How to Break up with Someone You Live With

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Breaking up with a partner you live with can be very difficult and painful.

It is particularly challenging when you and your partner have already built up a collection of shared assets, and not to mention the emotional impact of breaking up.

Here are some insights that might help you navigate this tricky situation:

Ann Feister

Ann Feister

Relationship Expert, Truthfinder

Breaking up is hard to do. Living with your partner makes it next-level difficult.

When we move in with someone, it’s kind of like saying, “I think you might be the one.” When that prediction turns out to be wrong, it’s hard to accept that we were mistaken about something that once felt so right.

After living with someone and dating for long enough to justify the move-in, it’s hard to walk away. There’s a sense of investment in the other person and the outcome of being together forever.

Related: How Long It Takes to Get Over Someone After a Breakup?

If you’re pondering a breakup/move, there are some things you should consider first.

Accept that it’s going to be hard

Once you put it out there that you want to break up and move, you can’t undo it. It’s a relationship Pandora’s box. Your partner will be hurt and maybe angry too. People who are hurting tend to lash out at those closest to them, so be prepared for some fights.

If you are dead set on breaking up, know that it’s going to be a process. All of your stuff has been combined and it will take time to come to agreements in a lot of areas.

Be kind

Since you’re the one pulling the trigger on the breakup, keep it civil. Even if your partner goes low, stay on the high road. You’ll feel better about your decision to be kind later and you’ll have fewer arguments if you’re both being mature about the situation.

People break up all the time for a lot of reasons, they will get over it, it’s just going to feel raw for a while.

Get organized

Have a roadmap to your breakup. If you know the things that need to be divided and packed in advance, you can save both of you some hassle.

In addition to saving time later, it is also a kind gesture to your partner to have things in order for them. Keep it fair though, don’t get greedy and claim all the furniture and leave them with nothing, no one, and nowhere to live.

Be financially ready

Have your nest egg squirreled away. You’re going to need some money to make a move happen. Figure out what you’ll need and then add ⅓ to that for unexpected expenses (there are always surprise costs when moving).

Agree on terms

While you might have been looking for a place for months, they might be left high and dry once you cut and run. Have an open and honest discussion about a timeline for when you are both able to move.

Screwing someone over to the point where they have to live in their car for a month isn’t a nice thing to do. Treat them the way you’d like someone to treat you if you were in their shoes.

Be realistic

If your partner is saying it’s going to take them months to find a new place, you need to set some boundaries. Don’t let them use their sadness or shock as an excuse for inaction.

You will be living together still for at least 30 days likely (the amount of notice most landlords require).

Keeping the peace is going to go a long way when living in what may feel like a warzone for a month. Knowing that you’ve got a month of awkward sleeping arrangements, silent meals, and subtle jabs is part of the process. Be prepared to feel unwelcome in your own home for a few weeks.

New territory

Some relationships are so toxic that you’ll require a complete change of scenery in order to recover from the negative energy. If you are in this kind of a relationship, feel free to disregard all of the other advice and get out of there as fast as you deem necessary.

Putting yourself through abuse for the sake of someone else’s feelings isn’t worth it. If they’re not treating you with respect, you are in no way obligated to coddle them on the way out.

You can be a good person while breaking up with someone you live with, but never tolerate someone who is abusive.

Once you are free from your relationship, be ready for an adjustment period. You’ll be living a new life and with it comes a lot of new freedom, excitement, and financial changes as well. Splitting rent or a mortgage with someone takes a lot of financial pressure off of each individual, your lifestyle may require some tweaking.

Rebecca Ogle, LCSW

Rebecca Ogle

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Decide when to have the breakup conversation

This will hold you accountable for following through with it and help you choose a time and place when you and your partner will be able to talk things through.

Let a good friend or family member know about your breakup plans

See if you can plan ahead to stay with someone post-breakup conversation, at least for a few days, if not longer. You and your ex will need that physical space to process your feelings. Since you’re the one doing the breaking up, putting the onus on yourself to leave is the thoughtful thing to do.

Check your finances

Consider ahead of time how your budget is currently divided, and how it might be amended post-breakup. Recognize that if your partner is covering payment for your living space or bills, they may expect you to contribute financially, if not move out entirely, after the breakup.

Start thinking about where you might move to, and how you might cover expenses if expectations change.

On the other hand, if you cover the majority of rent and bills, think about whether the expectations of your ex will change after the breakup.

If so, what exactly will you expect them to start covering? And how much time do you plan to give them to find another place? You’ll need to make your expectations very clear in the conversations following the breakup.

Set ground rules

If you are going to be living together for a while, both of you will need to set some ground rules. I highly recommend not sleeping together post-breakup, as this can blur boundaries and confuse your emotions.

Discuss whether you and your ex are okay with bringing new dates back to your home, or whether this will be off limits. Will you be expected to give your ex a heads up if you do plan on bringing someone over? How much notice is reasonable?

The more you can plan these things in advance, the more likely you’ll minimize blowout arguments.

Consider your partner’s behavior

If your ex is abusive or you’re afraid they may retaliate (physically, emotionally, or otherwise) as a result of the breakup, break up with them in a public space.

Arrange for a friend or family member to pick you up immediately following the conversation, and to stay with them. Don’t worry about your things – you can always have someone else pick them up at a later date.

