my lovers and relationships

How to split up friends when you split up.

At the time my husband Will and I split up, he had two close male friends. One he’d known since they were pre-teens in school and the other, he’d met through work. I liked both of their wives and the six of us had the occasional dinner with or without our children (who were all in the same age range). So what happened after our “good divorce”?

I was the social convener: other than the occasional email the men might exchange, the women were the ones who made sure plans were executed.

Since Will and I had an amicable divorce, it wasn’t particularly stressful for these friends to keep in touch with me. At least, not from my perspective. For the last two years, I’ve seen the women every few months. The “work wife” and I see each other only at these dinners. The “school wife” and I are good friends; she was my travel partner on my recent trip and I see her one-on-one as well. 

But in the early days I didn’t see the husbands. My first party in my new place, neither couple were invited. It was a party Will and I had hosted for years and I wasn’t sure how he would feel about me extending the invitation to them. We were both trying to keep the peace, as it were.

Afterwards, when I mentioned to Will I’d had the party he asked whether I’d invited those friends. When I said no, he was surprised and said of course he wouldn’t care.

I continue to be sensitive to the fact that the husbands are “his” friends. While yes, we’ve become close, if a decision had to be made for one or another, I know it should be Will.

But here’s the thing: he’s not kept in touch with any regularity.

Shortly after he and Colleen started dating, they went to a school alumni event with the school couple. At a subsequent dinner with the wives, we talked about her, I asked appropriate but curious questions, and we said how nice it was he had found someone who seemed like a good match for him.

That was the last time anyone has ever seen her.

Have I mentioned lately I really don’t understand my ex-husband sometimes?

Here he is, with a great partner who he is serious about. They’ve been together over two years. He says they talk of moving in together. He and Liam spend a lot of time with her and her children.

I just assumed, as we all did, that he would try to integrate her somewhat into what little social life he had. But it hasn’t happened.

Yes, he lived in another country for almost a year. But much to our collective puzzlement, he hasn’t really tried to connect with them at all since his return. The rare text message doesn’t count.

In the last two years, I’ve seen the school husband several times. In the early days, it was only in passing when I went to their house to see his wife. But he then started coming to the parties I’ve had and he hung out with us when I was at his place. He met Tony and we talked of dinner together. He and Tony share an intense love of the same sports team and they got along really well.

The husband told me it wasn’t like Will was in touch with him anyway, so there was no awkwardness.

I’ve never tried to pretend Will isn’t my ex, that my life didn’t include him for a very long time, or that friends I have know him as well. He’s not “he who should not be named”. My friends ask how he’s doing, as they care. We have no public drama.

But we think it’s weird that Will hasn’t kept in real touch with his only two close friends. One night with the school couple, we hypothesized perhaps the reason Will was being distant with him is because he is somewhat connected to me. But Will has never said anything to that effect (not that he would, perhaps) but nor have I made it a habit of mentioning them to him.

That theory was busted when we learned he wasn’t in touch with the work husband either. While I’d see his wife a handful of times, I hadn’t seen the work husband at all. If Will was weird about me keeping a loose connection to his friends, it didn’t apply in this case.

I even asked Will recently whether he’d seen his friends, and when he said “no” and I asked why he was just – well, weird. I didn’t press it.

I know he’s relatively anti-social. I know it took me cajoling him to have a regular games night with some friends from work, so he had some time that was just his own. I know he’s deep in his relationship with Colleen. I know he can be relatively insular.

But I also know that I’m not going to let his choices dictate mine.

Last night I went for dinner at the school couple’s house. The work couple was there as well. I brought a close girlfriend who is staying with me for the weekend. It was really nice to see the work husband; it had been well over two years. We laughed like crazy, got caught up on each others lives, and drank way too much (in fact, this time it was my friend repeating my sickness adventure two weekends ago with Hy).

Everyone got caught up on the whole Tony-Fox-Tony scenario and at one point Tony was the topic of conversation at the table. They are all #TeamTony because he’s fun, they like him, and I adore him.

At this point, I kinda figure if Will isn’t going to claim these great friends, then I certainly will.

27 thoughts on “How to split up friends when you split up.

