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Suddenly Single: Will My Friendships Take A Dive After Divorce?

I'm trying to understand my fear.

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illustration of women sitting at a dinner table and waiter walking away with an empty chair
Michelle Kondrich
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As I stand on the precipice of divorce, gingerly peeking over the edge of the cliff and pondering my fate on the other side, I grapple with many concerns. Will my kids be OK? Will we have enough money? Who’s gonna walk the dog at night?

And perhaps the most paralyzing of all: Will my friends still be my friends when I get to the other side?

It’s scarier than my worries about children, finances or Fido, because my fear of losing my friends in a divorce is preventing me from seeking their counsel. Not that my blissfully wedded BFFs know anything about transitioning to the single life, but I would like a shoulder to cry on, a buddy to bitch to, and maybe even some support in the matchmaking department.

I’m trying to understand my fear. I realize that some of it has to do with blowing my image: the perfect mom, the perfect wife, and one half of the perfect couple. But let’s be real. Anyone who’s been paying attention can see that my marriage is far from perfect.

Some of it is embarrassment. Will they think I couldn’t keep a man? Will they think I made bad choices? Will they think I’m a failure? Will they be uncomfortable? Maybe they won’t know where to put me now. Where will I fit?

I have been out to dinner hundreds of times with my husband of 20 years. Most of those dinners run together in my mind, a dim blur of boring memories. But there are some standouts. And some of the most fun times were with a single, special friend who joined us stag. Someone who not only created a much-needed buffer, but also made the conversation a group experience. Truth be told, all those couples nights were really just two simultaneous dates: me talking to one spouse while my husband conversed with the other.

I remember the year after I got married, when a few of my single friends just couldn’t make time for me any more. And I can remember not working hard enough to stay close to some of them either. But there were many who refused to let go, and I clung tightly to them. We stayed close and our friendships grew stronger as some of them eventually married, some remained single, and some had the courage to take control of a bad situation, leaping off the very same cliff where I now stand.

I have to believe that the friendships that matter are built on strong enough foundations to ride out this storm with me, even if we have to do a bit of remodeling while the dust settles.

I have some friendships that were always based on being together as couples. And I guess I’ve got to be realistic about my expectations. My "out to dinner" friends may not be comfortable having couples night with a single person, and I might feel like a third wheel. There are bound to be a few bumps down the road, but there may also be surprises.

Besides, won’t I, as a newly single woman, need to make room for more single and dating friends in my life?

So if some of those "couples night" friends don’t care to stick around for Act II, I won’t shed many tears. Someone’s gotta shift over to make room for the new wingwomen in my life. And if memory serves, I make one hell of a wingwoman.