Surviving the Divorce: Who Gets Custody of the Friends?
Divorce Affects Everyone Around You
Divorce is tough on everyone and your friends are no exception, especially if they were unaware of your issues and your divorce seemingly came out of nowhere. It's common for close friendships to either dissolve or to choose sides during or after a divorce. It’s natural to think close friendships are built to last a lifetime and friends will stay loyal regardless of your situation, but nothing brings out the true colors of those bonds better than a divorce.
What Should You Do About Dissolving Friendships?
There are several ways you can address the friendship custody battle.
- Put yourself in their shoes, give them time to adjust and reach out to you.
- Talk openly and honestly about your situation, without pushing them to see your side of the story.
- Give them space to grieve the separation without interference. Your divorce can make them feel awkward or without the right words. They may also assume you prefer privacy during this difficult transition. Always give benefit of the doubt and don't take their silence personal.
- Realize you are not responsible for their emotions, feelings, or actions about their interpretation of the circumstances surrounding your divorce.
- As much as it hurts, you may have to let them go or give them space if that is what they are choosing.
- Don't try to seek their approval or change their minds.
- Understand people will react to your situation based on their own conditioning, personal/religious beliefs, or experiences.
Perhaps you’ve read or heard this quote before. It was told to me by a dear friend when we were both going through our divorces and it's always resonated with me:
“What other people think about you is none of your business”
The most important thing to remember is to never put your friends in the “middle” position or expect them to choose your side. This easily happens when it's time to attend a mutual social or even an annual event that you once shared when you were still couples. Don't attempt to seek their agreement and don't complain about or bad-mouth your ex-spouse if you do attend such events. If your friends are choosing the opposite side or putting an obvious distance between you, you need to respect their choices, like it or not. The more you attempt to influence them, the more and faster they will pull away. This is one time where you definitely must "take the high road and be the bigger person", as difficult as that may be.
Other Reasons Friendships Dissolve and Why Sometimes It's For the Best
Your friends could be facing confusion and indecision in their own marriages and could be thinking "what if my husband/wife decides this is a good idea and suggests we part ways too?" People can become frightened; particularly when long-term couples divorce, as they feel they have had safety and comfort in their longevity and are safe from marriage demise.
Some people enjoy drama and may only pretend to care about or support you. They could be using your transparency for the sake of relaying information or gossip back to your ex, so be cautious about the details you choose to share regarding your situation.
The decision to end a friendship may be on your part. It could be the perfect opportunity to end a toxic friendship that's wavered and be a blessing in disguise.
Relationships involve give and take from both parties. It's fine to send a friendly message now and then to let them know you're thinking about them, you're doing well, or to suggest a casual meet-up (try not to make the conversation all about you and the divorce if they do agree to meet up). If you are not getting a reciprocal response from them, simply move along, without laying on a guilt-trip or persistent badgering. Once the ball's in their court, there's nothing more you can do, and you can take peace in knowing you did your best.
We may never understand the choices our friends make, much like our friends can't understand the choices you made during your divorce. It may feel like you’ve lost everyone at first, but you most likely haven’t. You'll find some of your friendships will actually strengthen as a result of your divorce or you have something in common with them you never knew. Most importantly, you'll learn from this experience and should any of your friends find themselves in the midst of a divorce, you'll have a better view, empathy, and be able to preserve the friendship.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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© 2018 Debra Roberts