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Downwind of Divorce: Friends of Divorcees

friends hidingWhen divorce is in the picture, it’s been a bad day, week, month, and probably even year. The people who usually make the dark days brighter are friends; but when divorce is in the air, and your pack of friends is downwind, the pack swiftly dwindles to a select few (and sometimes no one at all). At this point it’s an accepted truth that divorce has a knack for sifting through a person’s true friends and faux-friends. In fact, there have been books written on the topic, such as Dr. Bruce Fisher’s book “Rebuilding When Your Relationship Ends.”

Through the Faux-Friend’s Lens

In this book, Dr. Fisher explores the friend of a divorcee persona and the reason why friends tend to make themselves scarce when they catch a whiff of divorce on the breeze.

#1 From friend to threat. In a group of couples, you are expected to be happily taken. When this potpourri of duos is unbalanced, the group feels threatened by the singleton’s brassiness (this ties into #4). After all, that was the groups thing, you were all taken and unavailable.

#2 Divide and be conquered (or shunned). Divorce is an unpleasant topic and occurrence that makes everyone look at their shoes wide-eyed. So what do most people do? They pick a side and hope only to deal with half of the awkwardness of divorce. So if (or once) your group of friends take sides, you’ll find out who your loyal pack is made of.

#3 Flight, not fight. Logically, people know divorce is not contagious. But they are afraid of where their minds (and relationships) will wander if they are present for the demise of a marriage. To avoid catching those impressionable thoughts, they stand back and hope the bad juju doesn’t follow them.

#4 Bold as brass. As old as western culture is, there is still a stigma surrounding divorce. Divorce people are perceived as somehow morally loose and less respectable than married people. Although married people have just as many bad apples as divorced people, unfortunately the divorcees are stuck with a bad rep.

Divorcees Are People Too

Even if you’re not a faux-friend, you might be tempted to back away slowly just so you won’t have to wrack your brain for comforting things to say. Well, now you won’t have an excuse, because here is a condensed list of things every divorcee wants to hear, compiled by The Stir’s blogger Aunt Becky.

  •  I love you. This is at the top of our list because friendship is all about companionship and heartfelt relationships. These 3 words express you care, and reaffirm your friend will never be alone if you’re there.
  • This sucks. Sometimes there is nothing better than just acknowledging the suckiness of the situation. But the upside has to follow this acknowledgement, or you run the risk of your friend wallowing too long.
  • One thing at a time. Just like when you’re swamped at work, you need to step back, take a deep breath, and address things one at a time. Help your friend do this every now and then so they don’t explode from stressful schedules and painful tasks.
  • Can I be your plus 1? Divorcees have to deal with loss wherever they turn, and nothing rubs it in more than invitations with the dreaded “plus 1″ option. Your friend may just want to hide under the covers and never have a social life again. Take the edge (and pressure) off of them by offering to be their plus one and rehabilitate them into the world and laughter.
  • What do you need? Sometimes your friend may need a little help remembering to eat, grocery shop, pay bills, and get the divorce process rolling. Don’t let them forget about themselves, and don’t let them feel like they have to go through this alone by refocusing them on their needs.

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