24 Harmful Myths That Keep You From Moving On After Your Divorce

In order to get over your divorce, you have to understand these critical components.

Last updated on Apr 27, 2024

Woman frustrated post divorce about the harmful myth, advice about recovery process AaronAmat, Professor25 | Canva

There is a lot of pervasive misinformation (and bad advice) about divorce out there. So, I'm here to help debunk it, because divorce is hard enough without accidentally making it even harder. I've seen so many people suffer needlessly, asking "Will I ever get over my divorce?" But if you're starting over again and learning how to get over a divorce after a long marriage, don't let these lies influence you. There is no one-way divorce "should" go, but there are different recovery and coping methods you can try. It's called divorce recovery.


Divorce recovery is a process that takes emotional, mental, and practical healing and is used throughout every stage of divorce. Everyone has their own unique divorce recovery process. There are five common stages of divorce recovery: starting with denial and moving on to anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, much like the stages of grief. To help you in your divorce recovery, here are the most common false ideas about divorce and separation, and advice for the healing process and moving on.

RELATED: Lawyer Reveals The Number One Reason For Divorce Among His Clients & It's Not Infidelity — 'Women. Are. Tired.'


Here are 24 harmful myths that keep you from moving on after your divorce:

1. All divorces are the same

Divorces are all different. Laws vary depending on where you live. Your marriage was not like anyone else's marriage because you and your ex-spouse are two unique individuals. Your divorce will be just as unique as you are. There might be similarities between your divorce and someone else's that you can use to help with your divorce recovery, but it won't be the same.

2. It takes one year for every four years of marriage to get over your divorce

False. From my experience as a divorce coach, everyone is different and requires a different amount of time to recover from their divorce. Some people who stayed married for years find it fairly easy to get through their divorce recovery; others never do, and their hearts feel broken for a long time. It depends on how much effort you're willing to invest in yourself and moving on with your life, as to how quickly you'll start to feel better as you'll most likely feel worse before you feel better.

3. Everyone going through a divorce has the same emotions in the same order

This is just so wrong. There are similarities to the emotions that people experience when dealing with divorce recovery, but everyone experiences them in a different order, in different intensities, and for different durations.

4. The pain of divorce decreases linearly over time

For most people, the pain of divorce is more cyclical than linear. At first, the emotions of divorce are intense and change rapidly, but over time they tend to decrease in intensity and variety. Flare-ups occur at any time after they've decreased.


5. Once you think you're over your divorce, it never comes up again

As I mentioned in the discussion about the previous lie, the painful emotions of divorce can flare up after you think the worst part of your breakup is over. The times when people might see a flare-up are at the holidays, anniversaries, or other special occasions, but not everyone does.

6. Your family members will help you as you go through a divorce

As much as I wish this wasn't one of the myths about divorce, it is. It's not so much a lie because you can't count on your friends and family, but because most families don't know how to help you get through a divorce... unless you're getting through it exactly as they expect you to. So, although most people can count on their families for help, they won't always provide the exact help you need and want, when you need and want it.

7. You shouldn't feel sorry for yourself

Now, I'm not advocating becoming a puddle of self-pity, but it's okay to feel bad for yourself when you're going through a divorce. The hopes, dreams, and expectations you had when you got married won't come true. Most people experience grief when that happens. It's okay for you to feel some sadness for yourself; however, if that's the only thing you're feeling, you might want to reach out to someone and get more support to heal.

8. You'll get over your divorce quicker if you just stop thinking about it

Stuffing your thoughts and feelings about your divorce is not the best answer. When I did this, I wound up with health problems, including anorexia and anxiety attacks. So, at least in my case, trying to ignore what was going on actually made things worse.


9. You should feel really angry at your ex

Most people feel anger at their ex at some point during their divorce, but it's not a requirement. There are examples of people who get divorced and actually gain the ability to communicate with each other. I have some neighbors who are recently divorced; they went through a period of intense anger, but now communicate better than in the marriage.

10. Everyone gets depressed when they go through a divorce

Most people experience sadness (sometimes intense sadness) when they get divorced, but sadness is not synonymous with depression.

11. If you haven't been married for very long, you should get over it quicker than someone who remained married for many years

There really are no rules about how long it takes you to get over divorce. I know of one woman whose husband asked for a divorce after nine months of marriage. Devastated, it took her about a year to get over the grief. I know of another woman who was married for about a year and got divorced, but she was over it within a couple of months. I also know of people married for 10+ years who were over their divorce before the decree was finalized. So it doesn't mean that if you were married for 30 years that it will take you 30 years to recover; it's different for everyone.


12. Divorce celebrations or marriage funerals are unnecessary

Even though foEven though in the U.S. this year there will be approximately one divorce, divorce is still looked at as a process that isn't something to celebrate or recognize. Maybe we consider it too personal. For many people, having public recognition of the fact that the marriage is over is extremely helpful in putting an end to the marriage and a beginning to a newly single life.

RELATED: 8 Simple Ways To Stop Hating Your Life After Divorce

13. The intensity and length of your anger, depression, and loneliness are directly proportional to how invested you were in your marriage

This is just not true. The intensity and length of your emotions are directly proportional to your ability to accept and work through them.

