I remember how naive I was as I struggled through my first divorce. I didn’t realize that the people I had come to care for and love over the years would show their true colors during the worst moment of my life. Some of the women I had considered to be my closest friends were no where to be found, which only poured salt in the open wound that was my heart. While other people, who barely knew me, came out of nowhere to stand by my side and helped me to laugh again. Divorce has a unique way of changing friendships. Here a few unexpected ways your friendships may transform because of your divorce, so that you can mentally prepare yourself.
1. Your Close Friends May Jump Ship
It may be an impossible thought but some of the people you have always been extremely close to may decide that they can’t emotionally support you during this devastating time in your life. Whether it is family members who are disappointed or friends who feel uncomfortable, your marriage is not the only relationship that is affected by a divorce. I was NOT prepared for this during my first divorce. I assumed that my closest friends would stand by me, support me and be 100% be on my side. This was not the case.
A friend I had grown extremely close to over the course of my 8-year relationship with my ex husband, blatantly took his side and blamed me as the reason for the divorce. Her husband was close to my ex, which I’m sure played a large part in her decision to end our friendship. It was truly heart-breaking to lose one of my closest friends due to something that had nothing to do with her and I, on top of losing my husband.
Other friends couldn’t handle the emotional state I was in and checked out after a while of trying to console me. The truth is, no one can make you feel better while you go through a divorce. This is an emotional journey you will have to endure alone. Only you will know the best ways to conquer the sadness and only you will know when you have finished grieving. The best thing a friend can do is show that they are there and love you no matter what.
2. You Will Find New Friendships
Who would’ve thought that divorce could lead to some beautiful new beginnings? As I embarked on my first divorce I knew that the depression I already struggled with as a daily part of my life would only continue to deepen if I didn’t force myself to do new things. I joined 20s and 30s groups in my city and at my church, as a way to distract myself and make new connections. This is how I met one of my closest friends. I went to ring bells for the Salvation Army with a group from church and met a bubbly, outgoing woman who helped me to see that I was a beautiful, smart person who didn’t need a man to have fun and be happy. I am an introvert, where as she is very much extroverted. She encouraged me to go outside of my comfort zone and to laugh again, which was so vital at that time in my life! She and her husband were also there for me when I made the decision to divorce my second husband, giving me a temporary place to stay when I had no where to go. If it weren’t for that first divorce I may have never made such a great friend, who I cherish to this day.
3. Old Friendships May Rekindle
My sister and I are 16 months apart in age. We had always had a rollercoaster of a relationship throughout our childhood. I think that because we were so close in age, we felt this constant need to compete with each other, which led to a lot of disagreements. We also knew how to push each other’s buttons in a way that no one else in the world can do. All of that being said, we may have been close in age growing up, but we were not close as friends. As we grew up and I married at 20, she and I did get to a point where we were friendly, but still didn’t spend a lot of time together.
When I was 25 years old my ex husband filed for divorce. Although we weren’t super close, the first person I called was my sister. She confessed to me that she had never really cared for my ex and felt that he had taken me from my family, discouraging me from spending time with them. I had no idea that my family felt that way, but as I thought about it, we did always spend time with his family and friends, rather than mine. This revelation really impacted my mind and made me wonder what I had been missing out on.
My sister and I began talking on a daily basis and spending most weekends together. We learned that although we had very different personalities, we shared the same exact sense of humor. I may have cried the most tears of my life during the year following that divorce, but I probably also laughed the most I ever had because of my beautiful sister. I lost a shitty husband, but I found a best friend and soulmate in my sister because of it and I am forever grateful for that!
4. People Will Show Who They Really Are
Another thing that I didn’t expect to happen because of divorce, was that I would discover very unappealing characteristics some friends had. I’m not sure how to describe this moment in your life, other than to say Divorce is like an emotional fog. At the time, you think you are being yourself and doing normal, healthy things, but then a year later when you are feeling better about life you will look back and wonder, “What the hell was I thinking?” I look back at that time of my life and feel like there was a cloud on my brain, which made me do things that I NEVER would have done. I dated people I wasn’t even attracted to, I went to events I normally wouldn’t attend, I said things I didn’t really believe, and I befriended some very bad people. If you read my post: A Cautionary Tale of Using Alcohol to Cope: “Me Too” you may already know that I made a friend during my first divorce who ended up causing me more pain than than I was already enduring. I mention this to warn you to be careful of people’s intentions. My closest friend had told me that she didn’t like or trust that woman, but I was blinded by my emotions and paid the price for it.
Sometimes when we are in a vulnerable place, people prey upon our despair. Men also reached out to me, disguised as “friends” who wanted to help me through a tough time. It didn’t take long to realize that most of the men who suddenly wanted to be my friend were really hoping for a girlfriend, a wife, or just for sex. It is easy to be distracted and not see people for who they truly are when you are feeling devastated by your circumstances, so please take caution and know that not everyone has innocent intentions.
5. You May Grow Apart
As our lives ebb and flow, we have friendships which last a lifetime and we have ones which are only there for a season. When it comes to my friends, I have always believed in quality over quantity. Ever since I can remember I have had a hard time relating to other women and find it difficult to maintain female friendships. I truly value the few friends I do have for this reason and have come to terms with the fact that not every friend I make is meant to be in my life forever.
Divorce is one of those events in life that will test your friendships. You may find that your married friends no longer feel a connection with you once you are living the single life again. It’s sad but sometimes when we are on different life paths our friendships naturally dissipate. It isn’t necessarily one person’s fault when this happens and it makes sense that we gravitate towards people who we can relate to during certain stages of life. I found that during each of my divorces I lost friends who were happily married or in a serious relationship and in return I made new single friends. This isn’t to say that every friendship with a married person is doomed to end though, just because you have become a divorcée.
6. The Strong & True Friendships Will Endure
My best friend has been in my life for seventeen years. We were there for each other when we got married and she was there for my divorce. She was also there for my second marriage and divorce. And she will be there again if, by the grace of God, I choose to marry for a third time. There will be no more freaking divorces though; I refuse! Dear Universe, just let me be happy for once! PLEASE! I don’t want to have to run off and become a nun, but that could be the next move. Ok, maybe not.
Alright, back to what I was saying. True friendships will be strong enough to survive this time in your life and will be better for it. You will find out who your real friends are and weed out those people who don’t deserve a place in your heart or another second of your time. Your love and respect will grow exponentially for those friends who have stood by your side through the most traumatic moment of your life and you will forever be bonded by that.
People really do show their true colors through life’s struggles. Some will genuinely prove that they are great friends and others will severely disappoint you and make you question how you could have ever been friends at all. Don’t allow bad friends to harden your heart or dampen your spirits. You are allowed to be selfish and focus on yourself while you are experiencing the pain of divorce. This is a time for you to learn to love yourself again and reinvent yourself. Some people will understand this and love you through the changes and others will not. No one can comprehend what you are experiencing, unless they have gone through it themselves. If your friends can’t be there for you and lift you up while you are down, then they really aren’t your friends. It may be sad to watch friendships crumble around you, as your marriage also deteriorates, but I promise you that you are better off without those people.
I wish you the best of luck through this sad time of your life and hope that you find happiness and strength as you walk towards a bright new beginning!