Sometimes, we genuinely adore a partner while simultaneously understanding that the relationship is on a one-way train to Pittsville — and there's no off-ramp.
When it's time to sever romantic ties, and you're living separately, then yes, you'll ride the breakup rollercoaster.
But breaking up with someone you live with further complicates matters.
Let’s look at the signs associated with a dead-end partnership and tips on breaking up when cohabitating.
- How to Break Up with Someone You Live With: 11 Kind but Firm Tips
How to Break Up with Someone You Live With: 11 Kind but Firm Tips
You've made your decision. You want out. So next up is learning how to prepare for a breakup with someone you live with.
We've got a few tips.
1. Don't Spring It On Them
Surprises can be awkward even when they're good. But bad news surprises are about as appetizing as overcooked steak. So try not to spring the breakup conversation on your partner.
Let them know in advance that you want to have an important talk. Set a date, and do your absolute best not to break it. Pick a time that's good for you both, and the chances of work obligations popping up are slim.
(Caveat: If you’re in an abusive relationship, there's no need to have “the talk.” The primary objective is getting you out and somewhere safe. You owe your abuser nothing.)
2. Choose a Stress-Free Time
Picking the right time is so essential we're dedicating two tips to it.
When setting the date, think about a few factors. Are there kids in the picture? Will they be around? If so, make plans to get them out of the house for the talk.
Other times to avoid include:
- Birthdays and holidays
- Right before work
- Right after work
- The day before a big social event (best friend’s wedding, retirement party, et cetera)
3. Plan Your Statement in Advance
Don't go in blind. Work out what you're going to say beforehand.
When mapping out your statement, keep it simple. This is not the time to recount every micro-grievance. Stick to the broad strokes. Explain why you need to move on in macro terms.
Also, prepare for questions your partner will probably ask. Right now, you need to accomplish step one: understanding that you'll no longer be a couple.
4. Let Kindness and Compassion Guide Your Conversation
You may be furious with your partner. Still, try to let compassion be your guide. Engage in active listening. Try to put yourself in their shoes.
We're not suggesting you give in and agree to give the relationship another shot. By all means, stand your ground. Just do your best to be as kind as possible.
Doing so turns down the volume and makes the challenging moment a bit more manageable.
5. Mind Your Tone
This is not the time for sarcasm or dismissiveness. You may be fed up and ready to throw in the towel. You're done!
But coming in “hot” won't make the discussion easier — quite the opposite. If you adopt a “tone,” tempers will certainly flare.
Moreover, do your best to let the conversation devolve into a screaming match. Allow your “cooler” head to prevail. To ease yourself into the right mindset, try meditating beforehand.
6. Focus on the Logistics
You don't need to hash everything out the night of the talk. In fact, don't dive into the details for at least a week. You have more important things to worry about, like the logistics of changing your living situation.
If neither of you can move out immediately, new house rules must be established until you can physically separate. Otherwise, one or both of you will need to secure new living arrangements.
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Once that's out of the way, you can worry about closure and processing emotions related to the relationship's downfall.
7. Stop Having Sex
It's common, but it's rarely the right move — so please take our advice and stop having sex with someone you genuinely want to leave.
Maintaining a physical relationship complicates matters and messes with your hormones. (Sex makes us feel more bonded to our partner.)
8. Set Boundaries
Boundary setting is essential in the wake of a breakup.
You need time and space to process the situation and determine your next steps. Moreover, a lack of boundaries could lead to getting back together. If that's what you want, have at it.
Do you. But if you know in your gut and heart that this partnership isn't it, erect boundaries for the time being.
And remember: They're not indestructible. No rule says you can't be friends in the future.
9. Don't Bolt
Absconding with the furniture and your stuff without telling your former live-in partner is not a great move. It may temporarily give you a sweet sense of revenge, but it's poor form.
No, the relationship didn't work out. And yes, your partner may deserve the Mike Caussin Award for Cheating Achievement. Still, take the higher road. It's better for your mental health in the long run.
The goal is to stay cool, calm, and collected throughout the transition. Once it's done, then you can explore, vent, and transform.
Again, this rule does not apply to people fleeing an abusive partner. If the safest way to get out is to pack up and leave when they're not around, then godspeed.
10. Give Each Other Space
Go above and beyond to figure out another living arrangement for the week after you drop the news.
Since your partner may not have been expecting a breakup, etiquette demands that you leave during the initial parting period.
If you can't afford to stay at a hotel for the week, ask friends and family if they have a bed or couch on which you can crash.
11. Don't Gang Up
How do you feel when people gang up on you? It's a miserable feeling. So avoid inflicting it on your former partner.
Of course, there are exceptions. If you're being abused, by all means, tell your friends and family so they can support you through the ordeal.
But if it's an otherwise amicable breakup — and only non-criminal mistakes were made — consider taking the high road.
Sure, you may be angrier than a sack of cats, but acting with decorum and respect will serve you best in the end — especially if there's a possibility that the breakup spawns a legal action or children are in the picture.
If you cohabitated, the relationship was strong at one point. Try to keep that atop your mind when ending things.
Respect the partnership that came before, and wish each other well as it ends.
But don't stay in the relationship if it's over – and remember that while breaking up when you live together may be difficult, it's much less expensive than getting a divorce down the line.