How to Tell Your Best Friends You’re Getting Divorced

How To Tell Your Best Friends You're Getting Divorced
THIS IS US —  Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) & Rebecca (Mandy Moore) centre with best friends Miguel & Shelly (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

I watched the whole season of the new show This Is Us…I was hooked after episode two. And it takes a lot to get me hooked these days.

One scene struck a chord with me. Jack and Rebecca are getting ready to meet their best friends for a dinner (a standing date) and Rebecca wasn’t feeling festive and wanted to stay home. Jack told her that they had to go because Miguel and Shelly had something they wanted to talk to them about. So, in the middle of their appetizer, when everyone had a drink in hand, Miguel made an announcement. “We’re getting divorced.”

This after a preamble though, of how they’ve been struggling and have tried to make it work. Jack and Rebecca are shocked. The two couples have been together from day one.

Who is Miguel without Shelly? And vice versa.

Naturally, Jack begins to question his own marriage. If his best friend’s can fall apart, could his own? A natural reaction, I might add.

More importantly, how do you tell your best friends you’re getting divorced?

I happen to think the way Rebecca and Jack’s friends did it was perfect. Tell them together. Show your best friends that this is a mutual decision. Own it together. Talk about it. Oddly what the divorced couple often end up doing is comforting other people. While they are the ones facing a huge change, they are also the ones rallying others to reassure them ‘everything will be ok’.

Now, if I can flash back to my own divorce…telling our ‘best friends’ wasn’t exactly ideal.

“Don’t be a stranger.”

First, my husband rushed over to tell them without me. Not a good sign although, it may have been a sign of the friendship status (they were more his than mine?). In honesty, I likely didn’t want to be a part of that discussion. So, probably my own fault however, in hindsight it wouldn’t have been a bad idea to go over there with him and set the record straight. The friend called me up the next day and sounded happy. It was strange. I still remember what she said to me “Well, the kids will be fine.” She even chuckled quietly then ended with “Don’t be a stranger, eh?”

Don’t be a stranger? It hadn’t occurred to me until that moment that maybe I already was a stranger.

It’s kind of funny. This friend set him up with someone new a few months later. A friend and co-worker of her husband’s. I guess they kept their foursome.

My advice here is, if your best friends are truly both your husband and yours, then tell them together. Take notes from This Is Us and do it right. Try not to leave one person out of the discussion. That only encourages gossip and talking behind that person’s back. If you plan to both remain friends with this couple, then get your divorce announcement ready and off on the right foot. Make it clear your friendship won’t change and also that neither you nor your soon-to-be-ex will tolerate any bad mouthing of one another.

How did you tell your best friends you were getting divorced? Or how did your friends tell you? 

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28 Replies to “How to Tell Your Best Friends You’re Getting Divorced”

  1. Hey Lisa,

    I can see how difficult it may be to tell your best friend of your impending divorce, especially if they are friends with your partner as well. I know how a few of my friends told me and I know it wasn’t easy. When I almost went through it myself a few years back, it was very difficult for me to tell. It was almost like I was ashamed, even though it wasn’t my idea. Thanks for sharing this. I’m sure many can relate.

    Bren Pace recently posted…Forgetting to Update Your Plugins Can Become an “Oh Shat!” MomentMy Profile

    1. You bring up a good point, Bren. I think it’s natural to feel some shame in it because we equate it with ‘failure’ or giving up (which of course, isn’t fair). It’s one of those conversations that are hard to start but once you get going, people are usually very supportive. Thanks for sharing your POV!

  2. Hi Lisa,

    It’s certainly not easy! In fact, if you both have common friend’s it becomes all the tougher – I say as I’ve seen a close friend of mine go through the same.

