Life After Divorce . . . Decluttering Relationships

By Lindy Earl

          Decluttering has become quite the buzz word over the past few years.  Whether clutter is stealing your joy or just taking up needed space in your home, there has been a movement toward a more simplistic life.  I’m totally on board with it!

          There are lots of reasons for decluttering.  An uncluttered space is supposed to be calming to your spirit; decluttering simply makes it easier to find what you need; things that were once important to us become less necessary over time.

          In my life, a divorce was a great impetus to get serious about decluttering.  As a large portion of items left my home, I had an opportunity to really look at what was left and decide what to do.  I also have to take my children into consideration.  Do I really want to leave all this stuff behind for someone else to have to deal with it? No.  I like my kids and wouldn’t want to do that.

          When decluttering, there are some simple rules that are repeated.  First, remove everything from the space you want to organize and clean the area well. Second, collect three boxes and mark them Keep, Toss, and Donate. Third, as you return each item to the space, ask yourself three questions: do I need it, do I use it, and do I love it?  The answer is supposed to be yes to all three for you to save it. Otherwise it goes into the donate or toss box. Got it.

          Well, what if we applied these rules to the people in our lives?  Maybe we should start with social media friends.  If you’re like me, and we all have a lot of similarities so chances are good that you are, you probably have social media friends whom you have never met. Right? People who pop up on your feed and make their announcements or share a picture of their breakfast, and you’re thinking, who is this?

          My question to you is, do you want to keep them in your life? Maybe you do, because their posts are funny or informative or interesting. That’s fine. But, if you don’t need them, don’t really see them (use them), and don’t love them, then why are they there? You can let them go.

          Can you do the same with people in your real life? Maybe some people at work need to be, if not completely cut out, then avoided? Do you have some colleagues who definitely do not bring you joy? Since you work together you can’t completely declutter them from your life, but maybe you can put them on the back shelf and make a point of avoiding them.  You may be happier not seeing them regularly. Enjoy it.

          There are some people in our lives who simply sap our strength and joy.  They are the ones who tend to complain.  There is a woman in my life who brags by complaining.  Every time I see her, just once every couple of months, she has more stories about how hard she works and how busy she is and how expensive life is.  I have learned to smile and nod and avoid her as much as possible. I cannot completely oust her from my life, but I have decluttered her as much as possible.

          There are some people I have had to remove from my life.  It’s hard.  It’s a hard decision to make and can be a hard decision to maintain. I enjoyed being with these people, but they weren’t good for me.  Do you have some of them in your life too? Maybe some neighbors who are around a bit too much? Maybe a colleague who asks invasive questions? Maybe an old love who you can’t quite let go because you think, in the back of your mind, that there may be a chance some day. And even if there isn’t, it’s just comfortable being with them! Ah, those relationships are hard to let go. But, for your own peace of mind, you need to declutter them from your life.

          It may take more than one pass to truly declutter a space. The first time I decluttered my linen closet I tossed a lot of mismatched pillow cases, but I didn’t truly clean out the space. There were some things, afghans I had made, children’s baby quilts, that were just too hard to let go. 

          The same is going to be true in working through your relationships.  There are some relationships that you will keep, even if they don’t pass the three question test. It may be that you are related to the person or have children with the person.  These people will stay in your life even if you don’t need them, you don’t see them, and they don’t bring you joy.

          There are others who will just be harder to let go.  I love staying friends with people for long periods of time. But, in truth, some relationships just reach the end of their paths and need to be let go.  This is why social media is so great. I can keep up with them without investing too much time or emotional energy.

          Some relationships, maybe past loves, are impossibly hard to let go.  It may take you more than one relationship decluttering session to truly cut the strings that bind you. That’s okay.  You’ll do so when you’re ready.

          Decluttering is healthy for you. Whether you are decluttering your desk or a cabinet or closet, or your office or bedroom, or your relationships, you will feel better taking control of your life. That’s what decluttering truly does.

That’s life after divorce.

            Lindy is a Speaker, Columnist, Author, and Consultant.

* Contact her at to submit a question for her Advice Column.

* Find her on Face Book and join the group,  Single Again: From Devastation to Dating, on FB.

* Purchase her latest book, Surviving Holidays and Events After Divorce at for $8.00 (half off Amazon’s price).