Divorce and Your Friends
As you read in our blog “How to Tell People You’re Getting a Divorce” , your divorce is likely to have an impact on everyone inside your inner circle, including your friends. Separating from your spouse is traumatic, and likely a time when you will need your friends to lean on for comfort and support. However, as you probably know, sometimes friends can make things worse, even when they are trying to help. What you don’t want is friends to interfere with your healing and moving on process.
We’ve outlined some things to keep in mind when building boundaries with friends to ensure they remain the positive support group you need, rather than make moving on more difficult or stressful. Here are some helpful tips, from your friends.
1. Ignore the “Divorce is no big deal, it happens to all of us”
Although common, divorce does not happen to everyone and is a big deal. You will hear it time and time again “Divorce happens all the time”, “Half of marriages end in divorce”, while this may be true, it doesn't take away from the fact, you did not think it was going to happen to you.
Friends will think they are helping by making you see “the big picture” and minimizing your divorce to make it seem more manageable. In reality, they are just minimizing how hurtful the experience actually is for you. While friends usually have good intentions and try to be sympathetic (especially if they have experienced divorce), the phrasing usually comes out wrong. It is your divorce and will be unique to your feelings. If your friends comments begin to become hurtful or impede your willingness to discuss your feelings, try to gently remind them this is all new to you and you just need someone to listen as you process this difficult time. Recognize the good intentions behind the words, and try your best to ignore them, do not feel badly or odd for being sensitive, hurt, and sad about your divorce.
2. Don’t let your friends take over your divorce
As mentioned previously, divorce is common. Many of your friends actually may have experienced it as well, which may make them feel like a “seasoned divorcee”. It’s hard to navigate through divorce between finding a good lawyer, deciding whether to self-represent, and the all the legal necessities, so recommendations and insights from experienced friends is extremely valuable. A helpful hand can help you from making mistakes or wasting time, however make sure you are able to build boundaries between taking your friends suggestions and your next steps. If you choose to take advice from a friend be aware they may be feel entitled to hear how the decision works out. This happens a lot with friends recommending lawyers, they’ll want to hear how it’s going, tell you what Lawyer ABC did for them, and compare your case experiences. Unless you want to share them, the details of your divorce should be kept between you and your lawyer.
A good tip to remember; always welcome suggestions, but in the end make your own decisions. A friend may suggest something that worked well for their divorce, but it doesn’t mean it will for yours, so be comfortable in making your own decisions, in the end you’ll be more satisfied with your divorce.
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3. Don’t listen to the friends who “always knew” it wasn’t right
“I always knew he/she wasn’t right for you”. Easy to say when all is said and done and everyone appears to be jumping on the bandwagon of disliking your ex. Maybe they saw your spouse cozying up to someone else and decided at the time not to tell you. Maybe they didn’t want to cause a scene or bear the guilt of upsetting your marriage, but now that you are divorcing, all this "new" information seems to come out. Some friends may even say they could hear “the divorce bells” the whole time. Either way it does not matter. Some friends may even feel they are doing you a favour by feeding you information on your now ex’s bad behaviour or incompatibility during your marriage. What’s done is done, knowing this now will not help you, it will only make you doubt these friends and potentially your whole relationship. The best thing to do is realize you can not change anything now, so to move forward, and leave the past behind.
4. Tell them you don’t want updates...even if you do
This is especially important if your friends continue to hang around or remain friends with your soon-to-be-ex. Your friends may feel helpless and even guilty if they are in the same friend group as your ex, so many may be tempted to keep tabs and “gather intel” on your behalf. Surely knowing your ex hasn’t found anyone else will keep your mind at peace, right? No. Constant updates on your ex halts any healing and attempts to move onto a life that does not involve them. Make it clear to your friends you have no interest in knowing what your soon-to-be-ex is doing, where, or with who. Even if you are the slightest bit interested, it is crucial to your healing process to have a clean break from your ex, at least temporarily while you move on.
5. Keep your new dating life private for awhile
You may hear completely polarizing opinions when it comes to you moving on, some will warn you of moving on too quickly while others will insist getting involved with someone new is the quickest fix. Everyone heals at their own pace, and when you feel that you are ready to move on you should be able to without anyone’s judgements. However and whenever you choose to move on, avoid telling your close circle for at least a little while. Although you may want to share the good news, this could invite criticism from concerned (or maybe even jealous) friends, this could introduce doubts in your new relationship or make you feel pressure to “succeed” in this new relationship. Whenever you decide to share the news, just make sure you are confident and stable enough in your new life to handle other’s opinions, until then keep that new area of your life private if anyone asks.
When going through your divorce, lean on your friends and accept their love, don’t push them away. Divorce can be an isolating time, there is no need to deny your feeling, so do everything you can to help yourself heal.
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