  1. Lots of men just aren’t that social. I have a feeling that u might have been the glue that kept his friendships together. I was often that way with my ex and his family, cooking the family get together and remembering to send cards on birthdays.

    • I was the glue that kept everything together!! The very rare family or friend thing occurred without my involvement.

      Some things have shifted for him when it comes to his family, as he had to take on the responsibility…but he’s pretty comfortable with minimal interaction.

    • Well, I think we are often in a unique position when it comes to understanding our exes, but too much of the time it’s just the negative we see. In my case with Will, I try to see all sides of it – and because of the distance I now have from him, I think I see him clearer.

      But his choices still sometimes confound me…not because I don’t understand why he makes them, but they just don’t seem to be positive.

  2. I can somewhat understand and if Will is not in contact with them for reasons such as work or sports, it would not surprise me that they do not see each other. I think that a lot of behavior is genetic and back in caveman (caveperson) days, the man would go out and hunt while the cavewoman, who probably looked like Raquel Welch in 10,000 years BC) would keep the fire going and tend to the rugrats. We are programmed to be solitary hunters and some of that is still with us today.

  3. Two things here. “He’s not “he who should not be named”. It’s funny you should use these words. Because *I* am. My kids told me once that my ex refers to me by “She who should not be named”. I guess that tells a lot about the sort of relationship my ex wants to keep going with me 😉
    I really think you should claim the friends. He may not want to claim them, or his new partner doesn’t want to make any effort to see them, like you did, maybe because *she* associates them with YOU, not with Will.
    I know my ex prevented me from keeping in touch with many friends of mine while we were married. And most of the friendships that developed while we were married were through me, though in retrospect I realize that a lot of the friends we had were vetted by my ex before any relationship was allowed to continue.
    To be honest, most of the friends we had never really counted to him. Because he cares way to much about his family (extended). If you’re not part of his family, you don’t really count, with the exception of a few friends that I’m aware of, one he met at school a long time ago, a few met through work in our last posting, and one we met by chance. I never thought he’d stay in touch with that one. Everyone else, they’re pretty much gone. Even people who used to be such great friends that we’d regularly have impromptu brunches or dinners at each other’s house and with whose male part he’d regularly do sports with.

    But to be honest, I haven’t contacted many of my old friends. Maybe it’s because our divorce is far from amicable, maybe it’s because we moved countries just before going though with it and the friends are scattered all over the world, maybe it’s because some of my friends were not welcome at ours while we were married and thus I didn’t get to see them often? I don’t know. I guess my life has been revolving around a few important things that I needed to sort out: my divorce (which is hopefully on the way to getting sorted), my family, mostly my children (whose suffering through this divorce I’m trying to keep to a minimum) and my own personal journey, which has been taking a lot of my time and had to be kept quiet, so… I can’t really discuss it with RL friends. Maybe it’s just easier not to talk to them at all, rather than knowing I have to be careful what I say? I don’t know…

    I’m jus glad for you you had such a good time and your friends are on team Tony!

    • His mother is also “she who shall not be named”… let’s just say his parents still can’t be in the same room together and they split almost 15 years ago.

      Colleen doesn’t strike me as that kind of person but I don’t really know her. It’s quite possible, I suppose.

      And I think, as you are highlighting, it’s different when it’s not amicable. It’s hard to not talk about what you’re going through with your friends, and it’s hard for them to hear bad stuff when they are trying to be friends with both of you.

      is it possible some of your friends may understand your personal journey? I’m surprised at what I learn when I open the doors to those topics 🙂

