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Relationship breakdown – Front row seat

by Teelan & Silwal

4 July 2024

It was Monday morning. I was on the tube heading into the office, delighted to have an
opportunity to read my book away from the weekend demands and distractions of children.
But then a young woman, I would guess in her late 20’s gets on, sits opposite me and calls
her mother. On Facetime. I tell myself not to feel irritated and focus. This is a much-needed
opportunity to read for half an hour. Don’t let someone on a phone call distract you from
your mission of enjoying your book. Maybe once we are in a tunnel, the call will end.

No such luck. Two stops on and my book was sitting closed on my lap, folded glasses in my
hand and I felt irritated. This young woman was having a deeply personal and private
conversation, quite loudly so that her mother could hear her, in public, for anyone to listen to.
I confess, my ears pricked up at the one-sided conversation I could hear, all about the
boyfriend she had recently broken up with.

A couple more stops on, despite only hearing one side of a conversation, the facts I know
are that she and her former boyfriend had been in a relationship for a few years, they were
living together, they do not have children, he is the one leaving and she is concerned how
she is going to pay the rent. The young woman’s mother has offered to come to stay, but
the offer has been politely declined, although much appreciated. At this stage, there was
another fellow passenger whose book was now also closed in her lap, no doubt also unable
to read. The young woman was oblivious to the fact that she had an audience, albeit a
discreet one.

During the twelve-stop tube journey that we shared on a Monday morning, I only heard this
young woman’s version of events. I am sure her former boyfriend would have a lot to say for
himself. In addition to the facts of her life, I also heard all about the ultimatums, threats and
intimidation that this young woman was seeking to exact on her former boyfriend. It
sounded awful, petty and unnecessary. This young woman was relishing the opportunity of
dishing the dirt to her former boyfriend’s family and engaging in round after round of deeply
unpleasant behaviour towards him. And this young woman’s mother was positively
endorsing her daughter’s proposed endeavour. But to what end? To make her daughter feel

This couple were living together. They had a shared life together. It has ended. Now the
emotional rollercoaster of a relationship breakdown begins. But it is a choice as to how the
end of a relationship is dealt with, how you navigate that journey and how you move

Maybe in the short term the young woman will feel better by inflicting further misery upon her
former boyfriend. But that level of animosity is only going to create additional tension, pain
and turmoil. It will not help to sort out the practicalities of the breakdown; it will not help sort
out the tenancy agreement, paying the rent or the bills; it will not help if they need to
detangle any joint finances; it will not help when arranging for personal belongings to be
packed and moved. Most importantly though, it will not help this young woman (or indeed
her former boyfriend) in healing, and it will negatively impact upon their ability to move

A relationship breakdown does not mean you have to commence a battle with your former
partner. In fact, at a time when the last thing you want to do is speak to your former partner,
is the time you have to communicate clearly and concisely. The longer you have been
together, the stronger the ties may be, particularly if you have children. This is a time to be
kind to yourself, not plotting revenge. For twelve stops, I had an unwanted front row seat to
this young’s woman bitterness and retribution. She must have been exhausted and she
wasn’t even at work yet. And it all felt so unnecessary.

If you require any advice following a relationship breakdown, whether in relation to financial
matters or children, then please contact us at

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