In our book, Charmed Divorce, we write a lot about friendships and the importance of support. Without a doubt, having friends hear you cry, to nod while you complain, and empathize while you rage is priceless. It's important to surround yourself with good friends.
You will find that, in the event of divorce, the most random friendships will appear. An aquaintance, once on the fringe, may become a pillar of support. An office mate may become a good friend because they are willing to lend an ear. Be open to the new people that appear in your life during this time of your life.
On the flipside, there may be some friendships that don't survive your divorce. I was advised by a good friend when I was recently divorced who said, "some of your friends or family will not treat you the same once you divorce." At the time she said this to me I didn't believe her. But she was right. It happened. Going through a dramatic change in your personal life will mean dramatic changes in your relationships with everyone around you. So, how do you keep the friendships from your marriage intact?
1. Provide Assurances
The first thing to do after announcing your divorce is to assure your friends that you intent to keep the friendship alive. Divorce is a traumatic for event for you, of course. But, it can be disturbing to friends who may have had no idea that it was going to happen. Assure them that, in spite of the change in your life, you would like to remain friends.
2. Be There For Your Friends
Yes, your friends will be there for you during your divorce. YOU need to be there for them, too. Although their problems may not be as big as yours at that time, they will still need you to listen to their troubles and to provide a shoulder to cry on when they go through difficulties. Be a good friend to your friends!
3. Do Not Treat Your Friends as Therapists
Friends are Friends, not therapists. Don't treat them like that. It's worth it to get a therapist and let the therapist do their job. Putting your friends in the position of helping you heal emotionally is exhausting for them. Your friends are not trained in that and they may feel helpless and frustrated if put in that position.
4. Avoid Bashing Your Ex
Like it or not, your friends may still also be friends with your ex. Leave them out of the conflict by avoiding talk about the ex. This includes bashing the ex. Not only does this make things uncomfortable for your friends, but focusing on the negative with regards to your ex is not healthy for you. Let it go and let the friendship be based on something positive.
5. Keep in Contact
Although you may want to hide away from the world during your divorce, this is the worst possible thing you can do. Keep in contact with your friends and let them know that the friendship is still there. Arrange for a lunch date or meet for a cup of coffee. Staying social with benefit you and touching bases with your friends now and then will help the relationship survive.
Robin Sassi is co-author of "Charmed Divorce". She lives in San Diego, California and currently coaches individuals to help them live a more positive life through a step-by-step customized process.