Living with your partner is often seen as a step toward an engagement or marriage. But not all relationships turn out the way you want or expect them to. Sometimes that very living situation might make things worse in your relationship when you suddenly realize that you and your partner are not on the same page about a lot of things, including your vision for the future. As you share your daily life with this person, it all starts to become very, very clear – they were never right for you. And you begin to wonder how to break up with someone you live with.
Yes, it is true and happens all too often. The rose and honey-tinted dreams often get a rude reality check when you start living with the man or woman you thought was going to be your everything. While splitting up with a husband/wife is far tougher than separating from a boyfriend/girlfriend, you do still need to give plenty of thought to how to break up with someone you live with. Living together and then having to break up and deal with hurt feelings is no joke.
A live-in relationship can be considered as good as a marriage minus the ring or the paperwork. So even if there are no legalities, there are still a lot of factors that need to be considered before making the decision to part ways. To help you understand and navigate the difficulties of this complex decision better, counseling psychologist Shazia Saleem (Masters in Psychology), who specializes in separation and divorce counseling, sheds light on how to break up with someone who lives with you.
12 Tips To Break Up with Someone You Live With
When you live with someone, it’s only natural to be deeply invested in them. Spending time doing the things you love, having built so many memories in the process, putting in the effort to build a home that reflects you as a couple – there is so much that goes into sharing your space with a partner. Consequently, the roots run deep. Hence there needs to be a great degree of sensitivity toward each other’s feelings when ending such a relationship.
Irrespective of whether you’re the one who wants to end things or your partner, this breakup conversation won’t be easy. The split becomes even harder if you’re leaving someone you love and live with but, owing to certain compelling reasons, may decide that you’re better off without each other. Perhaps, the relationship is not healthy or your partner isn’t good for you. Maybe, your life goals have diverged so dramatically that you don’t see yourself sharing a life with your SO anymore.
“Acceptance is the most important thing when you want to part ways with someone you live with. Once you accept, you automatically become kind and compassionate toward yourself and the other person. If one is in denial, you two will never be on the same page and things will always be difficult,” says Shazia. So if you are confused about how to break up with someone who lives with you owing to the mixed emotions and the baggage of history, here are some expert-backed tips that can help:
1. Be sure that you want to move out
And we mean, 100% sure, because this decision is going to completely change the way your daily life looks. This is not the kind of decision you can take in a fit. Let your decision to end the relationship not be based on one fight or a bout of anger where you decide to move out or ask your partner to leave. Think it through, before you make any rash remarks. This is not merely a bad date you are walking out of. You are thinking of breaking up with someone you live with and you have loved for so long. This person was supposed to be ‘the one’ and you were supposed to be theirs. There are going to be huge repercussions of your decision and some practicalities of the split have to be sorted out.
And we mean, 100% sure, because this decision is going to completely change the way your daily life looks. This is not the kind of decision you can make in a fit of rage or in haste. Think it through, before you make any rash remarks. This is not merely a bad date you are walking out of. You are thinking of breaking up with someone you live with and you have loved for so long. This person was supposed to be “the one” and you were supposed to be theirs.
Emotionally as well as financially, this is going to be a tough call to make. Weigh the pros and cons and assess whether breaking up is the only recourse available to you. Just because walking out is easier than it’d have been had you been married does not mean you do not make any effort in the relationship to iron out the differences.
Only when you’re absolutely certain that breaking up with someone you love and live with is in your best interest, and perhaps, that of your partner as well, should you pull the plug. It all boils down to making this decision with a calm, cool, and collected mind. Ask yourself truly, does your situation warrant breaking up?
Related Reading: When Someone Leaves You Let Them Go…Here’s Why!
2. Communicate and hint at the breakup
Joyce and Ryan had been living together for over two years when Joyce began to feel a certain shift in her feelings toward her partner. Even though there were no fights or glaring red flags when they would spend time together, theirs had become a loveless relationship. They were no more than two roommates sharing a roof. Since she was convinced that the relationship had no future, she took Ryan out to dinner and gently shared her thoughts with him.
