Coping with Your Acquaintance’s Divorce

You hoped this day would never come. You’re catching up with a few of your college friends when one of them mentions that his old roommate, Jason, is getting divorced. Instantly, your world shatters. How could this happen to you? Of all the people in the world, why did your friend’s old roommate Jason have to be the one who gets divorced? It’s natural to have trouble adjusting to this new reality, but try and stay strong. There is light at the other end of the tunnel.

Start with removing anything that reminds you of Jason. That way, you won’t think about the painful impact his divorce has on your life. Delete his contact information from your phone. Since you can’t quite remember whether he’s Jason B. or Jason H., err on the side of caution and delete both of them. His name is tarnished anyways.

Scroll back ten years on your Facebook feed to the time you tagged him in a photo and scrub it from your timeline. You don’t need that constant reminder of his divorce. You can barely cope as it is.

When the pain of Jason’s divorce starts to get to you, there’s no shame in seeking professional help. Consult a therapist to help you work through the emotional fallout. When you fill out the intake form and they ask for the reason for your visit, just write “divorce.” They’ll know you’re talking about Jason’s divorce. It’s obvious. If your therapist asks you whether Jason is your father, calmly explain that he’s your college friend’s old roommate, and he’s probably destroyed your ability to trust another human being ever again.

It’s never fun to be the bearer of bad news, but since you’ve become aware of Jason’s divorce, it’s your responsibility to inform the other people in your life about it. Telling your children won’t be easy, but it must be done. Do something nice for them before you share the news that will undoubtedly shake their reality. Go out for ice cream or watch one of their favorite movies. Then, sit them down and tell them you have upsetting news. Take a deep breath and say, “My college friend’s old roommate Jason is getting divorced.” Give your kids a moment to process the news. Have a few tissues on hand. Let them know this won’t change your relationship with them, and you will always be there for them no matter what. If you feel like you’re going to cry, that’s alright. Don’t hide your emotions in this kind of situation.

If Jason is getting divorced, there’s no hope for the rest of us. Love is dead.

When you tell your wife about Jason, keep an open dialogue. Let her know that Jason is getting divorced, and you’re having a lot of trouble dealing with it, but you’re being brave for the sake of the family and you’ll try to answer any questions she has.

If she expresses confusion about Jason’s existence, gently remind her that she met him one time at a dinner six years ago. When she gives an underwhelming response like, “Oh, that sucks,” remember that she’s underreacting to protect her own feelings. She’s in denial. Give her time to process.

They were so good together, Jason and his wife. You think her name was Allison, but social media tells you that it was actually Melissa.

That doesn’t sound right. He was definitely dating someone named Allison. Where did she go? How are you supposed to process your trauma if you can’t even remember Jason’s soon-to-be-ex-wife’s name? Check in with your college friend and ask about what happened to Allison.

When your college friend tells you that Allison was the name of Jason’s first wife, and Melissa is his current wife, resist the urge to break down into tears. Call into work and tell them you’ll need to take a few days off. Schedule another therapy appointment. Collect yourself. How are you supposed to tell your kids?