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Divorce and Friendships: It’s Complicated.

Written by Jackie Pilossoph. Posted in girlfriends, newly separated

divorce and friendships

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going through a divorce is probably one of the most stressful times you’ll ever go through in your life. It’s a good thing you have your girlfriends there to support you! Or do you? When it comes to divorce and friendships, maybe not. Things can get really complicated.

I can remember at the beginning of my divorce, one of my really good friends (who had been my friend for a several years ) babysat my kids while I had to go to court and seriously sat there holding my hand throughout the first few months of my separation. I can’t even count the number of times I went to her house and she was ready with a bottle of wine and a homemade meal. I felt beyond lucky to have her. I really opened up to her, I cried to her, and she listened and comforted me. It was a gift.

But as time went on, and things started to get better for me, things began to change. She stopped calling. She stopped returning my calls. She stopped making plans with me. When I called to tell her I met someone, she never called me back. When I called to share the news that I had a book being published, I never heard back. I must have invited her and her family over to my house for dinner 25 times and she declined every time. It took awhile, but I finally got the message that she didn’t want to be friends with me anymore. I’ve always wondered why, but ask any woman on earth and she will have a similar story. Every woman has had a girlfriend dump her.

I think the timing of the dumping is interesting, though, which relates to this blog post. I really think there are some women who will be there for you through the bad times of your divorce, but who want nothing to do with you when you get your life together. I always found that strange, but a number of women tell me they have similar stories.

The best kind of friend is someone who is there for you during both the bad times and the good times. Someone who you can sob to during unbearably sad times, and someone who will truly be happy for you when something amazing happens.

I can remember at the beginning of my divorce, a lot of people wanted to go out with me, meaning have drinks or dinner or lunch. My phone was really ringing off the wall at that time, and I’d meet these people, and tell them all about why I was getting divorced, and then I wouldn’t hear from them again. I began to wonder if they just wanted to get together to hear the scoop of what happened in my marriage. Maybe they were curious. Maybe they wanted to compare my story with THEIR marriage. Or, maybe they were just being kind and wanted to show support. I really don’t have anything against those people, but I think it’s interesting.

What also ended up happening at the beginning of my divorce was that I met a woman in my kickboxing class who was also getting divorced. We went out to dinner and became instant best friends. We still are today. Over the next couple of years, several women at our gym started getting separated, and they would come up to one of us and start crying. Looking back, it was kind of funny. She and I became the “go to” people for divorcees. But it was a good feeling to be able to provide someone with some comfort. Just seeing me kickboxing and looking normal probably made women think, “Okay, she went through a divorce and she seems like she’s doing pretty well.”

I think that when it comes to divorce and friendships, you lose some friends because of the divorce, but you make new friends, or people you didn’t know very well become good friends. Throughout our lives, friends come in and out of our worlds, and it largely depends on our circumstances and how much we have in common with those people.

Of course, there are always the true friends who remain your friend no matter what your marital status is. I’d say the bulk of my friends fall into that category. They love me (and I love them) no matter what.

The friends you lose, you have to just accept it. They might feel like they have to choose you or your ex, and they choose your ex. Or, they might be married, and feel funny or threatened spending too much time with a single woman. Or, maybe they just don’t feel like the two of you have anything in common anymore after you get divorced.

In any case, my advice is try not to take it personally. It’s THEM, not you. THEY can’t handle your divorce. Or THEY can’t handle the happiness that follows your divorce, because maybe they become envious.

Focus on the friends who want to be your friend, the friends who enrich your life, the friends you admire and respect, the friends you have fun with, and the friends you would do anything for. They are the real gifts and I think you know who they are!

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Jackie Pilossoph

Divorced Girl Smiling is a blog dedicated to helping men and women see divorce in a hopeful, inspirational way, with a little humor added to keep them smiling!

Comments (5)

  • Mellymel

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    I am at the place in my separation where I am finally coming to grips with the up coming divorce, but I am scared to share my secret with friends or family.
    I have only told one other friend, but now thinking I told the wrong friend. I’m not sure why a can’t confess yet. It sounds silly, but the only person I’ve confided in is my brother. I feel that my family really loved my soon to be ex, and I think I will disappoint them.

    Reply

  • Doug, Chicago

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    We’ve all heard the saying “you don’t know who your friends are until something happens.” I always took that to be a warning against “fair-weather friends” that disappoint you. But when “something happened” to me (my marriage came apart) I was introduced to a more wonderful meaning for that expression … I discovered the friends who I never expected to be “first responders” … who ran into the flames and took the full blast of the fire with me … the ones I never imagined had it in them because life had not yet presented the circumstances that allowed them to shine. That was an amazing surprise. Their kindness was a “silver lining” (a “free gift with purchase”) of an otherwise terrible time.

    So it is probably worth remembering that sometimes those same people don’t know how to BE after they’ve been their best … they don’t know how to return to “normal” … when the fire is out they feel awkward and out of sync … they may have lifted a car off your back and now don’t know how to look you in the eye … perhaps they’re embarrassed by their own vulnerability that was revealed … sometimes they return to being an awkward Clark Kent.

    After a fire, the firemen pack-up and leave the rebuilding to others. It’s not an insult. They just don’t know how to do the rebuilding part. If you’ve lost friends in this way, it’s great to have compassion for them and for yourself. Instead of feeling “dumped” you can feel grateful for the help when it came. Instead of assuming they resent you for recovering, perhaps just feel blessed that they freely offered help when it was needed. When I think back at those times and of those friends, I have to smile at both their generosity and my good fortune. They were great friends at a particular time and in a particular context. And like any friend in life, I was lucky to have their friendship when I did.

    Reply

  • Josh Hoch

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    Divorce is “Social” too. You do “divorce” friends, activities, memberships and more. Having a few friends nearby when divorcing can be very helpful in terms of a support network. When telling friends and family about divorce, I often encourage people to frame it as an opportunity. “This is an opportunity for things to be better or me and my children” or “I know I’ll be in better place once we work out the terms of the divorce and that everything is going to be okay”. I also hear from lots of couples that they became better friends after the divorce. After the stress, anger, and/or hurt has had time to pass and heal. Stay positive!

    Reply

  • Adele

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    Hi Doug,

    It’s interesting that you used the word “fireman” when I used the word “warrior”. She doesn’t seem to know what to do with me other than being a warrior to save me. I truly am thankful for what she brought into my life. It doesn’t matter that she is now keeping a distance. I’ll be there if I know she needs me some day. But I’ll pray that she doesn’t need me at all.

    Reply

  • Doug, Chicago

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    Adele, I think I understand what you’re saying. Some people are limited in their tools for interacting and those tools can feel blunt or abrasive … simply not the right tools for you when you’re no longer on the battlefield. I would only offer that the irritation you feel is itself an invitation for you to bring compassion to this person who has limitations born of injury … her outsized instinct to be a “warrior” is a reveal of battle scars of her own … she is trying to hug you but is impeded by her own hard-earned body armor. When someone arrives with the gift of friendship, no matter how imperfectly delivered, I find there is still magic in the gesture that is affirming, life enhancing and worthy of my attention and gratitude. Best, Doug

    Reply

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