How to manage my social media friends if I divorce

When you consider divorce, you have to develop a mutual understanding with your partner about the process and the settlement. This will include arrangements with your finances, household and material things. One area that is often an afterthought is friends.

As a married couple, you will have established personal relationships with people, throughout your life together. Some friends you may have known from school that have always stuck by you through thick and thin and also become close to your partner. Other friends may be other married couples that you have bonded with since you have been married. Although, a dilemma for friends old and new could be how to remain friends with both of you now you are divorced. Perhaps they will decide to take sides, as you have known them longer and they no longer have a need to stay in touch with your ex. Alternatively, they may want to stay friends with both of you.

With the popularity of social media, you are now likely to have a greater public divorce, particularly on Facebook. The moment you change your status from ‘married’ to ‘divorced’ or anything else, your mutual friends will see it in their news feed and feel the need to respond. You may be flooded with notifications informing you of friends’ comments such as: ‘I’m so sorry to hear…. etc’ or even ‘really?…. is this a joke?’ You may also be surprised to see that the majority of posts are from people you haven’t spoken to in years and you may wonder why so many people have clicked ‘like’! Therefore, there is potential for your divorce to be embarrassing online.

As a precaution, you can toggle your Facebook privacy settings so that only friends can see your content and timeline. Before your divorce, you may prefer to spend some time going through your friends and deciding if you want to remain friends with them. You can always delete them without them knowing, if necessary. It is understandable that you will want to remove the marriage status, but this can easily be hidden, if you would prefer. You can also choose what content certain friends will see.

It is worth looking at your entire online presence to ensure there are no likely issues. This could be changing your details on your own website or other websites you are registered on. For example, if you regularly use Google Plus, you can manage people in circles (which can be called anything and the person in the circle won’t know this). Therefore, you could create a circle called ‘old friends’, for example, and when it comes to posting things, you can select which circles to share it with. In the same way, on Twitter you may want to unfollow people or even make your profile private. If necessary on social media, you can also block people and this can be handy if certain people are hassling you or you want to avoid their contact.

With any divorce, word of mouth is likely to spread very fast, particularly if you live in a small community or village, where everyone knows each other and this is likely to be hot gossip for the locals. It is expected but to some extent you cannot control public opinion and there could be unexpected situations, as a result. On social media, you can use the tools and settings available to you to manage it the best you can but in the same way, being on a social network is like being part of an active community. However, you must consider what you do in the virtual world should follow how you would behave in the real world. For example, you wouldn’t stick a public notice about your divorce on every lamppost in the town centre and this is effectively what you would be doing by announcing it on Facebook.

Working together, as a couple, on your divorce can be effective for the long term future. Many couples will stay friends on social media and even comment on each other’s’ photos or posts. Divorce doesn’t have to be a battle, whether online or in the real world. Divorce Negotiator offer an alternative approach, which will suit you both and ultimately be a positive, amicable experience. For more information, please call 0845 388 5592.

Jon Exton

Twitter: @thesocialant

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