Here are the four different possible scenarios that can occur:
Scenario 1: Isabella puts money in, Chef puts cake in (trust-trust)
Scenario 2: Isabella puts money in, Chef doesn’t put cake in (trust-mistrust)
Scenario 3: Isabella doesn’t put money in, Chef puts cake in (mistrust-trust)
Scenario 4: Isabella doesn’t put money in, Chef doesn’t put cake in (mistrust-mistrust)
The honesty box game represents the willingness to be vulnerable and to give of yourself without fully knowing if the other side will reciprocate. Furthermore, the money and the cake symbolize emotional and other resources in a relationship.
In this game, the only way the relationship can grow is through scenario 1 (trust-trust), where both sides honor their word and put their resources on the line. Any other scenario destroys the relationship permanently.
Getting cheated on or betrayed in some way in a relationship is the equivalent of scenario 2 (trust-mistrust). You trust the other side fully, and put your emotional resources on the line in hopes that they will do the same. But it doesn’t work out that way.
Let’s imagine that scenario 2 (trust-mistrust) happens to you several times in a row.
You may begin to lose faith that anyone is going to be honest and fair with you, and so you decide to stop putting your money in the box. For the next few times in a row, you get scenario 4 (mistrust-mistrust), and feel justified in your choice — because none of the others were being trusting or vulnerable with you either.
Until, after awhile, you get scenario 3 (mistrust-trust). You don’t put in the money, and yet the other side still gives you the cake. They feel completely betrayed. They may have been completely open, loving, and trusting of you, but you allowed others’ mistakes in the past to cloud your judgment — and have now taken it out on an undeserving, innocent individual. You’ve become the thing you resented most. You’ve become the agent of mistrust; and what’s worse is that if this keeps going, you will continue to infect others and spread mistrust even further. By doing so, you become no better than the ones who originally betrayed you.
Do you see how mistrust spreads? By allowing fear to guide you rather than love, by refusing to do whatever it takes to heal and let go of the past, you can perpetuate a cycle of mistrust. It’s vital to make the conscious choice to love rather than fear. You have the power within you to break the cycle.
If you continue to be too scared and closed off to put in your money, you can only end up with scenario 3 (mistrust-trust) or scenario 4 (mistrust-mistrust), both of which destroy relationships permanently. This is a lose-lose situation, no matter how you slice it.
The only possible way to create scenario 1 (trust-trust) is to keep putting in your money, and trust that the other side has the right intentions and will put in their cake. Yes, it is possible that some of the others may not put the cake into the box, and you will lose some money. But it’s vital to learn to let go of that, and not let the actions of a few bad apples turn into an inaccurate, sweeping generalization of everyone we could ever possibly meet in the future.
It may not be easy to be open and trusting again to someone new after a betrayal, but we owe it to ourselves to find a way to try again with a fresh start. There are good, honest partners out there; and though they may seem rarer, the only way to discover if they are sincere is by putting ourselves out there and seeing if they match. By lowering our guard, it gives others permission to do the same.
Yes, it definitely can be hurtful to be betrayed from time to time. But if we are so scared to lose the proverbial money that we never put it in the box, and never give anyone a chance, we lose something much greater: the chance to build a healthy, happy relationship with someone we truly love and admire.