Developing Trusted Friendships During and After Divorce

By: Kat Forsythe MSW
Last Update: December 19, 2017

Find Those Trusted Friendships During Divorce

During divorce, friendships can get messy. At the beginning, your friends will all rally around you. “I know this is so hard,” they will say. “You know I’ll be there for you,” you will hear. “Whenever you need a shoulder, I’ll be there,” they promise. They mean it, you buy it, and you feel secure.

Then your divorce drags on for months. Months may turn into years. It gets harder to solicit an ear to listen, a moment of sympathy. Friends don’t ask how you’re doing and you feel uncomfortable talking about it. It feels messy and intrusive.

But wait – your pain is just as great as it always was. Do they think you’ve gotten used to it? Yes, in fact, your friends think what we all think,"She or he’s been doing this long enough, she knows how to deal with it."

Not true, of course, but your divorce is old news for them. Are they tired of hearing about it? Maybe, but that’s not the point.

Where Did Your Friendships Go?

As an example, I have horrible knee problems. I get painful injections under my knee-cap once every six weeks. The first time I got the treatment, my friends brought food, helped me ice my knees and binged on Netflix with me. Last week, I had my fourth treatment. No friends called, no one brought food, and one buddy even asked, “You’re still doing that?” As if I had any control over it.

This happens to clients going through divorce as well. As time rolls by, friends assume you’ve “adjusted” to getting divorced. What’s the lesson, the divorce advice, here?

First, understand that other people’s lives are always going to be more important to them than yours. A blinding flash of the obvious? Perhaps. Don’t take it personally. They still love you. They simply love their own problems more.

Identify Three "Titanium" Friends

First, reach out to the resource you know is always available: yourself. Get to be BFFs with yourself. Keep resources around you to comfort you: books you love to read, and gourmet goodies you savor whether it’s ice cream, chocolate, olives, or popcorn. Make a playlist of music you love and have it ready for those times when you need a boost.

Second, develop a "Titanium Rolodex" of friends. Note, this is not platinum, as platinum is glamorous and demands attention. Titanium is dark-gray, very hard, malleable, light, corrosion-resistant metallic element. It’s a work horse, not a show horse.

Get yourself a circle of friends who are not particularly elegant, but who are strong, can be flexible with you during your continuing emotional rollercoaster, have a sense of humor, and won’t desert you with better offers of friendship. There won’t be many of these friendships during divorce, but you don’t need more than a few.

Go ahead and identify your titanium friendships in your mind right now. Give yourself the names of three friends, because that’s all you need at this point. As time goes on, you may want to add a few more names to this list since even titanium friends will experience their own crises, which might temporarily prevent them from being with you when you need them.

Ask for Help When You Need It

Practice the phrase, "I need some help, are you available?" That’s emotional honesty and your titanium Rolodex will respond. Don’t assume that your friends know you need help. You have to reach out, it’s not easy. We’d like them to come to us. But life gets messy and they’ve got their own issues.

Call and ask for help when you need it. If your first friend says no, call someone else. If no one can help, see two paragraphs above. Access yourself.

Life – especially divorce – gets messy. Your friendships lose the luster of fun and adventure as you divorce drags on, and some friends may drift away. Your most important insurance policy is to be on great terms with yourself; then invest in a backup policy of a few good friends who can listen and be there for you.

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