• Few or No Friends

Feeling friendless after a marriage falls apart

November 9, 2014 | By | 12 Replies Continue Reading
Life transitions can topple relationships, leaving someone feeling friendless.

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

Finding this site brings me some solace so thank you. I am a 53-year-old woman with two great kids, both in college, and I’m divorced after 18 years of marriage.

Making friends has never been easy for me but when the kids where younger, I found myself getting involved with so many things and ultimately became a part of a very special group of ten women with whom I and our husbands became fairly close. If nothing else, we spent every Sunday morning together taking a walk, having coffee, and solving the problems of the world.

As my marriage fell apart, so did my social connections (I’d heard this happens but couldn’t imagine this group whom I’d grown close to over 16 years would desert me). Well, I don’t totally blame them. I was miserable and difficult to be around angry, depressed, manic all over the place and they gave up on me. I have tried to reach out and acknowledge my role in this demise and have been dismissed.

I can’t go back…I am devastated…Having moved on from the divorce, moved locally and having become an empty nester all within a short period of time. I miss my friends or maybe they really weren’t.

ANSWER

Hi Selma,

The experience of divorce, a move, and kids leaving home are major transitions in a woman’s life.

It sounds like your “Sunday Friends” were very rewarding. Yet, divorce often makes coupled friends uncomfortable for a variety of reasons: Your friends may feel uncomfortable taking sides, may see a new divorcee as a threat, or your divorce may make them feel uncomfortable about their own marriages. You say that these problems may have been compounded by your mental state after the separation/divorce from your husband.

Beyond the divorce, you have moved and have more spare time now that your children are older and away from home. It may be that you would be seeking new and different kinds of friends at this point in your life even if the divorce hadn’t happened.

Since you were able to foster these close relationships in the past, I’m confident that you will be able to make new friends again. Making new friends isn’t easy for most people. It takes some effort and you may need to extend yourself beyond your comfort zone.

If you aren’t working, you need to find ways to engage with people in your community—whether it is through religious, social, political or educational groups. Commit yourself to participating in some activity of your own choice where you can find other people with like-minded interests. It is likely that they, too, may be feeling friendless and will be just as eager to make new friends. Would joining a gym or volunteer group be appealing to you? Would you be interested in part-time employment?

You can’t replace decade long friendships overnight but now that you are recovering from your divorce, you can slowly begin to make new acquaintances. You may also find that one or two of the woman from the “Sunday Friends” might be amenable to going to lunch and catching up.

Hope this helps.

My best, Irene

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Category: HAVING NO FRIENDS

Comments (12)

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  1. Lisa says:

    I am not divorced. not yet anyway but we might as well be. I think we are still together is just because neither one of us can afford to leave and the big question is go where???? My husband is mean and cheap and really just has a lot of resentment toward me. I am 53 years old and have 4 children. 2 are old enough to be on their own but I still have a 15 and 10 year old at home. I used to entertain ALL the time till me and my bff had a falling out many years ago. and yes my husband was involved. ok so to move on I am no where near retirement and hubby hardly takes me go out I would love a friend to talk to, to hang out with. someone to laugh with. I am not into church groups or other organized groups. its just not my thing. I want a friend. it is just simple. I don’t need answers or judgments to my problems. just a simple friend to have conversations with. why is that so hard to do????

  2. Marie says:

    I am so glad I found this website. I am recently divorced after a 20+ years. Yes, friends (or so I thought) have taken sides and welcomed his new lover with open arms (our divorce is not yet one year). I have tried to make connections with Meetup groups and such; however, I find it very difficult. I am described as outgoing, smart, open, friendly, good cook and harworking – however, I am starting to think I am none of those things as I am unable to engage with other women in an effort to form a social circle. Not that misery loves company, however, I am not alone – and that offers HOPE! Thank you!

  3. Sam says:

    I can relate, I found this website, as I’ve been struggling with loneliness after the end of a ten year relationship. It doesn’t help that my career, social connections were compromised by my relationship with my Ex. We moved for his new job a couple years ago. I found new activities, and awaintances but only 1 real friend, for which I am grateful. I still would like to have female friends, and a social circle. I can’t believe how tough that has been to cultivate. It makes the seperation more difficult, not having a support network. I’m really down some days, but trying to just keep at it. And cheer myself up with music or relaxing (book, funny movie) but it’s still lonesome. I was a very social person up until the relationship consumed me with demands and jealousy. I remind myself I am glad to be free, and things I am grateful for. Still putting my life together and just praying it will become easier over time. XX.

  4. Ann says:

    I too became divorced after a thirty year marriage. Friends and neighbors melted away. I am isolated, but am rebuilding a network. Take a look at http://www.Meetup.com. That site has thousands of special interest groups by location, and also allows you to organize your own group. Think about what interests you, fine dining, art galleries, music, hiking, yoga, dogs, over 60, museums, etc. You will need to fine tune your interest. An idea would be over 50, dinner and a movie, biweekly. Be clear about your age group. Always include a post event hospitality get together at a nearby coffee shop or restaurant. You will have a movie or other ice breaker to talk about. People will join your group and RSVP. Keep at it and be motivated. It will get you out of the house.

  5. Christie says:

    I am friends with a couple who divorced about a year ago. My spouse works with the ex-husband in the couple, so we still see him at work-related functions. We know, also, that the ex-husband is very close friends with mutual friends of ours.

    Out of the blue one day, I got a message from the ex-wife in the couple, asking if we could get together for drinks. I said sure. When we got together, she told me that she was individually contacting all of the friends that she and her husband shared as a couple to see if they were interested in keeping up the friendship with her alone. She understood the sensitivities in our situation, with the men working together, but she wanted to remain friends. I told her absolutely. She was glad, adding that some mutual friends did take sides and only admitted that when she said she wanted to get together. She said there were no hurt feelings, but it was good to know who she could count on, rather than waiting around to see if they’d ever contact her.

