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  • Nawal Houghton - Your Divorce Coach

Who gets our mutual friends in the Divorce?

For those in divorce, our lives enter a whirlwind of emotional stress and fear as we try and navigate this tricky road. We think about our children, our families, finances and our home. But what about our friends? For most of us, we will be lucky enough to have a handful of friends that we can rely on to be there for us at this time, but will all our friends do this? and what about friends from "the marriage"?


These friendships can burn. Your feelings might be unintentionally hurt, or you may wonder why some of your friends don’t contact you as much. There is usually a very awkward time when everything is fresh and brand new. The wounds of divorce are still open and the scars haven’t begun to form yet.


We’ve been through it and we know plenty of others who have, too. Based on our own experiences and those we have spoken to, we have drawn up a list of helpful advice that you may find useful when thinking about friends and divorce.


DON’T TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY


Some of your closest friends might not know how to behave around you. They might have unanswered questions (that you may or may not be ready to answer). Perhaps they’ve heard things from others but essentially nothing from you directly. They could even be grieving for you.

Ultimately, unless the communication has been clear and direct, people don’t always know what to do or say and sometimes distance is okay. Don’t take it personally. They are essentially waiting for you to break the news, and will hopefully be waiting for you when you do.


DON’T STAKE YOUR CLAIM.


We are not school children on the playground. Therefore, it is (in my opinion) totally inappropriate to lay claim on a human being. Don’t do this to your ex-spouse. Divorce can bring out the worst in people… but try not to let jealousy of friends and insecurities about your place in your friendships cause this kind of toxic behavior. We know of a women who literally said, “Do not talk to {this friend} anymore. I want her to be my friend, and she can’t be yours.” Newsflash, this is not okay.


Things will happen naturally, and your ex has every right to speak with other human beings – even the ones you think you now control.

This applies ten fold if there are children involved. Kids can sense this sort of thing. Don’t put them in that position. Adults should be respectable, behave themselves, and allow for their kids to navigate an already new territory without any inappropriate boundaries for their other parent.


WHAT IF MY EX HAS STAKED THEIR CLAIM OVER FRIENDS?


See above. If your ex does “stake their claim”, guess what? You don’t have to obey.

Talk to who you want to. Connect with those you still want to stay connected with. Look toward your future, not your possibly unhealthy and controlling past. What will be, will be. Be authentic and the rest will follow.


KEEP YOUR CLOSEST FRIENDS AND KEEP THEM CLOSE.


Let your friends be there for you and love you. Try not to close up, lock your doors and turn out the lights every single night. Let them in. You will need them in your roughest moments, no matter how painful it is to talk or process. Tell them when you need them, and let yourself be vulnerable. Vulnerability is the key. Your friends will not laugh at you. They most likely will appreciate the honesty of your current state and act in your best interest.


BE HONEST AND DIRECT


Sometimes we get so fed up of talking about our sad stories. During the weeks and months surrounding divorce, it can feel like a tunnel, filled only with the “D” word and all that goes with it. You might dread going to grab a drink with your friend because it means talking about your divorce or your ex yet again. This is when it is okay to say. “I want to talk about anything BUT my divorce. Can we just not mention it tonight?" That way you and your friend know exactly what everyone wants.


Ultimately, in terms of what happens to mutual friends during the divorce, the answer is there is no set answer. It really does depend on your behaviour, on theirs. It will be awkward. It will be hard. It will be strange to figure out what’s going on some days. But the dust will settle and friendships will come out looking different than they did before.

Some friendships you thought were solid will crumble.

Other friendships you thought would never amount to more than acquaintance-level will blossom and grow like you never imagined.


If you would like to discuss this or anything else surrounding your divorce or separation, get in touch with Your Divorce Coach @ your.divorce.coach@icloud.com.

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