Friendships after Divorce Can Be Surprisingly Disappointing Or Wonderful

friendships after divorce

Friendships after divorce can be tricky. When going through a divorce, some friends will call to get the scoop. Some will call once and then never call you again. It’s hurtful and painful, and really adds another layer to an already difficult time.


Here’s the good news. Some friends will not just call, they’ll show up in a way that will truly touch your heart. They’ll buy you a divorce gift, they’ll plan a girl’s weekend or girl’s night for you, they’ll come over with a bottle of wine the night your divorce is final, and they’ll hand you the Kleenex box again and again  as they listen to you through your tears.


Remember this about friendships after divorce:


People will show you who they are and what you can expect from them during the hard times of a divorce.Long after your divorce, you’ll never forget the loyalty that was displayed by your true friends.


How do you cope with friends that stop calling?


When friends stop calling, it is only natural to take it personally. But, in reality, the lack of contact is often about them and not you.  It’s not that they don’t want to support you, it’s usually that they don’t know what to say.  They may be uncomfortable with your pain, they may have feelings that are stirred up in them about their own relationship histories.  They might feel awkward in knowing how to support you.


What can you do?  If you care about maintaining this friendship, consider calling them and saying something like “I have noticed you are not reaching out lately and I wonder if I have done something to upset you.  I really could use extra support right now and I’m wondering if you’d like to get a cup of coffee or go for a walk?” If your call isn’t returned or the person is distant, please remember that it’s likely nothing you did, it’s your friend’s issue.


How do you celebrate the friends who showed up?


One great way is to simply say “thank you. It means so much to me that you are here.” Also, make sure you ask your friends how THEY are doing. Sometimes people getting divorced tend to focus so much on what’s happening to them that they don’t realize that everyone has problems they are dealing with. Maybe say to your friends, “I feel like we are talking about me all the time. Tell me something going on in your life. I’m here to listen to you, as well.”


It can be hard to be a good friend to others during or after a divorce. Why?


Here are a few reasons:


1. You’re in pain.
2. As stated above, you are thinking so much about yourself that you might forget to ask about the other person.
3. After everything you’ve been through being vulnerable seems really scary, and putting on a happy face is really hard, so maybe you don’t call your friends.
4. You might be afraid that you are burdening your friends too much.

Don’t put pressure on yourself to make plans with your friends and act like nothing is wrong. Something is wrong, and this is your time to try to cope with the divorce, get through the process, heal and move on. That’s a lot! Good friends will understand. But, it’s not a bad idea to explain that you just need some time to yourself, that you value the relationship but you just want to be alone for a little while.

On being a good friend, in general…

Brene brown has a podcast episode called Big Friendship, based on the book co-authored by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman.  It’s a great interview. They say the requirements for good friendships are doing meaningful work, leaning in, being vulnerable and working out hard things rather than shutting down. They also talk about how being intentional with finding friends is the key to having deep connections.


Having meaningful long-term connections with friends and family can be a lifesaver during a challenging life event like a divorce.  Building the skills to have honest and deep conversations will not only help with your friendships, but with all of your relationships. If this is something you want to work on, you might want to consider hiring a divorce coach or talking to a therapist.

Here are a few journaling prompts to help you explore this a bit more:


  • If I’m having a rotten day, who is the first person I would want to talk to? And why?
  • Am I comfortable asking my friends for help when I need it? Would they ask me for help?
  • Do I have a friend I haven’t seen in years, but know if I saw them, we’d pick right up where we left off?
  • Is there someone I’ve been missing, but you haven’t reached out to contact them? What keeps me from reaching out?
  • What is something nice a friend said to me that meant the world?
    In what ways do my life traditions involve friendships?
  • What do I believe are the most important qualities in a friend?
  • Have I made any new friends in recent years? How does the process of making friends feel different from when I was younger?
  • Who are the people in my life with whom I feel the most like myself?


There are so many more friendships that begin and end at some point in our lives for a multitude of reasons. Maybe you were friends with a group of moms who were the classmates of your kids in preschool and everyone moved on when the kids went on to Kindergarten. Or, maybe you were friends with someone during childhood and the two of you took very different life paths and lost touch.

Or, you might have had a falling out with someone or  a friend moved out of town. Maybe the person you thought was your friend started dating your ex after you separated. Maybe when things started going well for you, a friend stopped being interested in hanging out. You may never even know why you stopped being friends with someone.


But, there are some friendships that last forever—the people who are at your side long-term, no matter what stage of life you are in, no matter how different your lives are, and no matter how much time goes by where you haven’t talked. These are the people you know will do anything for you and vice-versa, no matter where or when. These are the most meaningful and special friendships, and as the old saying goes, “If you can count these on one hand, you are very, very lucky.”


Remember that if you are the best friend you know how to be to the people you love, just as in romantic relationships, that’s all you can control. The rest is up to the friend. Try not to think about the friends who hurt you, who wronged you, or who weren’t here for them when you needed them most. Cherish the ones who were.


Holly Herzog
Holly Herzog, Therapist and Divorce Coach

When life changes dramatically from unplanned circumstances, adjusting to the new path can be challenging.  This is something I have lived, and I am passionate about helping other people survive such a difficult time.  I help my clients cope with grief, come to terms with their new reality, and begin to dream about possibilities. The dreams are such a joy for me to witness.

I have a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Lewis and Clark College and have been a practicing licensed professional for over 20 years.  I specialize in all things relationship oriented…most especially the one with ourselves.  

Among my greatest teachers are my loved ones and nature. My children are the impetus for continued personal growth as I want to be my best. My family has informed my relationship skills, my response patterns, and my coping tools. My partnerships have taught me that loving myself is more important than having the love of another, despite the happiness I feel when I am with someone I love. Nature teaches me that I can find beauty in every scene, if only I look and is a constant reminder of the impermanence of any situation. 

Like this article? Check out, 12 Things I Wish I Would Have Known When I was Getting Divorced

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