    On a personal level, unless there is some horrific wrong committed by one of the spouses, I really do try to stay friends with both, if I’m friends with both to begin with. It’s hard to do. I’ve had one instance where the guy was one of my closest friends disappeared because his new girlfriend felt threatened by me. Another half of a former couple decided to totally turn his life around, which was a good thing, but in the meantime cut out all of the people from his old married life. In another case there was a rift between my spouse and one half of a couple we were once very close with, and when that couple split, that person is friendly with me but the friendship between him and my spouse is over. Much as I’d like to meet the new girlfriend and hang out with them, it will never happen.

  6. Pam says:

    Selma, i oculd have written the same exact post.I’ve been divorced for nearly ten long, very lonely years,it’s been absolutely excruciating.Bad enough to have a failed marriage, feel so humiliated when friends welcomed ex’s new wife(less than a year after divorce) while I struggle to keep kids lives’ as stable a possible on a low income, with little if any social support. Five eyars post div. I also moved from the subrub where we had lived,left all the two faced former “friends” behind and that’s been a relief, but it has been toughgh to find new people, mor ethan superficial ligth freidnships at shared activities, classes. I’ve tried going to this and that, but most people have a spouse or are in well established cliques. So I’ve become pretty much a loner. At events it’s been enjoyable but nobody really mingles, I’ve tried to break into things but no go. others ahv eno idea how much we need adult company.Can’t hang out only with adult children.

    So be strong but realistic. do you rbest to keep believing things can and will improve, somehow!!
    We certainly deserve another chance. I don’t live in North America but can tell you, sadly, it’s like this the world over.

  7. Pam says:

    Selma, I could have written your post word for word.It’s been a long lonely journey.I stayed put in small community where we lived, for five years post divorce. Ex (after 22 years and 6 kids!) married within a year and his wife was warmly accepted by our tight group. I was so humiliated .When kids left home and youngest started high school we upped and moved to the city from the old suburb. It helped put old so called friends out of my mind but it has not been easy to make new friends and I haven’t actually. Think you have to come to terms that even with all the groups and volunteer stuff, most people are NOT looking to make new friends.They have a spouse, their own cliques, family. I tried going to events alone for first two years after move to the city. Heard nice lectures, etc but there was no mingling.I even tried to strike up conversations but nothing took. So, to be realistic, don’t raise your hopes too much. I’m pretty much a loner now and it hurts alot. What can I say? Be strong and keep hoping things will change and improve. It has been a very sad time in my life, despite holding down two jobs running the fort, looking good, etc, no interest from men either and few if any invitations to join married people. I do not live in N.America so am telling you it’s like this the world over. Keep up
    your spirits, somehow!

  8. lua says:

    Sorry you are going through this. One of the topics not addressed until recently are the secondary losses. After I went through my divorce 10 years ago, people I thought were my friends either chose to side with my ex or disappeared. When things like this happen, you don’t know who your friends are. It took time to rebuild, but you will find new friends. The way I see it, is good riddance and making room for more fulfilling relationships. Hang in there.

  9. Maddie says:

    Along with trying to meet new people I would also call a Sunday friend or two and be upbeat and ask if she would want to meet up for coffee or lunch, your treat. If so keep all divorce talk off the table and just be interested in her, to break the ice. Good luck.

  10. Amy F says:

    I agree with what Irene and Sandra have said. Most groups aren’t completely monolithic. I bet your group has some women that are quick to move past unpleasantness, others who aren’t; people who are kinder and others edgier; women who are genuinely more kind etc. Choose the friend who is most likely to be receptive and invite her for coffee or lunch. Be sure acknowledge that you realize your behavior was difficult and to how much better you’re doing . Reaching out again might feel scare or futile, but you have nothing to lose. Even if you’re not with the Sunday crew, I think you can salvage a few of your friends.

    One of my friends found http://www.parentswithoutpartners.org to be an avenue for meeting people in similar circumstances. The group in my area had social events (pot luck, dances, parties) as well as meetings to talk about the new challenges. She said people with older children and even some without kids came to the activities. PWP isn’t a place to meet romantic partners although my friend dated a guy she met there for two years.

  11. Sandra says:

    My heart goes out to you, Selma. Though I’ve been happily married for 30-plus years, I’ve watched a few of my friends go through your difficult experience — and I’ve witnessed sad changes and friendship loss due to the divorce of our friends.

    We used to hang out with my husband’s best friend and his first wife, a great gal. We raised our kids together and made some great memories. But my husband’s friend had an affair, which prompted a bitter divorce. The guy ended up marrying the woman with whom he had the affair — but I could never bring myself to socialize with them as a couple. My husband meets his buddy for lunch now, and have managed to continue their friendship on a guys-only basis. My husband’s friend feels bad that I won’t hang out with him, but sorry, that’s just the way I feel after he hurt his first wife, who’d become a good friend to me.

    Of course, I am not saying this is YOUR situation. But sometimes we learn how to reconfigure these friendships, or, as Irene says, find new ones. I know a few couples who’ve remarried and lost many of their old friendships in the wake of their divorces, but they’ve gotten involved in new community activities and met other friends.

    It takes time to make an old friend out of a new one, and it takes dedication too. But it sounds like you want to make that effort. Maybe you can get involved in some community activities. I’ve met some amazing single women at our local charity groups and service clubs. They are always busy and contributing to the community, and they have lots of friends who share a common interest and purpose.

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