From ‘We’ to ‘Me’ – 5 Dos And Don’ts For Dealing With Loneliness After Divorce


    6 Min Read


    Divorce is one of those life transitions that brings on many emotions. One of the most profound and challenging is loneliness. Dealing with loneliness after divorce often leaves people feeling confused, isolated, and desperate to fill the emptiness.

    Those problematic feelings can make knowing how to deal with loneliness after divorce feel impossible and lead to poor or, at minimum, ineffective choices. And if you’re not intentional about how you combat the loneliness you feel, it can also result in anxiety and depression.

    So, just what are the best strategies for coping with the loneliness that can result from a divorce?


    Why Loneliness After Divorce Is So Confusing

    The emotionally exhausting and time-consuming divorce process, combined with the anticipation of what you perceive to be “freedom” at the end of the process, can mean that feeling lonely comes as an unexpected emotion and catches you off guard. This makes dealing with loneliness after divorce particularly confusing, especially if you were the one who wanted the divorce to begin with.

    But those aren’t the only contributors to the confusion. Many people going through divorce also experience,

    • Mixed emotions. The end of a marriage is often accompanied by a range of conflicting emotions, including sadness, relief, guilt, regrets, and anger. Sorting through this mix of emotions can be confusing, making it challenging to pinpoint the real source of loneliness and deal with it appropriately. In some cases, it can also lead people to wonder if they’ve made a mistake or even whether they should approach their ex about trying to make things work again.

    • Identity shift. Divorce can lead to a significant shift in identity for some. A person may find themselves feeling driven to redefine who they are outside of the context of the relationship. This process of self-discovery can be confusing and contribute to feelings of loneliness after divorce.

    • Suddenly single anxiety.Adjusting to a single life can be disorienting. Navigating new routines, social dynamics, and personal freedoms can contribute to feelings of isolation and confusion.

    • Loss of social connection. Part of dealing with loneliness after divorce is the restructuring of social circles. Mutual friends may choose sides, or couples with whom you once shared activities may become less available. Losing this social network can intensify loneliness and create a sense of disconnection.

    • Ambiguous ending. Not all divorces have clear-cut endings. Legal proceedings, co-parenting relationships, or financial connections can leave exes in a state of ambiguity. Not knowing where the boundaries lie can make life after divorce confusing and lonely, especially if one partner has moved on more quickly.

    • Expectations from family and friends. Perceived expectations from family, friends, or society about how to behave after divorce can be confusing. The pressure to “move on” quickly or act a certain way can conflict with how you feel. The disparity between the expectations of others and your own feelings can make dealing with loneliness after divorce even more confusing.


    Any one of these factors can exacerbate loneliness after divorce and make it even more challenging to deal with than it already is. And most people experience many if not all of these.

    Dr. Kurt has worked extensively with people dealing with loneliness after divorce. He offered this insight when asked,

    A guy I counseled through the end of his marriage and divorce last year reached out to me this week for this very reason – he's confused, really confused. He says he's lonely but has no desire to date, even though he has the opportunity to do so. He also says he has offers of 'friends with benefits' and isn't interested in that either. He just doesn't get why he feels this way. It's pretty common actually, and much of it has to do with the points above and how much a divorce can mess with your head. Struggling to deal with loneliness after a divorce is real and is experienced by more than just the partner who didn't want the divorce."

    So, what can you do to counteract these feelings?

    5 Things NOT To Do When You’re Feeling Lonely After Divorce

    Before discussing what you should do, let’s clarify what you should NOT do.

    The following behaviors are not only common responses, but they also can make dealing with loneliness after divorce even more difficult.

    Do NOT:

    1. Isolate yourself.

    Loneliness has a weird way of making you want to be alone. People will say, “I just need time to process things,” or “I’m not good company right now.”

    But isolating yourself will make dealing with loneliness after divorce extremely difficult.

    So, avoid withdrawing from social interactions and isolating yourself even if it's difficult. Make a conscious effort to maintain connections with friends, family, and support networks. Engaging with others helps combat loneliness and provides a valuable support system.