Even though she didn’t announce her decision to leave then and there, she initiated the process of breaking up with him. Take a note from Joyce and see how that can perhaps be applied to your situation. Because that’s the approach you should be looking at when breaking up with someone you love and live with. Your feelings may have changed, which is understandable. But do not block the communication channels with your partner.
Before you take a final call, have the difficult conversation hinting at what’s likely to come. Think of this as your exit strategy. It is perfectly okay for you to consider taking a break in the relationship when you live together. A number of married couples do go through trial separations and you can do the same with your live-in partner.
“Use kind words when you do have the conversation and break up with your partner. Set your boundaries well too, and express them clearly in your communication with them. Be as respectful as you can be to prevent things from going awry. Let the other person know what you are feeling and why you are choosing to do this. Do not leave room for speculation, keep it simple and clear,” advises Shazia.
3. How to break up with someone you live with? List out what you need to take care of
Ending a relationship with someone you live with is not just about saying it’s over, packing your bags, and storming out. After a breakup conversation, you need to have an exit plan ready. If you are the one calling it off and have to move out, have a place to go to. Confide in a trusted friend who you can rely on to get through this difficult phase.
Remember, your partner has been your support system for a very long time. Now that you are not talking to them anymore, you will certainly feel the urge to run back to them. That’s where your perfect exit strategy comes in handy. Have a place to go to, and have lots of friends surround you in this tough time.
If you have to break up with someone who has nowhere to go, try to be a little empathetic and present your partner with choices. Maybe let them stay over with you for some time but consider sleeping in different rooms. While it might sound cold, think about the logistics that need to be taken care of such as your rent, bills, expenses, etc. Likewise, when you break up with someone you own a house with, there are way too many brass tacks to be taken care of.
So, don’t let the emotions and hurt get the better of you. After you decide that breaking up with the love of your life is the right thing to do, take some time to process your feelings before you act on your decision. This will allow you to handle the separation more practically. And most importantly, try to remain as kind as possible.
Related Reading: What Are The Things Never To Do After A Breakup?
4. Be prepared for hostile reactions from your partner
When you are deciding on how to break up with someone you live with, factor in their reactions. If they have no clue about what’s on your mind, they might be hostile or even act difficult. Chloe, for instance, was gobsmacked when her girlfriend, Samantha, announced that she had fallen out of love with her and wanted to move out.
While Samantha had worked the whole thing in her mind and even made arrangements for herself, Chloe was left completely in the dark. As a result, she became hostile and defensive. When they sat down to discuss how to divide their things, Chloe straight out refused to part with the cat Samantha had adopted and brought into their home. This was her way of ‘getting back’ at Samantha for being unceremoniously dumped.
In such situations, breaking up with someone you love and live with can get ugly and unpleasant. They may have constant questions on why you want to get out – questions you may have no answers to. They may even try to woo you back. Then there is the money issue if you have made investments together. Your apartment’s security deposit and how to divide it can also become a point of contention. And if you’ve adopted or had a child, there can be fights over legal custody as well.
Shazia explains, “Once you have accepted that you need to break up, a part of you will automatically be prepared for these reactions. Understand that your partner’s agitation is a natural reaction, as they are now losing a crucial support system of their life. They might even overreact or show arrogance. You should try to continue to be resolute that this breakup is indeed what you want and stay calm irrespective of their reaction. Give them time and space to tame their temper so you two can talk rationally. “
5. Don’t drag your friends into it
When trying to figure out how to break up with someone who lives with you, you need to factor in the impact on your social life. Whatever the duration of your relationship, owing to your living arrangements, you’re bound to have mutual friends. Once you decide to end the relationship, the situation can get really awkward for them. They may not know who to talk to, and what kind of relationship advice or information to even share with you two.
The ideal thing to do is to not drag them into the mess as they probably would not want to take sides. Set boundaries there as well. So if you and your beau get a joint invitation to a party, do not make it awkward for everyone by showing up. Also, know that a lot of your friends might sympathize with the one who gets dumped.
