Goodbye girls

With millions at stake, it must have been one hell of a bust-up that split the Spice Girls. But that's female friendships for you, says Lucy O'Brien

LAST SUNDAY Geri Halliwell's shock announcement that she was leaving the Spice Girls ended days of speculation. "This is because of differences between us," she said. With a move that will contractually cost her millions, we can assume this is the understatement of the year. The bust-up, apparently centred around a power struggle between Geri and Scary Spice Mel B, must have been spectacular.

One of the fundamentals of Girl Power, female friendship, has cracked. Geri's friendship with the rest of the Spice Girls was passionate and intense, but now they have fallen out, it appears irretrievable. And it's not just high profile girl friendships like Geri and Mel B or Sandra Bernhardt and Madonna that founder under the weight of their own expectations. Women's friendships often have the intensity of romantic attachment, so if they fall out, it is with all the tears and trauma of jilted lovers.

"When I first met Gina she was extremely good-tempered, joyous, intelligent. We met at a work function and ended up going home, chatting the night away. We were close from then on, but after a while she became very insecure and competitive, and she would bad-mouth me behind my back," recalls Theresa, a 28-year-old health worker. "In the end I phoned her to say we had to part company. She insisted we meet for a last goodbye, and she tried everything, she wept, she clung to me, promised she'd love me forever. That was a year ago, and we haven't spoken since."

Theresa's friendship had all the passion of an affair, even thougn it didn't become sexual. While some gal pals end up sleeping together, even those that don't have an incredible emotional intimacy with their best friend. "Mothers teach their daughters to be like them," suggests psychotherapist Susie Orbach, co-author with Luise Eichenbaum of Between Women: Love, envy and competition in women's friendships. "But at some point, because of having to be heterosexual, girls feel unconsciously pushed out by the mother, and there is part of them longing to connect up again with feminine sensibility. In female friendship a woman feels she has been understood at a very deep level. So if they fall out, it can be devastating."

Girls learn early on to mirror each other's experience, sharing their deepest secrets in a way that leaves them vulnerable. When Jill broke up with her best friend at school, she felt so betrayed, she sought only the company of men for the next four years. "It's much cosier when you're friends with blokes. You can have matey-matey friendships that wax and wane without feeling too traumatised," Jill says. "But after a while I missed having a best friend I could get drunk with and talk to in the small hours. It wasn't until I went to college that I stopped being wary."

People change, and while in sexual relationships partners confront changes with conflict or conciliation, ordinary friendship rarely have recourse to anything so formal. Linda, 32, found it a strain when she shared a flat with her best friend since childhood. "Susan was in control, sensible, organised. I was prettier but more chaotic. A mess. The older I got, the more I sorted out, and the more I realised I didn't want to be that person any more." The change caused painful friction, with a mound of unspoken irritation building up. "The thing is, you're not allowed to row with a best friend. It has all the intimacy of marriage without being able to let off steam." The pair sold up "on chilly terms", and have seen each other intermittently since. "I was very sad about it," says Linda. "We may rescue the friendship, but it'll never be the same."

The challenge for women, it seems, is to openly acknowledge feelings of envy and difference. A friend recently told me how her closest girlfriend had been severely niggling at her on the way home from a holiday. "In the past I would have kept quiet, but that withholding is a form of hostility. So I told her to fuck off. In the end we talked about it and were able to laugh."

Life and Style
tech
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    General Cover Teacher

    £100 - £105 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Secondary Teachers of all sub...

    Associate Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busines...

    English Teacher

    £110 - £130 per day + Pay between ?110 - ?130 Day: Randstad Education Cardiff:...

    SAP Deployment Manager

    £480 per day + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Deployment Manager-Ta...

    Day In a Page

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
    How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game