You will lose friends during a divorce
Not surprisingly, when a marriage breaks down, people take sides.
It can be hard to accept that after ten, fifteen, twenty years of friendship, you may still lose friends overnight on the back of a divorce. If they were your ex’s old school friend, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve known them, they may choose to side with their original friend, however painful that is for you.
There are some general rules of thumb with how the friendships survive a divorce.
You don’t get to keep your ex’s family – not straight away anyway.
You get yours, the ex gets theirs. If you were lucky enough to get on really well with the in-laws, you will probably need to let them go now. Your parents hopefully are fully there for you and put your needs above your ex’s and you need to allow your ex the complete support of their parents. Obviously kids are a different matter, and you may want to try to maintain a cordial relationship with the in-laws as grandparents to your children. But that’s pretty much all you should aim for at the beginning. What happens in time remains to be seen. Don’t try and hook up with your ex’s lovely sister and husband for Sunday lunch like the old times, even if they’re quite up for it. Your ex won’t appreciate it and you probably wouldn’t if the boot was on the other foot.
The ex’s oldest friends will probably side with the ex.
They get to keep their oldest friends. You get to keep yours. Obviously both your and your ex’s friends will make their own minds up who they stay in touch with, but as a rule, your oldest friends will be there for you. Depending on how your split has happened, they may be in touch with your ex and may even act as a helpful go-between for you. But don’t expect to keep that primary school friend of your ex who you always really clicked with. They’ll choose their own allegiance and it’ll probably be to your ex, their old, old chum with whom they share childhood memories.
Mutual friends could go either way.
This is where the rules of thumb run out… The friends who you and your ex met while you were together will make their own minds up, and you’ll find you can’t always predict which way they fall. Some will want to be friends with both of you and not get involved in your disputes. Some will want to be friends with both of you and will be more than happy to hear ALL the gossip both ways! Others will chose sides and this can work for you and against you. Also, don’t be surprised if people who swore that things wouldn’t change and that they are there for you whatever, actually turn out to fade into the ether. You might even find that some friends disappear out of both you AND your ex’s life.
If you do lose a friend or two, or swathes of them, more often than not this will prove to be a gradual process. Try to remember that as we go through life we naturally fall out of touch with people and lose friends and make new friends. A divorce may result in losing a few more friends in a shorter time than you have experienced before. However, the friends that you lose would probably have naturally fallen away in the long term. What you have left are the solid diamond friends, the ones who have supported you in a crisis, or who have not judged you if you were in the wrong, and the friends that wanted to be there through thick and thin, in short, the ones that REALLY LIKE you! These friends are really worth holding onto, and by losing some of the others, you have (a) more time to dedicate to the good ones and (b) potential space in your life to meet new people who have more in common with you now.
Lucy Davis is a co-founder of divorceclub.com and a TV Producer. She divorced 7 years ago. She is a passionate advocate for exploring the potential for change and creativity that can result from the trauma of divorce.