Divorce is a time of change and that means everything can change. Nothing is off-limits and everything is up for negotiation. As if it’s not enough to be losing your spouse, divorce can also mean saying goodbye to friends.
Kimberly, my current guest was married at twenty-three and eighteen years later when she divorced she made a surprising discovery about who her friends really were. Here’s Kimberly:
The surprise was that I lost some friends and gained others. When we were first divorced, I found out that all of our friends were actually his friends and I had to build up my own friendship network, if you will.
They were mostly couples and they were mostly people that he had gone to school with and that he had hung around with. I just, I guess, lost touch with my friends and just became immersed in his world and his friends. And then, when it was over they weren’t interested in me anymore. They stuck with him. I don’t know what he told them about the relationship. It doesn’t really matter. The point is that they were his friends before and they remained his friends, but it certainly taught me that I needed to have my own friends and I have worked at that.
I have told my daughter the same thing, “Don’t get so immersed in your boyfriend’s life that you don’t have a life of your own. You have to have your own friends, your own support network.”
I made new friends by making an effort to be more friendly at work with certain people. I was always very much work is work and that private life is private life and kept the two very separate. But there were some people at work that I really liked, so I proceeded to have a relationship with them outside the office.
My children also gave me an opportunity; friends, mothers of friends of my children when they were in school doing a lot of sports and activities and so on. Actually, it was quite difficult now that I look back on it, but I had two children who were involved in sports and I was constantly on the go driving this one to one sport and that one to the other sport and basically doing it all on my own. A lot of times I would just sit in the stands and watch whatever child doing whatever sport and build up relationships with other mothers.
As they got older and stopped participating in the sports, I missed the social aspect that I had built up over those years, but some of those mothers I still continue to have relationships with even after the sports finished.
Today I continue to keep in touch with friends and I started a book club a little while ago. I call friends up if they haven’t called me in awhile and get together.
The value in this segment is two-fold. For those who are just going through divorce, it lets you know to expect to lose contact with some friends. There may some who consciously choose to take a particular side and then there are some you’ll lose through no fault of your own but rather because of social dynamics.
I’m not as close now to my married friends with whom my ex and I socialized with as a couple. I’m pretty sure it isn’t that they’ve chosen to maintain their friendship with my ex over me but rather more simply that couples often end up socializing with other couples. So don’t go getting paranoid that someone doesn’t like you anymore or that they’ve chosen your ex over you. It’s just a couples thing.
The second takeaway here is a caution for when you do start dating again … DO NOT forsake your friends for your new partner.
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