Life After Divorce: Who Gets Custody of the Friends?
If there’s one life event that’ll shake out who your real friends are, it’s divorce. Still, many are caught by surprise when friendships crumble and people they thought they could count on seem to be taking sides, especially if it’s not their side. It’s hurtful and can make you do all the wrong things.
So, what should you do about it? Certified Divorce Coach Debbie Martinez says that despite your own problems, you need to put yourself in your friends’ place. “Friends have their own challenges. They also find themselves stuck having to make uncomfortable decisions. Don’t get stuck trying to prove yourself to your friends.”
The Friends You Lose
The key, Ms. Martinez tells Care2, is to remember that “friends are real people with emotions of their own. You don’t want to put them in a position that makes them feel awkward or uncomfortable. If they cherish the friendship enough they will remain your friend. If they don’t, you don’t want that person as a lifelong friend.
“You can’t control your friends or who they side with. You will lose friends. Your world as you knew it is no longer, and that includes your family, your kids, and your friends. Be sad about it, but don’t stay in that place — accept the choices other people make. These people were your friends for a time. If they’re choosing to go with your ex, that’s okay. Grieve it and move on.”
The Toxic Ex
What about the toxic, narcissistic ex who works to have everybody on their side? You can’t help but feel like it’s an uphill battle. “But why are you battling at all?” asks Martinez. “If they want to go with the ex, then let them go. Don’t add fuel to the fire. If your spouse is trying to sabotage your friendships, don’t worry about it. If your friends are that easily sabotaged, you don’t want them in the first place. Change your perspective. Think of it as a natural weeding of your garden. At the end of the day, the flowers that remain will bloom the brightest.”
The Awkward Social Event
Your friends are throwing a party and they’ve invited you and the ex you don’t want to socialize with. Should you demand an explanation from your friends and tell them to un-invite the ex or you’re boycotting the event?
“Don’t put friends in the middle,” says Martinez. “If they feel they have to be politically correct and invite both of you, they’re trying to do the right thing. Give them credit for that. For you to call them on that is a surefire way to lose a friend. When you’re invited to a party where your ex will be, you don’t have to shy away. Just make sure your intentions are good intentions. Don’t go if you’ve got an ‘I’ll show him’ attitude. Don’t go if the evening is going to end with you in tears and feeling weak. Do go if you think you’ll have that empowering ‘I did it’ feeling. Only you can gauge that.”
The Friends You Keep and the Friends You Make
Martinez reminds us that we may never understand the choices other people make, but we do have to accept them. “Pain comes from trying to understand something you can’t wrap your head around and never will. It’s really painful to constantly look back. When you accept others’ choices, you can move forward and find new friends.”
She adds that “the friendships you keep are the friendships you’ll want to cherish, because they have stuck with you.” The good news is that once you move on, you can put your time and effort into cultivating new friends who want to be with you. Life will be different, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be good.
Photo: Photographer/Collection Wavebreakmedia Ltd. | Thinkstock