It's a common problem: You get divorced and suddenly your social circle -- the people you were counting on to get you through the worst days of the whole process -- shrinks dramatically. Why do so many people find that their friends are suddenly nowhere to be found once they get a divorce?Psychologists say that there are actually several reasons it happens, so you should prepare yourself for this possibility once you make the announcement:
1. People don't know how to react.
Most of the time, if someone is friends with both you and your spouse, they aren't sure how to handle the situation. They may not want to choose sides. Even if your divorce is amicable, they may be afraid that they'll somehow step into the drama and create hard feelings.
You can alleviate their fears somewhat by reaching out to them first and reminding them that you are still the same person they always knew -- and would still appreciate an invitation to social gatherings even if your ex-spouse is also invited (as long as that's true).
2. Some friends are just "couples" friends.
If you met your friends as a couple and they are still a couple, it may be impossible to maintain the relationship as a single person again. Couples tend to hang out with other couples so that no one is the "third wheel." After a period of time, if you're dating, you can try extending an olive branch via an invitation to dinner to a couple you're particularly fond of to see if the relationship can be rekindled.
3. They may see something in your divorce that strikes close to home.
Divorce is, in its own way, "contagious." A joint study by several universities found that the odds someone will get a divorce go up 75% if they have a friend who gets divorced. Just being a "friend of a friend" who divorces can increase the chances of someone divorcing by 33%.
A divorce in one's social circle makes people look at their own marriages and question their happiness. Sometimes people don't want to do that. They may stay away to preserve what they have.
During your divorce, rely on your legal team, your therapist, and the one or two people who stand by you the most closely. When the time is right, your social circle will broaden again.