    You are right about all that you said – telling them together, if it’s a mutual way to part ways works best, rather than just one partner telling them their version of the story, and your friend’s learning a different one from you later.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead 🙂
    Harleena Singh recently posted…13 Ways to Live a Better Life: Bring More Happiness and SuccessMy Profile

    1. It’s harder when they’re both your best friends, too. I haven’t seen a divorced couple survive the friendships after simply because of the process and gossip etc. that naturally becomes part of it. Thanks, Harleena for sharing your thoughts 🙂

    1. You’re Switzerland! 😀 Ya, not fair to choose sides and I think anyone who has been through this is cognizant of that. Ohhh, don’t you just love the show? I really found the story telling with flash backs unique. Enjoy the rest of the series!

  3. I think much has to do with whether the decision is mutual. That way, yes, you’ll approach it united. If there’s animosity and anger going in, you can expect it to manifest in a thousand ways – telling your friends included.

    1. Good point, Eli. But if the couples are extremely close and have a long history, I still believe a conversation together is better regardless of who’s initiating the divorce. Just my opinion.

  4. Man that show kicks me in the guts EVERY.TIME. I just love it so much, especially all of the nuances. And I adored that scene. A part of me thought, “huh, this is weird…” but then it made sense, and I think it’s a sign of respect to make the announcement together. Why are we afraid to discuss personal things? Sometimes a divorce / separation is the best thing to happen.

    This girl on the phone with you after the separation… uh, yea, me no likey, LOL. Like I get it, sometimes people don’t say the right things in certain situations, but it’s obvious she chose a side, and that’s just not cool to let you know about it.

    Charlotte recently posted…April GoalsMy Profile

    1. Right? Plus it’s addictive. I always want more. I also thought it was a bit weird but then you realize they’ve all known each other from the beginning of their relationships. I agree that a divorce can be a good thing for a couple (often at first though, it doesn’t feel that way—the polaroid picture effect I talked about in another post). “me no likey” either Hahaha. It was weird.

      1. Excited for it to start up again. I really love the characters so much, and how much I can relate to them all in different ways.

        If a couple were to sit me down to tell me about their split, I’d have immense amounts of respect for both of them… but yea, I know at the end there are often lots of angry words and feelings and finding reason isn’t exactly something that tends to come naturally for many of us.

        XOXO always love to be here, Lisa!
        Charlotte recently posted…How we do PassoverMy Profile

        1. Good point, Charlotte. The reason can be very personal and not something couples want to make statements on that said, it can still be a good discussion going forward. Thanks, Charlotte. Love hearing your point of view here 🙂

    1. I’m sure your friends were happy for you that you got out of that situation, Marie. That’s very strange that he didn’t tell his friends…hm maybe his ego couldn’t take it.

  5. Lisa, this is just so wise. I have yet to watch This Is Us (I know I KNOW) but I really appreciate your insights on this important topic. I can see why it would be really helpful to approach your best friends TOGETHER. I’m sure most broken marriages can’t do that due to all the tension and conflict- (My experience with so many friends sadly) but ideally this would be SO much better for all the reasons you shared.

    And that friend of yours? Yeah. I don’t think she deserves ‘best friend’ status- before or after. “Don’t be a stranger”??? WOW.

    I’m so sorry. That must have been so hurtful.
    Christine Carter recently posted…Make Up and Motherhood: Growing Into The Teenage YearsMy Profile

    1. Thank you, Chris. Yes, it’s a tall order for sure. Approaching it this way takes a special kind of bond between the four people as well. Her words were the icing.

  6. ——-Lisa,

    THIS IS US is my new favorite craze.

    It goes inside the very core of the human experience and squeezes the heart.

    Love the scene where the son asks his dad where he goes on the bus, “Do you go buy drugs?”

    “No, I go to feed my cat.”


    Thank you for your tips, knowledge, & helping others w/ this platform.

    you reallllly rock. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    My Inner Chick recently posted…Confessions of a NutcaseMy Profile

    1. I did! 😀 So happy to because my site was sooo outdated. Thank you and hope it’s easy to navigate for first timers, too. xo

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