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Debbi Dickinson Headshot

Why My Married Girlfriends Defriended Me

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A newly divorced woman recently asked me why her married girlfriends stopped including her in their occasional get-togethers. "What is wrong with me?" she wanted to know.

This woman was puzzled and upset because she feels that she hasn't done or said anything inappropriate that would trigger their behavior. They hurt her already fragile emotional state. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon experience.

Most people in troubled marriages don't wear their unhappiness on their sleeves for all to see. They often put on a mask that life is grand. It's not that they don't complain from time to time about a certain incident or an aspect of their marriage; it's that overall, outsiders would think they have a happy marriage.

When one couple in a circle of friends gets divorced, it sends an emotional shockwave through the group. Those who feel it most are in unhappy marriages themselves, or are struggling with who they are.

Your divorce forces them to look at their marriage and say, "If they were unhappy, maybe we are unhappy too." They may look at your situation as a threat to their marriage, and they may not be ready to deal with the problems in their marriage. So what they unconsciously do is push away the threat -- you. It's like avoiding that person who has a severe cold because you don't want to get sick yourself.

Divorce is a time of transition; a client of mine refers to it as pruning. You'll have friends that will drop off your radar, but you'll also have some whose friendships stand the test of time. Often those people are comfortable in their own skin and if they're married, their marriage is built on a firm foundation and your divorce is no threat to them; they give it no second thought.

This is also a time where you will form new friendships. You'll find yourself befriending others who are in similar situations. Divorce is a common bond.

Embrace this as part of your new life. As I was making new friendships after divorce, it was validating to know that people wanted to be my friend for who I was; I didn't need to wear my mask anymore. I could stand on my own and be welcomed into the lives of others. You can too.