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Tips for Talking to Your Friends About Your Divorce

Learn how to get the right support when you’re going through a divorce.

Source: Stocksnap

Friends and family can be tremendous support during a divorce, but they can also make things worse when they ask questions that leave you spinning.

So before you share, consider these four points.

When you turn to friends or family for support the first thing you must remember is that you are in charge. You never have to share anything you do not want to share. Your personal business is your own. If you choose to share your inner thoughts and feelings with another person, it is a gift to them. You can and should ask them to treat the information like a fragile gift.

Second, before you share information, please think about what you want from the other person who is hearing your heartfelt feelings. Do you want advice? Do you want feedback? Do you want someone simply to listen?

We often expect others to give us what we need without even telling them what we desire. When we make it clear what we need, we are more likely to get what we want. Here’s an example: “I am feeling quite vulnerable right now about dating again and really need you to simply listen. I do not need any advice, just a supportive ear.”

Third, think about your audience. You know your friends and family pretty well. You know how they typically respond to desires, fears, and unknowns. You have a friend who loves to tell you about their experiences and the friend who has researched all the solutions. Think about who you are talking to before you start... you know more about what you will get than you think!

Finally, keep in mind a little secret that we therapists know—most people hear what you have to say through their own filter. This isn’t narcissistic or selfish: It’s evolutionarily adaptive. Think about it—if you hear information about something unknown, your best plan is to figure out how it impacts you so that you can make a smart decision that will keep you safe.

I found that when I told people about my divorce, the response I got was often based on the person’s own personal experience. For example, people say “congrats” or “I am so sorry” based on their wishes and feelings in their own marriages.

So, when you share with friends or family, please take a minute to ask yourself what you need. Be frank with yourself about what you need and go for it. You set the tone.