Is Divorce Harder For The Person Leaving (The Dumper) Or For The One Being Left Behind (The Dumpee)?

 Dr. Deborah Hecker
May 8, 2019

Is Divorce Harder For The Person Leaving (The Dumper) Or
For The One Being Left Behind (The Dumpee)?  

Regardless of whether you are the spouse that wanted the divorce or not. Leaving a marriage is difficult for everyone.  In this post, Dr. Deborah Hecker shares her perspective on the varying effects of  divorce on each spouse when one initiates the divorce, and the other wants to hold on.  

This post originally appeared on Dr. Deborah Hecker’s blog.

Two people facing each other

In most divorce situations, one person wants out of the marriage while the other doesn’t.  Even in cases where a couple mutually agrees to a divorce, there is usually one person wants to hold on to the marriage more than the other one does.

Is it more difficult for the person left because they were blindsided and their world fell apart unexpectedly?

Or, is it harder on the person leaving because they feel guilty about being the “bad guy” and having to hurt their partner?

It is difficult for both of them.

The Dumper

While it may sound nonsensical to have made the decision to leave the marriage and be upset, contrary to popular belief, leaving the marriage doesn’t always make it any easier.  

The dumper is in the position of having to assume responsibility for a choice that inevitably throws them into total chaos and sadness, not to mention crippling self-doubt and regret.

Also, one may not be able to honestly admit that they did everything they could to save the marriage.  Bailing out of a marriage may be the easy way while working on the marriage is the hard way. (Marriage is hard work!)

Many dumpers jump headfirst into a new relationship where they believe the grass is greener.  But, in most cases, these tactics only prolong the inevitable; the emotions will resurface and will be harder to deal with after the fact.

The Dumpee

Often, the one being left will claim that they never saw it coming. They may have known the marriage was in trouble but they never believed that their spouse would actually divorce them.

Unlike the one who left and who had likely been mulling over the decision for a long time, the one who is left must begin the grieving process and the nightmare that follows at a moment’s notice.

Indeed, the dumpee still has to function even when their safe and secure world is falling apart.

For both the leaver and the left, divorce challenges the basic sense of who you are, who you’ve been, and who you’ll become.

Whether you are the dumper or the dumpee, the best advice I can offer you is to get as much support as possible.  The intense problems, stressors and emotions that divorcing people face, coupled with a need to talk about them to a supportive, solution-oriented professional  lead many to seek counseling – and rightfully so.

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