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Why Do Friends Abandon Us During Divorce? Here Are 3 Reasons Why

Why Do Friends Abandon Us During Divorce? Here Are 3 Reasons Why

A while back, I attended a “Divorced Members Only” party. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from a DMO party, but the invite came from a charming friend of a friend and I was thrilled to be included.

I entered the hip and modern backyard where I was greeted by the lovely hostess who is happily married to the lovely host who had each gone through a divorce prior to meeting, They guided me to the bar where I was handed the signature drink aptly named the 50/50 split and I made my way into the crowd.

Despite my vision of walking in to see 50 women feverishly nodding and smiling to compete for the attention of 5 single men, my 50/50 split and I walked into a welcoming, judgment-free zone to discuss the battle scars and silver linings of divorce. I met beautiful, successful women and men who asked the usual questions divorced people ask when we meet each other.

“Who is your attorney”?

“What is your custody schedule”?

“Do you get along with your ex”?

Did he (or she) cheat”?

From my more lengthy conversations that evening the subject of married friends came up repeatedly from this divorced contingent – both the ones who abandoned them and the ones who stuck by them. Many spoke of the anguish caused by the first group, and the sometimes lack of understanding from the latter.

We discussed many other fabulous non-divorce topics as well, but I left with an overwhelming sense of comfort in knowing that I am not the only one who pondered and struggled with one of the fallouts of divorce that causes more pain and confusion than expected.

So I did a little online research to get more perspective. I didn’t gain much, but I did find a few of the theories entertaining.

After reading self-help articles, and perusing group chats there were three scenarios that kept popping up about the “deserters”.

Why Do Friends Abandon Us During Divorce?

They side with your ex.

They may have a business relationship, or a longer history, or they just like him better. OK. Fine, I suppose he is allowed to have friends too.

They are worried divorce may be transmittable.

The thought here is that friends with marriages on shaky ground are afraid that socializing with divorced women may be infectious and lead their marriage down the same path. There are many great things about being divorced but I doubt 4 out of 5 divorcees recommend it, nor should we be considered contagious for going through one of the most stressful and depilating life events.

They feel threatened.

As in, threatened that their divorced friends are now eligible and may take their husbands!? I hardly ever use’ LOL’, but it applies so well. Do these same friends remember all the stories they shared about said husbands when we were friends? Drunken behavior, idiosyncrasies, intimate details? I may have been friendly with their husbands for many years, enjoyed family dinners and vacations, but wanted them for myself? Thank you, but no. I jest a bit here because I have friends with some pretty fantastic husbands. I root for their marriages. They are setting great examples for their kids, and mine too.

If you haven’t been divorcing or divorced long enough to know this yet, I can promise you that the “deserters” aren’t the married friends you need. The married friends you need are still HERE – in your ‘Favorites’ list on your iPhone, and on the emergency contact forms for your kids. And in a society where married people are considered “the norm” and divorced people are not, they have kept you in their ‘Favorites’ list as well.

The best news I can share with you after being 5 years divorced is that you will stop caring about the friends who deserted you in your greatest time of need. You will stop wondering why you didn’t get an invite to their Christmas party, or their 40th, or their kids’ birthdays. You will eventually get to a point where you run into them on the street, or are seated right next to them at a restaurant, have a brief, friendly exchange and then barely give it another thought.

Now as we love our married friends who have remained in our lives, things can get a little tense at times. DMOs have been married. We understand the constant state of acquiescence and negotiation in which married people live. We can remember that the way a spouse chews a meal or leaves dental floss on the counter can ruin an otherwise perfectly good day. If not from divorced parents what do our married friends know about being divorced?

Have the DMOs taken the time to look up from sobbing about their trip to family court, or a rant about their ex to explain how everything actually feels? I have not. I have been a bit selfish in expecting them to instinctively understand why I get so prickly about staying home with my boys in lieu of attending a GNO because I only see them 50% of the time. Or how sending them to another home can feel like losing a limb.

Or the isolation we feel when friends are out for a couple’s dinner and we are forgotten. It stings. And it stinks, but have we eloquently communicated that? Have we gracefully told them that we are ok with being the 3rd or 5th or 7th wheel?

It could relieve some tension to acknowledge these differences with the friends who have remained present. Reinforce that you love LOVE and that you want the best for their marriage. Embrace their spouses and their families. Bring your kids over to their homes so they can see married couples living in unison. Lean on them regardless of if they will understand your battles and let them lean on you as well – it will undoubtedly reinforce the fact that they made the right decision in keeping you on their “Favorites’ list.

