Divorce is not an uncommon occurrence, with nearly half of first marriages ending in a split and worse odds for subsequent marriages. What’s hard to believe is that, despite these numbers, there’s still a social stigma surrounding divorce.
Regardless of your reasons for divorcing or who initiated the process, you might experience some level of isolation when you announce that you and your spouse are calling it quits. In some cases, this could be because of negative reactions to the news.
However, it might also result from your own trepidation about discussing your situation, leading you to pull away from loved ones who might otherwise support you during this time. Maybe you don’t want to be a burden or a downer, so you isolate yourself.
If you’re feeling alone and struggling with how to discuss your situation with friends, the first thing you need to remember is that everyone goes through tough times, and your true friends are the ones who stand by you when you’re at your lowest. When they suffer heartbreak or loss, you’ll be there for them, so it’s okay to accept their love, concern, and support now.
Even so, it can be hard to deliver the news, face the onslaught of reactions, and manage your own needs and wellness in the meantime. Here are a few ways to explain to your friends what you’re going through and get the support you need during the isolating process of divorce.
Breaking the News
One of the hardest parts of divorce is explaining your situation to friends, especially those who are friends with both you and your spouse or people you think will be judgmental. There are a few things you should try to keep in mind as you go through your list of friends and figure out how to tell them you’re getting a divorce.
Share As Much or As Little as You Want
The type of support you need is unique to you. Maybe you need a shoulder to cry on, or perhaps you just want to have fun and forget your situation for a while. Different people could serve different needs, so think about which friends might be best suited to offering the type and level of support you need.
Some may want to hear all the details and offer you comfort and compassion, and these could be good friends to contact when you’re feeling emotional and overwhelmed. Others may not feel comfortable discussing heavy emotions — they might prefer to help by dropping meals at your doorstep.
Still others may be great at pulling you out of a funk with a fun activity to distract you, whether that’s a night out at the club — losing yourself in the beat on the dance floor — or simply sitting and watching trash TV together. Be selective when it comes to who you share what with. The right people will accept and support you no matter what.
Try Not to Anticipate Reactions
One of the hardest parts about telling people you’re divorcing is dealing with their reactions to the news. You may fear judgment, reprisals, or even pity. However, it’s important to remember that you have no control over how others feel, and you may be surprised by their reactions.
It’s natural for your friends to be surprised and dismayed by your divorce. They may not know you’ve been struggling in your marriage if you put on a brave face, or the divorce may be just as surprising to them as it is to you, depending on the situation. They might even react with positivity if they know you’re in a bad situation and they fear for your safety and wellness.
The truth is, friends who love you are likely to feel sympathy for the pain you’re going through, and this is often the source of their own sadness. That said, you’ll find that they want to support you in a variety of ways, and it’s wonderful to bask in that outpouring of love, especially when you’re feeling isolated and discouraged.
It is possible that some of your friends will have distinctly negative attitudes. They might let their own biases, religious beliefs, or personal experiences color their reaction to your situation.
These are not the people you need to be around when you’re coping with the challenges of divorce. You need people who will lift you up and carry you through with compassion and dignity, not drag you into their own drama or make you feel worse.
Delegate Sharing Information
Even if you try not to anticipate how your friends will react to news of your divorce, you know which ones tend to cause drama and make themselves the center of any situation, even if it’s not about them. You may also have friends who want to fix every problem and can be overly insistent that you take their advice.
You’re already dealing with an overwhelming situation and high emotions, so sharing your news with these friends can seem like a daunting and unpleasant task. The good news is that you don’t have to. This is a great time to lean on your network of trusted friends and delegate the sharing of information.
Speak with your inner circle and request that they share the news with other friends on your behalf. This takes away the burden of repeating the sad news over and over again and allows you time to focus on yourself.
When your close friends share the news with others, they can request respect for your privacy, stressing that you hope to remain friends, even though you’re currently immersed in divorce proceedings. Even if you’re feeling alone, it’s not a great idea to spend time with friends who create negative vibes, so consider reconnecting with these people later on when you’re feeling stronger.
Asking for and Accepting Help
Feelings of isolation and loneliness can make the already difficult emotions related to divorce much more strenuous. Humans are social creatures, and talking through our thoughts and feelings can help immensely when it comes to unloading some of that emotional and spiritual weight.
What kind of help can your friends offer during this challenging time in your life?
Discuss Your Feelings With Trusted Friends
Choosing trusted confidants during your divorce is perhaps the best way to feel less alone and get the support you need. If you’re going through a contentious divorce, you may want to select people who are solely your friend rather than mutual friends you share with your spouse.
For one thing, you don’t want to put people in the middle and force them to choose a side. Additionally, when loyalties are split, you never know if someone might pass on sensitive, personal information to your spouse, potentially providing ammunition to use against you in divorce proceedings.
Ask for Referrals
You may need all kinds of help during your divorce. For example, you might need a new place to live and movers to get you from point A to point B. You may be searching for a therapist or a divorce support group to help you through different stages of the process. Friends can be a great resource for information, especially if they’ve gone through a divorce themselves.
While you can ask for referrals for divorce professionals, like attorneys or consultants who deal with co-parenting or witness preparation, you might want to find the right professionals on your own. Just because your friend had a great experience with a lawyer doesn’t mean that person is the best choice for your circumstances.
Request the Casserole Cavalry
When you’re dealing with the incredible stress of a divorce, it can be difficult to muster the energy to keep up with cooking. Luckily, many people are happy to help by offering to bring you meals.
Whether you tap into your church, the PTA, a neighborhood group, or your extended list of friends, you can usually mobilize a casserole cavalry by calling just one key person. You might be surprised by how truly helpful it can be to not have to worry about meals when your time and energy are consumed by divorce.
Take Advantage of Babysitters
If you are largely or solely responsible for childcare during your divorce, there are definitely going to be times when you need some help.
For starters, you might have meetings with your lawyer that children should not be present for, or you may have to attend mediation or court hearings. Friends who offer to babysit are a blessing in such scenarios.
That said, you may also simply need some time to focus on your own wellness and healing journey. If people offer to help, do not feel guilty about taking a few hours to meet with a friend who can listen and comfort you.
You might also schedule a massage, a nail appointment, or a trip to the salon. A little pampering can go a long way to lift your spirits when it feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.
Speak With a Therapist
Knowing how to deal with your divorce, much less caring how your friends feel about it, can be exhausting. Even worse, you may worry that dumping all your emotions on your friends for an extended period of time will damage your relationships.
This is a great time to find a therapist who can listen and guide you through. When you’re doing the hard work with a professional, you can actually enjoy time spent with friends instead of relying on them for needed emotional support.
Work With a Divorce Coach
Part of the difficulty of divorce is feeling rudderless. You had a plan for your future and now you don’t know where you stand or where you’re going.
A life and divorce coach can help you figure out your goals for the divorce process, from the division of assets and child custody to being comfortable and confident on your own. This person can also help you create goals and plans for sustaining and improving relationships with family and friends.
Find the Right Resources
There’s a wealth of information available to you when it comes to divorce, but it can be hard to find the right advice. You need a platform that offers not only public resources, like helpful articles and a community forum, but also access to trusted professionals like lawyers, mediators, and custody evaluation specialists.