How to be Independent in Life after Divorce

how to be independent in life

By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

For many people, one of the scariest things about getting divorced is having to be much more independent. For example, I have a friend who moved right from her parent’s house into the home she shared with her husband for 30 years until they got divorced. I remember when she was going through her divorce, she had such a hard time with how to be independent in life after. Everything from managing her own finances, owning a home by herself, living alone (she was an empty nester), and more.

This is actually a good article for anyone who is wondering how to be independent in life, in general–not just after divorce.

Being independent in life is something I know a lot about. How? Because I was single and lived independently from the time I graduated college until the time I got married at 35! I then got divorced at 41, so for me, even though I was heartbroken by my divorce, I knew how to be independent in life.

Going from a marriage to being independent isn’t an easy transition. It can feel scary and lonely and it can cause anxiety. It can feel embarrassing-meaning how many people do you know who can go out to dinner by themselves, or to a movie, or on vacation? I don’t know many, and it’s really a shame because doing those things is wonderful. I have done all of them.


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Before I get into how to be independent, I want to clarify something pretty big:

Being independent doesn’t mean being alone. They are completely different things.

What I mean by that is, if you are living alone and you are living an authentic, happy, busy but peaceful life, you will never feel alone. I know so many people who are in marriages who are unhappy and who feel very alone. I also know many divorced men and women who live alone, who aren’t even dating, who never feel alone.

What independence means to me is the ability to be truly happy in your life whether you are:


  • single
  • a single parent
  • dating someone (or several people) casually
  • in a relationship
  • married
  • remarried


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Being independent in life means being your own person.

What I mean by that is, being a mom (or a dad) is great. In fact it’s beyond a joyful role, probably the best in life. But how to be independent in life comes down to  having a life that fulfills you that is autonomous of that role.

It means having a fulfilling career, or if you don’t work, having a passion or hobby that fills a lot of your time because you choose that. It means having a social life with family and friends you choose to see.

Being independent means that you are completely capable of taking care of yourself, even if you have a person or people who want to take care of you. In other words, you don’t need anyone. By the way, I don’t mean “physically” taking care of you. If you are older or you need help physically, you can still be independent. Also, being independent can also mean hiring people to help you with things you might not be able to do yourself.

For example, a handyman is every single mom’s best friend. I can tell you that from personal experience. If you don’t know how to pay bills, did you know there are people you can hire to help you do that and/or teach you? Being independent after divorce means having the sensibility to get the practical help you need–for things that maybe your ex took care of.



Furthermore, in regards to emotional support, I’m not saying that people should live their lives not needing or depending on others. I think it is healthy to have support and to lean on family, friends or a significant other, at times. In fact, it takes courage to ask for help or to let someone take care of you. But being independent means that for the most part, you thrive on self-sufficiency. You got this.


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There are countless rewards! Such as, independence fosters self-esteem, pride, poise and confidence. I mean, how great does it feel when you can look in the mirror and think, “Wow, I’m really proud that I’m doing this all by myself?” It makes you feel like you can do anything. That you are in control of all the happiness you can have in life. I believe that one of the greatest joys in life is having a moment when you realize you achieved something you never thought you were capable of.

That doesn’t mean you’ll never meet anyone, by the way. It just means you don’t NEED to meet someone. And actually, having that self-esteem and confidence gained through being independent is extremely attractive to others. Men and women love a partner who they feel is totally fine without them. Yes, everyone wants to feel needed and connected, but being self-sufficient takes so much pressure off of relationships. Plus, it’s sexy. You can still be independent and be madly in love, feel feminine, and be a couple with someone.

In closing, how to be independent in life comes down to  being open-minded, and having courage and strength.  It means being a leader in your household, to making big decisions, and going it alone on many things. It’s not easy, but it sure does feel great when you get there.

Like this article? Check out, “Surviving Loneliness after Divorce: It’s Up to You”

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    Divorced Girl Smiling welcome video
    Jackie Pilossoph

    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at:

    4 Responses to “How to be Independent in Life after Divorce”

    1. Maria

      Hi, thank you for this article 🙂 it is very helpful. I wonder if you have any advice into where to start in jobs/career terms when you were financially dependent. I struggle so much to move out and leave my marriage because I can’t seem to get a job to cost a place for myself. I have studies but lack experience since I never worked that much. This makes me really depressed cause I am not that young anymore.

    2. Dor

      One positive from my divorce is being independent.
      I got married at 25, had kids at 28 and 32 and barely worked outside the home. I followed my husbands career.
      Not that I’m on my own, I have bought and sold 2 homes. I manage my own finances, got a financial advisor, tax acct and live on my own.
      I was married and dependent on my ex.
      Now I do everything myself and feel like that is a huge accomplishment.

    3. Sandy

      This has been one of the hardest things for me. First and foremost I was independent for twenty years before I was married, but my stbxh strongly encouraged me to be dependent on him. So I was. Looking back I was miserable relying on him. I hated it, but I was put in a situation where I had to be financially dependent on him. Now I’m learning how to be independent again. While every day is a struggle I know I can do it. Thank you for the reminders!


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