There’s Been A Divorce. Who Gets The Friends?

“That, whereas, the parties hereto will divide the once mutual friendships as follows…”

How much easier and comforting it would be if we knew who got the friends in a divorce. No hassles. A little haggling. But you’d know who you could count on and who you no longer couldn’t.

But that isn’t how it happens. There isn’t a judge or written agreement that chooses who will maintain a friendship with one and not the other. It happens more organically. The choosing of sides.

And sometimes, neither side is chosen. As lives shift and shuffle, friendships simply disappear in a divorce.

In my many years on this planet, I’ve realized a few things:

  1. Friendships are essential.
  2. Most friendships are fleeting.
  3. The friendships that have staying power are rare.

When I divorced, oh so many years ago, I was stunned with who stuck around and who disappeared. The ones I expected to be with me through thick and thin began to drift away. It wasn’t sudden. I didn’t feel like a leper. But one day, I realized we hadn’t spoken in a while, conversations were slightly uncomfortable, they weren’t the first person I’d reach out to for a giggle or a cry. And then? Nothing. No contact for years.

No longer friends.

And while I’m okay with losing a few of those people, there’s one friend in particular that I miss. Terribly. I feel a little hole where her friendship used to be.

But then, there is a dear friend, who rose to the occasion, has put in more than I deserved at times, to stay friends. A rare diamond of a friendship that I treasure.

It’s made me wonder. What kind of a friend will I be?

If 50% of all marriages end in divorce, and most of my friends are still married, odds are I’ll have to chose sides someday. (If you are one of my friends reading this right now, don’t worry. You are in one of the marriages that is going to make it. I’m talking about the other 50% of my friendships.) 

We’ll probably stay friends with the husband in at least one couples friendship. The wives in the other few. A morbid line of thought, but reality all the same. It won’t be easy. It won’t be pleasant. It’s just the inevitable.

I wish there was a fair, equitable and comfortable way to divvy up the friendships after a divorce. A method where everyone agrees and everyone is happy. Something finite. Something you can count on.

But there isn’t.

When there is a divorce, the friendships are casualties in a uncomfortable war. Sometimes you know immediately who will stick with whom. Sometimes there are surprises.

But it is rarely clean and clear cut.

It’s often messy.

And always sad.

Kind of like the divorce that got us there in the first place.




Filed under Deep Thoughts, friends

8 responses to “There’s Been A Divorce. Who Gets The Friends?

  1. Steven Harris

    I know these experiences well. Happysad to know they are not unique to me.

  2. Losing friends is always rough. I’ve not experience a divorce, but in younger years I had a slew of friends just all of a sudden fade away when I had health issues. I think there are, like you said, very different kinds of friendship. I realize now that those people who didn’t want part of my dark days don’t deserve to celebrate by my side in the good ones.

  3. I saw this play out when my own parents divorced many years ago – the division of friends.

    Thankfully, I haven’t had to walk through divorce with any of my friends; but, if it should happen, most of our friends are either my friend and a husband, or my husband’s friend and a wife, so the lines are easily defined. Still, I hope it doesn’t happen.

    Losing friends? That I have experienced, but not due to divorce, so much as moving – moving – moving – more times than I can count. I have lost four very good friends from my past (although we are now FB friends – not the same). I have two really good girlfriends who have stuck with me over time and geographical distance, through thick and thin. There are two other girlfriends that I feel I could count on if needed, but we don’t keep in close contact. It does leave a hole when friendships fall away. Lost friendships is one of my regrets.

  4.’re making me think. I have (maybe had) a friend since highschool. That’s a long time ago for me. She’s been married twice. I stuck with her through both marriages and both divorces but now I feel she’s drifted away. For years I sent birthday and holiday cards. Never got a response. My Mom died and I got a letter. My Dad died and I got nothing. Last year I stopped sending cards and no response. Sad. I figure she’s got another man in her life that has consumed her time.

  5. Yes. Sad but true. And ugly. And depressing. Just like divorce.

  6. People always choose sides. And you’re left in the vastness of it all, like someone just dropped a bomb.

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