real life

To the girl from the bus: Leaving your ex was the right thing to do.

Dear girl from the bus,

You don’t know me and I don’t know you, but I have been thinking about you ever since I overheard your conversation on the bus last night.

I know it’s rude to eavesdrop but you were right behind me and I couldn’t help but hear what you were saying. It took all my strength not to turn around, take the phone out of your hand and end the call.

I could hear the anguish in your voice when you kept saying “I’m not trying to be nasty”. I could hear the care for him in your voice: you don’t like knowing that he’s hurting. I could hear your frustration in being forced to revisit what sounded to be quite emotional terrain. It sounded like you just want to close the book.

Obviously I don’t know the whole story but I heard enough of the story to know a few things.

You are not obliged to stay with someone you don’t want to.

You do not need to tolerate someone cheating on you.

You do not need to accept someone who is jealous and controlling. (And working with other men, talking with other men, even knowing other men, are not crimes for you which you need to repent.)

You do not need to embrace a man who is verbally abusive.

You do not need to be ok with your intimate partner sending videos of himself “loving himself” to other women.

And, under no circumstances at all, do you need to placate your ex – or any of his friends –  like you did yesterday for calling it off.

You are entitled to space. You are entitled not to talk to him. You are entitled to walk away. And you don’t need to explain or justify any of that to anyone. Breaking up with someone who makes you miserable is your prerogative.

Just a few minutes in, I could understand why. Relationships are as complex as the people inside them. They are loaded with emotions, ridden with human foibles and come with no clear manual. It is not always clear when a relationship has run its course: whether it’s just a bad patch or the beginning of the end. Whether it’s a temporary glitch, whether the relationship’s original glory will be restored or whether your expectations are unrealistic.


But sometimes it is clear. When someone consistently fails to treat you with respect. When someone puts you down and insults you as a matter of course. When someone tries to control you. When someone makes you feel like you don’t matter. When someone expects your life to revolve around them, but not the other way around.

These are red flags – no matter your age or circumstance – that a relationship is toxic. That it might be dangerous. That it is absolutely worth walking away from.

And that is why, even though I am a stranger who doesn’t know you, I know you did the right thing. I know you are going to be better off, out of that relationship. I know it is not your responsibility to work through the consequences of another adult’s actions.

I don’t know how old you are, but I know life is too short for relationships that make you miserable. And it’s too short for phone-calls with anyone who asks or expect you to stay in one.

So next time that person rings you, don’t answer. Let it go through to the keeper. No friend of yours would ever want you to stay with that guy.

Break ups are rarely easy, but in your case I am certain the future is looking up.

Yours sincerely,

The girl in the seat in front of you.