If you're someone who's read, even a couple of my articles on here, you probably already know that I'm a marriage life coach. What you might not be aware of, though, is I'm one who specializes in reconciling divorces.
And why is that my particular niche? There are a few reasons. One, I am a child who experienced two divorces while growing up. Parents, if you don't think that divorce affects your kids, even well into their adulthood, I encourage you to read this piece in its entirety. Another reason is because, although it's not discussed nearly enough, from a biblical perspective, the Bible has a lot to say on the topic (Malachi 2:14-16, Matthew 19:1-12, I Corinthians 7:10-11, for starters). Because marriage is such a profound spiritual union to me, that's another reason why I strive to do all that I can to help couples not divorce or reconcile once they do. Still, another reason is actually found in the title of today's piece. There are countless couples that I've worked with who, were unhappy in their marriage, got divorced and then, whether it was a year or 10 years later, they ended up totally regretting it. In fact, there are studies to support that between 32-50 percent of divorced couples end up wishing that they had made another decision at some point in their lives.
The old folks used to say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. My mother used to say that discernment prevents experience from being your teacher. There's a wise saying that goes something like, "If you've been waiting for a sign, this is it." If you're married and a part of you has been wondering if it's time to throw in the towel, before you do, here are some things that you should strongly consider before signing on the dotted line; some things that many divorced people wish they had thought about more, before they ended their own relationship.
REGRET #1: How Much They Saw Divorce As an Option
One of the reasons why I no longer have the desire to have a boyfriend again is because, I believe, that way too many people date like they are already married. They get together, give their all, break-up and move on to the next person, only to repeat the pattern. Before long, sometimes without even noticing it, they start to process marriage like they do a dating relationship by taking on the mindset of, "Welp. If it doesn't work out, I'll just break up with my spouse like I have with everyone else." To me, marriage way too sacred to take on that casual of an approach. For me, if I promised forever, I want to do my best to mean it (an interesting read from a spiritual perspective is "Until Death Do Us Part — For Real").
That said, we all know that divorce is an option in the sense that it is something that we all can choose to do. But when I've counseled some people who are divorced, one of the regrets that they shared with me is them ending their marriage was an option that they focused on way too much. Before long, not making their marriage work became the goal far more than trying to stay together was; the vows that they said to their partner on their wedding day no longer held very much weight. Why? Basically because, since they knew that they could get out, they were obsessed with doing just that.
I often say that I wonder how many people would get married if divorce was illegal; if dissolving the union actually wasn't an option. Either way, the power of our thoughts is what sets things into motion. If you're always approaching your marriage like you can get out at any time, that could end up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy; one that has ramifications that you very well may not be prepared to take on.
(A cool video that addresses this very point is "We Saved Our Marriage - Tips to Saving our Marriage - Divorce is Not an Option").
REGRET #2: How the Divorce Affected Their Children. Including Adult Children.
Something that is truly like fingernails on a chalkboard to me is when I'm talking to someone who is on the verge of ending their marriage, I bring up their kids, and they say something along the lines of, "People divorce all of the time and kids survive." Geeze. I'm hoping that you want your children to do more than just "survive" in this life. Something that's even more fascinating is when they say, "I'm the product of a divorce and I came out OK." Perhaps you did, but there are also plenty of studies to support that a part of the reason why you may have dissolved your union is because your parents divorced when you were a kid. Kind of ironic, isn't it?
I was just having a conversation with someone who recently divorced. He admitted that a part of the reason why his marriage didn't last is because of all of the unresolved PTSD that he had from when his parents broke up. The scars from their divorce resulted in him not trusting people, not knowing how to resolve conflict in a healthy way and never fully letting his guard down with his wife. He's not alone. You can read articles like "10 Common Dating Struggles Children Of Divorce Face", "The Long-Term Impact Of Parental Divorce On Young Adult's Relationships" and "Divorce Hurts Children, Even Grown Ones", and studies like "Effects of Parental Divorce on Marital Commitment and Confidence" to know that the after-effects of a divorce can truly be long-lasting. Which is just one more reason to think long and hard before making the decision to get one.
