What NOT to Say To Someone Going Through a Divorce

what not to say to someone going through a divorce

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

When I was newly separated, I was brokenhearted. I also had feelings of fear, anger, resentment and confusion. I felt like I was living in a fog, like maybe I’d wake up the next day and this would all have been a dream. Unfortunately, the nightmare was real. What I do remember so vividly, even after all these years, were some of the unbelievable things people said to me when I was first separated. Some were actually jaw-dropping, some were really rude, and some were just outright stupid. So, I felt like I should write an article about what NOT to say to someone going through a divorce.

One of the things I remember was a woman calling me and saying “What happened?!” Then I heard her talking to her mother and saying, “I’m on the phone with Jackie getting the scoop!” I’m serious! Another woman called and asked, “Why the hell would you divorce him? He’s such a cute guy!” Another person said, “I heard what happened. How old are you?”


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If you are a Divorced Girl Smiling reader, you are probably the one going through the divorce, but maybe this article will validate your feelings. Here is a list of 12 things that no one wants to hear when they are going through a divorce. Let me know if any of these sound familiar.

1. You’re going to be fine.

How do you know that? Are you a doctor? Are you a psychic? I didn’t think so. Of course I’m going to be fine. That’s not the point. The point is that I’m not fine right now!

2. You can do so much better.

Freshly dumped doesn’t want to hear about the next guy or girl. Let me mourn my soon-to-be ex for a little while, please.

3. You’ll bounce back fast.

I need some time to process that the person I loved isn’t mine anymore. I don’t want to think about bouncing back. I want to be stay right where I am: feeling sorry for myself and grieving.


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4. Did you guys try couples therapy?

A, it’s none of your business, and B, what couple gets divorced without trying couples therapy?

5. That guy was a total jerk or I never liked him.

I happened to have loved him or her, and yes, everyone has flaws. But right now, I don’t want to hear your opinion of him or her. This information is best saved for months down the road when we are out at a bar having a few drinks and I can laugh about it.

6. Everything happens for a reason.

My life isn’t a cliche. Please talk to me like a person, not with words that belong on a coffee mug.



7. So, if you don’t mind me asking, what happened?

That’s someone who wants to hear what you have to say to make sure HER marriage isn’t in trouble.

8. God has a plan.

Even though I know this is true, it’s not helpful to me right now because I feel a little angry with God right now.

9. It wasn’t meant to be.

Perhaps the worst thing of what not to say to someone going through a divorce.  Besides the fact that it’s a cliché, I still might be hanging on to hope that we might get back together.  So, that might be what’s meant to be.


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10. You’ll meet someone new in a second. You’ll be remarried in 3 years.

Hear me out here. The pain is still raw. I don’t want to meet someone new. Not in a second or minute or hour or week or even this year. I want to process my pain and fear and grieve that my marriage is over. I miss him (or her.) I hate him. I still love him. I don’t know how I feel! The possibility of meeting someone new is nauseating.

11. At least you have your kids.

Do you know how scary it feels to realize that you are now a single mom? Yes, of course I’m happy I have my kids. They are my life. But that doesn’t make the divorce easier.

12.Move on!

This phrase makes it sound like I’m going through airport security and I’m taking too long putting my shoes back on. Please let me go at my own pace. I have no idea when this pain is going to go away.


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A couple more things about people saying idiotic and rude and inappropriate things in response to hearing about your divorce. First, remember who it comes from. It might be a really really good friend and sweet person, who just didn’t know what to say, or was saying what she thought would help. In other words, there was no malice in it. I think sometimes people are so shocked that they say the wrong thing.

Secondly, remember and appreciate all the good people and what they are saying to you. For example:

“I’m here if you need me. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. If you ever need me to babysit, please call me, I mean it. You’re a beautiful and strong person. I am here to listen. I am here to have coffee or a drink and we don’t even have to talk. You are not alone.”

Going through a divorce is a tough deal, and people saying things that bug you is part of that. Coming from someone who experienced it years ago, when I look back, I now laugh at what some people said to me. They’re just words. If they bother you, let them roll off, and say something positive to yourself, like:

I’m beautiful. I’m strong. I’m healthy. This is only temporary. Things are going to look a lot different (in a good way) as the weeks and months go by.

Like this article? Check out, “10 People Who Might Not Like You When You Get Divorced”

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    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: DivorcedGirlSmiling.com

    4 Responses to “What NOT to Say To Someone Going Through a Divorce”

    1. Kimberley

      the one I get that I hate is: “You are still young” what the F##k does my age have to do with my broken heart?!?!?!

    2. Nigel

      I hear you Jackie! Things might be alright one day, but right now they are so damn not FINE!! 🙂 A good read, thanks!

    3. Jenny

      One of the worst was “So what are you going to do now???”
      I thought she was one of my closest friends but it turned out she made me feel more fearful of the future

    4. Angela

      I think I heard everyone of these. There was one more that was hurtful. Unfortunately we never had children. And people would say to me well you’re lucky at least you didn’t have children. I never felt more alone than I did when I got divorced. I might’ve been a good mom. I don’t know. But it was sad to me. That people told me how lucky I was that I didn’t have children. I understand that children do suffer a divorce and I would never want that for them. But I still don’t feel lucky.


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