The idea seems to be that manly self-sufficiency is desirable, and when it comes to divorce a real man can easily go it alone. But guess what? That’s total crap! No matter how strong you think you are, you should not try to survive your divorce alone. Nobody can be that self-sufficient. During a divorce, you need your friends more than ever.

If you mention divorce, people cringe. It is universally acknowledged as an awful time in any man’s life. Through the movies, we’ve been told that women going through a divorce get together with their friends, drink wine and complain about their ex-husbands. We rarely see anything about men.

You’re not as strong as you think you are.

Sorry to break it to you but you’re not as strong as you think you are. Don’t get me wrong, you’re a great man, but ultimately you’re also human. Divorce is exhausting and takes you to the very edge of your limits. Why on earth would you try to survive that on your own?

Humans are social creatures.

Ultimately, we are social creatures. Men (and women) were not made to live in isolation. As John Donne famously said, “no man is an island.” And that applies to you too! Throughout your life, you have probably made and lost friends, but you have always been part of a group. Whether on a sports team in elementary school or as part of a team at work, you have always been surrounded by people. Why change that now that you need them most?

It’s healthy to vent.

Do you know why movies always show women drinking wine and venting about their ex-husbands? Because it’s good for you. Holding every bit of anger, resentment, fear, and stress inside you is a recipe for disaster.

Think of a volcano, everything is gently bubbling away until one day, seemingly out of nowhere, it erupts. Instead of trying to go it alone all the time, talk to your friends or family. Let them know what’s bothering you. Explain how frustrated or angry you are. You’ll feel better.

People want to help.

In the same way that humans are made to live in a community, we thrive on helping each other. Friendships function through shared experience, mutual respect and a desire to support each other. Your friends want to help you, but they can’t do that unless you tell them something is wrong.

One tip though: venting is good, wallowing is bad. Confide in your friends and let them be there for you but don’t become the guy who can’t talk about anything but his divorce. Nobody likes that guy. Instead, do your venting then ask about their lives.

Friends can lend some much-needed perspective.

You know the guy who can’t talk about anything but his divorce? He’s lost perspective. He’s the guy that needs friends the most. When we’re deeply entrenched in the situation, it’s so hard to maintain perspective. Suddenly you become convinced that everything your ex does is aimed at you. Everything is an attack, and nothing is ever a coincidence. How could it be when she’s out to get you? This may sound ridiculous, but it’s happened a lot more often that you might think.

You’re used to living in partnership.

If you’re going through a divorce, it’s no secret that you’ve just come out of a partnership. Whether it lasted for two months or 25 years, it’s a partnership. You became accustomed to sharing your life with somebody else. To go from sharing your entire life with someone to isolated self-sufficiency is crazy difficult. Add on to that trying to go it alone, and you’re making your life almost impossible before you’ve even started.

You need to relax.

Any divorce is stressful. Even the ones that seem to be going well are extremely stressful. Making time for friends will help you get through it. When you’re alone, it’s hard to relax. You might put on a movie or go to the gym, but with nobody to distract you, it’s all too easy to start thinking about your ex or your kids. What are they doing now? Was divorce the right decision? Has she moved on? When can you move on? It’s a never-ending cycle of questions that you will never escape as long as you’re by yourself. Friends are great at helping you relax because they pull you out of that cycle and let you be your old self for a few hours.

Being “on” is exhausting.

When you’re tired, stressed and sad on the inside, it’s exhausting to be happy-go-lucky on the outside. Maintaining that façade for a day or two seems doable, but as your divorce drags on, the weight of pretending will begin to take its toll. Now you’ve got a double whammy – stress and exhaustion from the divorce itself and stress and exhaustion from trying to pretend that everything is okay. Who on earth would choose that?

Self-sufficiency is lonely. 

It’s sad to be lonely, but it’s also bad for your health. In fact, loneliness can be worse for you than obesity. Again, we are built to be social creatures and live in a community. We are not built to be alone. Now more than ever people think that they’re never alone because of social media but they’re wrong.

If anything, social media makes us feel more alone. The lives that we portray on Facebook and Instagram are usually doctored. The fact that we now have to write #nofilter to say our photos are natural gives you a sense of how artificial the whole world of social media has become. During a divorce, it’s especially important that you put down the smart phone and see people face to face.

The longer you’re alone, the harder it is to come back.

This one is true on two levels. For you, it’s hard to make an effort to get out when you’ve become accustomed to your self-sufficient lifestyle. For your friends, it’s hard to take you seriously when you want to hang out if they haven’t seen you for months. Just like you, your friends want to be wanted. Nobody wants to hang out with the guy that’s been blowing them off for months, even if you’re intentions were noble.

You are not a burden.

The simple truth is that you aren’t a burden. Your friends are interested in helping you get through this difficult phase, and whether you can see it or not, you need that help. You think that by being self-sufficient you’re mastering the divorce game and you’re being the greatest friend ever. You are the guy who has survived the collapse of a marriage without imploding yourself. Expect you haven’t. By choosing self-sufficiency and not taking advantage of the community you’ve built, you’re only delaying the inevitable eruption.

Be honest.

If you want to be the man everybody thinks you are, the man your children will look up to, then you have to be honest. Trying to be self-sufficient through divorce is not being honest. You have to rely on friends and family and open up about what you’re going through. It makes it easier to get through it, and it means you can hold your head up high. Give it a go and see what you think. It’ll make you a happier person in the long run.

Lots of guys are trying to get through divorce without help.
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(c) Can Stock Photo / Bialasiewicz

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