You don’t just divorce your ex. You divorce their friends too.

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Let’s start with a caveat: in no way I am still distraught over being divorced in March 2017, or really anything even close to that. My life is in a totally different place. It feels good. I still have a ton of shit to work on (phrased another way, I am a human being), but I’m good. Don’t worry about me in that sense.

But I do feel like I have some small platform here because I’ve been consistently blogging for about five years as of two weeks from now. I feel like I have a tiny audience and maybe they came to me because they struggle with stuff around work and relationships. Maybe I’m totally misguided on this. I am not positive.

Back around that February-March 2017 period, I read a lot of stuff about divorce online. We’re talking like legitimate research papers all the way to shitty Men’s Health articles about how to get back out and start swinging that dick around. (I’m just being honest.) I probably read more divorce-related stuff in that 30 — day or so span than most people have ever consumed, up to and including divorce lawyers. I was loving me Esther Perel.

Here’s the one big thing missing from that literature set writ large: people don’t discuss what happens with the friends. You have friends. Your ex has friends. Over time, those friends meld. Maybe XYZ Person came from one side, but now you view him or her as a good friend on your side. That’s what happens over years and years of a relationship. Friends merge. Blend. The lines are not as thick as they once were.

No one ever seems to talk about that side of it. Ideally you’re going to be two adults and there’s going to be no “breaking apart” of friendships — people will be friends with both of those who split.

In reality, of course this doesn’t happen. There’s geography and other people having kids and the messiness that is loyalty and people not knowing what to do in tough situations. It’s complex. It’s a tapestry and not everyone knows where to thread the needle next quite exactly.

So this is what happens: you lose friends. And because we crave human connection and contact, you need to go find other friends to replace those friends you lost. It’s not easy. Making friends over 30 is not easy. Most people get divorced after 30. Do that math.

So this is what happened to me specifically: I had a lot of friends through my ex. You’re talking about her college crew, some of her HS crew, and the significant others therein. More on that in a second. In a conventional sense, I “lost” almost all these people. Add in her siblings, who for a while I was pretty tight with, and you’re basically replacing the top third of your texting window with well, emptiness. It’s a sad moment for a bit.

You recover. We all do. That’s humanity. It is adaptability, even if we want to assign it to 1,782 other things. Being human is about being adaptable. Change is hard, but it’s not impossible by any means.

Here’s Story 1: last weekend I’m in NYC, where I’m from. I’m sitting at Astoria Beer Garden on Saturday mid-to-late afternoon. I had my 30th birthday there. I turn 38 in about four weeks. I was thinking of that day turning 30 and I speak to essentially nobody who was there that day. That’s eight years. It’s a long time, sure, but it’s not that long. It’s weird to think about sometimes.

Here’s Story 2: remember I talked about being friends with the significant others of some of my ex’s friends? Right. Well we used to have this poker game every month in the N-Y-C. One girl in the female ecosystem starts dating this dude who’s a bit older than us and we add him to the game. I was probably 29–31 at this point; dude was probably 36–37. Those are wholly different worlds. So for a while, I’m thinking this dude is semi-creepy because I’m down here with my “Nothing can impact me at 30!” worldview and he’s fucking almost 40.

What happens about eight years later? I start dating a 29 year-old and I’m hanging out with her friends and their dudes periodically. See where this is going? I’m 37.7 and they’re all 28–31. Think I felt like an asshole for those poker games back eight years ago? You can bet your bottom dollar I did. You might want to not bet that bottom dollar because there’s a good chance I already lost it. I’m fucking terrible at poker.

Bottom line is: no, I don’t pine for the past. Those were people I loved, and in some cases still love and respect from afar (in the form of pics of their kids on Insta getting that “like”), and sometimes it’s hard for me to hear Zac Brown songs about “good friends living down the street” without a tinge of emotion, but we all gotta grow, change, and find new tribes.

So what was the point of writing this? Maybe there was none. Sometimes I just write stuff because I feel it, you know? But I guess if there was a broader point, I’d say this. If you get separated or divorced and you’re wondering to yourself, “Shit, how should I be feeling about the friends I lost?” — just know you’re not alone. A lot of people think about it. It’s just a question of how honest they are about expressing it.

I’d also probably be remiss if I didn’t mention that I met a dude at a bar a few weeks back who was legit sobbing into his iPhone 10 about all the repercussions of his recent divorce, and I used some of the above to walk him through it. I think it helped. It probably didn’t, but we all gotta dream, right?

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Blogging, largely about work and how to improve it. How I make (some) money: http://thecontextofthings.com/hire-freelance-writer-ted-bauer/

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