Friendships and Divorce

It must be a sign of the times. Or my age. No, the times.

I just found out about the first divorce amongst my friends. Not between friends, thank God, so I don’t have to pick a side or anything. I’m only friends with her. But still, it’s my first friend who is getting divorced, and that makes me sad.

I mention this because I got an email from a reader recently (obligatory side note: If you have topics you wish I’d write about, please, email me!) about how the majority of her friends are divorced, and it’s weighing on her friendships. See, she’s been married for over 20 years, and suddenly her newly-single friends are only interested in going out on the town and scoping the scene for eligible bachelors. Probably not your first choice outing after 20 years of marriage. I’ll admit, it’s not my first choice after only two years (almost).

While this reader says she has plenty of friends to spend the days with on weekends, her nights have gotten much quieter. Couple friends for Saturday night dinner are no longer. Her single friends don’t want to go out with her and her husband and feel all third-wheely, and apparently they’d rather go out with other single ladies. What’s a married girl to do?

My vote would be to try and make girl-on-girl dinner dates with these friends, perhaps for a Friday night, but it may have to be during the week. Unfortunately, this is the way things are right now. Those divorced friends are going to want to go out and meet potential mates. and that makes sense for them. It also makes sense for this reader, she married of 20-odd years, not to want to do those things. So, my advice, is either to accept how things are right now, as frustrating as that may be, or go out and try to make new couple friends. Maybe at a cooking class or some other couple-oriented activity. Or through a friend. Maybe invite a coworker and her husband out to dinner one night. Making couple friends is like making regular friends. It’s tough. It takes work.

Luckily I haven’t encountered this problem yet. I’m still mentally preparing for the whole babies-will-change-friendships aspect of adulthood. To think that divorces will come with their own set of problems? Yikes.

My first divorced friend, the one I mentioned earlier, will be moving to Chicago soon. I don’t think her new marital status will affect our friendship too much since she has plenty of single friends in Chicago to prowl with. I get the sense we will be more sushi-on-a-Thursday-night friends. Fine by me. I love me some sushi on any night.

Do you have advice for the reader whose friends are all divorced? Please share! And what do you think, does divorce change friendships?

7 Comments

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7 responses to “Friendships and Divorce

  1. Melinda

    I have 2 guy friends who both married young and got divorced young. They were high school friends and during the marriages, I became friends with the wives as well. I really liked the wives so when the divorces happened, I tried to stay neutral and keep all my friendships. It wasn’t to be. Little by little both the wives pulled away. I questioned one of them once about it and it was explained to me that even though we were friends now, I was really HIS friend. Since I didn’t make that choice, I was a bit hurt by it but I understood. Both the guy friends have remarried now and while I like both of thier new wives, I do find myself keepind a distance.

  2. A few thoughts: for the friend who has only divorced friends, I think working on maintaining those single friends through activities like sushi with the girls on Thursdays, or Saturday afternoon wine and mani-pedis are good ideas. I also think that seeking new friends who are also married might be a good idea – she could think about joining a beginner doubles (tennis) league with her husband, or maybe a card playing league? Something where people do things in twosomes…

    On the topic of new divorce…it’s hard when friends split…but it sounds like your friend is in a new place looking forward to new adventures – which is awesome.

    We have a couple we are friends with who seem to be heading towards splitsville…and while I thought it would be more awkward after the split (that hasn’t happened yet)…it’s almost more awkward now…where everyone knows they are so unhappy!

  3. I am lucky (?) in that all of my friends are comfortable with my husband, so we can do three-person things and it would be OK.

    (I have one divorced friend, one married friend, and the rest of my friends are single.)

    That said, most of the time that I hang with my girlfriends is one-on-one, regardless of their relationship status.

    I hate it when friends drop off the face of the earth when they *start* dating someone, and I would be as annoyed if they dropped off because they were divorced. I understand looking for a date, but I’m not worth your Saturday night any more unless you’re scoping out guys? Not a person I would spend much energy on😦

  4. As someone who has been amicably separated for years and heading down Divorce Avenue, this is an interesting and timely post. I would never want my friends to feel they had to choose sides, nor do I want to distance myself from them (then again, I’m not exactly…on the prowl). But you’re right, the situation IS tricky.

    I can tell my friends want to “be there” for me, but they don’t want to pry. Coming from a conservative background, many disagree with the decision to divorce and have a hard time knowing what to say. Conversely, I don’t want to be a burden, be perceived as fragile, or have my relationship status be the primary topic of conversation or concern. Nothing is lamer than being the “token divorced friend;” I’m still ME, and still on great terms with my spouse. So depending on the depth of the friendship (and how close they are/were to him), the navigation feels muddy and strange.

  5. Cheryl

    I second (or third?) the “focus on doing things with single friends” on a girls’ night out basis. I haven’t been married but that means that a lot (OK, most) of my friends are married. From the other side of that conundrum, it’s hard on us single gals when our married friends talk about nothing but their kids, their husbands, etc., that we singles can’t always relate to. Having a girls’ time out – lunch, manis/pedis, whatever – is a way to maintain the friendship without losing one or the other.

    I can also suggest girls’ game night – one of my friends plays Bunco with her girlfriends (mixed divorceds and marrieds), and I’m working on getting a Scrabble night going for some of my former work colleagues that I just want to stay in touch with. It can be done, but you have to focus on what you have in common, rather than what separates you.

  6. I was that girl. The first (and still only) one to get a divorce in my group of friends. And it was awkward. Our fantasy football league split up, our volleyball team went by the wayside and there was about a year in there when my friends and I didn’t really see much of each other unless I arranged a girls only event. They had accepted my ex as a part of our crowd and even though they knew why we split, there is a mourning period for our social lives as we knew it. I wasn’t petty enough to ask my friends to take sides, so if any of them had chosen to stay in touch with him, I wouldn’t have taken it personally.

    But I totally understood and felt that in time, we would all be ok. And I was right. Those first several months are rough for everyone: the individuals divorcing, their parents and siblings and even their friends. Everyone was questioning their own judgement in accepting us as happily ever after when clearly we were all wrong.

    But I knew that my friends supported me and even their husbands, so when I was invited to be the third wheel, I took total advantage of having a guy’s perspective on our social outings. I actually deepened some friendships by asking some probing questions about relationships and watching my friends work them out as a couple.

    Once I found a new fella, I was just super-sensitive about introducing him to my friends, knowing that they would be cautious and feel a little like, “Will this guy be around for good or not?” The only thing that will fix that hesitation is time. And you know what they say about time healing all wounds: you gotta give time, time.

  7. Anonymous

    I get sad to see all my friends out having a good great time without me. I’m afraid I’m losing all my friends and getting isolated. I’ve lost the diva and am becoming mediocre. I am sure the first chance I get to do something stimulating will be devoured.

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