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The hardest cut -- when a girl gets dumped by a girlfriend

POOR old Madonna. It seems she's been dumped by her best pal Gwyneth Paltrow. There's been a cooling between the pair, but it seems Madonna has no idea what, why or how.

The Hollywood actress once referred to the singer as "like an older sister", but since then, the froideur has descended, and Gwynnie has frozen Madonna out.

It's a tough one, being jettisoned by a girlfriend, because often there's no particular reason for it. Or no definite end to the friendship. At least with a boyfriend, husband or partner, someone has to do some actual dumping. There has to be a chat, or some form of communication that suggests an end.

But the slow fade of female friendships is a lot more corrosive. It can hurt like hell as you retreat back to the trenches.

Weekends start to pass without meeting up, texts take longer to return, promises to do things become unfulfilled, and birthdays pass without celebration. Before you know it, you're out on your own, scratching your head, wondering if you've been dumped, and what might have happened to warrant the axeing. Hello, paranoia.

The annoying thing is that you can't really ask without sounding like a neurotic or needy friend. So you have to sit it out, let life roll on and see what happens.

A lot of the time you might have done nothing. Things change, people change, situations change. But when you've invested as much as most women do in a close friendship, it's harsh when it finally becomes apparent that you've become obsolete.

Of course, the oldest reason in the book for a parting of ways is due to the appearance of a new man on the horizon.


And it's usually the single women who loudly protest that they'd never relegate their girlfriends, should they hook up with a bloke, who offend the worst.

A sniff of testosterone and they abandon their pack. Sod the plans for the girlie holiday, forget Oxegen, sayonara to Friday nights with Pinot Grigio and chick flicks ... "You guys go on without me". Right.

Perfectly understandable in one way, but not great if you're left with a wide chasm of free time to fill and a vacancy in the wing-woman department.

In Madonna and Gwyneth's case, it's thought that it was Madonna's divorce from Guy Ritchie that started the split. The girls no longer had as much in common. No longer both Americans married to posh British men and living in London. Madonna headed back to New York and more than the Atlantic spread between them. Then the sniping started. Gwyneth was quoted saying about Tracy Anderson, their personal trainer. "It's good that she doesn't train Madonna any more. It was too much. She keeps people waiting -- it takes up your whole day." Oh dear. Meow!