REGRET #3: The Fact That They Divorced Without Going to Therapy First
As a marriage life coach, this is the one that I can't seem to figure out. Marriage is serious. So is divorce. I don't get why you would get into one without some counseling or get out of one without some therapy. I once read an article that only one-fourth of divorcing couples have ever sought out any type of professional help. I'd venture to say that a part of that is pride, another part is fear and, an even greater part is couples think that their marriage is beyond repair. Again, my focus is on reconciling divorces and there have been divorced couples who have come back together after, as Iyanla Vanzant says, "doing the work". You simply need to be open to finding someone who has the tips, tools and commitment to help you and yours stay together.
One reconciled couple told me that they realize the reason why they had such a hard time in their marriage is because the premarital counseling that they got totally sucked. It was so bad that they went into their marriage extremely ill-prepared. And, because they got a divorce without seeking therapy, they didn't realize that their marriage could be saved. It took three years of us all working together, but they did eventually get married again. They've been together, for the second time, for six years now.
Therapy isn't easy but it can be what saves your marriage. At the very least, give it a shot. That way, you'll know that you have it all that you could. Without therapy, you could always end up wondering what could've been—had you went.
REGRET #4: The Financial Toll That Divorce Has Taken on Them
When it comes to staying married, some folks claim that it's cheaper to keep her—or him. It might sound totally insensitive or even a little crass, but that doesn't mean that there isn't some truth to that. A Forbes article and one onMoney Under 30's site both state that an average divorce can cost you as much as $20,000 between hiring attorneys, divvying up property, taking time off from work to handle the details of the divorce, working through tax issues and getting therapy for you and your kids. Not to mention how the stress and strain of dissolving the marriage could cause you to slack on your bills and ultimately affect your credit score.
One client that I was working with for over a year-and-a-half, we had to stop because a divorce that he didn't want had taken such a toll on his income that he simply couldn't afford to pay for his sessions anymore. During our final meeting, he said, "I thought a quickie divorce would save me money. It cost me more than I ever would've imagined."
Staying together just so you won't lose money isn't a good enough reason. But getting out without factoring what it could do to your financial state is something that you should never do. Ignoring the financial toll could end up costing you. BIG TIME.
REGRET #5: How Their Unrealistic Expectations of Marriage Led to Divorce
Whenever a couple tells me that they want to end their marriage and I ask them why, oftentimes they say something along the lines of, "It just wasn't what I expected marriage to be." When I ask them to break down what their expectations were, sometimes they will say something like, "I thought it would be like my grandparents' marriage" or "I thought it would be a fairy tale" or—and this one is super popular—"I didn't think it would be this hard." First up, you and your spouse are not you and your grandparents; they have their journey and you have yours. Plus, I'm willing to bet good money that if you knew all of what went down in their marriage, your eyes would buck open wide a few times. Second, nobody's marriage is a fairy tale. Fairy tales are make-believe. And, on that last point, that's a part of the reason why I think it is so important for a couple who is considering marriage to get into some serious premarital counseling. I'm not talking about after they get engaged either. I mean even before that (so that you're actually listening and not treating your sessions like a mere formality).
If all that you think marriage consists of is "having a non-stop sleepover with your best friend", about three months in, you're gonna be in for a real shock, if not a series of huge disappointments. I personally think that a part of what makes marriage so challenging for a lot of people is, not only are you learning how to share so much of your life with another individual, you're also learning some things about yourself—good, bad and ugly—that you probably wouldn't learn any other way. Sometimes the mirror that marriage holds in front of you makes you want to turn away and leave the relationship altogether.
If you're expecting your marriage to be like someone else's or the reenactment of a scene from your favorite rom-com all of the time, you definitely are a candidate for divorce. Marriage is beautiful. It's also one of the hardest things that you'll ever do. If you're not willing to accept that, avoid the regret of getting divorced by not getting married in the first place. Better to be real about what marriage is than go into it in a state of denial, divorce and end up with regrets.
