I hear it often –
“After my divorce, I lost so many friends. The couples I knew no longer invited me to join them. It’s like they thought they could only socialize with other couples.”
And that’s sad.
Not only for the single person, but also for the couples.
Because both have quite a bit to offer each other.
So how about it?
Can we be friends?
To the Couples –
Send the Invitations
Oftentimes, couples refrain from inviting a single person to join out of a concern for them feeling like an awkwardly attached third wheel. Instead of assuming that they don’t want to attend, ask and let them decide for themselves. If they decline, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will never have an interest. Give them a little time and ask again.
Save the PDA and Inside Jokes For Later
In order to allow the single friend to feel included, make sure that you’re not acting in an exclusionary way. You don’t have keep your partner at arm’s length, but this probably isn’t the best time for an extended make-out session either.
If the Single Person is Recently Divorced, Allow Them to Set the Tone Regarding “Ex Talk”
Maybe they want to engage in a little ex-bashing or maybe they prefer to keep quiet. Either way, allow them to dictate when and how much they say about their situation. Sometimes, couples want information about a breakup in order to reassure themselves that they’re “safe” from a similar outcome. That’s your stuff to deal with; it’s not the responsibility of your single friends. And finally, if you”re also friends with their ex, keep that in a separate space unless you’re asked to do otherwise.
Be Sensitive to the Emotions the Single Friend May Be Experiencing
It can be an alienating feeling to be around couples when you’ve lost your significant other. There may be moments of profound sadness and periods of envy. Sometimes, a newly single person finds it too difficult to be around couples, especially ones that were part of their old life. None of this is a reflection on you.
To the Singles –
Communicate Your Wants and Feel Free to Initiate
Maybe you want to get together but you need a little time to get yourself together first. Or, you find that you do better with small groups instead of a triad right now. Communicate what it is you’re okay with right now. Furthermore, if you want contact, initiate contact. Too passive of an approach can easily be read as disinterest.
Be Thoughtful About Who You Unload Your Emotional Struggles On
If you’re dealing with a lot of emotion right now, you will need people to talk to. Your couple friends may not be those people. As you know, the thought of losing a partner is terrifying and so the couples in your social circle may need to keep that thought at a safe distance. And unfortunately, you are a reminder that loss can happen.
If You’re Experiencing a Sexual Reawakening, Express it Elsewhere
After divorce, it’s common to have an excess of sexual energy. There is nothing wrong with this, but also direct that energy away from your coupled friends. One of the reasons that the newly divorced tend to be exiled is the fear that they will “steal” a partner. Don’t give that fear any fuel.
Be Sensitive to the Emotions One or Both People in the Couple May be Experiencing
One or both partners may be doubting their own marriage and they might be envious of your freedom. Alternately, they may be terrified of their relationship ending and you’re walking proof that it could happen. None of this is a reflection on you.
It’s a shame when people that like each other and have a shared history end a friendship because of a status change.
Coupled or single…
Let’s be friends.