THE BLOG
03/11/2011 08:18 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Losing friends when you get divorced

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QUESTION

Hi Irene,

Three and a half years ago I left my husband. We divorced amicably and have a collaborative and supportive co-parenting relationship. There was no affair but I met someone while married, whom I started dating after my separation but before my divorce.

In the wake of the separation, I lost my best friend, Maya, of seven years. We had been friends since college and bonded over both being teachers and both having difficult marriages. I really needed Maya's support but she made it clear that she thought what I was doing was terribly wrong. The friendship ended quite definitively, it was hurtful and I have no interest in revisiting it.

My ex-husband, Maya, and I had the same group of college friends that I was close to before the divorce. I've lost touch with that group, either because they were closer with my ex-husband or because we just drifted apart over time. However, there's one friend, Jo, whom I feel great regret about not keeping up with. She has initiated contact periodically over the last three years; I haven't always reciprocated because I know she's close to Maya. Maya even told me, when our friendship ended, that much of her anger with me was because of things Jo told her.

Now, I regret I let this friendship with Jo lapse and don't know how to go about rekindling it. I feel awkward and I'm afraid Jo may believe some of the terrible things Maya has said about me. Also, I don't know how to explain why I was distant without bringing up Maya. Jo is very sensitive and I know it would hurt her to think she inadvertently brought on the demise of my friendship with Maya. She's still very much a part of the group of college friends and I feel like the outsider now.

Should I contact Jo and try to explain the reason for my distance or do I just let this friendship go?

Thank you,
Kate


ANSWER

Hi Kate,

For a variety of reasons, it's common for some friendships to fall apart after a divorce. If you regret losing Jo's friendship, let her know why you've been standoffish. Tell her that you were going through a difficult time after the divorce and regret have lost some friendships as a result---and that it took you time to recoup.

Let her know you were always fond of her and that you hope you can resurrect the friendship you had. You don't need to go into the details of what she may or may not have said in the past. This happened quite some time ago and either Jo will have forgotten the specifics or decided that they have no impact on your friendship now.

If she does harbor ill thoughts as Maya said, she may reject your overtures but that isn't likely since she has tried to initiate contact. Take it one step at a time and try to stay clear of any discussion about Maya, which would only make you and Jo uncomfortable.

You have little to lose and everything to gain by giving this friendship a second chance.

My best,
Irene

Other posts on The Friendship Blog about friendship and divorce:

Can collateral damage be avoided in a breakup?

Help! My best friend is driving me crazy

Friendship by the Book: Pieces of Happily Ever After

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