Guide to Breaking up When You Live Together

Couple Breaking up - Man Leaving

Navigating a breakup with someone you live with is challenging, but guess what? It’s not impossible. You will get through it. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of unmarried couples living together almost tripled in the last twenty years. So, if you are dealing with a breakup with someone you live with, you’re definitely not alone.

Not only do you need to deal with the fragile emotions of the breakup, but you also must figure out the logistics, like when and how to move out and who’s taking what. If you’re looking for ways to make the split easier (and amicable) while cohabitating, check out the complete guide below.

Steps to Move On While Moving Out

Breaking up with a partner you live with is almost like getting a divorce. The only positive thing is that there’s no messy paperwork. The downside is that you have to deal with the splitting of assets. Like a divorce, you can leave with what you came in with. However, if you’ve lived together for a while, you probably accumulated items together, which can make for a messy situation.

Have 2 Separate Conversations: A Logistic and a Relationship One

You may be tempted to dramatize the breakup talk by ending it with the declaration, “I’m moving out!” The question of who will go where will come naturally during a breakup conversation. 

However, do yourselves a favor by having the first discussion strictly about the relationship.

This is the point where emotions will surface, so take a break if you need to, and then come back and continue. After the first few conversations, the initial shock of the breakup will wear off, and then you can set aside time to discuss the logistics. This conversation may be something simple like saying you’re moving in with friends or family while you make a final decision on the details.

Be Respectful of Space

Even if you figure out the logistics (Yeah, for you both!) before actually moving, there will probably be a short amount of time you’ll remain under the same roof. If this is the case, be sure to set up some structure for sharing the space. Address issues like who will do the chores and who is sleeping where. At this stage of the game, it’s probably best to keep things separate as much as possible. For example, you both buy and cook your own groceries. When it comes to kitchen cleanup, you dirty it, you clean it. It may not be the best of circumstances, but it is a short-term solution.

Think of your cohabitation as more of a roommate than a partner, so treat it accordingly.

Adjust when it comes to inviting friends over. Since your living situation may not be the best at this time, consider visiting friends and family at their homes. However, if you want to invite someone over, plan a schedule with your ex to avoid conflict.

Ask, Listen, Respect

As for romantic partners coming over, it’s not suggested. So, meeting your date at the venue is better for everyone. It’s not a case of putting your social life on hold; it’s more like being respectful of your ex’s space as you would expect them to be respectful of yours.

Set a Date to Move Out and Stick To It

When you make a decision to move out, the next step is to decide on the date and time. Figure this out as soon as possible because it will continue the momentum for your upcoming decisions. For example, if you and your ex are listed on the lease, you’re both on the hook for the rent. So, in this case, decide who is in a better financial standing to possibly assume the remaining lease or mortgage when one of you moves out. If that’s an issue for both parties, one of you can assist the other with setting up a small place to live elsewhere while you split the rest of the living expenses for the original residence.

If you need to, notify the landlord of the situation. I’m sure this isn’t the first time they’ve dealt with a couple vacating the residence, so they may have options regarding breaking the lease and a possible sublet.

Map out your financial costs of the options. For example, the fee for breaking a lease may be less expensive than paying for the remainder of the lease.

Create New Boundaries

These conversations are not the best, even if under amicable circumstances. You’re both exhausted and emotional because, let’s face it, navigating a breakup is challenging. Sometimes, it will seem like you both have figured out the perfect solution, and other times it’s as if you want to call the movers and sneak everything out of the house while your ex is at work.

During those peaceful times, you may be tempted to fall back into your old couple’s routine and hop back into bed together.

During those peaceful times, you may be tempted to fall back into your old couple’s routine and hop back into bed together.

Don’t do it. Falling back into a routine will unnecessarily complicate the situation even more and prevent you both from healing from the relationship and moving on. Instead, find a small spot in the house that you can use as your own space. Keep a level head, and do not allow fleeting emotions to set you back from your healing.

Being Friends with an Ex: How to Maintain Boundaries

You fell out of love with your ex. It happens. Nobody goes into a relationship thinking it’s going to end, but sometimes it does. The flame has been extinguished, so now what. Not all relationships end up badly. Here’s how you can remain friends with your ex.

Don’t get involved with their love life

I’ve seen it time and again. You think you’re at the point where you and your ex can talk about anything. But the minute they mention who they’re dating, you fall apart. If you want to remain friends with your ex, stay far, far away from their love life. Think about it like the romance wasn’t in the cards for you two, so leave it off the table. Period.

Do not sleep with your ex

There’s no better way to catch feelings again than to start sleeping together. I get it; you’re bored, you’ve had a few drinks, and now you’re in the mood. So who better than your ex to jump into bed with? Don’t do it! Sleeping with your ex will complicate matters, especially if one of you catches feelings again. Save yourself a headache and buy some toys.

