A friend of mine got a divorce from her husband years ago, but she still pines for him like it was yesterday. I want to be there for my friend, but my patience is wearing thin. It’s been ages – why can’t she move on?
What She Said
These things take time and there’s no accounting for someone else’s grieving period after getting a divorce. That said, some tough love might be needed soon.
Where Do You Draw The Line?
Of course, there’s a fine line between caring and codependency. It’s great to help your friend seek alternatives, but it’s not your sole responsibility. It’s important to set some boundaries. Tell your friend that you care, but venting about the ex is now limited to ½ hour of your time when you two hang out. (Or whatever limit you’re comfortable with. You get the drift). She’ll probably be bummed at first and might try to push you for more. Stand firm in your decision. When time is up, move to another topic. Allowing your friend to continue moping is clearly affecting your relationship. She might feel like you’re “not being a good friend.” Say that the cutoff is because you want to see her shine and that it’s in no way a lack of support.
The best you can do is encourage your friend to get back out there, all while recognizing that the choice to do so is hers alone. Invite your friend to the movies, the gym, parties and nights out on the town – places where she can get used to the social scene and get life going again.
You’re Not The Therapist
Remember, your role is “friend” not “professional therapist.” If she still needs to process the divorce, suggest that a counselor would be better suited for the emotional needs she has. It sounds like the subject of the former marriage has taken center stage for a long time. If she’s as good a friend to you as you are, she’ll most likely snap out of it and realize that you need a break from the baggage. Friendship is a two-way street; it’s her responsibility to meet you halfway.
What He Said
I have never been married, so obviously, I have never had a divorce. But last weekend I was in the gym, and I was trying to work out around some of the weekend warrior types (the type of guys who go to the gym and only exercise their jaw muscles and then wonder why they look like crap) and these two guys were talking about their children and their ex wives. The following conversation actually happened.
Guy #1: I don’t think I’ll ever live with another woman again. I will have my place, she will have hers. That will make it easier when we break up.
Guy #2: Yeah, I can’t do the serious intimacy any more. That’s why I just have sex with women.
Guy #1: I can’t even do that. I’m still do afraid to date.
Guy #2: Yeah, that was me for a little while after I got divorced six months ago. When did you get divorced?
Guy #1: 2005
Guy 2: (awkward silence)
I wanted to say what Guy #2 didn’t have the balls to: That’s sad. I don’t care how messy, painful or nasty the divorce was. Move the on already! Five years have passed and the guy is still damaged. I don’t know what the details of his situation are and I frankly don’t care. They don’t matter any more. His ex isn’t the problem, HE is the problem. And so is your friend.
What can you do? Probably nothing. I wouldn’t let her bring the issue up any more. If she does, tell your friend that she’s not allowed to anymore. Feel free to be a jerk about it. But only if you need to be. Try being very firm first. Say that you love her, but enough time has passed and you won’t be letting her drag you into this crap any more. If she wants talk endlessly about the problems she has, that is what Oprah is for. Not you.