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Dear Stavroula

Ask Stavroula: I Divorced and Was Left Alone, Without Friends

September 11, 2021

Dear Stavroula,

I am a mother of two and I have been divorced for six months. Among the other problems I have to deal with as a woman raising my children alone, who are still very young, is the loss of my friends. I'm not just talking about the mutual friends we had as a couple, with whom we often spent time with our children. I am also talking about new acquaintances that I made in the context of my children's school life, who seemed to disappear as soon as my divorce was announced.

From where I once had an intense social life, with people I considered friends, to whom I had opened my house, with whom we went on excursions and trips together, I find myself now – in my moment greatest need for socializing – having to beg them to meet with me. I cannot understand what has happened and I do not know how to deal with it. Have I done something wrong or are there no true human relationships?

Gianna

Dear Gianna,

Too often, divorced people experience the painful experience of social isolation for many different reasons.

Many times, especially in divorces with intense disputes, friends can leave because they do not want to take part in the couple's conflict.

Some may even consider the free ‘friend’ a threat to their own relationship and push him or her aside. For example, a divorced man or woman may invite a married friend out, but this may be considered a threat by the other member of a couple who has not divorced. In some small areas, the attitude of friends towards the couple who separate may be related to other factors that have to do with the culture of the area and wider socio-economic realities.

Other times, the problem may be caused by the divorced person himself. In particular, when one experiences stressful and painful situations one can change attitudes towards the people around him, becoming irritable, aggressive, or depressed in ways that may not be pleasant for those around him, generating negative feelings without people understanding what is going on.

In addition, as the divorced person has suffered a significant loss, perhaps also a blow to his self-esteem, he feels the need to push his friends to take a stand, to take his side, in order to feel justified or secure. But this is not easy for friends, who even if they have a personal opinion may not want to express it.

Something similar may be happening in your case.

I would advise you to seek the help of a specialist to be able to manage this difficult period of separation. As for friends, if there are some who are really valuable in your life and you miss their presence, perhaps an honest discussion would help them understand that you are going through a difficult separation and that you need their friendship to be the way it was before. Explain to your friends, if you agree, that you have no objection to their maintaining their relationship with your ex-spouse, if this makes them feel better, and that in no case will you demand that they take a stand and throw their support to you.

However, it is good to keep in mind that in every major change in our lives we let something go and must wait for something new to come. It is very difficult for relationships with friends to remain exactly the same, because the context in which they were created has changed and it is not easy for all people to adapt to the changes. It might help to try to expand the circle of your social contacts and bring new people into your life who have the same interests and perhaps the same needs as you, and not try to maintain relationships with people who do not want the same things as you.

After all, we all know that true friends will stay with us in a difficult situation even if they need some space and time to themselves for a while. The rest, those who disappear, may not be so important for our lives.

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