Divorce Advice: Two Words Every Divorced Woman Should Remember

By Jackie Pilossoph, Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling, Love Essentially columnist and author

I have a really good girlfriend who is divorced, and one night we were out at a bar, sipping wine and sharing a salad like we usually do, and she gave me some great divorce advice.


I can’t remember exactly how it came up, but it went something like this. We were talking about how we both sometimes get the feeling that people feel sorry for us because we are divorced, single working moms, etc. etc., which we both find kind of funny because they obviously don’t know us. Anyhow, apparently, someone had asked her a few days earlier, “How’s Jackie doing?”


My friend didn’t tell the person that a long-term relationship I was in had recently ended, nor did she say anything remotely negative or sad. My friend replied, “She’s doing great! She just got this really cute haircut.” She then changed the subject.


This friend is a great friend, which is what I told her, when she replied, “I live by the rule that when someone asks me about one of my friends, often seeking the scoop, I choose to be complimentary and vague.”


COMPLIMENTARY and VAGUE. It’s genius. Think about it. Nothing good would have come from her telling the person that I was going through a difficult time, or that I was single again and not looking forward to being in the dating scene, or that I felt like I was going to be alone the rest of my life. What would that have accomplished? More gossip? The person feeling sorry for me? Maybe the person would have called me (which I didn’t want.) Instead, my friend complimented my hair and was vague in giving any specific information.


If you think about it, you can’t go wrong being complimentary about someone. It’s not phony, it’s happy and it’s seeing the positive. You also can’t go wrong being vague. My friend figured that I would share what I wanted to share, so why should she do that for me?


Complimentary and vague are two words every divorced woman should remember, not only in talking about a divorced friend, but when talking about her ex.


I have been divorced for almost a decade, and still, people ask me in conversation, how are things with your ex?


And my answer is usually…complimentary and vague. I say something pleasant and I keep it real vague. True friends are an exception, as no one should have to bottle up what they feel and not tell a soul. So, I’m not telling you not to vent once in awhile to those you trust.


But, what I’m saying is, when you are positive and happy, you are more attractive to others, and you feel better about yourself.


My dad always says, “No one wants to hear your shit.” He says when someone asks how you are, you should always reply with, “Great.” Complimentary and vague.


Here’s another good use for complimentary and vague. Let’s say someone sets you up on a blind date, you go out with the guy and you have no interest. Now the person calls you and says, “How did the date go?”


You want to say, “Umm, what the hell were you thinking setting me up with him?” Instead? You guessed it. Be complimentary and vague. Say, “He was really sweet but just not for me. Thank you so much for thinking of me, I truly appreciate it, and would be open to meeting other people you might know.”


You can’t go wrong with being complimentary and vague. It’s impossible. You’ll know who, when and where it’s OK to expand and be more detailed.


Being complimentary and vague makes you seem like a classy person who doesn’t spend time gossiping, who isn’t bitter, and who sees the good in everyone. And, being complimentary and vague will make you like yourself for those same reasons.


So, next time someone you know calls you and says, “Hey, did you hear about so and so? I heard her husband cheated on her and she’s getting divorced.” And let’s say you already knew.


Try, “That’s so sad. I’m really sorry to hear it. They are both nice people.” Or “I hope it’s not true.” Or, “I hope she’s OK.” You’ll love yourself.


Complimentary and vague; you can’t go wrong.

Buy novels by Jackie Pilossoph



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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorce is a journey. Live it with grace, courage and gratitude. Peace and joy are on the way! Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling. The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

2 Responses to “Divorce Advice: Two Words Every Divorced Woman Should Remember”

  1. Vaz

    This is spot on. I have my Mum to thank for that with me, when people ask her about me she’s exactly that complimentary, vague and launches into another conversation
    Only my parents and his immediate family know what really happened between my husband and I; that he just decided he didn’t want me anymore & that was it. It came completely out of the blue and I’m just devastated. It’s been 13 weeks since he left and 7 weeks since I informed wider family, colleagues and friends. It’s down to my Mum that nobody knows what really happened and there were times initially that I was just so upset that I found myself saying that I wanted to shout how distraught I am from the rooftops; that I love him and would never have left. I’m so glad I stuck with my Mums advice as at least this way I’m able to put on a brave face to the world. . Sometimes I do feel like I just want to scream and cry about how awful this is but in the moments where I’m not so down I know this would be the absolute worst thing to do. When I’m at home alone feeling miserable it has crossed my mind in the last few weeks that at least the world doesn’t know just how miserable, to them I must look the same as always. It’s a shame we’re so caught up in what others think but that’s just life….we’re putting on a show everyday.

    Going through this is a humbling experience I know I would have gossiped about others in the past. I’m 30 so I don’t know anyone whose experienced a divorce and just the way I’ve been brought up, like many people it’s always been perceived so negatively but now I realise that in most divorces there’s one person that would have done anything to make things right and that person is going through sheer hell.

  2. Lily de Grey

    Great post, Jackie! I recently finalized my divorce with my attorney, so you can imagine how helpful your articles are to me. I think you’ve mentioned some valuable advice: “When you are positive and happy, you are more attractive to others, and you feel better about yourself.” I’m going to try and follow your suggestion. I think I need some time to redevelop a healthy outlook about myself. Thanks for sharing. 🙂


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