With such high divorce rates these days we could be forgiven for thinking that yet another break up would hardly even elicit a comment from those around the divorcing couple. But people who are divorcing do worry about what other people think about the split. Of course family and children are bound to be affected – but what about your friends? Those people that you always go out with or even go on holiday with. What happens now that you are a single entity and what do they think about your divorce?
When you are single, it is likely to be difficult to carry on friendships as they were, but that does not mean that those friendships have to be abandoned. However, your friendships might change as some cut you off and others become closer. Some friends are also more helpful than others. It does not mean you have to be rejecting and angry with those who are not, it just means you have to accept them as they are, and remember why you are friends in the first place. The friend who likes fun, might not be good with the tears so don’t expect too much emotional talk with them. Some friends find it awkward.
Generally the way friends fall after a split is gender based. The husband will be shored up by his male friends and the woman, by her girlfriends. One reason for this is that some people find it hard to be friends with someone of the opposite sex, or else their partners might now see you as a threat or think it is inappropriate. Others will find it difficult to invite you over as they do lots of couples based socialising. They might also worry that they might be seen to be taking sides.
This does not mean that you can’t contact them to offer to meet them for coffee or a pint with you. You probably don’t fancy going to a couples’ dinner party on your own anyway! Once they become a bit more confident about socialising with you, they might be more forthcoming.
New rules and tact
If your ex is still friendly with the partner of your friend, then there may be some new rules in play. If you succumb to temptation to ask about your ex, or what he or she has been doing or saying – keep a close eye on your friend’s reaction! If it makes them feel awkward or uncomfortable you may have to stay off the subject or friends will soon start avoiding you, unwilling to be grilled each time you meet as to who your ex is seeing now or whether he or she has been talking about you. Your friends, who might like you both equally, may well want to stay neutral, so don’t put them in an awkward position.
Different reactions – The 8 types of friends during your divorce
- The “I never liked him” friend – What your friends think about your break up may be something you want to hear, or it may not. We have all been in the position when a friend has broken up with someone we cannot stand. We breathe a huge sigh of relief for him or her, and some of us ill advisedly launch into the long list of reasons why they are totally better off without their ex… the many, many things about them that were totally repellent! A couple of weeks down the line they are back together and you wish you could take back the words!
2. The “fearful” friend – Your split may bring up a lot of surprising reactions amongst our friends, in fact your friends might even be angry with you for breaking up the ‘gang’ and for calling time on what had been a great fun group of friends. They might keep you at arms length because your split has forced them to examine their own marriage more closely, which might make them feel fearful that the same might happen to them.
3. The ‘latent divorcee’ – now that you have had the courage to split, see you as an authority on the matter and besiege you at the school gates, emboldened by your lead to think about going down the same road themselves.
4. The ‘vulture friend’ – who wants to talk endlessly about what is happening in your life and with your break up all the time and delights in letting you know that they saw your ex with someone else out on the town. Their apparent concern for you is merely a way for them to get their jollies by feeding off your misery. They can’t help it, but, for your own sanity, steer clear.
5. The ‘moping friend’ – this kind of friend seems to love the role of caring for you but actually get you down. They may try and get you to share their outlook on the world as being all doom and gloom. While they are there for you, they seem to depress you more. You might also want to steer clear here.
6. The ‘aren’t you over it’ friend – this kind will be supportive at first but soon want you to be back to your old self and not want to talk about the break up any more. In some ways, all of the friends can end up here if you do talk about it too long, so make sure you check in with your friend if they are fed up of hearing about your struggles. If they are, you might want to seek help with someone else or a professional.
7. The ‘best (divorce)’ friend – Of course you will need to have a friend that you can trust and who will offer you the support you need after the split and will be happy to listen to your out pouring of all the hurt and anger you have over what has happened.
8. The ‘good time’ friend – the ones who will be thinking and saying, “Yeah! more nights out!” and that will be a good way to get out and about again, and regain your confidence.
Treasure both the ‘best’ friend and the ‘good time’ types of friends and use them well. But also remember that they are giving a lot of their time and love to you. You deserve it right now in spades! But when you are feeling better it will be payback time. Try to remember their needs/ birthdays/ ups and downs are as big to them as yours are to you and when there is room in your heart, be as thoughtful and supportive to them as they have been to you in your hour of need.
Dr Isabelle Hung is a co-founder of divorceclub.com and clinical psychologist. Having got through her own divorce just three years ago, she is now remarried and happy to report that divorce really is an opportunity for growth and positive change.