For more assistance, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. You can contact this line even if your partner has never been physically abusive – they may still have helpful resources.

Allana Pratt

Allana Pratt

Intimacy Expert

The number one reason my clients don’t break up with someone they live with is not wanting to be alone. Secondly, they don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings or get them mad at them. The last reason would be financially-related. They’re afraid they can’t cover costs on their own or find a new roommate in time.

All of these reasons are valid yet they’re all fear-based. Most of us haven’t been taught how to sit in the fire, stay present, speak our truth and courageously create our lives. Instead, we make excuses, settle and push away intense emotions yet we end up getting hurt and hurting others.

The longer-term solution is to seek support to heal emotional triggers and to reference your worth and safety from the inside out. The short term solution is to act as you want to be treated and leave this person better than you found them.

Be brave

Kindness takes courage to stay open-hearted no matter how they react. Connect face to face.

Focus on them

It’s not about justifying your position. It begins with gratitude for all you shared and learned.

Set them free

You’re not asking permission to break up with them, it’s a choice. Wish for them to flourish on their journey, too.

Start with specific acknowledgment

I want to let you know how much I’ve truly enjoyed our time living together, the times you’ve listened to me when I was sad when you made me spaghetti and meatballs from scratch, the laughter we shared watching Best In Show.

Be straight and kind

May I be straight? While I appreciate phase 1 of our living together a relationship, I’m not feeling the right to continue living together to phase 2. You deserve an ideal roommate and I wouldn’t want to be in the way of you finding that ideal person you deserve.

Be vulnerable & brave

While this is a hard conversation for me, I wanted to honor you by showing up in person and looking you in the eyes to say I am definitely a better person from knowing you and living together. I’m happy to move out or if you’d prefer, you could move out. Take the weekend to think about it. No rush. I truly wish you every happiness in finding your ideal partner and thank you for everything we’ve shared.

Hug. Do what’s real. Walk away.

Then have a shot of tequila and a hot bath! Ha! Seriously, feel your emotions! Go for a long run, talk it out with a friend who won’t judge you, journal under a shaded tree about how proud of yourself you are for doing what was good, right and true according to your soul.

Related: How to Break up With Someone Nicely

Dr. Carla Marie Manly

Carla Marie Manly

Clinical Psychologist | Author, Joy from Fear

When you live with someone, your lives are intertwined on many levels. Thus, if it’s time for the relationship to end, things can be fairly complicated on many levels including emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially.

Have an honest discussion

In general, when one partner wants to end a relationship with their live-in partner, it’s ideal to sit down to calmly discuss the various issues with honesty.

By having an open, honest conversation that outlines the issues—from how to dismantle the love relationship to how to adjust the living and financial arrangements—the chances for having a successful dissolution increase.

It may take several conversations to unravel the issues and get clarity for how to best move forward, but a gentle transition is far more likely to preserve a friendship—and decrease stress—than an abrupt or combative change.

Jon Rhodes

Jon Rhodes

Clinical Hypnotherapist, Free Subliminals

The first thing is to be absolutely clear to your ex that you are both no longer an item

Uncertainty will lead to problems for both of you, so be firm, clear, but reasonable with them. Don’t be tempted to get back with them intermittently. This will cause confusion, and will likely spark falls outs which you’ll have to live with.

Make a plan

Once you are clear it is over, you need a plan. Are you going to move out, or are they? Be fair and reasonable and try to work with them, rather than against them. You may not be able to move away from them immediately, which is why you must try your best to get on with them and make a plan.

Save money

It’s good to set a date of when you can leave, and let them know this date if they are acting fairly reasonably. Then save, or do what you need to do in order to be able to leave. It’s going to be an upsetting time for both of you, so try to treat them well, whilst remaining clear of your intentions.

Adina Mahalli

Adina-Mahalli

Certified Mental Health Consultant, Enlightened Reality | Relationship Expert, Maple Holistics

Breaking up with someone you live with is much more complicated than breaking up with someone you are just dating, it is more comparable to a divorce.

Prepare an exit plan

Having an exit plan prepared is important when breaking up with someone you live with. I do not mean having the car packed with your things, but having a plan prepared for what your next move will be is important.

Will you leave the residence right after the break-up, do you have a place to stay in the meantime while you’re looking for a new place to live?

Having a couch at a friends house prepared before you break up or a temporary residence on standby can alleviate a lot of the stress of the break-up, allowing your mind to be more clear helping for a smoother and cleaner conversation and conclusion to the relationship.

Know what belongings you want and which ones you think they will want. Be prepared for them to get emotional and be ready to console them appropriately.

Getting out of the residence before breakup sex occurs is also advised, as that can add a lot of unnecessary mess to the entire situation.

Catherine Feng

Catherine Feng

Leading Dating Expert, On Luxy

Breaking up with somebody you live with can be challenging but is not a dead end. It is of utmost importance to remain calm, once the decision is made.

That is to say, your partner/spouse can become emotionally defensive and might be prone to manipulative behaviors, such as crying, gaslighting, lying, begging and any other means to drag you back on the other side.

  • If helpful, write a list of bullet-points with every reason for the breakup. This will prevent you from losing your sanity.
  • Secondly, if possible, find an alternative place to crash. Be it at your relatives, or friends. Breaking up is always hard especially for the opposite party. Hence, if necessary, give them some space to heal and to recover.