The post Why Do Friends Abandon Us During Divorce? Here Are 3 Reasons Why appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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friends with your ex

Should You Remain Friends With Your Ex After Divorce?

friends with your ex

 

A very common question for newly separated and divorced women is ‘Can I still be friends with my ex?’

This may be because when we’re in the midst of pain and heartbreak, the thought of NEVER seeing our beloved again can be simply too much to bear – particularly if the decision to divorce was not our own. We feel like utter crap and the idea that we can still have a piece – even a small piece – of our beloved is a comforting one.

But here is the thing: this person is no longer our beloved. And harsh as it may sound, the sooner we give our psyche permission to accept this fact, the sooner we will move forward and heal. Holding on to somebody we were once but are no longer intimate with can seriously delay our healing.

Of course, in our grief, our brains will be telling us the opposite of this. We fight to hold on because we don’t want to feel the bitter pain that will ultimately come once we concede that it is really over. Who wants to feel pain? Not most of us.

In order to escape at least some of the pain, our psyche urges us to hold on to something, anything. So we tell ourselves that we should ‘remain friends’ with him. This is where we have it wrong. Yes, we will feel pain when we let go. Yes, pain sucks.

But on the other side of pain and heartache is FREEDOM – freedom from wanting and needing something that is no longer good for us; freedom from craving something that is simply no longer there.

The unfortunate catch is that we must go through it in order to get through it. For true healing and recovery, there really is no better way. By being brave enough to let go of your extruly let go – you will pave the way for an even better and brighter future for yourself; a future in which you become the independent and beautiful creature you know you are capable of being.

Here are 3 points to consider if you want to remain friends with your ex:

1. You need to work at EMOTIONALLY separating from him

When we have spent a good portion of our time with another person in an intimate relationship, emotional bonds and ties will have formed – this is a normal and natural process. During a break-up, those bonds and ties must be severed, and this naturally hurts.

It especially hurts in the early days of a breakup or divorce. And it is during these early days that we need to be especially mindful of allowing the process of emotional separation to occur. The simplest way to allow it to occur is to have physical distance from your ex. Put simply:

To heal and move forward, you must emotionally separate from your ex.

To emotionally separate, you need distance.

It is completely normal and natural to pine for your ex in the early days of divorce. What is important is that you do your best to remain mindful of what’s going on – and what needs to happen – during this period. So, rather than give in to temptation and text, call or turn up on his doorstep, use this time wisely.

Learn how to be alone. Learn how to not hate it. Learn to self-soothe. Learn to go deep inside and discover who you are – who you REALLY are – without the labels of ‘wife’ or ‘girlfriend’. Reconnect with old friends. Find your passion! Remember, you were someone before your relationship. And that girl is still in there somewhere. Make it your mission to find her.

2. You need to decide what level of contact is best for YOU

This step works a whole lot better once you’ve begun the process of emotional detachment or separation. This is because you will be making the decision from a place of clarity – not a place of grief, sadness, and confusion.

Only you can decide what level of contact (if any) with your ex is best for you moving forward. Everybody’s circumstances are different. If you are going through a divorce, have children or other family or financial ties with your ex, there will obviously need to be some contact and it would be in everybody’s best interests if that contact was civil.

Be mindful here that civil (or friendly) contact does not mean that you need to have a friendship. It does mean that you are able to participate in a conversation with your ex without being reduced to a grieving, crying and/or angry mess.

In the early days of my divorce (before I’d emotionally separated and ceased pining night and day for him) I found it helpful to limit contact to text message and email. Face-to-face and telephone conversations usually saw me reduced to the aforementioned grieving, crying and angry mess.

3. You need to take it one day at a time

Finally, if you’re having a tough time in the heartbreak department, there is no need to torture yourself by declaring that you will NEVER see your ex again. It is OK to simply take it one day or week at a time. Understand that things will likely look a whole lot different in six or twelve months’ time.

When my husband first left me, I honestly could not imagine that there would come a day that I would be able to look at him and not feel heartbreak, or love, or anger, or grief, or excruciating pain. I was in an agonizing state of flux – wanting to see him to ease my misery; wishing he would die because seeing him was torture.

Now, five years on, I feel none of these things when I see him. I sometimes feel an odd affection for what we once had together. We are friends, but not best friends. We do what’s best for our kids. The great thing? All of this happened organically – with time, space and healing.  And now I truly can’t imagine life any other way.

