Newsflash: Divorce isn’t contagious.
When I went public with the news about my divorce, most people were very kind about it. Of course, there were the “problem people”: the unhappily married guy thinking I might be desperate enough to solve his “problem,” or the married person who felt I was a threat to her marriage.
A friend of mine’s wife didn’t really want him to be around me anymore. It didn’t matter that we were friends for years and never anything else — not an inkling of romance. It didn’t matter that she knew me, too. Somehow, I suddenly became a threat.
The reality is that most of my married friends aren’t threatened by me or anyone else who’s divorced, but certain married people are threatened by divorced folks. Here’s why:
- Their marriage isn’t as great as they want it to be.
The person in the problematic marriage will most definitely be threatened by your divorce. Why? Because you, the divorced person, possibly represent this person’s future. Unless the divorce process was a piece of cake for you, your friend isn’t looking forward to potentially going through the same heartaches and headaches as you.
You can’t blame the person, but truthfully, instead of worrying if marriage is contagious, it’s better the person focus on his or her marriage.
- They’ve lost hope for their relationship.
If you were part of an adorable couple or a “dream team” marriage, your divorce could represent a huge loss for people who really admired you two as a couple or thought you two were a great pillar of love. Even when a marriage isn’t picture perfect, whenever one dies it feels like forever love isn’t possible anymore.
People need to rethink love and marriage, and shatter the idea that one person is fit for a lifetime. But there is a sort of skepticism that’s created when your love dies. For me, I don’t feel bitter; I feel optimistic, but I’m not as dreadfully romantic as I was.
- They’re insecure with themselves.
Insecure people may feel threatened by your divorce because then they think you’re out to steal their partners. The truth? A sane person doesn’t want a married person. If someone is that worried that his or her partner will cheat with a newly divorced man or woman, the problem lies in that marriage.
Obviously, there’s a lot of distrust already built in, and if this distrust is imaginary, then that insecure person is probably threatened by many people, not just you with that divorce of yours.
- Their life choices aren’t validated.
I know a ton of happily married people, but I also know many people silently or not-so-silently suffering in bad marriages. Your divorce may make their decisions to stay put feel wrong. Your desire to be set free from a bad marriage may make their desire to stick around feel foolish and invalidated.
People like to have their choices validated and praised, and divorce doesn’t validate the person who’s staying in the toxic marriage at all.
- They’re reminded that good marriages require work.
Your divorce is a friendly reminder that marriages require work, and let’s face it: people are damn lazy. Your divorce is a blaring news flash that perhaps Mr. or Mrs. Lazy Pants need to start stepping it up before he or she ends up on the chopping block.
It all comes down to this: confident, happy people will never feel threatened by your divorce or any of your life choices, because they’re already secure in their own.
So your happy, confident friends won’t scorn you for your divorce. It’s those people who are unsure, unstable, and not confident or scared who will find your divorce to be a lightning bolt on their own marriage. Keep on walking and don’t pay those people any mind.
This article originally appeared on Your Tango. For more like this from Your Tango, try:
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