Sex & Relationships

Divorcing a friend hurts you as much as them

New research shows that shunning someone can have negative effects similar to being shunned yourself.

Rihanna and Katy Perry

Reports have surfaced that since getting back together with ex Chris Brown, Rihanna’s friendship with Katy Perry has suffered greatly (Photo Getty Images)

We all know one. We all have one — the so-called friend who, hiding beneath a veil of good intentions, transparently delights in reminding us that our roots are showing, our jeans are a little tight, our biological clock is sounding the alarm.

You’ve officially had it — not for the first time but definitely for the last time. Time to make the painful choice to cut her loose, freeze her out. On the other hand, you have known her forever; you don’t want to hurt her and therein lies the rub.

Human beings are a generally empathetic lot — most of us take no pleasure in excising people from our lives and now it seems the ubiquitous cliche, ‘this hurts me more than it hurts you,’ is being lent credibility by scientific research according to a recent article in The Daily Mail.

Cutting someone out of your social circle is painful for the victim but you can expect to feel uneasy and unhappy about your choice — hey, maybe it’s a healthy, even a decent response.

You will wrestle with self-pity and guilt, says The Daily Mail, citing a study conducted by the University of Rochester. What should have been a liberating exercise — and on some level you’re bound to be exhaling relief — is nevertheless fraught with emotional peril and regret.

After all, you’ve lost someone, too — and according to researchers, it’s counterintuitive for human beings to blithely sever social connections, even the difficult ones.

It’s easy to identify with the victim of shunning — the shunners are always less sympathetic, in the movies, anyway. Real life is a little more complex and not everyone, by virtue of their conduct, is entitled to hold an honoured or even a barely tolerated position in your life.

Interestingly, researchers discovered that getting the deep freeze can be a physical, as well as an emotional, experience and cause those of us who have been given the boot to reach for a warm drink or a bowl of soup.

What’s good for the shunned is good for the shunner — chocolate-chip cookie, anyone?