The post Should You Remain Friends With Your Ex After Divorce? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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How to Deal With Losing Friends After Divorce

losing friends after divorce

 

When going through a massive life change such as divorce, most of us would like to think that we have a support network reasonably close by. These are the people we automatically turn to for support – a listening ear, a helping hand or to provide us with a little comfort and hope when we feel that we have neither.

So what happens when the crap hits the fan and the people that we think will be there for us are actually not there for us?

Losing Friends After Divorce

I was chatting with a newly divorced woman recently. She told me that she had been shocked, and slightly hurt, to find that several women she had previously considered friends had not contacted her since she had told them of her separation.

This lady has a wide circle of friends and it was one little group in particular (girls she had known since high school) that had reacted this way. Conversely (and weirdly) some of the people that she had NOT considered herself to be especially close with had been the most supportive!

This scenario got me thinking about change, upheaval, and grief and how different people deal and react at such times.

Sadly, people who we once called friends may not be there for us in our time of need. If this is the case, it’s vital to remember that this has nothing to do with you, and EVERYTHING to do with them. Who knows why people react as they do?

In all likelihood, these people are struggling with their own demons and our situation has struck a note of FEAR into them.

Some people are afraid that divorce is contagious. Some people feel safer hanging around other married people. Some people genuinely don’t know what to say and how to act when faced with such change. And you know what? All of this is OK.

We can let these people be and accept that maybe they just aren’t our people. Maybe they were never our people. Maybe we stayed with them out of habit and convenience and now that the chips are down we realize that actually, we have very little in common with them.

A good way to assess whether or not we consider such people to be our true friends is to evaluate how we feel when faced with the possibility that we may never hear from them again. If we feel deeply saddened, we may want to consider reaching out to them and talking to them about what is happening.

But if instead of deep sadness we feel ‘hurt’ or ‘shocked’, there’s a good chance that we won’t truly miss them, and that it is time to let them go. I believe that this was the case with my friend. Once she took the time to assess how she really felt about the situation, she realised that she was, in fact, OK with it. That it was probably habit, circumstance and convenience (and, maybe some ego) that had made her want to hold on to these people.

I’ve been there too. I’ve wanted to hold on to people and situations that I’d outgrown, and that had outgrown me. But I’ve come to learn that holding on to people and things that are simply no longer there not only keeps us stuck in an old story and an old life – it seriously delays our healing.

Because in order to move forward and become who we are meant to be, we need to heal from what we’ve been through.

In order to heal, we first need to grieve. And to grieve properly, we need to do the inner work. We need to learn to ignore meaningless distractions; we need to learn to give ourselves the love we crave; we need to spend time alone.

As a newly separated woman, I was a grieving, crazy mess. Yet I somehow instinctively knew what I had to do. I knew that I had to work on healing myself. I knew that I couldn’t rely on anybody else to do this work for me. This is not to say that I isolated and had no friends or support whatsoever – it is to say that I focused on the people and things that I loved the most.

I learned to spend time alone (one of the greatest things I have ever done for myself). I spent time learning how to become a single mother. I did my best to get up, get dressed and go to work each day. And I spent time with the people that mattered the most – some family and three or four close friends who, again instinctively, I knew would always have my back.

In time I made new friends – something I didn’t do a lot of when married – and formed a new relationship. There are people I was once close to who I now have either very little or no contact with. And I accept this, hard as it was in the early days of my divorce.

I know that similar to my marriage, these friendships have served their time and their purpose. They weren’t deliberately killed; they died a natural death. And there is no shame or regret in that.

The post How to Deal With Losing Friends After Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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being friends with your ex

Being Friends With Your EX: 7 Reasons It Doesn’t Work

being friends with your ex

 

While it’s normal to want to undo the past, being friends with your ex usually doesn’t work out. It’s a noble endeavor to want to be a friend to a former spouse but it can fuel your child’s reconciliation fantasies and prevent both adults from healing and moving on with their lives.

It’s especially problematic for the person who was left – or the dumpee – because having regular contact with the person who rejected them can make a person feel confused or give them a sense of false hope. On the other hand, the dumper would probably admit to feeling guilty upon seeing their ex regularly or worry that they are sending the wrong message.

When my marriage ended, I had the misconception that two good people (myself and my ex) should be able to stay friends after our divorce. In my case, I was looking for closure – but soon realized that letting go of the reasons why our marriage dissolved was a healthier decision. I also came to terms with the fact that I didn’t need to have all of the answers to why my marriage failed in order to move on.

