In this paper, the study of a damped mass-spring system of three degrees of freedom with friction is proposed in order to highlight the differences in mode coupling instabilities between planar and rectilinear friction assumptions. Well-known results on the effect of structural damping in the field of friction-induced vibration are extended to the specific case of a damped mechanical system with planar friction. It is emphasised that the lowering and smoothing effects are not so intuitive in this latter case. The stability analysis is performed by calculating the complex eigenvalues of the linearised system and by using the Routh-Hurwitz criterion. Parametric studies are carried out in order to evaluate the effects of various system parameters on stability. Special attention is paid to the understanding of the role of damping and the associated destabilisation paradox in mode-coupling instabilities with planar and rectilinear friction assumptions.