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The #1 Reason Friendships Fail After Divorce

Common Reasons for Friendships Failing After a Divorce - and the 1 Surprising Reason Why

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Why Friendships Fail After Divorce

Divorce, often triggers a chain reaction of collateral damage. Among the casualties, often friendships fail after divorce, leaving the newly single reeling in a double blow of emotional loss. But why? Why do these seemingly solid bonds, built over years of shared laughter and secrets, suddenly snap under the strain of a marital breakdown?

I guess I’m lucky, I am a bit of a loner. I’d never had a huge circle of friends-even in high school. Furthermore, I preferred to keep things low drama, and still do, I guess. One thing about being a loner is that there are fewer people to hurt or abandon you when you need them most.

Video for The #1 Reason Friendships Fail After Divorce

Divorce is such an intensely personal decision, and it can be very isolating as it is. If you are planning on leaving your marriage, the fact that you may have friendships end after divorce is something to prepare for. From what I’ve seen, it’s very common, unfortunately – especially among women. I gather this may be because it is women who usually initiate a divorce after years of careful contemplation, making her the “bad guy” and the man the “victim”. I have nothing to back this up, but it’s hunch based on my life experiences.

Close-up of a sad and depressed woman deep in thought outdoors.

Many clueless husbands play out this victim role claiming they were “blindsighted” and had “no idea” she was so unhappy. This is something else I’ve seen play out over and over again. Including between my own parents and their friends.

Luckily, mom managed to retain most of her friendships, and so did dad, when the dust finally settled.

Personally, I would never even consider dumping someone based on their marital status. In fact, I can’t think of anything more shallow and ridiculous, but it happens. A lot!

On the flip side, writing this made me think back to all the friends and acquaintances I’ve had over the years that got a divorce. Some of the things I said (likely out of surprise or shock – I wasn’t trying to be rude) would probably make me cringe now. I was pretty young back then -and very naive. It was difficult for me to see things through the lens of someone else’s life because I lacked the life experience at the time. Many of them I may have envied because their lives seemed so “easy” with the big house, the beautiful kids, the money, the shopping, vacations, hot cars and the ambitous husband….I mean, they had it all! How bad could things be?

So, to all those who have come and gone out of my life, if I ever said anything that came across as insensitive concerning your divorce, I’m sorry.


If your marriage looked great on the outside, be prepared for some shocked responses and go easy on them if possible. You can’t expect someone from outside your relationship to read your mind – especially if you hid the negatives about your husband and marriage, like so many of us do, to keep that facade of the happy perfect life to the outside world or on social media.

My life’s observations have taught me that these marriages are the ones most likely to fail because that handsome, ambitious husband was a first class controlling, abusive jerk. In the immortal words of Elvis Presley: “The truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away!”

Quote about truth by Elvis Presley

Navigating the Minefield of Friendships Ending After Divorce

The emotional upheaval of divorce throws people into unfamiliar territory. Priorities shift, social circles realign, and friendships face the test of adapting to this new reality. Some friends, unsure how to navigate the shifting sands of support, simply retreat. Others, caught in the crossfire of anger and blame, feel forced to choose sides, inevitably alienating the friend on the “other team.”

Through the Friend’s Eyes:

It’s important to remember that the world doesn’t revolve around your divorce. Your friends are grappling with their own emotions, anxieties, and even biases.

They might:

Feel awkward: Unsure of how to offer support without taking sides or intruding on a private matter, they might choose to withdraw, fearing they’ll say the wrong thing. The silence can be deafening.

Friends who hold back often struggle with a complex cocktail of anxieties. They might stumble through mental simulations, replaying awkward conversations, and imagining missteps. The fear of saying the wrong thing, inadvertently pushing the friend further into pain or stoking the flames of conflict, can be paralyzing.

The unknown terrain of a divorcing friend’s emotional battleground, riddled with landmines of hurt and anger, might simply feel too treacherous to navigate. This, coupled with the uncertainty of appropriate boundaries, can lead to an agonizing inaction, a retreat into the emotional periphery, leaving the friend feeling abandoned at a time when connection is most crucial. Sometimes, it’s not indifference, but an overwhelming fear of making things worse that drives this unintended withdrawal.

Become overwhelmed: The emotional intensity of your pain can be draining, especially if they’re juggling their own challenges. They might prioritize their own well-being, inadvertently leaving you feeling unsupported.

Your pain, raw and exposed, can feel like a relentless storm, its waves crashing against your friend’s emotional shores. Witnessing your tears, the cracks in your voice, the raw vulnerability etched on your face, can be an exhausting experience, especially if they’re already weathering their own internal tempests.

The emotional drain can be immense, leaving them depleted and unable to fully engage in your pain. It’s not a reflection of their love or concern, but a human limitation. Like a lifeguard caught in a riptide, they might momentarily let go, not out of apathy, but to ensure they don’t get pulled under themselves. This unintentional distance, born from self-preservation rather than neglect, can feel like a cruel twist of fate, leaving you yearning for the very support that seems to be slipping away. Remember, sometimes, even the best friends need to take a breath, recharge their own batteries, to be able to fully return and face the storm alongside you.

Hold pre-existing biases: Long-held opinions about the ex-partner or preconceived notions about divorce can color their perception of the situation, leading them to distance themselves.

The shadows of the past can distort the present in unexpected ways. Preconceived notions about your ex-partner, whispers of past disagreements, or even personal baggage from their own relationships can cast a long shadow over your friend’s perception of your divorce.

Suddenly, your pain becomes filtered through a lens of pre-existing biases, turning neutral facts into ammunition for imagined narratives. They might find themselves unconsciously aligning with one side, interpreting actions through the warped prism of their pre-existing convictions.

