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How unfriending fathers after divorce hurts men

Divorce settlements do not include an equitable distribution of friendships. Friends and neighbors make their own choices about how to treat and socialize with couples who divorce. Members of a formerly married couple's social circle may try to avoid awkwardness by drawing one ex-spouse closer and abandoning the other.

An isolated ex-spouse can feel dismay and loneliness when the loss of a marriage is followed by the end of once supportive friendships. Experts say fathers can be more vulnerable to friendship abandonment after divorce than newly single mothers.

Women are more often the prime custodians of children. No matter how a marriage ends, an ex-wife's struggle as a single parent draws almost immediate sympathy from society. Experts say women are also more likely than men to vocalize how they feel through and after divorce. Women's personal support systems are generally wider and stronger than men's.

Divorced men often crave the same support, but because of their upbringing will choose to speak very little about the details or emotional impact of a divorce. The lack of sharing does not mean a divorced father feels less pain or loss. Noncustodial fathers are often wrongly viewed as men ready to leap back into the dating pool. Friends may not consider a father's true feelings or sacrifices.

Some divorced fathers are forced from their homes and out of valuable, daily interactions with their children. The father's distance can strain relationships with children. The expenses associated with starting over after divorce, while supporting children and possibly an ex-spouse, can be financially devastating.

Fathers are often disconcerted about seeing their children according to a visitation timetable. Noncustodial fathers can feel shoved out during children's birthday celebrations, school and athletic events.

Society's response to a couple's divorce can be careless and cruel or caring and supportive. It is important to consider that at least two people are affected by loss when a marriage ends.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Must Divorced Fathers Become Second Class Citizens?" Linda Lipshutz, May 23, 2012

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