14. There's something wrong with you if you feel like part of you died when your marriage ended

It's pretty common to feel like part of you died when your marriage ends. The part of you that was the spouse in your marriage is no more, and it's okay to grieve the loss of that role.


15. Every divorce attorney only has their client's best interests at heart

How I wish this wasn't a lie. Unfortunately, it is. Just like in any profession, there are good ones and not-so-good ones. Having an attorney who truly does have your best interests at heart can make your divorce recovery that much easier, as you're not as stressed about the legalities of your divorce.

16. Your attorney is also going to help you recover from your divorce

As caring and supportive as your attorney might be, they probably don't know how to get through a divorce themselves or aren't the best equipped to help you recover from your divorce. However, they probably have a great referral or two for you to get the help you deserve.

17. Everyone takes anti-depressants when they get divorced

This is like when we were teenagers and told our parents that everyone else was doing it, so we needed to do it, too. It's just not true that everyone needs anti-depressants when they get divorced. In my opinion, we've normalized depression and are ready to take a pill for a "quick fix," instead of really exploring what's going on.

18. Your ex is the reason your marriage failed

Even if your ex behaved in a way that necessitated your divorce, you still played some small role in the failure of the marriage. Even if that role was only agreeing to the marriage, the faster you come to terms with your part at the end of the marriage, the faster you'll be able to recover from your divorce.


19. You should feel really sad when you get divorced

You might feel sad, you might feel relieved, you might feel angry... or you might feel some other emotion. No rule says the only emotion you should feel during divorce is sadness.

20. You don't need any time to adjust to your newly single life; you should continue doing everything you were doing before

The truth is that for most people, getting divorced is stressful. Any added stress makes doing what you've always done much more difficult. So please, be gentle with yourself when you're going through a divorce and allow extra time to take care of yourself.

21. You should start dating right away

Not everyone feels ready to date when they get divorced. There's no reason that you must start dating right away. Take your time and you'll know when you're ready to date.

22. The sooner you get into another relationship, the faster you'll get over your divorce

This works for a few people, but most people need to have a little bit of time to get to know themselves again before jumping into a new relationship.


23. Getting divorced means you're a failure

Getting divorced only means that your marriage didn't work out. It doesn't necessarily mean anything about you as a person.

24. Your friends will always support you

This is another one I wish wasn't on this list of lies. Your friends will support you to the best of their ability. Unfortunately, for some, they might not have the ability to support you. The thing to remember is that they're behaving in ways that make the most sense to them, not necessarily in ways that make the most sense to you.

Recently divorced people often wonder if the divorce pain ever goes away. Just like grief is a process, so is mourning the end of your marriage. It will take time, which is relative to how long your marriage lasted. The pain may never go away completely, but it will fade enough for you to take back your life.

When recovering from a divorce you didn't want, it's possible to seek out help using a specific method. Those who are struggling with a divorce don't want to use the TRANSIT Technique, which stands for Talk, Realize, Acknowledge, Nurture, Salvage, Identify, Toss. This technique offers seven ways to help you change your way of thinking and start healing. But in addition to this technique, there are other steps you can take to move on from your divorce.


RELATED: 10 Tiny Ways Your Life Will Get Better After Your Divorce

Here are 5 ways to get over your divorce:

1. Give yourself time to grieve

After you go through the first few phases of divorce, you might be stuck in the depression phase. This stage might last longer than others as you're grieving your ex-spouse and getting caught up in the plans you made to stay together forever. But after depression comes acceptance, so be sure to take as much time as you need to grieve. Grief is not a linear process, so it might take time before you're able to accept your new reality. This time also means you can seek out family and friends for support, join a support group, or go to individual therapy. 

2. Take care of yourself

Use this time to take care of yourself, both mentally and physically. The end of one chapter means a new one can start, but only if you do what you can to make yourself better in every way possible. Consider getting healthier by eating better, taking walks in nature, regrounding yourself with your surroundings, taking on new hobbies, or moving somewhere new to gain satisfaction.


3. Explore new interests and find what makes you excited.

This is the perfect time to do things you've never tried before, or get excited about pursuits you've always wanted to do. Whatever keeps you positive and happy, take a chance on it. Do things you never could do while you were with your spouse or things your spouse discouraged you from trying. 

4. Think positive thoughts and regain your confidence

It may be harder said than done, but after the grief subsides and you put your well-being first, you will slowly gain confidence in yourself. See the brighter side of life, live by it, and transform your overall way of thinking. Not only will that make you feel happier, but improve your self-esteem. Try new activities or hobbies for an instant confidence boost. Go out shopping and try on new clothes, loving your body and health in the process. Regaining confidence will help also you when you're ready to officially move on and put the past behind you.

5. Get experimental with dating

If you're missing intimacy and the feeling of a healthy relationship, this is the last step in divorce recovery. Seeing new people helps you put yourself out there, with the possibility of new love and excitement. While there's no rush to get back into the dating world, it's nice to know that there are lots of other divorcees who have gone through the same process as you, and are now ready to move on with someone new.


RELATED: My Brutal Divorce Ended Up Being My Biggest Fairytale

Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce and life coach. Her writing on marriage, divorce, and co-parenting has appeared on MSN, Yahoo, Psych Central, Huffington Post, Prevention, and The Good Men Project, among others.