Likewise, if you suddenly end a relationship with someone who has nowhere to go without being considerate of their situation, it’s only natural that your friends will judge you for your actions and probably end up siding with your ex. Even if the breakup is mutual, friendships get split down the middle when a relationship falls apart. So, be prepared to lose more than just your partner and know when to take a step back.
6. Divide assets amicably and start moving forward
There are a lot of practicalities involved when you want to break up with somebody who you own a house with. These might sound mundane but each of them can be a pain point. For instance, how will you divide the rent until the lease is up if you have moved into a new house? Who will get legal custody of the children or the pets? And how would the security deposit be split?
What about the gifts you may have exchanged during the time you lived together? These and several other questions will haunt you when you wonder how to break up with someone you live with. It’s best to let go of some of the material things. However, when it comes to bigger issues, do not hesitate to state your needs. You are not being selfish in securing your daily life.
How to break up with someone you own a house with or own assets with? Reach out to your former partner once the decision to end the relationship has been finalized and you’ve both gone through the stages of coping with a breakup. Make a list of all the assets that need to be divided and go over each item, deciding how best to divide it. Be firm but cautious so you two can be on the same page.
If your relationship with your ex is not amicable or you’re not in the position to wait until tempers have cooled to act on the division of assets, consider involving a third party in the process. You can hire a mediator or ask a trusted friend to help you negotiate with your ex.
7. The time before moving out
Maybe the relationship is well and truly on its last legs and a breakup is inevitable. But if moving out immediately is not possible, the time together can be rather torturous. To break up with someone who has nowhere to go or breaking up when you have nowhere to go, it’s vital to handle the situation maturely and as calmly as possible.
“When moving out immediately is not an option, the best thing you can do is keep communication channels open and clear. Set boundaries for yourselves and steer clear of any kind of blame-shifting. Once your partner has calmed down, try to have a mature conversation with them. Tell them that not every relationship has to last forever and that is absolutely okay. Breakups need to be normalized and you should try to do that with your partner,” says Shazia.
Negotiate your space with your soon-to-be ex if you’re going to have to live together even after the breakup. It won’t be easy to cross paths with them every single day. Try to be cordial, even if being friendly isn’t possible. On the other extreme, make sure that you don’t fake emotions where none exist out of guilt.
And definitely, do not have sex with them, as it will end up confusing you both and complicate matters far more. At the same time, discuss and lay the ground rules for things like bringing dates home. Have your boundaries in place and stick to them once you have decided to split.
8. Don’t go on a guilt trip, indulge in self-care
When you drag your feet because figuring out how to break up with someone you live with, you are merely delaying the inevitable. It is natural to feel guilty, especially if your partner has not given you any ‘valid’ reason for walking out on them such as abuse, ill-treatment, infidelity, etc.
They might implore you and try to do their best to save the relationship but if you have exhausted all options, stick to your decision. There may even be moments when you second-guess your decision, especially when loneliness consumes you and you start pining for your ex. At moments like that, it is essential that you make self-care a priority.
Do whatever it takes for you to heal. Meditate, journal, spend time with friends, or just get a new hair color! You need to now focus on the minute details of your daily life to try to make it more fulfilling, now that your partner is no more around you. Splitting up after sharing so much together can be harsh for both partners, but don’t feel too bad about it. Sometimes, it is better to break up with someone you love than prolong the agony by flogging a dead horse.
Related Reading: 7 Things That Are Ok To Go Through To Heal Post A Breakup
9. Seek support after ending things
It can take time to process your emotions after ending things with somebody you love, even if you were the one who initiated it. Be kind to yourself and do not let guilt or self-blame consume you. The memories of the life you shared with your partner may be so fresh that everything reminds you of them. At times like this, you just need to focus on putting one foot in front of the other and allow yourself as much time as you need to move on.
