How To Break Up With Someone You Live With Respectfully
Breaking up and staying broken up are hard enough when you live apart. Love is not easy to let go of. But when you live together, your situation adds a whole new set of difficulties. You may have belongings to divide, a lease to get out of, pets to determine custody of, and living arrangements to figure out. But if the relationship’s not working, the tough work of ending it needs to be done. If you live with your soon-to-be ex, you’re going to have logistical considerations to figure out as well as emotional ones. Don’t get caught up in your feelings and lose sight of these. “Oftentimes, when people have ‘spontaneous breakups,’ they don't think through the potential financial consequences,” Kevin Darné, author of My Cat Won't Bark! (A Relationship Epiphany), tells Bustle. “They allow their emotions to dictate the timing of their breakups instead of having a practical plan.” It’s important to figure out what you’ll do about your finances, your lease, your roommates, and everything else so that the breakup doesn’t become even messier and more complicated.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when navigating the chaotic terrain of breaking up with someone you live with.
1. Wait Until The Timing’s Right
Breaking up with a live-in partner is always going to be messy, but there may be times when it’s less messy, Cynthia Chauvin Miles, CHT tells Bustle. For example, waiting until your lease is about to expire will save you the burden of figuring out who’s going to move out or splitting the expenses. Or, if family’s about to visit, you may want to wait to get over that hurdle. (The exception is if you’re being abused or severely mistreated, in which case you should just get out as soon as possible.)
2. Nail Down The Logistics First
Don’t announce your intention to break up in a fit of rage. Take some time to think about it, then plan out the logistics — who will you propose moves out? What will you do with your stuff? What about rent? — before breaking the news to your partner. Otherwise, you end up faced with a bunch of stressful decisions in the heat of the moment.
3. Move Out
Darné recommends moving out before you break up. Figure out where you’ll move to, give your landlord notice if you need to, and if you can, pack up while your partner’s out of the house and break up when they come home so there’s no turning back. If they’re the ones who moved into your place, on the other hand, you have the right to ask them to move out. To make it easier on them, you could give them some of the money they might need to get a new place.
4. Discuss Logistics Separately
When you discuss how you’ll divide your space, money, and possessions, it’s crucial to leave emotions out of the conversation, says Chauvin Miles. This may mean having another conversation after the one where you break up once you’ve cooled down.
5. Set Ground Rules For Your Remaining Time Cohabiting
If you’ve got to spend more time living together before you decide who will go where and pack up your things, set some boundaries. Make a commitment not to have sex or do anything else that might make things confusing. “Emotionally and energetically re-connecting is not a recipe for a successful breakup of any kind,” says Chauvin Miles. “Don't assuage yourself with guilty sex with that person. You don't have to feel guilty.”
6. Stick To Your Decision
Your partner might beg you to stay, and giving in may be tempting when you live together, so resolve in advance that you won’t, says Chavin Miles. “Be an adult even if they aren't capable of doing the same.”
7. Stay Away
It might be hard to stay away from your old home or the life that was so deeply entangled with your partner’s, but Darné recommends cutting off all contact with your ex. If you want to be friends, that’s more likely to work if you have a clean break first. “You are the last person who can help someone get over you,” he says.
Breaking up with someone may feel especially harsh if you live together, but don’t feel bad about it. If you’ve done what you can and remained respectful until the end, it’s nobody’s fault that things didn’t work out.