Friends After Divorce: How to Deal with Changes to Your Social Circle

By: Wendi Schuller
: October 31, 2016

Divorce brings all sorts of surprises, which includes how much it changes relationships. Ones you took for granted may collapse or end up being the foundation of your support.

Keep in mind that those close to you are processing their own feelings and may not be able to be an immediate pillar of support. Your parents may genuinely be fond of your spouse and are sorting through their mixed emotions.

In-Laws 

The relationship with in-laws will be different. One woman decided to have a business-like one with her former mother-in-law, which focused only on the children. She contacts this grandmother about their school and sporting events and takes the youngsters over to her house. They are civil, but not warm to each other, which is okay.

If having an amicable divorce where you plan to stay in touch afterwards, get the word out to others. Family does not have to go into mourning when they realize that their ties are not being severed, but can see your former spouse at holiday get-togethers.

Mutual Friends 

Mutual friends can be trickier and may choose sides. Their inclination may be to drop one of you, so inform them that both of you can attend the same gatherings. When couples mainly socialize together as a unit, divorce usually puts an end to that. See if it is feasible to have individual friendships post-divorce. The women meet for lattes and the fellows at another time for a sporting event. Unfortunately, most of the couples we socialized with wanted to do so only in a group. That happens, and I have made some great new friends post-divorce.

How to Handle Losing Relatives and Friends to Your Ex 

What hurts is when a few relatives or step-ones are firmly in your ex’s camp. Look at family dynamics and history to understand if there is something else to it, such as revenge. One woman who could not have children resented her sister-in-law’s daughter. The aunt had confided that this child should have been hers and was not close to the girl. When her niece later got a divorce, the aunt cut ties and stayed in touch with the ex. Luckily, the niece’s sons understood the situation and felt it was the aunt’s loss only.

When interviewing people, I heard more similar stories to this case. When a relative pulls away, see if in the long run it really is better. Are you putting a lot of time and energy into a relationship that is more on the toxic side, just because you are both branches on the same family tree?

If you are uncomfortable in some settings where you both know people, then feel free to leave them. I felt awkward in our church where some people started to avoid me. I changed parishes and was welcomed immediately. This is my own turf without a shared history. I stopped going to a few restaurants where I had good rapport with staff who saw us as a couple or family unit. My sons and I discovered fun cafes and coffee houses where we started anew.

If people seem to be doing a mass exodus in your life during your divorce, it may be that they are connected to your spouse in some manner, such as with work or civic organizations.

Ways to Grow Your Social Circle After Divorce 

There are ways to enlarge your social circle, such as by reconnecting with old friends with whom you lost touch. I met other people through my sons’ school and activities. Get involved with their school as a class parent or volunteer. I was room mother for years and helped out in the library. Join groups such as MeetUp.com for a variety of activities and interests. Some divorced friends are active in their churches, who have movie nights, coffees, and many other gatherings.

Divorce gives the opportunity to enrich life with a new circle of friends along with ones you have known for ages. Expanding relationships can mean fostering or adopting a pet, if feeling a bit lonely. There is balance in life. When someone departs, there is an opening for others to fill the gap in an even better way.