They say you can never have too many friends. Aside from simply the fact that human beings are social creatures, friendships are good for you in many ways, including boosting happiness, reducing stress, and helping you cope in hard times. According to the Mayo Clinic, having strong social support even reduces the risk for everything from depression to high blood pressure and may even help you live longer. But unfortunately, not all friends are ‘ride or die;’ a sad reality many people experience during a divorce. That’s why moving forward after divorce is often with friendships, too. As National New Friends Day is coming up, now is a perfect time.
Why Friendships Often Wane During Divorce
Divorce affects virtually everything in your life, so while the impact on some of your friendships may not be surprising, it doesn’t make the hurt any less. There are five common reasons friendships wane during divorce:
- They feel threatened – Your still-married friends may see your single status as a threat to their marriage.
- They choose your ex’s side – When it comes to friendships you’ve made as a couple, most often they choose one side or the other.
- They see divorce as a stigma – While shocking this is still the case, especially with the high divorce rate, marriage is still seen as mainstream in some social circles, leaving you the odd one out.
- They think it’s bad juju – Yes, it’s irrational but some people feel like being around divorce will make their marriage all the more vulnerable to it.
- They don’t know how to handle it – Whether they have difficulty with change, they don’t know what to say or they just can’t deal with grief, some friends would rather just avoid the situation altogether.
Making New Friends After Divorce
You will no doubt have friends that stick with you through thick and thin, too, which you’ll likely cherish now more than ever. At the same time, part of moving forward should include making new friendships as well. Not as a means of replacing those friends you’ve lost, but the fact is, divorce changes you. Some new friendships may be just what you need to embrace those changes whether it’s single friends, those who’ve also been divorced, or perhaps those who share interests you’d now like to pursue. Regardless, these tips can help:
- Put yourself out there – We literally mean get out of the house. Duh, right? But seriously this first step is often the hardest. It’s intimidating to put yourself out there, but you know new friends aren’t just going to come knocking at your door. Start small by getting to know neighbors better or finally agreeing to join those lunches and happy hours at work.
- Let your interests lead – A good way to make new friends is through common interests. If you enjoying running, join a local running group. If you love animals, volunteer with local rescues or spend more time at the dog park with your four-legged bestie. Become more active in your church. The key is to think about what you’re passionate about and find opportunities to connect through those things.
- Learn something new – Along the same lines, maybe there’s something you’ve always wanted to learn. Or something you need to learn more about now; perhaps your ex did all the cooking, for example. Now is the perfect time to take a new class or join a new club. It’s a great way to meet new people and learn something new!
- Reconnect – These may not new friends, but rather people you’ve lost touch with over the years. There are likely any number of people in your past who you’re connected with via social media that you may not realize now live in the same city as you, work in the same field, or who you just simply miss spending time with when life took you in different directions.
- Ask your current friends – You know you can trust those who’ve been with you through the divorce and have stuck by you. What’s more, they know you best. But you may not know their entire social circle which is an opportunity in and of itself. Ask them to bring some friends next time you get together or have them introduce you to friends they think you might click with over coffee sometime.
- Volunteer with your child’s school or team – If you’re a parent, you’re likely on the receiving end of volunteer requests through school or sports all the time. Volunteering more than you may do already has a couple of benefits after divorce. One, it gives you the opportunity to spend more quality time with your child and, two, you’ll be working with other parents with whom you might become friends. Nothing bonds you like the pain of school or sports fundraising, are we right?
Should you need additional support and guidance as you navigate divorce, our experienced team offers fully virtual coaching and mediation services. Contact us today to learn more or for a free consultation.