Losing Friends Because of Divorce
A divorce is one of the most traumatic experiences anyone will ever go through. All forms of normalcy and continuity are hurled out the window as finances are decimated, families are splintered, and immensely meaningful assets are divided up and sold like you’re having an existential yard sale.
Worse still, the one person who was always supposed to be there—to love and support you through the good times and bad, sickness and health, as long as you both shall live—is walking out the door. (Or you made the tough decision staying is not an option)
You need your pals more than ever to hold your hand, remind you why you’re a stone cold fox, and help you sweep up the pieces so that you can start gluing them back together.
But where are those friends?
Sadly, it is all too common for people going through divorce to find themselves isolated from their best pals just when they need them the most. There are many reasons people retract when you’re splitting up, and women report losing nearly 40% of their friends as the dance floor clears.
There’s not always something you can do to prevent it; friendships are only 50% up to you. However, unlike some people, we’re not going to ghost you because of the elephant in the room. If it’s mentionable it’s manageable, and that’s why we’re going to talk about coping with losing friends because of divorce.
Why Do Friends Leave?
There are several reasons people tend to retract from a friend going through divorce, and some of them are more understandable than others. People’s natural response to tragedy is often to pull back, but there are many more complicating factors that may make them stop taking your calls.
Understanding what dynamics are at play may not save you from losing friends because of divorce, but it can certainly mitigate some of the hurt and leave your door open for things to mend in the future.
Avoiding a Car Accident
Recoiling from a car fire is undoubtedly—and unfortunately—a common human reaction. We all wish we were Superman, but EMS workers need at least 120-150 hours of active training to prepare themselves to handle stressful situations. Even with that, dealing with trauma leaves them at much higher risk for stress-related mental health issues.
So that car fire? That’s you during a divorce. Sorry, but it’s as true as it is tragic.
Professional divorce mediators are trained for this stuff, but you should expect that some friends will have different comfort levels and skills for managing traumatic situations. It doesn’t mean they don’t care or they’re bad people, either. They’re just people, and for most, if you allow them some time and space they’ll find a way.
Also, true friendships are formed during the bad times, not the good, and you will probably discover that some bit players in your life will step up like champs. At the end of the day, it’s always worth reminding yourself that, in the midst of all the negative energy swirling around you, there are some real beacons of stability, positivity, and love in your orbit.
We wish we could tell you that everyone is mature, reasonable, and measured about a divorce that is fundamentally none of their business. But we can’t. Not everyone can act like…sorry…an adult, and a divorce is often when we find out which friends talk and which ones walk. Some may even add to the confusion and become part of the conflict.
Picking sides is depressingly common, especially if there are issues of infidelity or betrayal. Does your divorce have anything to do with them? Probably not, but empathy is by definition an interpersonal emotional experience that can allow hurts and wrongs to spill over into other people’s experience.
On the upside, you’re probably not losing friends because of divorce if you had those pals before you got married. They were there first and they’ll most likely be there after. However, the circle you acquired after you got married may actually be mostly your ex’s friends instead of yours.
Does all this suck? Absolutely. But remember: you’re not responsible for other people’s behavior. You can only manage yours. If you treat them respectfully when they’re behaving poorly, you’re creating space for them to reflect and recalibrate down the road.
What happens then? That’s up to you.
Unfortunately, there are many social, religious, and utterly irrational reasons why you might be losing friends because of divorce. These can feel very unfair, but they are nonetheless real.
A Religious Awakening
There are too many awful stories to count about women in ultraconservative religious sects being marginalized, vilified, and devalued by their community. If this is happening to you we would recommend contacting a certified divorce coach. You will definitely need a pro in your corner, because you can quickly find yourself up against forces much larger than your soon-to-be-ex.
They won’t be able to fix the community, but they will be able to help you navigate the complex and overlapping waters of religion, identity, community, and dignity.
This one’s unfortunate, but it’s nonetheless real. One or two of your friends (particularly the insecure ones) may view your newfound singleness combined with a fragile emotional state as a threat to their own marriage. Now this may sound like a harsh judgment, and unfortunately, not everything in this world makes perfect sense.
Sharing Might Not Be Caring
Finally, while a lot of this isn’t on you, but some of it might be. It can be common—especially with friends who know you as a couple—to over share unpleasant parts of your experience. You will definitely have a lot of pain and possibly anger over your ex, but your friends might take a more measured view and resent having it laid on them. If you’re frustrated, talk to your counselor. That’s what they’re there for.
Finding a Friend With Better Divorce Academy
Couples split up, and sometimes their friends drift away along with their old life. It’s hard, and it can feel like you’re being abandoned while you’ve already been brought to your knees. Some people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. It’s time to find your lifetimers!!
Breathe. You are not alone.
We started Better Divorce Academy because we know how unfair and painful divorces can be on every level. When it’s time to part ways, we want to help you go with dignity, support, financial security, and the empowerment to walk down the road you need to take to discover your better life. Losing friends because of divorce is truly awful, but we’re going to be right there by your side all the way to the end.