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After You've Divided Up The Stuff, What About The Friends?

The final thing divvied up will be your mutual friends.

When a couple breaks up, there may be a division of property and money, and if there are children (or pets), there will be a custody arrangement as well. The final thing to be divvied up will be your mutual friends. This process can be unsettling for everyone involved.

Most of the time, true friends try to remain neutral, and make no mistake, being in this position is tough and it can be burdensome on the friendship. The good ones won't want to take sides, and they can find it hard to listen to the breaking-up friend vent. It's simply uncomfortable to hear that kind of negativity about somebody you like.

Look, when we go through something as painful as a breakup, we need to rally our forces around us. It is natural and it makes sense. Problems occur when a person tries to hijack mutual friendships and turn them against the other partner. If you have ever been close to someone who's done this, you know how difficult it can be. Choosing between two people you love is really hard. I believe that it's emotional blackmail to tell someone that the only way he or she can still be your friend is to dislike your ex.

What some people don't realize is that after things calm down and everyone starts to (hopefully) get along again, the divisiveness can come back to bite you. Friends who did not want to choose may have moved on, and those who did so may find it uncomfortable being around your ex because you've convinced them not to like him or her.

Breakups are at best a difficult thing, and most of the time both people feel hurt on various levels. Sometimes that pain comes out as anger and a need to win (or make the other person lose). When your friends become pawns in this game, they can actually end up getting hurt as well, so it is wise to be considerate of their feelings too.

As gut wrenching as a divorce or breakup can be, it will help if you do your best to avoid creating any additional drama. Because anger and sadness are part of the process, make sure to check in with yourself before you attempt to enlist your mutual friends to go to war with you. Truth be told, couples who can end their relationship like adults usually have an easier time moving on, co-parenting, and having appropriate relationships with the people who care for them.

Rather than trying to suck the life out of each other, put the effort into working together and separating with as little animosity as possible. The more thoughtful you can be during this very difficult time, the better you will feel about yourself and the less damage you will do to those who are close to you. That fact will help you live a full life once again.

More from Barton Goldsmith Ph.D.
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