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Why dumping a friend is hard

What's the best way to end a romance? A Dear John letter perhaps, or a teary phone call? But how do you dump a friend? Do the same rules apply?

Breaking up with a friend is much harder than breaking up with a lover, according to research by sociologists at Manchester University. Friendships can become stressful, infuriating and even damaging, yet for many people, especially women, it is hard to let them go.

Professor Carol Smart said: "The ethics of friendship are very strong which makes it very hard to end a friendship, even when it has stopped being fun, because we feel terribly guilty about it. There is a real sense of duty which is hard to break."

This means people will often try to slink away from a burdensome friendship gradually, rather than breaking up outright. Being on the receiving end isn't much fun, either: being dumped can leave you feeling betrayed and full of self-doubt.

The study, one of the first to investigate the impact of souring friendships, involved more than 200 respondents from the Mass Observation Project.