Ending a relationship can bring a heavy emotional backpack. Often, it is not so much about the ending itself, but about how and why the relationship ended.
Through text? Threats? A dramatic turn of events? Or a sudden 25 second call?
Even in the entertainment industry, the breakup has always been the subject of the most popular songs and films, embodied in often in Taylor Swift’s song lyrics,now a staple in pop culture, Adele’s moody breakup albums, and the movie ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’, which epitomizes the struggle of simply moving on.
In Egypt, the breakup can be a result of a mixture of family, tradition and societal pressures that result in an even heavier emotional aftermath . We spoke to ex-lovers who have shared their worst experiences in ending a relationship, and the complicated – and uniquely Egyptian – scenarios that can happen. Their stories will make you laugh, sad, feel guilt, or even second-hand embarrassment.
“You have one month left for us to get married and if you don’t do it… I’m breaking up with you”
“She was my first girlfriend in Egypt, and things were going smooth at first. We dated for a couple of years and I’ve reached a stage where a formal step is due, so I decided to get in touch with her parents and propose formally. Both our families got together and we decided to get engaged, but we agreed to wait for two years so we can get everything figured out since we are still studying.
A week later, I got a sudden call. She asked me to meet her in a cafe, and she was extremely angry and stressed. I thought something really bad happened. I showed up and there she was sitting with a death glare on her face. I asked her what’s wrong, and she took time but then said “you have one month for us to get married and if you don’t do it, I’m breaking up with you.”
Completely dumbfounded, I asked her for the reason, and her response was simply, “my friends are getting married, and I feel left out.”
I couldn’t believe it at first, but then I told her that I am giving her one last chance to take back what she said. When she refused, I told her that I wish her a happy life with whoever she ends up marrying in the end, and I paid the check and left.”
Mohamed*, 28, Copywriter
‘We Should Never Substitute Comfort for Happiness’
“I was in a significant relationship for a very long time: five years (on and off). The reason we broke up the first time is the very same reason we broke up the last time, which was a few months ago. What I came out of this story is that people can try to change, but nothing will change completely as there are things that are deeply rooted within us and can never change. There were some loyalty issues in the beginning, but after he went through a difficult period, he came and apologized and suggested we give it a second chance. Because I never moved on, I was down with the idea.
I felt a deeply wrong gut feeling. I was happy but I wasn’t comfortable, and I think we should never substitute one for another (my comfort for my happiness). The intuition should be the indicator, because your comfort is your lighthouse. The more comfortable you feel, the more you should hold onto the relationship.
I tried, for a very long time, and he also put a lot of effort to prove to me that he changed and that his past mistake would never happen again. But then, eventually, I found out by chance that he lied to me and had something going on with another girl.
It wasn’t easy, especially since it took me five years, and I was not mature then, so I grew up with this relationship. In my mind, this was the only idea of love I had. What I am going through at the moment is changing how I perceive love, and learning to live without him.
Even when I was extremely loyal and never had anything to do with anyone else while we were together, he was freely living his own life without my knowledge.
Hagar*, 24, researcher
‘How dare you think it’s ok to sleep and not even call me?’
“There was a period in my life when I gave up on the idea of dating and decided to venture into the world of arranged marriage, so I spoke to my father and told him that it was time. My father arranged a meet up with his friend’s daughter, and she seemed really nice and sweet at first, but boy was I wrong.
We agreed to get engaged because we wanted to know each other, but there were lots of red flags that I ignored, such as how her mother was rude with her father and witnessing the toxic behaviors that happened in front of me. Yet, we got engaged.
I took a day off rest/sleep since I drove 600km to see her since she lives in another city. I made sure she was aware of that. The next day, I called to check in, and I did not expect what happened next. She yelled at me and said, “why the hell didn’t you call me yesterday? How dare you think it’s okay to sleep and not even call me?”
After a vulgar display of toxic behavior, I told her to, please, not ever talk to me this way, and that I was not her slave to be addressed like that. She responded, and said “this is my way, deal with it.”
After the phone call ended, it took me just three days to end the engagement – the fastest breakup ever. I’m not even sure if I should be happy or disturbed.
Tarek*, 28, marketing executive
‘When I called and asked to postpone for a month until I found a new job, her response was extremely violent’
“I was going through a phase where I was really afraid to die alone. It all started with a meeting with my family lawyer, and I saw his trainee. What surprised me was that she was actually my age. I decided to make a move and, to my surprise, she accepted. We got to know each other outside of work and it turned into a really good relationship. Time went by and I decided to meet her family, and it was all going too well, so I decided to make my formal step and propose.
But, when the time came, something unexpected happened. I got a call from work, and I got told I’m being let go because of financial issues within the company. When I called her and asked her to postpone for a month until I found a new job, her response was extremely violent. There were so many accusations and attacks on my character and integrity.
The mental image I had of her was shattered. I thought to myself: how was I going to marry someone that doesn’t support me in my time of crisis? I ended the call with her, and I stopped talking with her completely. A plot twist happened and my work called and said they wanted to have me back with a promotion. Till this day, I didn’t call her to tell her what happened and, fortunately for me, I saw her true colors before I went through the point of no return.
Ahmed*, 25, copywriter