      • I think my mom still has trouble with my father, and especially with his new wife. She definitely is ‘she who shall not be named’. And frankly, my youngest has some issues at the moment, the doctor said she’d want to see the child with both parents… and I said I just couldn’t. It’s also better for our child, because the tension in the room would be too great. I don’t want to see him, I don’t want to hear his voice. Reading his words is difficult already. And I suspect it’s the same for him. From his side, I think it’s because of such resentment that I dared go, break up the family (he somehow doesn’t seem to understand that the family was broken way before I ever left), cheat… in whichever order, I’m not sure. As from my side, it’s difficult for a few reasons. One because there is still some resentment for the way he treated me all these years, even though I’m working on this, because I want to get out of the victim persona and own my responsibilities for that broken marriage. But frankly, when I’m in his presence, I turn back into the scared, powerless creature I was during our marriage. Just being in his aura has this ability, so I prefer to avoid it. My lawyer suggested we sit around a table and discuss a settlement… I am not ready yet, I’m too worried that he’d start to take advantage of me again. And that I’d let him.
        Some of my friends do understand very well. The ones who were *my* friends, not *ours*. The ones he refused to visit because ‘his family’ was more important. Or the ones he tried to split by telling them half-truths about me and the male part of that couple. Because obviously his misery wasn’t enough, he needed to try and spread it.
        Not many people know about my journey. Not amongst our old friends. But because they now live on the other side of the world, it was easier to lose the connection with them. I rebuilt new connections here, and *these* friends know mostly about my personal journey. Though maybe not as starkly detailed as my friends on the blog 😉 I don’t think many of them are ready for that much information 🙂
        I never discussed my sex life with friends, so… it’d be quite a shock I think 😉

  4. I really don’t think you think this way, but I have no other way to say it – there’s no need to “claim” them. Clearly you all enjoy each other’s company, Will doesn’t really care, and I think enough time has passed to relieve any awkwardness that may have been there in the beginning. I think it’s great that you are spending time with them – obviously those relationships were good ones for you before.

    I suspect that it’s not Will – it may very well be Colleen who doesn’t want to interact with those old friends, and could be the main reason he’s no longer in contact with them. It may not be the healthiest of relationship situations, but sadly I’ve seen this happen a lot (and it happened with me when I married my ex).

    • Yes, I used “claim” liberally. It’s not one or the other, in my opinion. None of these friends would speak to me at the exclusion of Will, or vice versa. We make it easy for them.

      You’re the second person that mentioned Colleen, and that could very well be it. I’d be surprised, but I don’t know her very well at all. Will is pretty insular already, so he has those tendencies. Who knows? Who cares!

  5. Similar situation with my ex-husband and to start with I felt angry for our friends that he cut them out. Well over a year on I realize it is his loss, our friends wanted to be there for him, he didn’t respond and life moves on.
    I feel lucky to have kept amazing friendships and more fool my ex for missing out on the joy and love they bring!

    • Yes, exactly as you say. It’s his loss, I’ve acted with great respect for him and his friendships…and I’m not going to hold back at this point from keeping my own friendships alive.

  6. I didn’t have that issue as my X only had one friend that is solely his friend. I think you have done all the right things and you maintain a very respectful relationship with your X…so go for the friends…you can never have too many!

  7. As someone who is terrible at keeping in touch with people, and generally only get together with friends and family when they instigate something, I don’t necessarily see Will’s behavior as being a conscious choice – obviously I don’t know that, but I just know that’s how I am! I’m an introvert and tend to be quite happy just with my Neil, and the kids, or on my own. I’m lucky my friends and family haven’t given up on me really!

    • Will is definitely happy with a very small circle of people in his life. But he’s also not particularly close to his family. So I do understand that Colleen and her children have now become his core family unit… I just know it’s important to have friends in ones life and feel bad for him that he’s going down a path where he won’t have the support.

  8. I’ve always found it funny that before you marry, you have friends – but lose a few after marrying… but get new friends via marriage but lose them again if you divorce. It’s curious that divorce seems to mean losing a spouse and any friends made and that kinda doesn’t make sense.

  9. When I read this post yesterday, my mind immediately flashed to my former spouse, our divorce, and how the friends and family thing played out. Most of “our” friends from way back when are still MY/present DH friends now. After our split and before he met his second wife he tended to keep up and in touch with friends, but then life changed when he met and married her. We (he and I) always had an amicable relationship, but his wife tended to try and exorcise me and all traces of our marriage from his life and he went along with it when it came to friendships.

  10. Perhaps Will and Colleen live in that “you and me against the world” bubble?? I was friends with a girl who was in one of those relationships. She blamed him for her lack of friends, but she ended our friendship, so I question which crazy I believe…..

    • Hey Julie!!
      Yes indeed…the truth is often somewhere in the middle. Perhaps she’s insular like he is. He’s spoken a few times about people they’ve had over for dinner – new people – so who knows.

What do you think?