By Mimi Long*
When I first went through my divorce, the sense of liberation was overwhelming! Other than childcare limitations, I was free to go anywhere with whomever I wanted. I was fortunate that one of my closest girlfriends was in the same place in life. But what about my other married girlfriends? What did we have in common socially now that our lives had diverged? Would I be excluded from dinner parties? Would they socialize with me without their husbands for a night on the town or would our interactions be limited to the occasional brunch or movie?
Because I had been the one to end my marriage, some of my friends’ husbands perceived me as someone who might potentially show their wives how great the “single life” is, so they discouraged contact. Some of my friends were eager to hit the town with me while others shook their heads saying, “I can’t even imagine being ‘out there’ again!”
When a couple’s social life is highly connected to other couples, the question arises of who gets custody of the friends after divorce. Laura Lee Carter, author of How to Believe in Love Again, writes, “When I got my divorce, which was a completely friendly transaction, no lawyers, all healthy, adult agreements, I lost a number of “friends” and I definitely felt judged by others.” The decision to remain friends with the husband or wife often depends upon a couples’ own relationship. If it is not solid, then being around divorced people can make them feel that their own marriage is more vulnerable.
Bestselling author and columnist, Julia Spira (CyberDatingExpert.com), notes that some divorced women find that their married friends often provide emotional support but may still exclude them from social events that are attended mainly by couples. Sometimes, women feel threatened that their newly single friend may have her eyes on their man. In such a case, they are more comfortable socializing one-on-one.
Therapist Jaymes Ian Woode, author of 101 Behaviors a Guy Needs to Understand about His Woman!, has worked with many divorced couples trying to maintain their friends. He has observed that if the divorced woman is spending too much time talking negatively about their ex or men in general, this may cause invitations to evaporate. Husbands can be mistrustful of their wives socializing with a single friend. He writes, “A good marriage does not warrant mistrust when one hangs out with a single friend. However, the opposite is true. A bad marriage will certainly cause husbands to be fearful of their wives going out with newly divorced friends who typically want to attract attention from men.”
There is no one answer on how to nurture such friendships. Much depends on the initial strength of the friendship. Mary Pender Greene, a relationship expert in New York City, advises the following: “All of us have an “A” list and a “B” list of friends depending on our compatibility with them and their availability. Ask yourself which ones have/will come through for you when the chips are down.”
Understand that not all your friends will be able to satisfy all your needs. Accept them for who they are and embrace what they have to offer. You will have a wider source for friendship without disappointment. Be happy for the differences among them by learning to utilize and enjoy those differences.
Mimi Long* is the pseudonym for a freelance writer and teacher in Westchester. She has two daughters and enjoys traveling the world and meeting new people.