I’m The Only One in My Friend Group to Get a Divorce And Here’s What I Wish They Understood

Divorce is a deeply personal decision, but I'm honestly better off being unmarried, even if my friends think I'm crazy.

Choosing to get a divorce was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my entire life. It’s never easy to leave someone you care about, and have built a life with.

I’m lucky that my ex-husband and I both agreed that splitting up was the right decision. But, there are still people in my life who don’t understand it — despite the statistics showing that about half of all marriages ultimately end in the D-word.

Movies, TV shows, and even family members still stigmatize divorce as a bad thing, and even though it’s been over three years since we split up, I still feel like the black sheep sometimes. But I know in my heart that my reasons for getting a divorce are totally valid, which is what matters most.

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Divorce is a deeply personal decision but I know for a fact it doesn’t have to be driven by bad intentions from either party. Sometimes things just fizzle out, or aren’t working anymore, like when it goes from being a loving relationship, to a situationship.

Things that older generations thought just came with the territory of being a married couple, are actually reasons for calling it quits — and millennials are understanding that. Here’s what I wish my married friends understood about what it’s like to be the only divorcée amongst them.

Divorce is a solution, not a lifestyle

Sure, the current divorce rates are lower than they have been in over 40 years, but that doesn’t mean people are happier staying in their relationships. It means that millennials like me are figuring out what makes a relationship work, and are seeking out better quality relationships overall.

But as time goes by, people change. It’s only natural, and couples either adapt to this, or drift apart. Wanting a life outside of your spouse is nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s ok to leave someone for no reason other than feeling it’s the right thing to do.

Not all divorces are sob stories

People find it really strange how well-adjusted I am since my divorce, but that’s because my ex and I really worked together to make sure it wasn’t a total nightmare. Was it painful? Of course. Am I still working through past trauma? For sure. But I’m not this broken, pitiable, or weak thing people think divorcée should be.

There are times I cry, or need someone to listen to my thoughts, but I want my friends to understand that what I’ve gone through is not the horrible plot of a Lifetime film. Sometimes, a divorce leads to a happy ending, and that’s important to keep in mind as well.

Couples therapy can help a lot

My ex and I didn’t contemplate couples therapy until we were pretty deep into the divorce convo. While it helped us realize that we were better off apart, I do wish we had started seeing a therapist earlier on in our relationship.

I encourage my friends in relationships to see a couples therapist, even if it’s just once a month, because they really can help you stop problems before they start. Having a therapist, especially when things were good, can help you appreciate your relationship and work through things in a more constructive way when things get rough.

I want to be in a relationship again

“Do you actually want to get married again?” is something I hear often. And the answer is a resounding, “Yes! I do!” I want to have another healthy, happy relationship with someone I care about deeply, and if it ends up in marriage, of course I’d be ecstatic about it. I don’t have trust issues or hesitations towards men; if anything, I know what kinds of red flags to watch out for next time, which has helped a ton.

My married friends think I should be happy to be single, and that it will take a long time before I really “love myself enough to let someone else love me.” Ummm, that’s bullshit, and if anything, I love myself more for having the courage to leave a relationship that didn’t serve me. I’m more confident than ever, and I am ready to share my life with someone again. It’s wrong to think divorced people want to be single forever because of one incompatible experience.

It’s ok to BE divorced

I know too many married people who should probably be divorced, and while I try not to overstep my boundaries, I want them to see me as a role model and a source of strength. Divorce is a deeply personal decision, but most people think it’s a black mark on who they are.

I’ve heard folks tell me that “sticking it out” will make their relationships stronger, but honestly, it doesn’t really work that way unless you really put in the effort. In reality, I think most people don’t get divorced because of the emotional anxiety and uncertainty it brings. That’s fine, but don’t project your fears on me because I don’t feel the same way.

But I understand why people don’t get divorced

I got divorced relatively young; I had been with my ex for over 10 years, married for five, and we didn’t have any children or shared assets (like a house, or even a joint bank account). But even with filing for divorce online ($1,000 clean), the process was still stressful. After watching Marriage Story, I understand why incompatible couples stay together, even if they’d be better off divorced.

Being married is cheaper. It provides a sense of stability (especially if you have kids). And emotionally, it feels easier, because being on your own and starting over is a really scary feeling for many. Everyone’s relationship journey is different, and while I want people to feel strong enough to leave, not everyone can.

Maybe one day some of my married friends will be in a situation where they are contemplating divorce, and seeing my experience will help them make the decision that’s right for them. I don’t begrudge anyone for not getting divorced, but I do hope they take the steps they feel are needed in order to live their happiest, healthiest lives.

Katka Lapelosova
Kat is a born and raised New Yorker exploring the world as she writes, eats, and everything in between. Read more