WTF Wednesday: My best friend is mad at me for getting divorced

single mom advice


Dear Emma, WTF?!

I had been married for nearly 30 years to a really nice guy. There was no major wrongdoing on anyone’s part, but ultimately I had to leave the relationship. Since getting divorced two years ago I have certainly struggled emotionally, but I’m also thriving — business is great, I am having tons of fun dating and I love my new apartment in the city, and I’ve connected with a new group of girlfriends who are also single.

I still cherish my old friends that I was close with when I was married. One in particular I was very close with, including together with our husbands. The four of us took many vacations together, spent many weekends away with our kids — who are now also friends with each other — and we’ve  been there for each other during the deaths of our parents, job losses and other difficult times.

She is still married. Her husband is a decent guy, but they’ve had rough bouts and they things aren’t great between them, but tolerable, she says.

I’ve made a lot of effort maintaining my relationship with many of my old friends, and this one in particular, as well as her husband. But she is so angry at getting divorced. She says things like: “We all used to have so much fun together. Now it’s awkward when you hang out with Jim and me.” Which, frankly, it is. Even when we go out as girlfriends — just the two of us or with other women – I sense she is catty about my appearance, making comments about my clothes being too “young” or that I’m too skinny (I’m the same weight I have been since college, while she has gained 15 lbs in the past few years). She never asks me about my dating life.

This relationship is so important to me, and, I feel to my children who have known her and her family their whole lives. But the longer I’m single the more painful it is to be friends with her. What should I do?

-Sad in Sarasota

Dear Sad,

When you divorce, you don’t just divorce your spouse — you divorce your old life. Of course many parts of that old life will remain, including many relationships. But the fallout goes far, far beyond the dissolution of your love affair.  But I don’t need to tell you that because you are experiencing that now, first-hand.

That is what no one tells you about divorce: When you’re facing the decision you see the parts that are up in your grill: Your marriage, your children, your financial picture. Sometimes the full picture of the end of a relationship comes many years later, after the ash from the immediate explosion has settled and the first-line players have resumed their lives.

Right now your friend is hurt. When your marriage ended she lost that relationship, too. The divorcing parties and their immediate circles do not have a lock on the pain of divorce.

Also: Major life changes around us force us to reflect on our own situations. It is no wonder that last year Brown University researchers published a study that found a person is 75 percent more likely to divorce if their friend is divorced, and 33 percent more likely if a friend-of-a-friend is split.

As for what you can do: Acknowledge her pain. Usually when people divorce they are met with gestures of support and sympathy. Extend this to your friend.

It sounds like the tenor of the relationship is chilly — not hostile. There is little reason to cut this friend out of your life, and you have not. You also can no longer afford to count her as part of your inner-most circle. I am proud of you for moving into new friendships, dating and growing other parts of your life. Keep doing that. And keep in touch with this woman, keep the connection alive. In months and years from now her situation or your situation will likely change. Or they will not change but you will learn to come together in new ways, ways that are unknown to you now.

Because that is the thing that divorce teaches us: Things change. Shit happens. Things do not stay the same. The sooner you accept that everything has seasons, the sooner you are likely to roll with it — and open yourself up to new and wonderful ways of being in the world. Which is exactly why people divorce in the first place.

7 thoughts on “WTF Wednesday: My best friend is mad at me for getting divorced

  1. My boyfriend and I joke sometimes when referring to old friends “Well, I lost that one in the divorce.” Woman can be catty, but it seems that is because she herself is unhappy.

    Emma is right. I personally would distance myself from her. It’s like when your friendships change when you have kids and they don’t, and they judge what they don’t know. That kids are freaking exhausting and I just want to try to get a shower in when you have a newborn, not talk on the phone or bar hop. Friendships ebb and flow. This may be an ebb or the end. Personally, after awhile I would probably phase this friend out if the cattiness continues. But for now, she’s just doing the best she can.

  2. ” a study that found a person is 75 percent more likely to divorce if their friend is divorced, and 33 percent more likely if a friend-of-a-friend is split.” – And other studies have found that 70% of the time wives initiate the divorce if they are uneducated, and 90% of the time wives initiate the divorce if they are educated. What I notice in the lives of those I know is that when a woman gets a divorce her female friends all soon follow, like lemmings, but when a man gets a divorce his male friends do not follow suit, mostly because it’s wives who leave marriages. Hmmmm, who’d have thunk it since women pine for marriage so badly?

    “I had been married for nearly 30 years to a really nice guy. There was no major wrongdoing on anyone’s part, but ultimately I had to leave the relationship.” — Another example of why most wives initiate divorce: for nothing other than their whim to leave. Sure, a handful are due to abuse or addiction, but most are simply that “He’s not making me happy, boo-hoo.”

    Note to guys reading this: These are reasons men should NEVER get married.

  3. @Sad in Sarasota – Not trying to minimize your distress, but if you have just one friend who’s acting this way, you’re relatively lucky. When my parents divorced, they had more than 1 friend choose sides or just fade away. And in your case, the friend is at least still maintaining contact. Usually, they just stop returning calls or have a bunch of excuses for whey they can’t get together.

  4. I was thinking about this post the other day. My neighbors divorced recently and I was friends with both of them. The wife cheated and showed absolutely no remorse. When she would speak to me, it was like “I know he seems nice, but you have no idea what I had to put up with, then I said screw it….” blah, blah. I have chosen to no longer be friends with this woman. We all make mistakes (though I am very much against cheating and believe that people who cheat generally lack any integrity whatsoever), but I found her inability to acknowledge that what she had done was hurtful and wrong disgusting and therefore stopped communicating with her. I am friends with her ex. She was very hurt by this. I honestly could give a flying flip. Had she shown remorse and admitted she caused immense pain by her actions, I’d still be friends with her. However, I do believe things would have been different between us. Maybe as strained as your friendship.

    So, to my point. Maybe this woman is judging you for leaving the marriage, if it was indeed you who initiated the divorce. Yes, she may be having difficutly in her own marriage…cause it’s marriage, that happens. Maybe she is chosing to stay because she believes she made a vow and is honoring that and that she understands that marriages have an ebb and flow and is chosing to make it better, not leave. Maybe to her, you leaving your marriage shown a light on how you two have a fundamental difference in ideas.

    Just throwing that out there.

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