Everything felt so right, so you decided to move in together. Now, after a few years, it’s just not working out. What do you do? Breaking up while living together is far more complicated than your normal breakup. For many couples, you’ll still be living together even after breaking up, at least until someone is able to find a new place.
While the ideal solution is to find a new place before the breakup, you don’t always have that luxury. Maybe you’re between jobs or you had no clue a breakup was coming. No matter the reason, it is possible to breakup and still live together, at least in the short term.
- Start sleeping separately. The first step is to stop sleeping in the same bed. You’re not a couple anymore. I know it’s a habit, but curling up next to the person you once loved (and likely still do, in one way or another) isn’t going to make things easier. If you have two bedrooms, great. If not, alternate weeks where one of you sleeps on the sofa and one in the bed.
- Set ground rules for bringing back dates. If the breakup was mutual, you might decide to live together as friends for a while. The problem is what you do about dating other people. One or both of you might not be comfortable watching your ex go to bed with someone new. Work all this out before it’s time to start dating again.
- Decide whether to continue living together or not. After you’ve both had a chance to cool down after the breakup, talk about whether or not you still want to live together. Think about more than just your feelings here. Consider finances, proximity to your job, and how often you’ll see each other. Sometimes it’s easier to live together temporarily while other times it’s best to move out as quickly as possible.
- Consider living with a friend temporarily. If it’s a bad breakup, you just want out. Call a friend or relative and ask if you can live with them for a few weeks until you can find a new place. This gives you time to get your things and move out without dealing with your ex everyday.
- Try to get your own space. Seeing your ex daily isn’t going to make the breakup easier. Work together to create two separate living spaces. Obviously, you’ll still be sharing the kitchen and possibly a bathroom. The idea is to at least have your own bedroom so you have your own private place.
- Avoid the temptation to get back together. Living together after breaking up might make you think it’s okay to get back together, especially if things are going smoothly. Avoid the temptation. At the very least, think about it carefully first.
- Skip the pettiness. If you’re going to be stuck living together, at least try to keep things peaceful. Skip the snarky remarks and petty behavior. For instance, resist the urge to eat their favorite foods or comment on their new look.
- Set a move out deadline. No matter how great things are going now, it will start to weigh on you having to be around your ex all the time. Go ahead and set a move out deadline. It doesn’t matter if it’s a week from now or two years.
- Don’t wallow in your sorrow. Right after a breakup, you might want to just mope on the couch in your PJs and cry to every sappy movie. Remember, you’re living with your ex. Do you really want him to see you this way? Put on a strong front. Leave the wallowing until you’re in your own room or with a close friend.
- Make a schedule for shared rooms. If you’re having a hard time getting along, make a schedule for any shared rooms. For instance, you could have the kitchen from 6-7 PM in the evening and he gets it from 8-9 PM. The less you see each other, the better.
- Try to stay respectful, at least until you’re gone. Avoid any trash talk while you’re still living in the same house. This includes saying things to your friends, because what you say could always get back to him. If you want things to be at least civil, you have to stay respectful while you’re living under the same roof.
- Avoid arguments at all costs to keep the peace. Breakups make you angry sometimes. Just seeing your ex might make you want to start yelling. Now imagine having to share the same space day after day. It’s easy to just want to yell at him for every little thing. Don’t. It’ll just make things worse. Anytime you start to get angry, just walk away.
- Don’t draw it out forever. I’ve seen some couples live together for years after a breakup. They make excuses about money or not being able to find the right place. I’ve even heard a few say they think their ex will want them back if they keep living with them. Accept that it’s over and don’t keep drawing it out in the hopes that things might work out. You have your own life to live and you can’t do that living in the shadow of your ex.