You’ve got a friend, or do you? How friendships change during your divorce

Party of one

When you get divorced, you lose so much more than your spouse. Of course, many people would love to conveniently “misplace” their spouse & there were several times when I thought about leaving mine on the church steps like a box of kittens, with a “Free to Good Home” sign around his neck. But that wasn’t an option & not just because he’s Jewish. The thing we don’t always think about is how our friendships will change when we are going through a divorce.

When my marriage was breaking down, I reached out to my friends to support me, to love me & help me get to the other side. One of the things that has made me the Divorce Doula for so many friends is that I give my support unconditionally & without judgement. I can count on one hand the friends who did that for me.

It will take two hands & both feet to count the number of friends that I lost.

Friendships are tenuous & protean (not protein, because eating your friends is just awkward) and sides are chosen early. A friend may try to be unbiased & maintain a relationship with both parties, but after a while it just becomes too much work. I had one friend who would lie to her husband when she met me for coffee. I hated putting her in that position & wore her guilt like an albatross around my neck every time we met.

Being together for 15 years, my ex & I had formed very deep friendships with other couples & families. Our children were best friends, our families vacationed together, we celebrated milestones & mourned losses together. But when one intrinsic part of the group fails, the whole existential house of cards falls down. People question their own marriages, delve into their own dissatisfaction, wonder if their own marriages are vulnerable.

Our divorce became a catalyst for other couples. Not just to end their marriages (although some did) but to strengthen their relationships. I wish those friends continued love & happiness. Of equal importance are the friendships that were deepened, the relationships that were formed during my separation & after my divorce. My village of single moms has helped me raise my boys, and in a way, raise myself.

Not all friendships will survive a divorce; I’ve accepted that although I miss those friends dearly. Our lives have segregated & common ground has become thin. We may cross paths a few times a year & promise to get together soon. But those promises are empty, made without meeting one another’s eyes. Some friends needed time and space, but they have come back.

A lot of friends have been able to look at us as individuals who are committed to our children and to moving on with our lives, not just a couple that failed. Those are the friendships I will work to maintain, to nurture & be grateful for every day. You know who you are. Thank you for being a friend.



About Pamela

I’m a Vancouver-based divorced mother of two awesome boys embarking on a respectful, amicable and often humorous co-parenting adventure with their father. By day, I'm a publicist for good causes + companies at

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10 Responses to You’ve got a friend, or do you? How friendships change during your divorce

  1. Mom January 31, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

    Oh so true but remember you may feel the void of loosing those you thought were your friends but were they really ever a TRUE friend? People misjudge a friend with an acquintance and 1 in 25 may be a friend the others are passerbys.Imagine how your children feel as thet also have lost a person they once called a friend .

    • Pamela February 1, 2013 at 12:20 am #

      Thanks, Mom. xo

  2. Effin Jay January 31, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

    You are a talented and gifted writer Pam. Thank you for writing so honestly and in a way that provokes a new idea in me every time. I am honoured and so very lucky to have you as my friend and a valued and loved member of my own village in raising my children. I love, love, love being on this journey with you. Surely I’m biased but the friends you lost, clearly are the ones who lost.

    • Pamela February 1, 2013 at 12:19 am #

      Thank YOU my friend. xoxo

  3. Cindi George February 1, 2013 at 12:41 am #

    Another well done article! I know I made the cut and am glad we are friends!

    Thanks for being our Doula!

    xo Cindi

  4. Yolanda February 1, 2013 at 5:09 am #

    The journey just in your article itself is beautiful and raw! Many people go through this and never discuss it. You bring it to an open forum and open your heart and for that your readers and FRIENDS will be grateful and love you just for because of you!

    • Pamela February 1, 2013 at 6:46 am #

      Thanks, Yo. Right back at you xo

  5. Magnolia April 16, 2013 at 3:58 am #

    What a beautifully written piece. This was my experience as well. One friend (one that I got to keep in the settlement) said “we always loved hanging out with you and your husband, because you guys were so engaging and funny and exciting, but then we realized that was just you.”
    I would think thInk you kept the best of them for yourself. I know I did.

  6. Jenni Jansen July 8, 2013 at 11:54 pm #

    I was linked into a ted talk today by a good friend of mine. It was given by a teenaged boy named Kevin Breel. I followed the link to his twitter account and found a link to you. Your writing strikes a chord in me. I have read so much about divorce, written by other women, and none of the writing has come close to my own truth, until yours.
    I am a writer myself. I have struggled to get back in a groove with it, until recently. I chose to leave my marriage. It took me so long to come to the decision. I knew it would be difficult. I just never imagined the degree of difficulty, and the ramifications that have occurred as a result. I
    I was separated for 5 years and finally signed the papers in April of this year.
    Thank you for your honesty. I will certainly follow your writing from here on out!
    In Philadelphia

    • Pamela July 9, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

      Jenni – thank you so much for the lovely, heartfelt message. I’m so glad that you found me through Kevin – he is an incredible guy & I am absolutely in awe of his courage. Your message brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for reading & for reminding me why I love writing this blog. All the best to you in “the afterwife” and please stay in touch. xo Pam

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