Going through a breakup is hard enough -- but what if it costs you your friends as well as your love interest? According to a new survey, men and women lose up to eight friends when they end a long-term relationship -- three friends of their ex-partner, three mutual friends and two friends known prior to the relationship -- reported the Daily Mail.
The online poll, commissioned by British self-help website HealBee.com, surveyed over 2,000 men and women in the UK. Fifty-six percent of the respondents were male and 43 percent were female, with the majority between the ages of 25 and 44. “What we were quite surprised … about was how consistent the results were across gender, age and geography. So this is something that does not simply affect a small section of society,” HealBee.com’s Managing Director, Chad Schofield, told The Huffington Post.
It probably comes as no surprise that couples -- especially those together for an extended period of time -- tend to share friends. The survey found that about two-thirds of individuals reported sharing mutual friends with their ex. Over 50 percent of respondents said that they shared a large social circle with their ex-partner.
Equally unsurprising is the strain that a messy breakup can put on those mutual friends. Over 27 percent of people surveyed told HealBee.com that they had prolonged their floundering romantic relationships out of fear of losing their platonic ones, the Daily Mail reported. And 31 percent said that they regretted their actions during a breakup because of the impact it had on their friendships. “Friends can soon get fed up of being caught in the middle, especially if you force them to choose a side,” Schofield told the Daily Mail. Thirty-two percent of people said that they left a group of friends because the tension became too much, while 49 percent of people claimed that their shared group of friends pushed them or their ex out actively.
But what about those friendships that existed before a romantic relationship started? Why would people be losing friends who didn’t even have a connection to their exes? According to the Daily Mail, it may come down to being “fed up” with the amount of breakup talk that occurs. Nearly 50 percent of people reported feeling alone while adjusting to their newly single status. “You really need all the support you can get during and after the break-up of a relationship, yet the experience can easily leave you feeling isolated,” Schofield told the Daily Mail.
Some research indicates that breaking up with a friend -- no matter the reason -- can leave you feeling just as bad as losing a romantic partner. A group of sociologists at the University of Manchester, led by Carol Smart, found that dumping a friend can cause more "terrible" guilt than dumping a significant other, especially in women, the Telegraph reported in April. In a January piece on “friend breakups” for the New York Times, Alex Williams wrote that these separations “play out like a divorce in miniature -- a tangle of awkward exchanges, made-up excuses, hurt feelings and lingering ill will.”