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Our blog provides illustrated practical guides for those going through the divorce process, plus news on divorce, money and family breakdown.

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9 July 2012

How many friends does divorce cost?

A guest post from Charlotte Friedman, the founder of the excellent Divorce Support Group - which we are great fans of.

Charlotte Friedman, Divorce Support Group

It is a fact perhaps only known by those going through divorce and separation that friends can fall by the wayside.  It is said that an average of 8 friends are ‘lost’ during the process.  It is yet another example of the ramifications and repercussions of divorce that impact not only the person going through it and the immediate and extended family.  Why should this happen?  

It is always a shock for the person who not only has to battle with her or his personal loss whilst managing the process for any children.  The common belief is that you can always rely on your friends to stick by you.  Not so.  There are those friends who, much like with bereavement, don’t know how to cope with the news, and don’t know what to say.  So, they say nothing and slip quietly in the background, choosing to opt out than deal with difficult conversations.  Then there are the friends who feel the need to choose which half of the couple they are going to support and who choose your ex for reasons that may seem baffling.  Finally, there are the friends who only operate in a couple and no longer have room for you as a single person, choosing to leave you off the dinner party list and the weekends away.  Losing friends, especially when your expectation is that they will be by your side helping you cope, is a very painful business and at a time when you think you couldn’t feel worse, you have the added sadness of missing people who may have been with you for a very long time.  It is made worse by an element of disbelief and perhaps fury that your ex has effectively ‘taken’ someone who was very important to you. 

It is always important to ask when you feel like this, ‘what does separation look like?’  Separation looks like change.  It is a change of everything.  It is change of life-style, child care, holidays and social life.  The process, when the time is right, is to recalibrate your expectations and the trajectory of your life.  Change is frightening but it is not life threatening and good things can come out of it.  Friends are not disposable and they are important and significant, but it is possible to make new ones, who may be more in keeping with your new life and more understanding of this new period.  Divorce is like throwing everything known and comfortable up in the air and then watching whilst it settles in a different unfamiliar way.  It is understanding that things will be different and that in time, when you have caught up with that difference, that too will assume an air of familiarity and you will begin to feel comfortable again.  Change is always anxiety and fear provoking, but growth comes out of change and that is important.

Friends can feel like the infrastructure of our lives, our sounding board, our pick me up.  They can also give us enormous pain when they are lost, like any connected, loving relationship.  Take those that stay, say goodbye to those that go, but don’t lose sight of your ability to make connections and that sometimes in life, what fits one period, doesn’t fit another.  It takes two to create a relationship and it needs two to keep it going.  Let it go if that is what is needed, mourn the loss and when you are ready, you will make other friends who fit the new you and your new life. 

Charlotte Friedman, founder of Divorce Support Group