Even in the best case scenarios, divorce is unpleasant. But there’s one particularly troubling aspect of divorce that people hardly ever talk about. What happens to mutual friendships after you split with your spouse? You hope that you and your ex won’t be forced to interact socially, and that you can each move on with your separate lives. But that doesn’t always happen. If it doesn’t, here are 5 things to remember that’ll help you stay sane.
1. They don’t get it, and you can’t expect them to
Aside from your very closest friends, the others won’t pick sides. And honestly, they shouldn’t have to. No matter how much of an injustice your ex inflicted on you, your mutual friends simply aren’t close enough to the situation to be expected to cut your ex off. It’s not worth it for them to actively shun him, because doing that is awkward. People will do just about anything to avoid awkwardness or conflict, and this is one of those things. So they’ll continue to be friends with your ex – and you, too. They
It’s not worth it for them to actively shun him because doing that is awkward. People will do just about anything to avoid awkwardness or conflict, and this is one of those things. So they’ll continue to be friends with your ex – and you, too. They do love and value you, even if it doesn’t seem that way to you at first.
2. You’re going to feel angry and betrayed for a while
Especially if the circumstances of your divorce are such that your spouse was unfaithful, you’ll understandably feel angry and betrayed. But not just at your ex; also at your mutual friends who won’t ditch him as a friend.
There will be times when you want to strangle everyone, and can’t understand why the people who call themselves your friends would still maintain a friendship with someone who burned you. It’s natural to feel angry and betrayed for a while, but those feelings will eventually lessen – probably when you’ve fully come to terms with point #1.
3. You’re going to miss out on things you shouldn’t have to
Your mutual friends are going to invite both you and your ex to events because guess what? They don’t want to have to deal with choosing. Unfortunately, that means you will. If you’re dead against seeing your ex, you might need to bow out of events and decline invitations if he’s accepted them.
If you’re on civil enough terms, consider proposing an “alternate” social schedule to your ex that the two of you can work out where you attend one event and he attends the next one, etc. The only other option is to not care, go anyway, and try to have a good time with the people you’re actually there to see. None of these choices is easy, and ultimately what feels right for you will be based on where you are in your journey to healing.
4. It’ll take you much longer to work through your divorce
You can do everything “right” after your divorce – go to therapy, identify your share of responsibility for the decline of your marriage, work on self-improvement, and even try to spend the bulk of your time with people who aren’t friends with your ex.
But having mutual friends means ultimately means you two are still connected, which is especially true in the case of social media. It can be like constantly picking at a scab that won’t heal. It’ll gnaw at you, and definitely extend your time working through your divorce. Try to be patient and remember that as clichéd as it sounds, the passage of time does heal.
5. You’ll continue to be caught off guard
Things you never thought could happen will. For example, I was shocked when I found out a mutual friend who offered to officiate my second wedding also agreed to officiate my ex’s second wedding. This happened three years after our separation, so perhaps our friend thought enough time had passed. But some things will always be too soon, and others probably won’t ever get it. Bottom line is, don’t be shocked when you’re shocked.
Divorce can be brutal. It’s incredibly difficult when you fee betrayed by someone and your friends don’t unequivocally choose your side. It does nothing to validate your feelings, and it may even seem like their loyalties lie with your ex and not you. But remember that in reality, your friends just feel uncomfortable and aren’t sure what else to do. No one wants to be in the middle.
Featured photo credit: Group of Friends by Ed Gregory via stokpic.com