REGRET #6: The Fact That a Divorce Isn’t Necessarily a “Solution” to Anything
If you are being subjected to abuse—any kind of abuse—that is one thing. But if you're thinking of getting a divorce because you feel like there are problems that only ending your marriage can resolve, I'm going to challenge you a bit on that. One of the reasons why second marriages have a 67 percent divorce rate and third marriages have a whopping 73 percent divorce rate is because a lot of people will get a divorce and then hop into another marriage without taking the time to do some serious self-reflecting. In other words, they will file for divorce from their original partner thinking that their spouse was the problem when the reality is it was probably a whole lot more complex than that.
A female client that I once had told me that she regretted divorcing her husband because she thought that he was simply the wrong fit. But after getting back into the world of dating, she saw that there was some idealism, selfishness and impulsiveness that she had within her own self that she needed to deal with. In hindsight, she wished she had been willing to look at those things while she was still married; perhaps her marriage could've been spared if she had.
I don't know too many divorced people who claim that divorce minimized the problems that they had in their life. Oftentimes what happens is they simply exchange one set of stressful issues for another. This is just one more reason to think long and hard before actually filing for a divorce.
REGRET #7: The Way They Underestimated Life After Divorce
Divorce is certainly no laughing matter, but one of my friends did have me cracking up when, after going out on a few dates following his divorce, he asked me, "What the hell is super gonorrhea? Y'all got some new STDs out here since I was single?" Yes sir. Yes we do. My friend is off the chain, so I'm hoping that he didn't find out that little not-so-fun-fact the hard way. But what he said is a great way to wrap all of this up.
I've had divorced people tell me that they regret ending their marriage because they don't like the dating scene, sex seems way too complicated now, making connections is difficult—the list goes on and on. I've even had some folks admit that the freedom that they thought would come with being unmarried doesn't compare to the security that they totally underestimated within their marital dynamic.
To be fair, I'm not saying that every divorced person that I've encountered hates that they ended their union. Some have left and never looked back. But I do think that those stories are told way more than those who do wish that they had taken a different approach to their marriage. It should also go on record that some people look back and wish that they weren't so quick to get out—that they had tried a little harder to make things work.
Again, marriage is serious—and divorce is serious. Neither should be entered into lightly. In a world where it seems like people change their spouses like they change their clothes, just try and be sober-minded and as knowledgeable as possible before getting into or out of a marriage. Life is short. It's best to have as few regrets as possible. Amen? Amen.
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- January Peak Divorce Time And Other Statistics - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Y’all, I don’t know if now just happens to be a heavy season for this or perhaps it’s just me, but whether it’s been on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, or “X” (which we all know is still Twitter…LOL), have you noticed that a lot of people have been talking about the pain of going through a friendship break-up? I’ll be the first to raise my hand in this class and say that some of the ones that I’ve personally experienced over the course of my lifetime damn near took my breath away; especially when it comes to the unexpected levels of grief that oftentimes typically follow (check out “How To Heal From A Broken Friendship”).
When I write my next book (that’s currently slated for release in June of 2024; just in time for a big milestone), I’m going to share some of the things that personally caused me to go through the ending of some friendships. For now, I’m going to share a big one: friendship infidelity.
Yeah, I know — oftentimes, whenever the word “infidelity” is used, the main (if not only) thing that comes up in people’s minds is someone cheating on their partner. However, if you’ve read my content for a while now, you already know that an “occupational hazard” of mine is the fact that, as a writer, I’m pretty word-literal. Therefore, when it comes to infidelity, I’m aware that it’s got more than one meaning. And when it comes to friendship (or so-called friendships — check out “Ever Wonder If A Friend Is Just...Not That Into You?” and “7 Signs Your Friendship...Actually Isn't One”), yes, there is a definition that totally applies. Let’s discuss.
What Does Infidelity Literally Mean?Giphy
In order for this to “scratch any itch” that you might have about this particular topic, let’s get into the definition of infidelity that I was referring to. While yes, the most popular one is “marital disloyalty; adultery” (one day, we’ll have to talk about how the Bible doesn’t define adultery in the way that folks think it does (check out Matthew 19 sometime), another definition is “unfaithfulness; disloyalty.” While we’re at it, let me share a few synonyms for the word too: betrayal, falseness, inconstancy (bookmark that), deceit, double-dealing, fraud, breach of trust, violation, dishonesty, and false-heartedness.
