29/10/2012 10:56 GMT | Updated 28/12/2012 05:12 GMT

A Friend in Need is a Friend in Deed - What Role Do Your Friends Play in Your Divorce?

We all need our friends, especially in times of crisis. Divorce and separation is one of those life crises where you might feel that you need all the friends you can get, or do you? It is interesting to think about what place friends occupy in the new and choppy waters of a painful separation.

Having run many divorce support groups and divorce workshops, I begin to wonder whether friends are always the helping hand and the shoulder to cry on that is needed. If they are, what is the price that is paid for that? It would seem that friends can be the opposite of what is expected simply adding to the feelings of disappointment. It is natural to think that those you thought were closest to you would jump to the occasion and provide all the comfort and security without being asked.

However, friends who you might have been on numerous holidays with as families or as a couple, or friends that you spent nights in the pub with, or Saturday nights having dinner with downing a bottle of wine and having a laugh sometimes seem to disappear. That feeling of taking for granted some very basic elements of security get whipped away at the same time as your relationship. It is incredibly painful to know that your friends are now inviting your ex and not you, and have perhaps 'coupled up' with your ex and his or her new partner instead of staying loyal to you. There are also friends for whom you are suddenly not the draw that you were before. I hear you say, that you are not invited anymore for dinner because you are not part of a couple and don't fit, that somehow if you are female that you are a 'threat' to married men.

Then there are the friends who are real friends, but who you feel you are burdening with the looped tape of your divorce. You, of course, need to talk endlessly about your feelings and what your ex has done and continues to do, but your fear is that the friendship can't sustain it. That's when you need a local group or workshop or some individual sessions to support you so that you can be free to feel less burdensome of those around you that you love.

There are also friends who are full of wise advice. Is it wise though, or is it a reflection of their own agendas? It is impossible to hear someone close to you saying, 'it's time to move on, you should be over it by now, nobody liked him/her anyway. None of those things, although meant well are at all helpful. In fact, they are quite shocking. Those words put a distance between you and your friend who is not as understanding as you thought they were.

With separation come all sorts of changes and losses. Friendships are one of those. Lifestyle changes with divorce and so do friends. Don't be surprised, be ready and think of it as a way of meeting new people more in keeping with your new life who will grow with you through it. They will be more relevant and fit better. There is a loss inevitably, but there is also a gain.

Charlotte Friedman

0207 483 1378