When Your Living Together, But You Want To Break Up
Ask Yourself These 5 Questions First
My goal in couples counseling is to always try to find a way to help you and your partner learn to communicate effectively, heal relationship wounds, and bring the two of your closer together as a couple.
Sometimes, though, a couple decides that breaking up really is the best option.
Breaking up is always difficult, but when you and your partner are living together, things can get complicated quickly. Especially if you don’t plan ahead.
Living Together after breaking up Is Awkward and Heartbreaking
Living together after breaking up is awkward and painful. One partner will want to get on with life, while the other partner may not want to break up at all.
If you’re the one who wants to get on with life, living together after the break up can impede your freedom to bring over friends or dates. You may feel uncomfortable just being in your own house.
Sometimes couples will come into my office when one partner has already ended the relationship.
The partner who made the appointment thinks the relationship can be saved, and has a list of reasons the relationship isn't over, including the fact that the couple are still living together, and sometimes still sharing the same bed.
Those can be painful sessions.
Some partners reach the conclusion that because you’re still living together, the relationship isn’t really over.
When You’re Ready to End the Relationship, Have A Plan
Before you have “The Talk,” have a plan for how you want to handle living arrangements. Having a proposal indicates to your partner that you are serious about ending the relationship, and there is no reason to hold out hope.
Here are some questions that might help you create a plan.
Whose name is on the lease or mortgage?
If you own or lease jointly, one of you might be able to afford buying your partner out and taking over monthly payments. Alternatively, you may prefer to sell the house and find a new place. Let you partner know your preference.
If the house or lease is in one person’s name, then the other person probably needs to start looking.
Can you break the lease or quickly sell the house?
Breaking a lease can be difficult, but not always impossible. Talk to your landlord and explain what happened. Your landlord or leasing office has likely run into this problem before. They may be willing to take one name off the lease or offer to amend the lease to a shorter term. Be honest and kind.
If you own, you may decide to sell the house. Research in advance how much houses sell for in your neighborhood and how long it typically takes a property to sell.
Is there a friend or relative one of you can live with temporarily?
If you’re waiting for a house to sell or a lease to end, a friend or relative may provide a short-term place to stay. This is a great option if you fear being alone. Your friend or relative can provide companionship and support while you adjust to your new circumstances.
Will you split the cost of a short-term apartment rental?
Some couples opt to find a short-term rental where one person can live until more permanent accommodations are found. Some of these rentals even come fully furnished. If you opt for this option, you should consider splitting the cost of the rental for a very specific period of time.
What is the target moving out date?
Do set a target date for moving out. It might be possible to move somewhere that day, or it may be more realistic to take two weeks to find an adequate apartment and arrange movers. But definitely set a date. You’ll become frustrated if things drag on.
If the break up is very amicable, it may be tempting to continue living together. But in practice, I have not met couples who made that sort of relationship work for very long. Even if people are polite on the outside, there is usually distress, frustration, and sometimes jealousy on the inside.
Handling the Break Up Discussion
Remember, that when you work up the courage to have the talk, your partner may not be in agreement with the idea of breaking up or may not like you plan for living arrangements. Your partner might have all sorts of emotional reaction—from panic to relief to freezing.
Give your partner space to take in the news and react the way he or she needs to emotionally. Be prepared to allow your partner to suggest alternate living solutions. If the atmosphere is calm, you can continue the conversation. If the talk turns into another fight, I suggest taking a break and setting a time in the near future to return to the conversation.
The decision to break up is a difficult one. How do you know if breaking up is the right decision? How can you make it easier on your partner when you deliver the news? Will you be someone who feels very lonely on your own?
If you're struggling with those sorts of questions, you might be a good candidate for individual relationship therapy. If you're interested, please contact me for more information.
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