Okay, so now do you see how it is totally appropriate to use the word “infidelity” in the realm of friendship if someone has been unfaithful or disloyal to you in any of these ways (that inconstancy one is a mutha!)? Do you also get that there is a huge possibility that, even if you don’t want to admit it to yourself, there are times when you’ve committed some form of infidelity when it comes to one or more of the friends in your life?
Because be real — have you never breached their trust? Have you always been consistent? To violate is to treat someone or something with disrespect. Have you never done that before? Only your ego would tell you that you’ve been a perfect friend — and the ego lies.
That said and with the meanings of a different kind of infidelity established, let’s now talk about how to approach this type of experience…because it ain’t easy.
When It Comes to Faithfulness in Your Friendships, What Should Your Expectations Be?Giphy
As far as having my own accounts, I don’t do social media (still trying to decide if I will, a little bit, around my book release) — and it has been peace, wonderful peace, to live that way. This means that it’s pretty rare that I’ll read comments via any of the platforms I write for (also peaceful). Oh, but a few years ago, when I penned “Why I Prefer My Friends To NOT Be Friends With Each Other,” I did tiptoe out a bit, and boy, some folks were disgruntled with me, chile. I was called petty, problematic, and a host of other stuff.
Uh-huh first, I don’t get how you can be mad at me about what works for me and my life (being controlling manifests in all sorts of cryptic ways) and secondly, time and experience have taught me that it’s a boundary that has served me extremely well. One of the reasons is that, since friendship infidelity is a very real thing, my lines not crossing helps to keep people from betraying my confidence or double-dealing in a way that may not even be intentional.
An example? Say that I have two friends and I tell one of them something in confidence. Then she tells the other friend, assuming that I already had because she thought that the other friend and I had similar discussions. This would be a non-issue if I hadn’t brought them together in the first place.
Another example is, one of my closest friends has some people who I like a lot who live in Nashville (my friend doesn’t). Sometimes, when she comes into town, we’ll all hang out. I don’t do it outside of that, though, because there are things that she shares with me about them on occasion (from a getting a different perspective to make certain decisions angle; especially since I’m a life coach) that I don’t want to make her or them feel awkward about (even if it’s just due to somewhat of a shift in my energy). Plus, everyone just needs to have their own people. This ain’t high school; everyone doesn’t have to be in the same cliques.
If one of my friends wants to vent about me…I don’t care if/when they are talking to someone who I don’t even know…because I’m not friends with that person… because I don’t expect anything from a complete stranger. So again, this type of boundary has served me extremely well over the years — and my friends agree. It has made “faithfulness” so much easier for all parties involved because again, lines don’t cross and things don’t get messy.
Okay. I’ll give you one more example that has to do with one of my male friends and his personal friendship-related preference. Due to his high-profile profession, he doesn’t like to be discussed at all, not even casually (really). He doesn’t want me to bring his name up and, when someone else does, he prefers that I keep the conversation down to an absolute minimum, no matter what the topic is. For him, it works for his close friendships to be somewhat private, so that people don’t know who they can go to in order to get in touch with him or to receive any intel that he hasn’t directly shared — professionally or personally.
Some people may call that “paranoid.” For him, it’s safe to move that way. And so, as his friend, it’s not my job to try and talk him out of his standard. If I value our friendship, I simply need to honor his request — plain and simple. To do otherwise would be an act of unfaithfulness (especially if I agreed to what he asked me to do and then switched up on him).
So, when it comes to you, what are your expectations? What do you need — actually require — of your own friends? Have you stated those things? Because you should never assume that your definition of what a friend should be is exactly the same as someone else’s. Next, have you made it abundantly clear to them that if those expectations are not honored, you will feel some level of betrayal? If you haven’t, you should because, although most of us can agree that a partner sleeping with someone other than their own spouse is a form of infidelity, friendship infidelity isn’t quite so black and white.
