As if the divorce itself wasn’t bad enough, what happens to your friendships? wonder many Circle of Moms members as them contemplate their own or a friend's split. It's very "emotionally challenging," says Mary N., when friends you shared as a couple choose sides, or when you feel you have to choose sides when friends end their marriage.
Yours, Mine, or Ours?
Partners might fight for custody of your children. But avoiding losing "custody" of your friends can be equally as hurtful and tricky. Many Circle of Moms members share perspectives on how to navigate friendships after a divorce. The good news, as Mary N. points out, is that there are many things you can do to minimize damage and hold on to the friendships that really matter. Here are five suggested by members who've lived through a post-divorce friendship shuffle.
1. Understand that your friends feel awkward too.
It’s tough to know what the proper etiquette is for friendships, especially when the friend has ties to both the ex wife and husband, say Circle of Moms members. As a divorcee,’ keep in mind that “your friends are confused too,” says Tara K. “I just found out today that my best friend and her husband are getting a divorce,” she says. "I have known him as long as I've known her. And we are all close, although she is my closest friend. While I really like him and we talk often, I'm not as close to him. I honestly feel awful for both of them and not sure how to handle this.”
Mary N. feels that friends need to start building the future of post-divorce friendship with the acknowledgement that it is a confusing time for everyone. When she got divorced she knew that friends would be confused about what to do, so she made the decision for them. In some cases, this meant walking away. "Out of respect for him, I did not initiate contact with people [who] were more ‘his’ friends, and he did the same,” she says. “There was one couple that we were particularly close with because we vacationed together at least twice a year, and we were both god-parents to their daughter. I really tried to encourage my ex to maintain that friendship.” She says she felt she needed to bow out, and “even called him (her ex) to tell him that she would not be going to events with that family but if was fine if he did, and that I thought it was important that he did.”
2. Reach out to the most important friends, and stay with it.
When friends make an overture to support you and stay connected following divorce, make sure to take them up on the offer, Circle of Moms members say. Even if it initially feels awkward because they were part of your couple crowd, don't back aways, says Rosie P. The same advice goes for the friends who want to stay connected to their recently divorced pals, she adds. "Let your friend know that you are still there. If it is your friend who is divorced, tell her you are there to listen and offer support in any way you can. She may take a while, but make sure she knows you are there and will be present. I’m sure she’ll come around when she is ready.”
3. Let go of friends who choose your ex.
Many people feel conflicted when dealing with formerly coupled friends, and sometimes feel the need to show loyalty by severing a friendship with one person in the broken relationship, says Danielle M. who has been through this. She recommends "moving on from the friends who aren't there."
4. Avoid dragging anyone into the mess.
More importantly, she says, don’t try to force friends to take sides. “I was given this advice by a friend who has witnessed many divorces, “ she says. “Don’t, don't drag your friends into the whirlwind of the storm."
5. Find new friends to replace the ones you lose.
Part of divorce is moving on from the relationship, and sometimes this means moving on and “making new friends too,” says Jessica F. She recommends joining a support group for moms as an easy way to find other women who can relate to your situation and then building up to singles groups or hobby-related groups to find kindred souls. “When you're ready, there are millions of groups to join. . . .Singles groups that take trips, gardening groups — all kinds of things that will help you bring your self-esteem back and give you a sense of importance, purpose and well-being and make new friends," she shares.
How did you handle friendships post divorce?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.