There are many reasons why people strive to be friends with their ex after a breakup or divorce. Certainly one of the main reasons is that they have unfinished business that they hope to resolve. Our they may want to keep the non-intimate part of the relationship going because they have caring feelings toward their former spouse.

Erin, a 40-something teacher confides, “I couldn’t understand why two civilized adults couldn’t visit with our kids and hang out like friends. But Jason told me it hurt him too badly because I broke it off and he was reminded of his pain every time we got together.” This experience is a common one for the dumpee who might feel  –especially hurt if their ex has a new partner and they don’t. It can add salt to an open wound that has not had sufficient time to heal.

Guilt Can Drive You Towards Being Friends with Your Ex

Another reason why people want to stay in close contact with a former partner after a breakup is guilt. Sometimes the person who is the dumper feels guilty about leaving the relationship, especially if they were unfaithful, and they want to remain friendly with the dumpee to help to ease their guilt. In this case, counseling with a qualified therapist is a more effective way to deal with these leftover emotions.

Further, some individuals keep their relationship alive because they hope for reconciliation but they don’t necessarily acknowledge it. According to Susan J. Elliott, author of Getting Past Your Breakup, “Examining your quest for contact and being honest about your real intentions will help you stop making excuses to make contact.”

Conner, 48, reflects, “I did all I could to keep in touch with Karen with the hope that we could fix things and one day get back together – even though I knew she was in love with someone else.”

7 Reasons Being Friends with Your Ex Doesn’t Work:

  1. Most of the time, a post-breakup friendship is a setup for further heartbreak, especially for the person who was left and probably feels rejected.
  2. It does not give you or your ex time to grieve the loss of the relationship or marriage. Like all losses, the breakup of a long-term relationship or marriage causes people to go through various stages of grief. In order to heal and move through anger, denial, it’s essential that individuals have the emotional and physical space to do this. Trying to maintain a friendship may extend the healing process.
  3. You need to forge a new identity: After a breakup, it’s essential to lose your identity as a couple and to return to who you were as an individual, rather than half of a couple.
  4. It can cause confusion for your children. It’s normal for most children to experience reconciliation fantasies and seeing their parents spend time together (social events, holidays, etc.) can cause them to long for their intact family. Children benefit from parents who are collaborative but not necessarily friends post-breakup.
  5. You might not have been true friends and it’s problematic to start now. Sometimes, especially when there are children involved, a person may feel pressured to preserve a friendship that never existed or that disappeared during your marriage. So just say “no” and remain cordial to each other.
  6. You need energy to “take care of yourself” and to form new relationships. Maintaining a close friendship with an ex (especially if it’s emotionally or physically intimate) can delay this process.
  7. Acceptance is the final stage of grieving the loss of a loved one, according to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, and a post-breakup friendship doesn’t facilitate this process.

At some point, it’s important to accept the breakup of your marriage and come to a place of “it is what it is.” These anecdotes from bloggers help to explain how acceptance and setting boundaries with your ex can facilitate creating a new chapter in your life.

Katie, a 30-something high school counselor reflects, “When I broke it off with husband Kyle, he took it very hard. I thought that if we stayed in touch and hung out sometimes, it would help him adjust but it only made things worse. I let my guilt and his feelings of rejection be the driving force rather than common sense. It took him years to get over our breakup and I was left feeling even more guilty because of the pain I caused him.”

Justin, a 40-year old accountant shares, “It just didn’t work for Heather and me to remain friends. It got complicated without three kids and they felt more confused when we tried to get together. Then when I started dating Susie, they didn’t like her and kept talking about wanting their mom and me to get back together. It wasn’t fair to them and I didn’t want to give them false hope.”

Truth be told, it’s a great idea to be civil and cooperative with your former spouse – especially when you have children. Being allies with your ex can help children adjust and thrive post-divorce. That said, maintaining a friendship with your former spouse probably won’t allow you both to move on with your life after a divorce. Giving yourself time and space to regain independence and a sense of identity will serve you and your children well in the long run.

This article first appeared on DivorceMag.com

The post Being Friends With Your EX: 7 Reasons It Doesn’t Work appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Can You be Happily Divorced When Your Friends are All Married?

Can You be Happily Divorced When Your Friends are All Married?

Your happiness and contentment is not dependent on your friend’s relationship status.

The post Can You be Happily Divorced When Your Friends are All Married? appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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