Even if you saw your friend’s divorce coming from a mile away, it’s normal to feel a little tongue-tied when responding to the news.
The best thing to do is tell the person you’ll be there for them — the simple act of listening is incredibly valuable. If your newly single pal has kids, go the extra mile and offer up your babysitting services.
The worst things to say? We’re glad you asked. Below, nine divorced writers and HuffPost readers share the one statement or question that irked them the most after divorce.
Answer: None of your business. Sorry, but the backstory is almost certainly less lurid than whatever you’re expecting to hear. Sometimes it’s that one last passive aggressive dig that does a marriage in, not some drawn-out Don Draper-esque extramarital affair.
“If a divorced couple wanted you to know the intimate details of their breakup, they’d have already told you,” said Craig Tomashoff. “It’s gotten so bad for me, I’ve actually decided I’ll vote for the first presidential candidate willing to ban asking ‘what happened?’ after someone gets divorced.”
What’s the rush? For most of us, dating in a post-Tinder world isn’t something we want to jump into right away. (Once you do get back out there, the first unsolicited dick pic you receive is enough to send you back to “Divorced And Happily Alone” Land.)
“Seriously, thanks for the suggestion, but I actually dated quite a bit when I first became divorced eight years ago,” said Jennifer Ball. “I met a nice alcoholic felon on eHarmony, a guy who looked exactly like Dr. Phil and had been married four times and dated someone who said ‘I have no desire to be around kids,’ even though I have four children. I have a full-time job I love, my kids and Netflix. I’m good for now.”
Wait, forget what that person above said entirely. The message here is no, whatever you do, don’t get back out there. You need to work on making yourself feel whole again, sans a rebound.
“This one was grating,” said Al DeLuis. “I wasn’t training to be a Jedi Knight; I was going to have coffee and conversation with a woman. What was even more infuriating was that, over time, turns out they were right -– divorce takes time –- I wasn’t ready. Still, I didn’t like or need to hear about it.”
“I actually wish I’d been brave enough to do it sooner,” said Dayna Daugherty Lineberger. “Divorce is not always a bad thing. Just once I’d like someone to say, ‘Good for you.'”
It’s a little more complicated than that. Sure, it’s nice to have some time to sleep in and catch up on laundry, but it hurts like hell to imagine all the moments in your kids’ lives you’re missing when they’re away with your ex.
“The truth is, I really don’t enjoy not seeing my kids,” said Kim Foster Taylor. “Losing them for half time was one of the biggest losses of my life. I cried for hours every weekend they were gone. You miss them.”
Nope. The divorce lawyers were on the line seconds after that first overblown fight. Of course we exhausted every last option to try and make it work.
“I want to tell these people, ‘Excuse me, how do you know we didn’t try?'” said Jami Dedman. “If only they could have been a fly on the wall in my house.”
Variations of this special line include: “You weren’t thinking when you married him,” “We tried to warn you!” and anything with even slight “I told you so” overtones.
“I got it; you think my ex was an idiot. I get that you mean that as a compliment, but it doesn’t make my divorce any easier,” said Missie Stephens.
Yep, that’s the goal. Getting to a place where you’re not constantly replaying the mistakes you made or dwelling on everything you miss about married life isn’t so easy, though. There really is no timetable for moving on.
“It’s like people think you’re choosing to be miserable, like you wouldn’t choose to just get over it if you could,” said Chris Burcher. “If you haven’t been through divorce, you can’t tell me to ‘just get over it.'”
This has to be the most audacious thing you can say to a divorced person. Would you ask someone who survived the Donner party if they plan on traveling via wagon train any time soon? No? Then you shouldn’t ask a divorced person if they plan on remarrying.
“You can tell by the way people ask that many of them believe the need to be married is essential to make your life complete again,” said Austin Blood. “My answer, at least at this point in time, is a quick one: ‘No, thank you. Been there. Done that.'”
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