“Don’t stop inviting divorced friends to parties just because they are single and call them on holidays even years after the divorce is over,” said Ms. Englund.
When Amy Armstrong, a family therapist in Columbus, Ohio, went through her own divorce, finding friends able to listen without turning her story into drama — or gossip — was a lifeline. “A supportive person helps you see yourself in a bright next chapter, not someone who urges you to complain or stay in victim mode,” she said.
Stéphane Jutras, who lives in Canada and hosts the podcast “Divorced Dad Diaries,” divorced in 2018. When he talked about it with friends, he noticed they became more intimate and opened up about relationship issues that they had previously kept guarded. “As I shared, they felt safe to talk about their marital problems,” Mr. Jutras said.
In sourcing a team of supporters, Susan Pease Gadoua, a therapist in Sonoma County, Calif., who also runs ongoing divorce support groups, recommends turning to people unafraid of strong feelings, or the time it may take to process them. “People have a two-to-four-month bandwidth for dealing with others’ pain, but recovering from divorce in less than six months is fast,” she said.
For those who question their conversational skills, good listening does not necessitate nonstop chatter. Watching a movie together can be greatly comforting, as can talking while hiking. “Don’t trash talk, cheerlead or problem solve,” said Abby Medcalf, a psychologist in Berkeley, Calif., and the founder of the podcast “Relationships Made Easy.”
“Connect with the feeling, not the situation,” said Dr. Medcalf. “Ask, what’s making you the saddest, the angriest, the most fearful?”