If you want your friend(s) to be faithful — “true to one's word, promises, vows, etc.,” “steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant” — you need to be upfront with them about what they are vowing to do…what you want them to be constant in? Because, again, how you might roll as a friend may be something different to/for them.
Come to think of it, love languages in friendships is a good example of this. One of my close friends is a quality time person; I’m not. On the other hand, I am a words of affirmation person; she isn’t. She used to think that it was a given that I should want to hang out at least once a month and I used to get irritated that she wasn’t big on words. When we had a talk about our individual expectations, we found a “middle ground” and that made things so much easier…on both sides. Indeed, in order to be faithful (or unfaithful), you first gotta know what you’ve agreed to be faithful to. It’s not fair to expect someone to honor you and what you bring to a friendship if you’re not communicating your expectations on the front end.
So, what should your expectations in your friendships be? That, I can’t answer for you, because even when it comes to across-the-board traits like support, availability, and communication, honestly, even those are gonna manifest differently for different people.
All I’m saying is make sure that you share what your expectations are as you listen to theirs as well. That way, you both can move forward in your friendship knowing what you have mutually agreed to actually be faithful to.
What Should You Do If a Friend “Cheats on You”?Giphy
Okay, so what if, after you have established what you need/expect from your friend, they are unfaithful or disloyal? That’s kind of a loaded question because there are a lot of different ways that this box can get checked. For instance, I once had a friend who kept trying to put me in touch with someone who I knew was unsafe (on a lot of levels). She kept asking and I kept telling her “no.” One day, she called me and then handed that person the phone — she was disloyal because she dishonored my boundary.
Back in the day, I used to write devotionals and I shared the story (sans her name) in it. All of a sudden, she thought that she was the victim (gaslighting friends are something else). So wait — you put me in harm’s way and I need to apologize to you for it? If her identity was obvious (I didn’t even say “she”), I get it — it wasn’t. She just felt guilty and didn’t want to take accountability. As a result, she weaponized our friendship by going ghost for like a year and then tried to come back as if nothing had ever happened. Chile.
For me, there was no coming back. The way she handled that, on a few different levels, was emotionally draining and I honestly didn’t have the stamina for it. So, I ended the relationship officially. Years later, we saw each other and made our peace. I’m fine with it being just that (check out “Why I Don't 'Cut People Off' Anymore, I Release Them Instead”).
That’s kind of an extreme example. Still, the reason why I brought it up is because I wanted you to see how I handled one form of friendship infidelity: I thought about what happened, I pondered what I was getting (and not getting) from the friendship, I thought about how she handles things when she is in the wrong and I focused on what would be the benefits and challenges of keeping her in my life. The conclusion that I came to is I care enough about her that we’re not rolling our eyes in the mall or sucking our teeth whenever one of our names comes up to the other yet I don’t want her to continue walking closely to me in my journey. I’m good.
For you, it might be a bit different. What if one of your friends betrays you in some way? Is it fair to take a “one-and-done” approach? I dunno. Is that how you would want your friends to handle you? Do you want to feel like, no matter what, after you make one mistake (or poor choice; not everything is a mistake…some things are intentional), there’s no coming back? If so, you might not want to have relationships at all because humans are fallible, INCLUDING YOU. You might as well settle in with that fact now or you’re about to be triggered, irritated, or angry for most of your life, chile.
What Should You Do If YOU’RE the One Who Cheats?Giphy
Over the weekend, I watched a movie where a woman cheated during a long-distance relationship and then claimed that her boyfriend was “punishing her” because he wasn’t over it a month later. The first thing that came to my mind? A lack of accountability. Why? Because I’m pretty sure that if the shoe had been on the other foot, she wouldn’t be all rainbows and sunshine four weeks later…either.
Being that I grew up in an environment (pretty much everywhere, including church) where folks absolutely sucked at taking personal responsibility for their actions without trying to make excuses, using justifications, deflecting, or gaslighting, I am almost violent about making sure that I don’t follow suit. And because I’ve had times when I’ve violated someone’s boundaries (I used to be more controlling than I should’ve ever been) and/or betrayed their trust (just because I’m basically an open book, that doesn’t mean that I should assume that everyone is the same way) — I’ve had to learn how to take full ownership for my actions. Then, if the person is open to accepting my apology, I would take things up a notch by making amends (check out “Heads Up: It's NOT An Apology If An Amends Isn't Made”).