Skip the flirting

If you’re feeling vulnerable because you haven’t had a date in months, flirting with your ex for a few validity points seems like a good idea. It’s not. Do not tempt fate by flirting because it can trigger old feelings for one or both of you, and you may end up making the same mistake from which you just escaped.

Allow each other some space

You just broke up, and while it’s good to be on friendly terms, you don’t need to immediately call your ex to see how they’re doing. Instead, give each other some space because failing to do so may complicate matters. You don’t have to hang out alone just because you’re single again. Plan group activities with your friends.

Let go of the grudges

Grudges keep you from moving on, so if you have an issue with your ex, let it go. You both made mistakes in the relationship, but that doesn’t mean that you should hold them against your ex. If you truly want to have a healthy relationship with your ex, forgive them. You don’t have to forget because that’s probably why you broke up in the first place, but don’t hold a grudge. What’s done is done.

Keep it civil on social media

When it comes to social media, it can be a slippery slope. Sometimes, when we’re in our feelings, we may make an emotionally-driven comment that would’ve been better left unsaid. So, if the breakup wounds are still fresh, don’t go onto your ex’s social media page. You may f*** around and find out. That means you may see an image of your ex canoodling with someone new, and if you’re not ready, it may result in a bad situation for you.

What Haters?

People will always have something to say about your relationship. Ignore them. They’ll give you one hundred and one reasons why you should hate your ex, but that’s their problem. Don’t make that your issue. Instead, relish in the fact that you’re still able to hang out with someone you used to date. Besides, they’re probably jealous they don’t have such a close relationship with their ex.

Division of Possessions

To have an amicable breakup, it’s vital you divide assets equitably. Begin with the basics, and then if you have issues, let it go. It will be better for your mental health to give up on the $97 T.V. stand than to argue over it due to spite.

If you came into a relationship with something, you should be able to hold on to that. Also, any gifts given should remain to the recipient. If you have debt in your name, it’s your responsibility, no matter who makes the purchase. This can be tricky because if you have the credit card that made the bigger purchases, does that mean your ex gets off scot-free?

If there is a big issue, I would take it up with a mediator. However, if most of the items are smaller in nature, again, it would be better for your mental well-being to agree to take on the debt than to spend days, weeks, and months picking over the $49 blender.

Create a list of the items that you wish to keep. Then, put it in writing who is keeping what. Do not leave anything out. Write down your most prized material valuables like antique dressers and things you cherish. For smaller sentimental valuable items (heirloom jewelry, photo albums), take them to a friend’s house for safekeeping, even if you’re not moving out right away. You may not be home often, and many friends, family, and even movers will be coming in an out of your space more than usual.

So, keeping your valuables in a safe space helps to maintain peace of mind.

Detail Your Finances

And here it comes, folks. The conversation about finances needs to happen to completely move on. If it feels a little too complicated, consider mediation. This is the same type of mediation for married couples or those that have kids, only it’s about finances and not child support.

An objective third party can help you figure out the correct questions to ask while being the voice of reason during the emotional time. The good news is most couples only need one or two sessions to square away the money.

Financial discussions involve:

  • Splitting of bank accounts
  • Buying out a piece of a major house item you’d prefer to keep
  • Health insurance (Are you their emergency contact? Do they make the medical decisions for you?)
  • Insurance policy

These are topics that need to be discussed immediately.

Keep Yourself Busy

As soon as you have some downtime, you may find yourself thinking about your ex. This is the perfect opportunity for them to send a “checking in” text or suggest hanging out. It’s small portholes like this that your ex can use to sneak back into your good graces. To combat idle time, fill up your social calendar. Ask friends for help. If you know your ex will be home Friday night and you’re schedule is clear, too, call up a friend and ask to hang out. They are your support during this difficult time, so they’ll be happy to help you out.

Calling up your friends accomplishes two important things:

  • 1). It gets you out of your shared space with your ex
  • 2). It allows you to check in with friends you haven’t heard from in awhile

Going out with friends provides a carefree party time, but it also gives you time to pick their brains about your situation. Friends can offer advice on the logistics of the breakup. For example, they’ll remind you about things you haven’t even thought of, like the deposit you made on your summer vacation and how to have it returned. Can you get your deposit on your apartment back, and if so, are you splitting it equally? You may think you have all the topics covered, but friends provide an additional perception of things you missed.

You’ve discussed the important issues, but there are a ton of more minor things you haven’t thought of. Ask your friends to help you think of all those “not now” decisions that eventually need to be made.

Breaking up with a live-in partner can be difficult, but it doesn’t need to be impossible. If you take your time and keep your feelings in check, you can navigate a successful separation with limited heartache. Good luck!

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