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!