If you’re not sure what an "amends" is, basically, when you’ve done something that has offended someone or caused them some type of harm if you’re truly remorseful, it’s not enough to flippantly toss a “my bad” in their direction. No, when you really get the magnitude of what has transpired — and if you want to restore the damage that was caused — you need to be intentional about doing something that will help with the healing process. This can happen with a simple, “What can I do to make things better?” People who apologize and then ask something along those lines show that they really get what they did; not only that but they are displaying that they want to humble themselves enough to help the person they hurt to “recover” in any way that they can.
So, if you are the one who was unfaithful or disloyal — own it, address it, apologize (without any unnecessary extra-ness, make amends, and then give your friend space to heal…however they need to do so. Infidelity hurts in any kind of relationship dynamic yet when two people — BOTH INDIVIDUALS — really want to make things work, they can come back from it. Oftentimes better than they were before.
How to Heal from Friendship InfidelityGiphy
It really can’t be said enough that humans are fallible. In fact, it is my belief, that if more of us said that as a mantra, five times a day, we’d probably be a lot more merciful than we tend to be. Because since none of us are perfect — INCLUDING OURSELVES — it really is pretty ridiculous to expect to be in relationships with folks and have them never disappoint you (where they do that at?!). The reality is sometimes a friend may be disloyal — not in a malicious or redundant kind of way (another message, another time) but just…they didn’t meet your requirements, they hurt your feelings (even if not intentionally) or they simply made a poor decision. Just like you have before — and at some point, will again.
Yes, it can hurt; trust me, I’ve been there. At the same time, you can heal from the pain and your friendship can survive too. The key is to really process the character of your friend, the track record of your friend, and if the benefits far outweigh the challenges with them. If everything is on the upswing, talk to your friend about how you are feeling, pay close attention to how they respond (if there is remorse, compassion, and patience), and then make the decision that you want to move forward. And then move in a way that shows that you’ve learned from it all.
For instance, say that you told one of your friends something in confidence and they repeated it. After getting context, if it was reckless chatter, healing begins with forgiving them, them trying to make things right and then you easing into sharing anything else. No, it’s not about keeping the door shut forever — it’s more like, telling them something that you don’t really mind if it gets out. If it does, although that’s not a big deal, you will now see that yapping is a pattern for them and so, although you like having them in your life, being a “confidant space” is not where they need to be — at least not for quite some time.
And what if, in your opinion, there is no coming back from friendship infidelity? How do you heal from that? Well, you need to grieve it like you would grieve anything else. Go through the five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The key is to not stay stuck; especially in anger. Because really, how is that gonna help or change anything?
I’ve gone through some acts of extreme infidelity that took me a while to move to acceptance — really accepting that it happened and fully accepting that I had to let the relationship go. Yet once I got there, healing was waiting for me. Because I wasn’t beating myself up trying to read someone else’s mind or motive or exhausting myself by wishing things were different. No one can change the past. Even accepting that can restore you to some pretty unexpected levels.
This is the kind of topic that I really could write an entire book about. For now, I just hope that this article provides some clarity that, if you wonder if unfaithfulness is a real thing as far as friendship is concerned, it most certainly is. It’s also not automatically unforgivable either.
Last example: I’ve got a friend of decades who prioritized a woman that he barely knew over our friendship. Meaning, she was threatened by me being around and so he did whatever to make her happy even at the expense of what we agreed to do and be to each other, as friends. Friendship infidelity. He has since apologized and I told him what I am a firm believer in: the apology needs to breathe. I need to take some time, he needs to take some time and, in time, either we will still see value in our dynamic or, because an apology was made and then accepted, peace will always remain between us.
Infidelity is something that none of us want to experience — oh, but we probably will. When it comes to your friendships, perhaps you’ve got a (better) grasp on how to handle it.
Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end. Live long enough, chile, for better or for worse, you will know about both. I can almost guarantee it.
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