Everyone sees when your Facebook status goes from “Married” to “It’s Complicated” and inevitably to “Single.” It’s difficult to watch your world fall apart privately, let alone in front of the virtual world.
Even if it’s an amicable split, social media can be a haven for rumors and unwanted attention. The ex may be posting pictures of his or her new life – with the kids, a new home or a new significant other. If your friend has unresolved feelings, the hurt goes beyond simply closing a chapter in life.
Here are some ways you can help your friend cope with rumors, gossip and other unwanted or negative attention.
Refocus on the future – When your friend hears about the ex’s new activities, help your friend focus on his or her new life. Encourage your friend to find new hobbies, activities and positive distractions when the kids are with the other parent. Offering to try activities with your friend will help him or her feel more confident in new ventures.
Also, remind him or her that parenting is not a competition. It may be tempting for your friend to spoil the kids when it’s his or her time with them, but the children will remember their time spent with each parent long after possessions wear out.
Resist retaliation – If rumors and gossip are an issue, the best thing your friend can do is to take the high road. It can be difficult, but your friend gains nothing by playing the “he said, she said” game.
It’s also important not to spread negativity if there are children involved. Not only will it damage their relationship with the other parent, but it compromises your friend’s integrity with his or her children. Not spreading rumors also applies to you if your children know your friend’s children.
Eventually, without retaliation, the ex will either lose interest in spreading rumors, or your friend will get to a point where it doesn’t affect him or her as much, or at all.
Gossip side note: As a friend, be aware of spreading gossip to others, even with the good intention of letting them know how your friend is doing. Your friend should choose how much and with whom he or she wants to share details.
Also be aware of what gossip you report back to your friend. Unless it involves the children or could directly impact your friend’s life, reinforce that gossip is unimportant by ignoring it.
Refrain from social media – Your friend can “unfriend” people or block posts from specific people on their news feed. Or they may want to take a break and simply not pay attention to social networking sites for now.
Remember the situation – If there is a lot of negativity coming from the ex, the best thing you can do for your friend is to remind him or her not to take it personally. It can be difficult, if the attacks are personal, but often, it’s hurt and anger talking. Something changed in the relationship to cause the divorce, so it’s important not to dwell on what went wrong, but stay focused on what can be better in the future.
Start with these tips, and you’ll help make your friend’s “It’s Complicated” a little less complicated.