Ways to Politely Avoid Talking About Your Divorce with Friends & Coworkers

Uncontested Divorce Mediation

Posted August 13, 2020

No one likes to go around having to explain their divorce. Whether you’re still in the process of separating or the Chicago divorce mediation is complete, there will always be a few people you need to update about your relationship/social/marital/household status. While you have probably already had the important talk with your closest family and best friends, what about all the people who play a tertiary role in your life?

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Acquaintances, coworkers, neighbors, and people you socialize with casually sometimes need a quick update that you are now flying solo sans other-half. But you also don’t want to field a lot of sympathy or answer any follow-up questions. People who are just being polite don’t realize they’re prying, and you don’t want the conversation to turn negative, so what do you do? 

One of the best tools for a new divorcee is a collection of polite blow-off ways to explain your Chicago divorce mediation without opening yourself up for conversation. You’re looking for the equivalent of “I’m fine, how are you?” to cover the necessary details and brush the subject aside clearly, so the other person knows not to pick it back up.  

1. New Routine: “It’s just me now.”

Every time you go somewhere or meet someone where you are normally seen with your spouse, use this golden fallback. When someone politely asks where your ex is, asks if your ex is sick, or if they couldn’t make it; smile really big. The smile is key. Then say, “Oh, it’s just me now.”

If they ask follow-up questions you don’t want to answer, don’t. Just keep saying, “It’s just me now.” and “You’ll only be seeing me now.” and possibly even “Oh yeah. We’re divorced. So it’ll just be me from now on.” 

Keep smiling, this helps to brush off poorly timed sympathy. “It’s just me now,” very politely tells everyone to adapt to the new reality. You are not to be expected with someone else; it’s just you now. And you’re quite satisfied with this arrangement.

2. Minimize sympathy: “We’re not married anymore. It’ been pretty good.”

When you need to quickly inform someone that you are divorced without inviting sympathy, don’t use the word divorce. When people hear divorce, they are reflexively sympathetic. Instead, deliver the news like it’s casual good news. Use a tone of voice as though you’re talking about moving to a new apartment and say, “Oh, we’re not married anymore.”

This conveys that the relationship is over, personally and legally, without announcing a tragedy. It minimizes the break-up response from friends and acquaintances. If you’re looking to drive home the idea that you’re fine, add “It’s been pretty good” or something equally mild and positive. This indicates clearly that you’re having a good time and don’t need divorce-related sympathy.

3. Reassure: “That’s in the past, don’t even worry about it.”

Some people are driven to provide sympathy if they hear about a divorce. It doesn’t matter how long ago the Chicago divorce mediation was or how mild your announcement. Some want to be good friends; some have a personal experience they want to bond about. Others just don’t know how to not offer sympathy. The best thing you can do to brush off sympathy and reassure the sympathizers is to emphasize the past-tense.

“That’s in the past” is a polite way of saying, “I don’t want to talk about it” without making an emotional ‘I’ statement. If you want to doubly reassure, say “Don’t even worry about it” or something similarly kind. Let those who feel obligated to sympathize know that their obligation is waived. Many friends and acquaintances will be glad that you don’t need sympathy and will help you get the conversation back on track.

4. Covering Bases: “Hey, I’m divorced/in the process of a divorce right now. Just a heads up to avoid confusion.”

One important communication is the base-covering announcement. Instead of waiting until someone asks if your now-ex will be joining, nip the problem in the bud for whole swaths of your social network. Send a mass-email or private message that just states that you are currently getting or have become divorced. Most importantly, end the message with “Just a heads up to avoid confusion” or the equivalent language for your group conversation style.

Let everyone know that the announcement is a formality, not a cry for help, and most people will respect that. Some might say “Sorry to hear about your divorce” or ask if you’re OK, most will simply take note to avoid a later social flub and archive the email.

5. Friendly Boundaries: “When I need to talk, I will. I’ll put you on my short-list of shoulders to cry on.”

Some people are on that borderline between acquaintance and friend. This might be a coworker you have known for years or become close with. It might be someone you’ve been taking classes with or catching lunch with for a while. When you get that tentative offer to reach out as a friend, don’t brush it off. But you can move on quickly with a smile and a small joke. Start by reassuring your casual friend that if you need them, you know where to find them. Say something like, “When I need to talk, I will.” so they know you’re not suffering alone.

Follow-up with a friendly kind-of-joking acceptance of their offer. We like “I’ll you to my short-list of shoulders to cry on” and other friendly acceptances. This reassures your friend that you have others you can and likely will rely on, but that you still value their friendship. If you did or do not have a closer friend, consider this overture an opportunity to build a new friendship stronger as your new self.

6. Decline Help: “I’m going through some personal stuff, but I have it under control.”

In the rare case where someone needs you to open up before the conversation can move on, take care of it swiftly. A few individuals insist on sympathizing and need you to admit that you are experiencing some emotions about the situation. They will say things like, “It must be so hard for you.” and “You don’t have to bottle up your emotions.” They crave connection, and you may want to quickly dispense with the announcement.

Try saying, “I’m going through some personal stuff” as a form of admitting that you are human and have feelings. Follow this with, “But I have it under control.” Emphasize that you are an independent person who is proud to be dealing with your personal stuff on your own. Thank them for their concern, then repeat your theme of “I have it under control” until they understand that you don’t need their help.

Contact a Chicago Divorce Mediator Today!

Announcing and talking about your divorce is challenging enough with your nearest and dearest. Casually explaining your new single status to acquaintances is something we would all opt-out of if possible. Instead, the best thing you can do is have a few lines ready to brush off unwanted sympathy in a friendly, casual way. Let those you’re informing know that they don’t need to gush sympathy and that you’re standing strong on your own. Many will be quite happy to absorb the information and continue on with your usual business or conversation if you make it clear that you genuinely don’t need emergency emotional support.

Here at Split Simple, we focus on making divorces as beneficial and painless as they can be. This can include knowing how to talk about the divorce as it happens and after the fact. If you have a divorce planned and are looking for a cooperative, goal-oriented Chicago divorce mediation process, let us help. Contact Split Simple today for a divorce consultation.

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