Chump Lady spoke on Huffington Post yesterday about who gets the friends after a divorce. If you don’t want to wade through the 25 minutes of blather on the subject, I thought I’d save you the trouble and blather here instead.
After a long marriage and a contentious divorce, your friends probably feel awkward. They thought they knew you both and generally you get a platitude from many of them about wanting to remain “neutral.” Oh, every marriage is a mystery. You don’t know who is really at fault! I don’t want the messy details, I love you both…
After infidelity? I say bullshit.
Real friends don’t sit on the fence. Anyone that wants to host a barbecue and invite your ex-spouse and their affair partner is NOT YOUR FRIEND. The guy that was in your wedding party and knows that your wife cheated on you and offers you a wan handshake afterwards and a thin “I’m trying to be neutral” — is NOT YOUR FRIEND. And in fact, he probably was fucking your wife too. Anyone that knew about the cheating and didn’t tell you? They’re NOT YOUR FRIEND.
Anyone who treats you like divorce from infidelity is a communicable disease? NOT YOUR FRIEND.
Infidelity is a good time to find out who your friends really are. They will share your horror and outrage. They’ve got your back. My friend Maureen said “I don’t know how you keep from running down the streets screaming.” And then she drove three hours and helped me pack all his shit up. THAT’S A FRIEND.
My friend Yoma hated my ex from the start, begged me to leave him, and when I finally did — she financed my mortgage on a new home until my divorce settlement came through. (Because my family financing fell apart.) She said “Here’s the cash, here’s some extra for your legal bills, don’t worry about the interest.” (I paid her interest. And drew it all up legally. And I paid her back 9 months later.) THAT’S A FRIEND. No really, that’s an ANGEL. How’d she get that money? Well, in part she got it in lifetime alimony 40 years ago from HER cheating ex. She was paying it forward.
Friends are people who love you and act like it. Sometimes, it’s not until a crisis like infidelity hits, that you know the depth of that love and concern. It’s one of the blessings that comes from this crap. And it also helped me learn how to be a friend to other folks going through it, which sadly, I’ve been called upon to do a few times since then, and is part of the impetus for Chump Lady.
So people — be a friend. And dump those “neutral” losers. Thank you.
Remember the old saying: “A friend in need , is a pain in the ass”.
Friendship is more a course of conduct over time than friend is a static noun. What is properly called a friend is a person who makes choices, time and again, based on consideration, care, and affection for another. When that stops being true of their choices, they stop being a friend.
For this reason, talk about what should be done with “friends” who fail to suppport you during an infidelity crisis (e.g., “I want to remain neutral”) is nonsensical. Like what should be done with a circle that stops being round.
A wise person once told me that a friend may not fit into your life forever. Sometimes we age out of friendships. I’m a nostalgic person, and I like the idea of keeping friends a good long time, but I tend to believe that.
One thing I had to understand about my friends was that even though initially supportive, they can weary of talking about this stuff, particularly if they have never experienced it.
So, one does have to rein it in, after a while.
Being madhatters, my wife and I will unfortunately be forcing a few friends to become some version of “Switzerland.”
I’ll likely treat them as I’ve already treated my family: by first coming clean about my own infidelities before dropping the rest of the story on them. Sucks, but if they only ever hear her story I’ll never know for sure what she didn’t tell them.
She does have one friend who gleefully knew. In fact, it was with a lone texting thread between them that I slowly clued in as to who my wife’s main AP was. I had gone gathering evidence about some other asshole and stumbled upon the main asshole from that convo. So that old friend of hers will be getting a special, parting F-you from me.
What I know from my own behavior is that cheaters only confide in friends likely to be sympathetic or empathetic to their cause. One text convo revealed that my wife confided to a mutual friend her unhappiness with the marriage, but I’m pretty sure did NOT share that she has been cheating … because that friend was previously betrayed, herself. Funny how selective sharing works.