Ending a long-term relationship is incredibly painful. You thought you and your partner would be together forever and suddenly, it’s over. While you might know deep down it’s the best decision for you, that doesn’t make coping with the loss any easier. That’s especially true when you’re still living with your ex for whatever reason. If you’re still sharing a living space for whatever reason, it’s important that you handle the situation with care. Here’s what you need to know to navigate this arrangement successfully
Why a former couple might continue living together after their relationship ends
There are a number of reasons one or both people choose not to find alternate living arrangements after a breakup. They include but are not limited to the following.
- Moving out isn’t financially feasible/it’s too expensive.
- They share children and want to remain under the same roof to co-parent.
- They co-own the property or their name is on the lease.
- They’re struggling to find a house/apartment they like and that’s available.
- Living with their ex is comfortable.
- They’re not ready to completely let go of the relationship just yet.
- They believe they can continue sharing a living space as friends rather than romantic partners.
Is it healthy to live with your ex?
Living with an ex certainly isn’t for everyone. In fact, it can be draining, upsetting, and even toxic for many people. However, whether or not it can work is down to the two people involved. If both parties can come to an understanding and live by a set of ground rules they set for themselves, the situation can be managed even if it’s not ideal.
When you’re living under the same roof as your former partner, you don’t get a break from their presence. This means the negative emotions associated with the relationship will continually crop up. Without time and space to process and ultimately overcome your feelings, you may get stuck. It will be much more difficult to move on from the relationship, and you may need to work much harder to move past what happened between you.
It goes without saying that cohabitating long-term with someone you used to be in a romantic relationship with is not a great idea. Most experts would recommend one or both parties begin making alternate housing arrangements as soon as possible. While it may take months or even a year to be able to move out, the healthiest choice is for exes to go their separate ways in all ways — especially when it comes to living together.
Tips for successfully living with an ex
- Set ground rules and boundaries and stick to them. It goes without saying that if you’re living with your ex, there needs to be rules in place. Decide right away how you will split bills, how household chores will be divided, and who will sleep where. Ironing these issues out right away will help avoid unnecessary drama.
- Avoid small talk and “hanging out.” While you were once akin to best friends, you’re no longer together. That means all that familiarity you share comes to an end. It may seem harmless enough, but hanging out and chatting with your ex is a disaster waiting to happen. Keep your chats to a minimum and live separate lives.
- Establish separate sleeping and “living” spaces and schedules. Do not sleep in the same bed with your ex. We shouldn’t need to tell you why that’s a bad idea. Determine who gets to use the kitchen/living room/bathroom and when. Figure out who gets the bedroom if you only have one and who takes the couch. The more you can separate your lives while under the same roof, the better.
- Don’t bring dates or hookups home. This is just a matter of respect. Even if you both claim to be over one another, it’s just rude. If you’re going to go on a date, do so outside of the house. If you want to have sex with someone new, go to their place. It’s just common courtesy.
- Spend time out of the house/apartment when possible. It sucks to know you can’t even feel comfortable in your own home. However, this is necessary. When you’re at home, try to stay in your room when you know your ex is there. When they are home, try not to be. Go to a friend’s place, hit the gym, or even go to a coffee shop. The less you see your ex while living with them, the better.
- Don’t rehash your relationship. The last thing you want to do is bring up old arguments or even reminisce about the good times. Your relationship is over. That hasn’t changed just because you still live together. Avoid nostalgia or pettiness. It never leads to anything good.
- Be respectful and keep your distance. Just as you’re struggling to process the breakup, your ex likely is too. Give them the space to do that as much as possible. Don’t crowd them or try and strike up friendly conversation when you run into each other in the hallway. It’s important you establish separate identities as much as possible.
- Make plans to move out as soon as possible. It may be a stretch financially and tough emotionally, but you need to move out. Living with your ex for the long haul isn’t just unhealthy, it’s impossible. How are you ever going to move on to a new relationship? How are they? Do what you can to find different places to live. You’ll thank yourself later.