Friendships Change After Divorce

Divorce clarifies who is friend and who is foe. Someone who stuck by you through thick and thin may not necessarily do so post-divorce. Other people may pleasantly surprise you. My husband had a friend who knew him from their teenage years and was in my women’s club. I am shocked how friendly she and her husband remain after our acrimonious divorce. I get hugs and they genuinely want to know how my sons and I are doing. I still do not reveal any very personal tidbits about our lives, but appreciate this unanticipated source of support. Right after my divorce was finalized, I ran into her with her daughter when buying myself spa products. They enthusiastically said I deserved to be pampered. How nice.

Friendships are give and take, so reassess if you seem to be always be on the giving end. If you have friends who suck the life out of you, then perhaps it is time to move on without these vampire energy drainers. Do you have a drama queen friend who flits from crisis to crisis? During one’s divorce – it is our turn to be on the receiving end of attention and concern, not doling it out to others. If this person refuses to listen to your woes, or be there for you, then consider pulling away. One way is to say, “I am dealing with my own situation right now and am no longer available.”

The tricky part is deciding how to end or wind down a friendship that is no longer working. When a friendship has become toxic, one way of dealing with this is to be direct, but polite. Consider saying something along this vein, “Our friendship seems to have run its course. Thanks for the good times and I wish you the best of luck in life.” Then do not answer any calls, texts or e-mails.

What if you have taken different paths and there is no animosity?  When you just do not have the time or energy to maintain this friendship, then cease contacting the friend. Let a few calls go unanswered before replying. Then say,” I am so overburdened right now, that I will get back to you later if my calendar ever lightens a bit.” A variation is “I am taking a break from some relationships right now, and cannot make plans in the near future.” You can wean your friend by planning a get together four months away.

Sometimes you may be the one who has changed or matured. Divorce is a catalyst for taking life’s responsibilities more seriously. In one case, a woman chose not to keep up her partying ways and numerous shopping expeditions post-divorce with a pal. It still hurt when her shallow friend dropped her for a more exciting new buddy. Intellectually this woman knew it was for the best, but it is no fun to be dumped by someone whom you thought was a friend.

Amanda moved after marriage and immediately met a kindred spirit. They were there for each other through infertility and their subsequent divorces. Amanda’s friend had cut off two of her long-term friends for what seemed to be frivolous reasons. One dated men too young and the other one did not divorce a nasty husband. When Amanda started getting the same treatment, she took a direct action. The friend had left packages in Amanda’s mailbox for two holidays. Amanda sent a note stating it was silly to leave packages or mail them when living in the same city. She told the friend that if they did not get together for a holiday that she would save the present until the next time that they saw each other (which had not been for months). The friend did not respond and Amanda never learned what her perceived infraction was. Being caught in someone’s games is not therapeutic. It takes two to dance, so do not participate in a dysfunctional one.

You will learn who really will be with you long-term and who wants your friendship for what you can do for them. Your exit plan will be different for each acquaintance whom you part ways with. Think about evasive, direct, or politely waving from afar. When one releases toxic people, that gives space for new wonderful folks to enter their life.  


Wendi Schuller, uses her knowledge as a nurse, Neuro-Linguistic Programmer (NLP), and hypnotherapist, to author the book The Women’s Holistic Guide to Divorce that helps women regaining their strength of inner peace and wisdom. She can be reached by email



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