How Not to Be a Dick to Your Divorced/Divorcing Friends

My name is Demetria and I’m getting a divorce.

Feb 28, 2013 at 4:00pm | Leave a comment

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Divorced/divorcing people love taking selfies! Exhibit A.

This is something of a coming-out story for me. I’m in the middle of a divorce, but have never talked about it publicly until now.

I’m a writer/editor who has over the years talked about relationships and even my own marriage, but I’ve gone back and forth with how to handle this whole divorce thing. Social media is an awful place when it comes to relationships (especially dead/dying ones) and people can be oh so mean online. Tough-typing is a real thing ya’ll. 

But here I am. My name is Demetria and I’m getting a divorce. 

XOJane seemed like the perfect place to put out something a little cheeky, but filled with my truth, too. All in all, my friends and family have been great and I really appreciate their support. Not sure what I’d do without it.  I just hope other people going through a divorce can relate to this and I really hope the friends of said divorced/divorcing people take note. 

1. Do not congratulate me.

More often than not, when I tell a friend/acquaintance for that I’m getting a divorce, the first response is “Sorry to hear that” followed closely by “Congratulations” or “You go girl!” (In 2013 no less!) or something like that. 


I understand the whole “Congratulations” thing. You want to seem supportive of your friend and make sure she knows that this experience is merely a springboard for something better. Duly noted. However, saying “Congratulations” is hella inappropriate. You congratulate someone for an accomplishment, a goal reached, a milestone surpassed. Divorce sucks. There is nothing and I mean nothing praiseworthy about a failed marriage.  

Sometimes I correct people who tell me “Congratulations” and sometimes I just let it ride and say “Thank you” because I know folks mean well, but it always stings a bit. 

2. Do not tell me how you always knew we weren’t going to make it.

This seems like a “duh” thing to avoid saying to a divorced/divorcing friend, but people really do say things like this and it has been said to me. Please don’t make me feel defensive about my dead ass marriage. That is all. 

3. Do not give me your ridiculous and unasked for theories about the demise of my marriage.

Of the irksome things people say to divorced/divorcing people, this is the one I loathe the most. People have actually had the nerve to tell me why MY marriage didn’t work. Really, son? Let me help you find the nearest empty stadium so you can have all of those seats at least twice.  

People telling me their fuck ass theories on why I’m getting a divorce will inevitably bring in a bunch of misguided assumptions, half truths and some parroting of “insight” found on Instagram and Dr. Phil. Correcting them would mean that I would have to tell them things about the inner workings of my marriage and well, I don’t feel the need to do that.  Just stop saying dumb shit to me. 

4. Do not give me a timeline for when I “should” start to date/stop crying/feel awesome/whatever.

Never-been-married people who have an aunt or a friend or a cousin who got a divorce one time are the number one type of people to give me a timeline of when I “should” be doing certain things.  And please miss me with that whole “it takes half the length of your relationship to get over your break-up” crap. I was married for five years, together for a total of seven years. Should I seek happiness three-and-a-half years from now? Stop it. 

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This is me doing stuff I probably wasn’t “supposed” to be doing yet aka going on vacation by myself.

5. Do not tell me that I need to suck it up and feel better because your aunt/friend/mom had a horrible divorce.

Everybody’s marriage is different and of course everyone’s divorce experience is different too.  Your divorced/divorcing friend needs your true compassion not horror stories you dig up from divorced relatives.

My divorce is very amicable and yes I too know of terrible real-life divorce experiences that would make War of the Roses seem tame, but that does not in any way lessen my personal emotional and psychological challenges. Telling me about how much worse of a time someone else had during a divorce suggests some type of competition and I’m not trying to participate in the Depression Olympics.  

Someone else’s more dramatic heartbreak does not make me feel better nor should it make me feel shame for feeling non-awesome about my particular situation. Sometimes I need to just be sad. Let me do that without comparisons.