    2. Rush into another relationship.

    When you’re feeling lonely after a divorce, it’s incredibly tempting to jump into dating or a new relationship. It’s understandable. Wanting to feel loved and wanted is a normal desire. And coming out of a bad marriage can make a new relationship feel like an elixir to your pain.

    But diving into another relationship too quickly won’t allow for proper healing. Take the time to understand and address your own emotions, and transition from ‘we’ to ‘me,’ before entering a new romantic commitment.

    3. Dwell on the past.

    Are you replaying your marriage, why it ended, who did what, what could have been done differently, etc.? While it’s important to acknowledge and process emotions related to divorce, constantly revisiting and dwelling on the past will significantly hinder your ability to move on.

    4. Self-medicate.

    Using alcohol, pot, or other substances to deal with the pain of loneliness after divorce is a terrible idea. Not only are they dangerous and can potentially lead to addiction, but alcohol and drug use will actually make feelings of loneliness worse.

    5. Compare yourself to others.

    Just because Jim seemed happier after his divorce, or Jane found a new love for Pilates, doesn’t mean you will or need to. Everyone’s post-divorce journey is unique, and comparing your situation to others will be detrimental to your ability to move forward.

    5 Things You SHOULD Do To Deal With Loneliness After Divorce

    Once you’ve decided to avoid the above common mistakes (or stop doing them), you’ll need to focus on the right behaviors to help you deal with the loneliness that can come after divorce.

    5 of the most important things to focus on are,

    1. Recognizing that your emotions are normal.

    Understanding that experiencing loneliness after divorce is a common and normal emotional response is crucial. The dissolution of a marriage represents a significant life change and loss, and feelings of isolation are natural.

    Acknowledge and accept that your feelings are normal. This is the first step towards coping better and healing.


    2. Let yourself feel the grief and begin healing.

    Even if your marriage was dead a long time ago, ending a long-term relationship comes with pain and grief – it just does.

    Loneliness is often intertwined with the grieving process. Recognizing and allowing oneself to grieve the end of the marriage is an essential part of moving forward. Healing takes time, and it’s important to be patient with the process (it’s unique to each person).

    3. Setting realistic goals for personal growth.

    It may not seem like it, but this period of post-divorce loneliness is an opportunity for personal growth and self-discovery. But nothing happens overnight, and setting your expectations too high can set you up for disappointment.

    So, set realistic and achievable goals for your growth and healing.

    4. Rebuilding social connections.

    While the temptation may be to withdraw, reaching out and staying connected to friends, family, or support groups can provide a valuable support system.

    Building and maintaining a social network is vital for dealing with loneliness after a divorce and creating a sense of belonging post-divorce.

    5. Learning new coping strategies through professional support.

    Proactively managing the loneliness that’s come after divorce by getting professional help can be enormously beneficial. A professional counselor can offer guidance, coping strategies, and a safe and private space to express emotions.

    In addition to the 5 actions above, giving yourself some grace and focusing on self-care is essential.

    Establishing a routine that includes activities you enjoy, such as exercise or pursuing hobbies, is good for you and can ward off loneliness by bringing you in contact with other like-minded people.

    What To Take Away

    To say that dealing with loneliness after divorce is complex is an understatement.


    It requires,

    • Acknowledging and accepting the normalcy of the varied emotions associated with the end of a marriage.

    • Actively seeking support from friends, family, or support groups to counteract the isolating nature of loneliness.

    • Engaging in social activities and fostering new connections to help rebuild community and belonging.

    • Prioritizing self-care, including developing a healthy routine and setting realistic personal goals, contributes to overall well-being.

    Seeking professional guidance when needed to ensure an effective approach to coping with loneliness and one that facilitates the process of healing, self discovery, and moving forward

    Effectively dealing with loneliness after divorce also means cutting through the confusion that often accompanies these feelings and avoiding the most common pitfalls.


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