When a female friendship turns toxic, it can be the most brutal break up of all. Losing a lover, we know the rules so well that they could’ve been handed down on stone tablets. We rage, we grieve and eventually we move on, hopefully into the arms of someone even more fabulous. When we fall out with a girlfriend there are no rules, no easy reasons why it had to end.
Gwyneth Paltrow made some choice remarks on Goop about a mystery friend, who many people speculated was one time bestie Madonna. “What do you do when you realize that although you many have years of history, and found real value in each other in times past, that you kind of don’t like a friend anymore? That, after time spent with this person, you feel drained, empty, belittled or insulted?” She must’ve known her comments would cause a stir: she herself admitted elsewhere that “I can be mean. I can definitely harbor revenge.” It’s a dangerous pitfall of a best friend break up: When you’ve shared your deepest secrets with someone, you can bet that they’ll know better than anyone how to turn the knife.
But research shows that a life lived without female friendship can be nothing short of life threatening. A landmark study from Flinders University in Australia revealed that women with more friends lived on average 22% longer and survival rates for both breast and ovarian cancer have been shown to be higher amongst women with strong social networks.
Helen Keller once said that “walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light,” Not so for the seven twisted literary friendships I explore here. Ladies, let’s hope we can do better.