THE BLOG
14/09/2015 06:07 BST | Updated 12/09/2016 06:12 BST

How to Handle the Split Loyalties With Friends When They Separate

I think we have all had this dilemma. Who do we stay friends with after a couple divorces or separates?

Hopefully you can stay friends with both parties, but that can be difficult as we are often dealing with human emotions and judgemental attitudes.

Realistically, the divorcing couple will expect you to commit to one side or the other and this often establishes itself way before the final separation or divorce. This is due to our blame culture - it's always someone else's fault - when actually there will be many circumstances that overlap and maybe many years later after a lot of reflective thought we realise each partner was partly to blame for the failure of that relationship.

How can you handle the initial expectation to now ignore one or other former partner? It can be really tough for friends of separating partners - which one do you invite to the family party - can you invite both? - What will happen if they meet at the family wedding? - What will happen if each one brings a new partner?

All I can say is there is no set advice or guidance in the form of a one size fits all answer.

However, common sense dictates procedures to adopt in order to ensure that your former couple remain friends long after the divorce or separation.

Always try to balance being sympathetic and understanding to both friends without actually agreeing to any of their own conclusions regarding blame etc. - remember your only hearing one side of a very unbalanced perspective. Don't reinforce any biased viewpoints - remain impartial. This will need exemplary diplomatic skills and can actually be both challenging and rewarding.

Make it clear you may still see or respond to each former partner from time to time for obvious and practical reasons. It needs to be made clear by way of simple inexplicit references with your normal conversations that this will happen. It ensures that you are not accused of being a 'Judas' and losing the confidence or friendship of either party when they find out that you have had contact with their former partner.

Never, ever say to either party what you really thought of their former partner. Just remember that a high proportion of separating couples do actually end up getting back together again.

There will of course be a whole host of anomalies that will occur that will need careful thoughtful planning on what your responses will be for each individual case of a divorcing couple. It won't be easy. But trying to frame your responses within these guidance rules should ensure that your friendship is retained and remains flexible for most situations that may occur over the coming years.