Which Friends Can You Trust During A Divorce?

FriendsWhen it comes to knowing who you can trust and who you can’t, figuring out which friends are true friends is never easy, especially in the case of divorce. As you and your spouse are beginning to untangle your lives, even your best friend can become suspect, particularly if their spouse and your spouse are or have been close friends. Who will remain loyal to you and can be entrusted with your confidence and who might not are questions every divorcing individual must face. How do we find the answers? Here are five simple questions to ask when addressing the ‘Which friends are my true friends issue.

1. Is This Friendship Consistent and Stable?

What has your relationship with this person been like, to date? If you know them well, have they typically ‘been there’ for you? The friends you can trust during and after your divorce ought to be the ones who have shown consistent interest in and concern for you. So, ask yourself if they have been a reliable and stable presence in your life or have the two of you experienced a lot of ups and downs or periods of emotional distance? Keep in mind that with all of the communications technology and options these days, even friends who live a distance away can stay in touch consistently and be ‘present’ in your life, even from afar… has this person chosen to do so?

2. What Is YOUR Capacity To Trust Friends?

Are you the kind of person who is often suspicious of others’ motives? Do you frequently have the sense that you can’t really trust anyone? If you know this is an issue for you, it’s important to understand WHY. Perhaps you suffered from some terrible breaches of trust early on in your childhood or in your family life. Maybe someone important to you often felt disappointed by family or friends and communicated this message to you at a particularly impressionable time. There are many possible reasons why trust may be an issue for you, but, whatever the case, a lack of basic trust in people or in relationships can have a negative impact on you. This will effect WHO you pick to confide in as an adult and HOW close you let yourself get to others. Speaking with a counselor/therapist or a relationship coach about this can help you understand more about what it will take for you to truly trust in others and to make good or better choices.

3. What Does Your ‘Gut’ Say About This Friend?

Divorce can take a toll on your self esteem and confidence with regard to relationships, but what do your instincts or your ‘gut’ tell you about this person? Is this someone you have felt deep down that you could trust as a friend even during or after a game changer such as divorce or have you been uncertain and wondered at times about their sincerity? Do they have similar ideas about what trust and friendship mean or are you on different pages in the trust department? Have you been able to share private thoughts and ideas with this person up until now?Have they ever shared your private info with others without your permission and if so, how was this handled by them? Were they considerate and open to hearing what you felt and thought about it or did they brush you off as ‘too sensitive’ or with claims of ‘I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to say that’?

4. Is There ‘Give And Take’?

Some of us are so ‘hungry’ for connection we don’t even notice that we are the ones doing all of the sharing. Relationships work best when there is a level of give and take or a back and forth (or ‘matching) in terms of sharing. This means that if you have chosen to share something in confidence with this person, before long you can expect that they in turn will share something private with you. If this is a one way street only with you doing all of the ‘get deep and real’ talking, it’s time to get curious about why that is and question the wisdom of continuing to do so.

 5. What Does History Tell You About Trusting This Friend?

Have you had issues with this person around trust in the past, even before your divorce? If so, pay attention! Sometimes our interest in or expectations of others is not so realistic or healthy. If your trust was broken by a friend in the past, you may wish to give them another chance, but make sure to ask yourself, Why? Also, if you do choose to continue the relationship and continue to trust this friend during and after your divorce, take the time to do the repair work necessary to have a healthy relationship. DO NOT SWEEP BROKEN TRUST UNDER THE RUG!! Take responsibility for having enough conversation with them about what happened, what your expectations were, how these were (or were not) communicated clearly, and define what each of you expects for the future before deciding to continue your friendship. Even if you ‘made up’ and resolved your issues, it’s important to stay on your toes and watch for signs about whether or not the relationship is truly working or changing for the better!

Asking these 5 questions can help you learn more about who to trust and who not to during and after your divorce.

3 replies
  1. Tim Pretz
    Tim Pretz says:

    Good practical approach to helping clients during a time when they need to have a support network of friends, but can be very reactive in their choices.
    Most of your advice sounds like for “single friends”–do you have something similar for deciding about “couple friends” after the divorce?

    • Betsy Ross, LICSW
      Betsy Ross, LICSW says:

      Hi Tim. Thanks for your comments. When I wrote this, I was thinking about friendships with single friends as well as friendships with a spouse from another couple or even both spouses. But, you raise a good point here: thinking of what to do about the couple you used to hang out with is also very important in terms of how this will work now and how the friendship(s) will work going forward. I will have to give this some more thought….thanks again and stay tuned!

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