Making New Friends After Divorce

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As divorce lawyers, we obviously deal primarily with divorce and related matters. Child custody, spousal maintenance, mediation, parenting plans, child support, and more. We contend with the nuts and bolts of the process, the more tactile, practical, quantifiable elements.

But divorce doesn’t just end when you sign the papers. This continues to play a huge part in your life. Financial agreements and custody arrangements echo for years. There’s a major ripple effect and once you finalize your divorce, the next step is moving forward.

What moving forward after divorce looks like varies from one person to the next. There’s no set-in-stone roadmap. In a two-part article, we recently looked at the realities of dating after divorce and moving on in your romantic life. But that’s not the only part of life after ending a marriage.

Divorce often throws your entire world into upheaval. Not only does it officially end your romantic relationship and alter the landscape of your family if you have kids, but it affects other relationships as well. More than likely, you’ll lose connections with your ex’s family. That’s generally to be expected. But divorce may also break up friendships and alter your social life as well.

When two people split up, friends often pick sides. In relatively short order, your social circle may drastically change. It’s common to feel like your group of friends shrank and find your calendar full of new openings. Rebuilding your network of friends can be intimidating. But it is possible, though it may take some work and some strategic planning.

Related Reading: Dating After Divorce Part 1

Making New Friends After Divorce

The Art of Manliness published an article about making friends when you move to a new city. While you may not necessarily relocate after your divorce, the situations often resemble one another. You find yourself in new circumstances and in need of a new social circle.

According to the post, in the 1950s, sociologists identified three key conditions necessary for fostering new friendships. Over the years, these have remained roughly the same. They are proximity, repeated and unplanned interactions, and a setting that encourages meaningful interaction.

Related Reading: Dating After Divorce Part 2

Proximity:

Proximity is about sharing physical space. Being in the same place as other people greatly improves your odds of making friends. For proximity to work in your favor, you should spend more than a few minutes in a single location.

An excellent example of the effectiveness of proximity is high school. Spending hours a day, five days a week in the same location with other people produces many opportunities for forging friendships. This nearness often leads to people connecting and forming bonds.

Repeated and Unplanned Interactions:

Repeated and unplanned interactions create familiarity. It’s rare to meet someone and instantly become best friends. Running into the same people on a consistent basis demonstrates you share common interests, or at the very least, similar schedules. Sometimes that’s enough to create a shared experience that leads to friendship.

Routine often feels dull or repetitive, but there’s value in having some predictability in your schedule when trying to meet new people. Always getting coffee from the same coffee shop or attending the same divorce support group every week will make you more familiar. The more familiar you are, the more approachable you often become to potential new friends.

Meaningful Interactions:

Finding a setting that promotes meaningful interactions is a bit more abstract. What has great meaning for one person may not carry the same weight for another. Don’t try to predict what is or isn’t meaningful for potential new friends. Instead, focus on creating a comfortable and relaxed environment that facilitates genuine interaction. 

The article makes a great point, saying:

“When you first meet people, no matter the environment, they tend to be cautious. They won’t let their sense of humor show; they won’t talk too much about their personal lives, etc. People are more likely to open up when you have a small backyard BBQ versus just meeting up at your local trivia night every week. It’s in smaller and more personal settings that friendship grows.”

Making new friends after divorce can be difficult, but it comes with great rewards. Think of it as an adventure—you might take some wrong turns along the way, and mishaps do happen, but that’s what makes it exciting. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Get out of the house, join a club or local meetup group, or even take a class. Finding new experiences will lead to finding new friends.

Related Reading: How to Prepare for Your Initial Divorce Consultation

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