That's No Way to Treat a Lady, Girlfriend


When I met Amy, I thought she was "the one."

Our freshman year of high school, we did everything together, ate our Yoplait and celery stick lunches together, helped each other apply what I'm now sure was unflattering orange-hued concealer, we even got busted shoplifting together, the ultimate in teenage, female bonding. I invited her over to my house, despite the fact that my mother displayed an embarrassing collection of bird figurines and was generally not wearing pants. She admitted to a creepy crush on our woodshop teacher.

We were misfits that clung to each other in a "buddy system" of social survival. On Halloween night, however, I got dumped.

She called to say she was sick and couldn't get together, but I could hear voices in the background. She was seeing another best friend behind my back. I spent the evening waiting for trick-or-treaters in my farmer's daughter outfit, tears smearing my painted-on freckles. Sad, I know. But girlfriend breakups are all too common.

If there's a woman who hasn't been divorced by at least one good female friend, I haven't met her.

And here's the thing: friend breakups don't end in high school. I had a major girlfriend divorce just a couple years ago. I was so crushed I needed several (extra) therapy sessions to work through it. I fantasized that she would take me back and we could have long talks and drink martinis at Pinot like we used to. I still have to dodge an entire chain of yoga studios where I might run into her.

When a girlfriend dumps you, it can be just as painful as a romantic break-up. In some cases, it's worse. No one rallies around you with invitations and empathic looks; your mom doesn't fly into town to make sure you're eating. There are no wrenching songs about a friend not returning your calls. In fact, it's likely that you won't even mention it to most people. For one thing, girl breakups tend to be gradual and murky, so you might not know exactly when it's happening. For another, it's a bonanza of shame.

If a guy drops you, those in your circle are likely to blame him; he was juvenile, "not growing spiritually," irresponsible, or just not ready for you, the best thing that ever happened to him. If a girlfriend gives you the heave-ho, the suspicion exists that it was you, that you were draining, self-absorbed or just intensely annoying, all of which is about as becoming as a badly lit amateur sex tape. Which brings me to Paris Hilton.

If Hilton and former best friend Nicole Ritchie are on the outs, is any female friendship immune?

"Nicole knows what she did, and that's all I'm ever going to say about it," said Hilton, in a statement. Does Nicole know what she did, other than getting dangerously close to being thinner than Paris?

As mysterious as romantic breakups can be, friend breakups are equally opaque. I've never understood any of mine. Sometimes, there's no malice involved at all, its just time to trim the friendship roster and you don't make the cut. In any case, you'll be facing a loss with no guidelines for how to handle yourself.

Take Tara Reid. When you think of Tara and a "falling out" you probably hearken back to that unfortunate red carpet incident. I'm talking about her falling out with Lindsay Lohan. One day they were buddies. The next, Lohan told a reporter, "I'm not some crazy, Tara Reid-esque party girl." She made her ex-friend's name an adjective synonymous with "skanky." That's harsh.

You know what they say, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned - by another woman.