Separation is never easy. It doesn’t matter how good you are at communicating or how amicable the relationship, it is still tough. Along the way discussions are had about how to split assets, who should get what, care arrangements and co-parenting.
But the one thing that always seems to get left out of the conversation is:
“How do we negotiate our friendships going forward?”
Generally, in relationships, the longer you are together, the closer groups of friends become. You make friends as a couple and hang out as a group and sometimes people meet through groups of friends.
Then, when you separate there seems to be this awkwardness for all parties involved as to who can hang out with who. Decisions get made, meet-ups happen (sometimes in secret) and then BAM sides get chosen, someone gets hurt and friendships are lost.
So how do you cope when these mutual friendships are lost?
Losing friends after losing your partner can be really hard on the soul, here are a few tips to help you survive this difficult time.
DEALING WITH LOST FRIENDSHIPS AFTER DIVORCE
IT’S AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE NEW FRIENDS WHO “GET YOU”
Firstly, you are incredible. Just because someone has chosen to be friends with your former partner and not you, does not devalue who you are.
If anything, it gives you a chance to look at who you are now and what you want out of life. Having time alone can be seen as really lonely, but it can also be seen as a time to have some introspection about the direction you want your life to go and who you want in it.
In addition to that it means once you get to know who you are and what you want, the friendships you choose can be purposeful. For example, you might make friends with someone on the same life path as you or someone who has experienced a similar history to you.
Additional resource: Coping with loneliness as a single mother.
LOSE YOUR INHIBITIONS ABOUT MEETING NEW PEOPLE
Secondly, friendships are ready to be made all around you.
I want you to think about kids, they literally walk up to someone in the park and say: “Hi, my name is Linda” (if their name is Linda!) and then that person is their best friend. They don’t get caught up in the concern that the other person won’t like them or that it is “weird” to talk to strangers.
Chat to the person next to you at the park, at the bus stop, at the shops. Practice making small talk conversation, you never know where it might lead.
JOIN LOCAL EVENTS
Thirdly, check out events that interest you.
This is a great way to find someone with similar interests and to make those purposeful friendships as discussed in the first point. And, as an added bonus, you’ll be learning new things or expanding your knowledge and skill set. It’s a win/win.
REACH OUT TO FRIENDS FROM THE PAST
Lastly, remember that along the way in your life you have made friends and acquaintances with different people. Reach out to an old contact, see if they want to catch up and have coffee.
They also might have been thinking about reaching out and are super grateful you made the first move.
IN CONCLUSION: FRIENDSHIPS AND SEPARATION
There is no doubt that losing friends in a breakup can be taxing. It can shake your self-confidence, make you question your self-worth, and can leave you feeling like you lost more than you were ready for.
But this is a new beginning, a new adventure! This is a chance for you to do whatever you want! You can make friends with whoever you want and be whoever you want (who am I kidding? Every day is a chance for this).
Rather than focusing on what was or what could have been (because they are rabbit holes you might never come out of), stay present with what is.
Be grateful for what you do have and, if you dare, dream of how incredible that future of yours will be. Then go out there and get that dream because as Harrier Tubman said:
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars and change the world.”