A marriage isn't the only thing that gets torn apart in a divorce, so do friendships. When you officially declare that your marriage is over, some friends not only react out of character (not returning calls), but sometimes disappear from your life without as much as a goodbye.
Unlike a divorce, the typical rule of dividing assets 50/50 does not apply to friendships. Instead, the point of demarcation operates from any number of factors, none of which are based on "fairness. Should divorce enter your life, use the following 5 predictors to know which friends will probably bid you adieu.
Predictor 1: Who Brought the Friend into the Marriage?
The adage "Once a friend, always a friend" does not guarantee that a friend in marriage will be a friend in divorce. Simply put, friends usually follow the rule of "sole and separate property"--what was yours prior to marriage is yours to keep when the marriage dissolves. Take Alexander, he married a woman with a passion for golf and a ready-made group of friends, who quickly became his. When Alexander and his wife split up, the social invitations came to a halt and he was left standing alone and confused.
Alexander's experience of being socially blacklisted when his marriage broke up is not unusual. It's often hard for mutual friends to maintain a relationship with you and your spouse. Instead, they pick the person they knew first. Just as in Alexander's situation, his newfound friends migrated back to where they came--his spouse. Expecting the same thing to happen to you is a pretty safe bet.
Predictor 2: A Friend's Relationship Status
The condition of a friend's relationship is one way to predict who will fall by the wayside after divorce. Essentially, the more similar someone's relationship is to yours (that being bad), the more likely they are to remain your friend.
Happily married friends are the quickest to send you on your way. They are familiar with the research that says divorce is contagious. This is a friend who will avoid you like the plague the minute she knows the marriage is over.
If your friend's marriage is in trouble, you will find lasting camaraderie in your bond. This is the friend who needs you as much as you need him/her. Both people are in such an emotional place they turn to each other often for guidance and support. It's unbreakable.
Predictor 3: Standard of Living
Divorce settlements are intended to keep both partners in the same standard of living they had while married. As we all know, it doesn't always work out that way. If the divisions of assets fell short of what you were expecting, your friendships are probably feeling the effect. If you no longer have the disposable income for your social life but your ex spouse does, who gets the friend may be a matter of flipping a coin. Heads, you win the friend who will love you rich or poor. Tails, you lose the friend who doesn't.
Predictor 4: It's all about Sex
Who gets the friend in a divorce is sometimes determined by your sex. If a married friend is the opposite sex, the chance that your friendship will survive after your divorce is slim to none. There aren't many husbands or wives who feel comfortable letting their spouse hang out with a newly single, opposite sex friend. For many, it's viewed as high risk and the friendship ends.
Darrel experienced this firsthand. Hanging out with Jen (Johnny's wife) when he was married was no big deal. They worked together and sometimes went to lunch to discuss job issues. Once Darrel left his wife, Johnny also suspected that Darrel's intentions were sexual. Their lunches quickly stopped and all work-related meetings were done at the office instead.
Predictor 5: Work Changes
Lifetime spousal support is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Today, the Court's expectation for a lower-earning spouse is to be "self-supporting in a reasonable amount of time." That's right, if you were a stay home parent or self-actualized artist (a.k.a. earned nothing), you will most likely have to brush up on your skills, go back to school, but most certainly, quickly enter the job market to earn your own buck.
The job you land can make friendships almost impossible to maintain. If you were a stay home parent, most of your friends are also the same, which means while they are playing at the park, you're breaking your back at work. If you already had a job, your free hours are spent shuffling kids between homes, dating, and all things that come with being newly single. Friends get tired of not being your priority and move on.
The Finish Line
When people first separate from a marriage, one of the most upsetting and unexpected aspects is losing dear friends. Unfortunately, sometimes the overriding variables in that person's life are more influential than the connection the two of you shared.
Your take away from this article is the importance of building a strong support system during and after your divorce process. Knowing in advance which friends will stand by your side (as friends "should") is the only way to make it through the chaos of divorce.