Strategies for social networking after a marital split

By Kathy Rumleski, Contributor

In part three of a four-part series, Toronto family lawyer and divorce recovery coach Leanne Townsend discusses steps newly single people can take to rebuild their social networks.

People going through a divorce often isolate themselves at a time when they need social support more than ever, says Toronto family lawyer and divorce recovery coach Leanne Townsend.

“It’s human nature when we’re going through a difficult time, and our self-esteem may be lower, to want to insulate ourselves from the outside world,” she tells

“That’s the worst thing you can do. Isolation is not helpful, and it’s important to reach out to your family and friends and build new networks,” says Townsend, a partner with Brauti Thorning LLP.

Finding that network can be tough at first, she says, because many people socialize as a couple.

“After a breakup, sometimes the couple friends don’t want to take sides, or a divorcee can feel like a fifth wheel when everyone else is in pairs,” Townsend says. “It can be especially hard if you’re now single and most of your friends aren’t.”

Connecting with people who have gone through a divorce is important, she says, as it gives people the opportunity to share experiences and emotions.

Townsend offers a five-week divorce recovery-coaching program and says given the high rate of divorce, there are many people in the same situation.

“I also run a support group for midlife divorced women. Members of the group have told me it’s an invaluable experience because it connects them with other local women who are separating or divorced,” she says.

Townsend encourages single people to turn to hobby groups, social clubs or open a gym membership to get out of the house and have contact with others.

“You’ve got to put yourself out there and make some new connections even though it can be hard,” she says.

It’s important to strike a healthy balance between socializing with friends and taking care of yourself, given all the demands on people’s time these days, Townsend says.

“You still need to do self-care, and sometimes you don’t feel like going out so the right thing could be to stay home and nurture yourself,” she says. “But this can’t be what you’re doing all the time. You have to find a way to get yourself back out there.”

Many people turn to social media when they need to vent or get support and Townsend says this can sometimes be helpful, but not all the time.

“Social media is not a substitute for in-person connections, but it can be another form of support. You can access great resources and meet people through social media. My only caution is that in itself, it won’t be enough to give divorcees the support they really need,” she says.

Even if the relationship was bad, you may have looked to the other person for some emotional help, Townsend explains.

“You need to find someone to fill that role for you,” she says.

Divorce is one of life’s most stressful events, and it is important to talk about it, Townsend says.

“Opening up is how you process the negative or traumatic experiences. In order to heal you need to do that,” she says.

Therapists and coaches are valuable, too, Townsend says.

In her divorce recovery program, the group shares experiences and offers support to each other.

“In my program, we touch on these things, but if someone needs more assistance or is feeling stuck, life coaching helps with that,” she says.

Townsend says she can also provide one-on-one customized programs for people who need that extra push or motivation.

Re-connecting with people or making new friends is difficult, but she says it’s always worth the effort.

“Sometimes you have to push yourself. That’s how we grow is to persevere, even if you’re uncomfortable,” Townsend says.

Click here to read part one where Townsend provides tips and strategies for those looking to re-enter the workforce following a divorce.

Click here to read part two where Townsend discusses strategies to help newly single people get a handle on their finances.

Stay tuned for part four in the series where Townsend will offer tips on how to successfully navigate the dating scene after a divorce.

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