How many friends do you lose when Ulster couples split?
People in Northern Ireland ending a long-term relationship lose an average of seven friends, a new study reveals.
Researchers also found that 44 per cent of people in Northern Ireland felt isolated after a breakup, regardless of how supportive their remaining friends and family were.
Twenty four per cent actually admitted to staying in a relationship longer than they really wanted to, worried about the effect that breaking up would have on mutual friendships.
The study showed it is not only mutual friendships that suffer following the end of a long-term relationship. Of the seven friends lost on average, two were people they had known before the relationship.
Chad Schofield, Founder of HealBee.com, which commissioned the report, says even when relationships end amicably it can have an impact on friendships.
“It isn’t always about friends actively siding with one person or another - it can be much more subtle than that. In Northern Ireland, 44 per cent of people reported that feelings of ‘awkwardness’ played a major part in friends simply drifting away," he daid
The full national study involved a total of 2,000 men and women of all ages who have recently split from a long-term partner. Further findings indicated that 42 per cent of people in Northern Ireland have some regrets about their relationship coming to an end because of the effect it has had on friendships.
Northern Ireland should take some pride in the fact that statistically, breakups don’t lead to as many friends being lost as in other parts of the UK. However, on the whole, people are more likely to feel some regret over their relationships coming to an end because of the friends that they do lose, according to the study.
Five out of ten respondents said that, on the whole, friends were very supportive after their breakup. However, 44 per cent felt that unless somebody was actively going through a similar situation they could not understand how it felt.
“It comes down to the difference between sympathy and empathy,” said Mr Schofield.
“No matter how supportive friends and family are, they can’t wave a magic wand to make the painful feelings of loneliness and isolation go away. In fact, inviting you to dinner or encouraging you to socialise before you are ready can simply reinforce the fact that you now have to do things alone.
"Most people say it is really helpful to connect and interact with others who are in a similar circumstance to themselves. It’s not really about how well people know you, but about how well they understand what you are going through. They can also advise on avoiding potential pitfalls that you may not have thought of – such as joint bank accounts being frozen or the expense of legal representation.”
HealBee.com is a free-to-use, discreet and impartial online support network for people who have lost a long-term partner. It provides access to services, articles and forums tailored for people who are newly single or anticipating closure of their relationship.