Seek credible support because you are absolutely going to need it. If you’re struggling with breaking up with someone you love and live with or getting over your ex after the split, seeking professional help from a licensed therapist can be immensely helpful. A compassionate therapist can help you get in touch with the painful and raw emotions that you may be bottling up inside and process them the right way. If you’re looking for help, skilled and experienced counselors on Bonobology’s panel are here for you.
10. Do not begin dating immediately after the breakup
If you want to know how to break up with someone you live with amicably, then there are certain things you must NOT do. Entering the dating game, immediately after leaving them, tops that list. Even if you and your partner have had the conversation and decided to end things, do not begin dating or be on the hunt while you both still live together.
Wait until either of you move out, or you have completely severed all romantic ties and are done with the logistics of it all. Even when you get back on the dating scene, try to keep it on the down low until you find a real connection with someone new, out of respect for your ex.
Splashing pictures of your dates all over social media is only going to add insult to injury for your ex, and they may start resorting to similar tactics to get back at you, putting you both in a toxic cycle and causing more hurt feelings. Inevitably, you’d be caught in a one-upmanship battle to prove who’s moved on more swiftly. For the sake of the time you’ve spent together, don’t go there, so that you can actually start the healing process on a decent note.
11. Help each other with the process
How do you leave someone you love and live with? As you grapple with this question, always remember there is an advantage to keeping things civil when you are ending things with someone you live with and love. Being gentle with your partner helps if you are the one breaking the ties off. If the situation is reversed, don’t hesitate to ask for help.
For instance, if you are sharing rent, then try and help them find a good roommate who can cover the rent when you move out. Another thing you can do to make the process less daunting is to decide on a move-out date. This will ensure that the process is not delayed endlessly and give a sense of finality to the decision.
Shazia tells us, “Giving the partner his/her time or space is the best way to help them. Try not to go overboard with love and affection, as this may give them hope and only hurt them later on. Help them prepare to let go of this relationship, and for that, you need to maintain a certain degree of distance from them. Let them figure things out on their own as well.”
12. Empathize and try to stay out of touch
You may want to keep it friendly, which is great, but in the process, do not spoil things further by constantly being in touch with them even after you move out. That would only hamper your healing process. It would be best to sever ties completely after an amicable (as much as possible) split.
If you’ve left things behind in the house you shared with your ex, so be it. Avoid going back for them once you’ve moved out and do not encourage your ex to use these as an excuse to initiate conversations with you. Following the no-contact rule immediately after the breakup is very important as you both try to negotiate the single-just-broken-up space.
- Moving forward from a breakup when you and your partner have been living together requires patience and effort
- Don’t end up drunk dialing them and inviting them over for sex. Try to follow the no-contact rule for some time
- Try to spend more time with your friends or seek help from a therapist
- When you have the same living arrangements, dividing assets can be a task. Try to keep it as amiable as possible
- Rope in a mediator or a trusted friend if you can’t do it by yourselves
- Do not download a dating app the day after your breakup. Focus on your healing process first
Breaking up with the person you are living with is always very tough since your lives become deeply intertwined. No breakup is smooth but this situation is especially hard to traverse. There will be pain and nastiness, and physically moving out will give you a deep sense of hurt since you have shared a special space. In the end, being honest with yourself and your relationship is what matters.
This article has been updated in October 2022.
You can’t. Even if you have different rooms and separate sofas, you will keep running into them and will need to have conversations as long you stay in the same space. Try and move out as fast as possible when you split up with your live-in partner. Decide beforehand where you want to shift to.
Taking a break from someone you live with is akin to a trial separation in a marriage or long-term relationship. If the relationship is in trouble, moving out for a bit might help both partners gain perspective and think it through well.
There is no alternative to honest conversation. You need to be sure of yourself first. Then you need to plan what you will do after moving out – where will you shift to, how will you split assets and expenses, and take care of the logistics.
Breakup is never easy, moving out after a long-term relationship will cause pain and hurt. However, making it messier is the fact that there will be a lot of logistics to be taken care of which is not the case if the couple does not share a house.