This Is the Worst Thing You Could Say to Someone Who Just Got Divorced
Even the most innocuous and well-meaning comments can seriously sting when someone's divorcing.
For many, divorce can be freeing, another chance to do life your way. But of course, it's also an excruciatingly painful time for most people who go through it. So, if you want to be a good friend and confidant to someone in your life who's newly divorced, you'll want to choose your words carefully because even the most innocuous and well-meaning comments can seriously sting. However, according to seasoned relationship experts, the absolute worst thing you could say to someone who just got divorced is something you might've thought was reassuring: "I never liked them for you anyway."
You may think that a remark like this will make someone feel better, but it's actually hurtful for a few reasons. "This sounds like you're taking their side, but it's an inadvertent insult, indicting their judgment in choosing a partner," explains relationships and dating coach Connell Barrett, founder of Dating Transformation.
This kind of feedback can also feel like just one more dig at a likely fragile person in a vulnerable moment, adds dating and relationships coach Carla Romo. "Saying 'I never liked him, but now you can find someone better' makes the person question their own instincts," she explains. Plus, Romo adds, "it discredits their actual pain."
Of course, that's not the only thing you might be saying to a newly divorced friend or loved one that could do more harm than good. Read on for some more expert-backed tips on what not to say to someone splitting from their spouse. And for more words to reconsider, check out 33 Things You Should Never Say Over Text.
This sounds like a straightforward, neutral question on the face of it. But it's actually pretty loaded, because it suggests more of a personal interest in learning about the revealing or even scandalous details of someone's divorce than genuine empathy.
"It serves your curiosity, rather than helping to ease their troubled mind," Barrett says. "You don't want to make them rehash the blow-by-blow of the breakup. They've likely been doing that already." And for more phrases to avoid in day-to-day life, check out This Is the One Word You Should Never Say When Apologizing.
"Good thing that's all in the past now."
Acknowledging that a marriage wasn't working and deciding to divorce can be the absolute right thing for both parties in the end. But that doesn't mean that the split happens instantaneously—or even that either spouse is eager for all those memories to fade immediately into the past. After all, they built an entire life with their partner, which might include a home, kids, travel, and plenty of joy along the way, too.
"Getting a divorce is devastating because you had promised to live your entire life with this person, and divorce means shattered dreams," Romo says. Making the decision to move on is one thing, but processing the grief may take a long time. And for more on when they're ready to see the positives, check out The One Major Upside of Divorce That No One Ever Expects.
"I know the perfect person for you to date."
Here's another question that comes from a well-meaning place: You just want to help your friend move on, right? While some new divorcees will be ready for this kind of assist toward the next phase of their lives, others will find it way too soon to stomach the idea, or even the mere discussion of it.
"There will be a time for you to play matchmaker, but wait until the ink dries on the divorce papers," Barrett suggests. "If they've just divorced, this is the right idea but the wrong time to suggest it." And for more red flags to be aware of, here are 17 Subtle Signs of Divorce Most People Don't See Coming.
"Take all the time you need to stay home and regroup."
Sure, a newly divorced person may want and need some time to cocoon at home for privacy and comfort. But it won't be healthy if that phase goes on for too long. You can support a new divorcee by encouraging meaningful interaction—even if that's just bringing over a home-cooked meal to show you care or being a sounding board.
"We all need human connection to be happy and fulfilled, and losing the love of your life is a big loss of connection," Barrett says. "A divorced person will want to replace that connection as much as they can." And for more helpful tips like these on navigating everyday life, sign up for our daily newsletter.