During a divorce, everything gets divided among you and your spouse, including custody rights when it comes to children and pets. It may seem strange, but friendships that used to be mutual often end up being split between former spouses, or lost altogether, as well. Although divorce is not a rare occurrence, many of your friends will still struggle with how to act around you and your ex. They may feel pressured to take sides, or feel they no longer have much in common with each of you as an individual instead of as a couple. The effects of divorce on mutual friendships can vary depending on the situation.
Friends May Attempt to Remain Neutral
Dr. Barton Goldsmith reports in "Psychology Today" that the majority of times in a divorce, true friends try to remain neutral and not withhold support from either you or your ex. They will resist taking sides and will not want to hear negative talk about the other person in the divorce. Mutual friends encounter a tricky situation when they have a close bond with each person in the failing relationship, because they understand that the you and your ex have your differences, but still feel a connection to each of you.
Friends May Move On
In extreme situations, mutual friends may simply move on and end your friendship following the divorce. Margot Swann reports in "Woman's Day" that as a divorcing spouse, you often encounter a loss of friendship following your divorce, as well as exclusion from social events you would normally attend. The pressure to take a side may prove to be too much for many of your mutual friends to handle, even if it is only perceived pressure. Furthermore, the dynamics of an individual relationship are different than a relationship with a couple, which may lead to the disintegration of friendships that were based on spending time together as married partners.
Friends May Feel Unsure How to Act
In general, mutual friends will likely feel unsure how to act around you after your divorce. They may experience feelings of discomfort or uneasiness, and gradually try to distance themselves. Brad, a divorced man who testifies about his experience in "What I Wish I'd Known Before Getting Divorced", explains that his friends began to perceive him differently, as if he were damaged goods. A couple that had been his friends for 20 years became very cool to him after the divorce. Because mutual friends feel like they are walking on tricky ground, their uncertainties might begin to dominate your relationship.
Family May Feel Pressured
While you have likely grown close to your ex-husband's family, they may feel pressured to "divorce" from you as well, according to Georgia Shaffer. This is not always the case, and in "Woman's Day", Margot Swann gives an example of a family that continues to spend time with their brother's ex-wife despite his hurt feelings. During a time like this, family members who are close to both their child and their son-in-law or daughter-in-law may feel encouraged to break ties completely with the ex, even if they would rather not.