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I'm worried about my divorced friend

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  August 20, 2010 06:35 AM

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I feel like the subject of this letter is going to be Boston's most eligible bachelor today.

Q: I don't know if this is a topic that fits in with love letters exactly, but I am going to ask away. A very good friend of mine recently got divorced. We are both 34. He was married for nearly seven years, and he and his wife were together years before that. In the time that he was with his former wife, basically all of our friends (myself included) got married and started having children. When we were young, we all lived in the city and went out all of the time. A few of us still live in the city, but for the most part, everyone has moved out into the suburbs somewhere.

My friend’s wife left him out of the blue. They had some minor issues and a larger one over when to try to start a family, but he was blindsided when she said she wanted to move out and get a divorce. That was earlier this year.

Since then it has become clear that he is completely panicked about ending up alone and does not really know where to begin to find someone new. When we go out as friends, we aren't going out anymore like we did when we were in our 20s. Now it's just a meet-up after work for a beer and some dinner, or to get together on the weekend to watch a game. But most nights I am home and in bed in time to watch “The Daily Show.”

Because of this, I think he constantly feels nervous about being alone and feels pressure to take advantage of any possible situation he comes across. Any sort of encounter with a single female he gets nervous and awkward. He thinks every chance might be his last. I know he eventually wants children and that's just adding to the pressure. And these chances to even meet someone are infrequent, and they involve situations where there is little to no chance of success (he may try to talk to a waitress, bartender, etc.). Most nights end with him just going home by himself to a big house that he used to share with his wife, and it is just empty. And I know that is hurting him the most -- the time at home with his thoughts.

So, I guess what I am asking for is any advice that I may be able to pass on to him, or any advice for me as his friend, and what I can (or can't) do to try to help?

– Concerned for my friend, Weymouth

A: This is a topic that fits with Love Letters, CFMF. Friends of singles must know how to treat them.

The first thing to know is it hasn't been very long. Your friend's wife left him earlier this year. It's normal to mourn this kind of thing for a while.

But there are some things you can do to help him.

1. Remind your pal that your social circle is just one group of people in their 30s. There are zillions (not an official statistic) of other people in their 30s who are single and itching to make babies. There are a few more zillions who are single and out on the town. Remind him that despite the look of your group, the supply of age-appropriate partners who are looking to mate and procreate isn't running dry. He's seeing a small sample.

2. Tell him to start expanding his social circle. Encourage him (not patronizingly!) to join a softball league, a young professionals group -- some activity that will put him in the mix with other singles. If he sees that he's not so alone in the single world, he may feel less crazed when he meets women. And bars won't seem like the only answer.

3. Skip "The Daily Show" every now and then. I know Jon Stewart is the best thing to look at before bed, but maybe go watch a game at your friend's house on a Tuesday. Or maybe take him to IKEA on a Wednesday night to buy some stuff to make his place look different. Plan a few outings (they don't have to be bar outings) that don't involve kids and couples. Leave the spouses at home. It doesn't have to happen often, just sometimes.

4. Know that no matter what he does, he's going to be a bit out of sorts for a while. He just got out of a very long relationship. He's divorcing. This phase won't last forever. He's getting his bearings. It may take some time. Keep validating.

And maybe send him a link to this letter. Because I have a feeling that a lot of readers are going to tell you that your friend sounds like a pretty fantastic catch.

Readers? Thoughts for this very nice friend? How can this LW help his pal without patronizing him? Is anyone out there the single man/woman in their group of married friends? Is IKEA the answer? Discuss.


– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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