This can manifest in subtle ways, from guarded silences to barbed comments, ultimately eroding the foundation of trust and creating an emotional chasm that’s hard to bridge. It’s essential to remember that these reactions, however hurtful, are often rooted in their own history, and not a reflection of your worth, or the validity of your experience. Navigating this dynamic requires patience, clear communication, and a willingness to acknowledge the impact of their past perceptions on the present reality of your heartbreak.

The Pitfalls of Friends Taking Sides in Your Divorce:

Friends who take sides typically fall victim to the emotional maelstrom of divorce. They might:

Feel protective: Wanting to shield their friend from further hurt, they demonize the ex-partner, fueling resentment and hindering reconciliation. In the hurricane of your divorce, some friends might morph into makeshift warriors, wielding a shield of unwavering loyalty. Their love for you becomes entwined with a fierce protectiveness, a need to defend you from every perceived slight or injustice.

This can manifest in the demonization of your ex-partner, painting them as the villain in your personal narrative. While fueled by good intentions, this can have unintended consequences. The constant barrage of negativity can fuel your own anger and resentment, making reconciliation, if desired, even more difficult. Moreover, it paints a one-dimensional picture of a complex situation, potentially alienating other friends who might hold different perspectives.

Remember, in this emotional maelstrom, well-meaning protectiveness can inadvertently morph into emotional manipulation, creating an echo chamber of bitterness that ultimately harms everyone involved. True support lies in acknowledging the pain without demonizing individuals, allowing you to navigate the complexities of your emotions and make your own informed choices.

Seek validation: Aligning with one side can offer a sense of belonging and solidify their own beliefs about the situation. Sometimes, the lines between support and self-validation blur in the storm of a friend’s divorce. Taking sides can offer a deceptive sense of clarity, a clear-cut narrative in the midst of emotional chaos.

By aligning with one party, your friend might be seeking a sense of belonging, a comforting confirmation of their own pre-existing beliefs about the situation. It becomes a way to categorize the good and the bad, the victim and the villain, solidifying their own moral compass within the tangled web of the conflict. While this might provide temporary comfort, it can ultimately build walls and impede genuine understanding. It prevents friends from seeing the full picture, the nuances of emotion that don’t fit neatly into pre-constructed boxes.

Remember, choosing sides isn’t about loyalty, it’s about empathy. True support lies in embracing the messy complexity of the situation, holding space for all the emotions without needing to assign blame or claim ownership of a narrative that ultimately belongs to your friend and their ex-partner alone.

Project their own experiences: Personal baggage or past relationships can influence their perception of the divorce, leading to biased judgments. The echoes of past heartbreaks can cast long shadows in the present.

Your friend’s perception of your divorce might be unwittingly colored by the ghosts of their own relationships, past betrayals, and unresolved scars. A bitter divorce they witnessed in their childhood, a lingering resentment towards an ex, or even unresolved conflicts within their own marriage can distort their lens, causing them to project their own experiences onto your situation. This can lead to biased judgments, misinterpretations of your emotions, and ultimately, a disconnect from the unique complexities of your own story.

It’s vital to remember that your friend’s reactions, however misguided, are often rooted in their own emotional history, not a lack of concern. Open communication, gentle reminders of the individuality of your experience, and perhaps even sharing snippets of their own baggage can create a space for mutual understanding and a bridge over the chasm of perceived similarities.

Remember, while their past shapes their perspective, it doesn’t define your reality. By navigating this dynamic with compassion and clear communication, you can rebuild trust and ensure that their past doesn’t dictate the future of your friendship.

Close up portrait of two beautiful young girls with clear fresh young face skin and perfect nude makeup

The #1 Reason Why We Lose Friends in Divorce

The truth is, while the reasons we’ve explored paint a nuanced picture, they all converge on a single, powerful emotion – fear. Fear of saying the wrong thing, fear of choosing a side, fear of being overwhelmed by your pain, even fear of their own past resurfacing and warping their perspective, fear that somehow your divorce might negatively influence their own marriage.

It’s this fear that often drives the silence, the withdrawal, the unintended distancing that feels like betrayal when you most need support. Remember, your friends aren’t villains in this story, they’re simply human, navigating a complex situation with their own set of emotional baggage.

Recognizing the role of fear can help you approach the situation with compassion, offering space for open communication, gentle reminders of your needs, and a willingness to bridge the gap together. After all, friendship, like love, can weather the storm if both sides are willing to face the waves with understanding and open hearts.

Coping Strategies When Friendships Fail After Divorce Infographic
Coping Strategies When Friendships Fail After Divorce Infographic

Coping Strategies When Friendships Fail After Divorce:

Losing a friend during such a vulnerable time can be incredibly painful. Here are some ways to cope:

  • Focus on self-care: Prioritize your emotional and mental well-being. Seek therapy, join support groups, and engage in activities that bring you joy.
  • Communicate openly: If you feel comfortable, express your hurt and disappointment to your friend. Open communication can sometimes bridge the gap.
  • Seek alternative support: Build new connections with people who understand your situation and offer non-judgmental support.
  • Grieve the loss: Allow yourself to feel the pain of the lost friendship. Acknowledge it, process it, and ultimately, move forward with compassion for yourself and your friend.

You’re Not Alone:

Know that you’re not the first person to lose friends after a divorce – and you won’t be the last! It’s a surprisingly common phenomenon, and the sting of rejection can feel amplified during a time when support is most essential. Take comfort in the fact that this doesn’t reflect your worth as a person, and that genuine friendships, built on strong foundations of understanding and respect, will endure.

Remember, the road to healing is paved with self-compassion, open communication, and seeking support from the right places. You are not alone in this journey, and even amidst the shattered pieces, new and stronger bonds can be forged.

Floral Line Break


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