A live-in relationship can turn into a happy marriage for many couples. In today’s world, the concept of live-in relationships is getting more popular by the day, due to its practical and complication-free tag. But sometimes, the relationship might not work out as planned. In that case, you need to figure out how to break up with your partner when you live together.
But, how do you break up with someone you live with? Just the thought of it makes you want to avoid doing it altogether, doesn’t it? But when the relationship consistently threatens your mental health, you’ll realize that ending things is the only option.
It’s not a favorable situation to be in, but you’ve now got to figure out how to end a relationship when you live together with your partner. With the help of dating coach Geetarsh Kaur, founder of The Skill School which specializes in building stronger relationships, let’s figure out how to go about breaking up with your live-in partner.
How To Break Up When You Live Together?
Couples choose to live in because it gives them an opportunity to test their compatibility with each other before they decide to tie the knot. After spending considerable time together, such couples can learn to thrive with each other, sail through many challenges, and “level up” to marriage in due course.
But what happens when the live-in relationship doesn’t work? What if the partner is not compatible with you? Or what to do if you feel trapped living with them? How difficult is it to break up with a person with whom you live? All breakups are difficult, and they get infinitely harder when you’ve been sharing the same roof with someone.
It is almost like living like a married couple sans the legal stamp. You are treated like a couple by friends and even family. So breaking up with someone you love and live with, can be the hardest thing. It’s even harder when you break up when you live together and have a dog or break up when you live together and have a child. The issues to be handled are far more complicated.
Geetarsh helps us figure out how to end a relationship when you live together. “The first thing that any mature couple is supposed to do is to sit and write down the pros and cons of the relationship. What’s working and what isn’t? Why are the things that are not working out overpowering the things that are?
“The second step is for the partner who is breaking up to amicably explain why it’s necessary to take the step of parting ways. They shouldn’t just list out the things that are bothering them, they must use ‘we’ statements about what’s wrong in the relationships. When the person who wants to break up is communicating what they want, they should do so at a very slow pace. You can not just get up and end a long-term relationship when you live together by saying ‘we need to talk.”
According to statistics, from couples who decide to move in together, just over half of them marry within five years. Within that same time period, 40% of those couples split up. Roughly 10% of them continue to live together without being married. For the 40% who are struggling with something along the lines of, “I live with my boyfriend and want to break up”, you need to think with clarity and consider the following steps.
Related Reading: What Are The Disadvantages Of Live-In Relationships?
1. Before you end a live-in relationship, reflect on it
Thinking about a breakup for live-in lovers is not an easy deal. It is similar to the torment of a divorce, without the paperwork, of course. Cohabiting with your partner exposes many weaknesses in your relationship and you are left with no other option than to break up with them. But, before pulling the plug on your relationship, identify the severity of the situation. Ask yourself some of these questions before you decide to end the live-in relationship.
- Is there constant negativity in the house due to ego clashes, jealousy and power struggles?
- Is your partner critical and jealous of your achievements?
- Do they drag on a fight more often than necessary?
- Does your partner share the household chores or is it your responsibility alone?
- Do they contribute his share of the monthly expenses or is it entirely your responsibility?
- Do you always take the initiative to reconcile with your partner post any tiff?
If your answers are mostly “yes”, then the decision of breaking up after moving in together is warranted. The next step is to introduce your partner to your problem areas through an honest conversation and break the news, as Geetarsh suggested, in a gradual and amicable manner.
2. Prepare for honest communication
“I live with my boyfriend and want to break up with him, but when I mentioned the possibility of things not working out, his over-the-top reaction to it made me go back on my words. When he constantly asked me if I really feel like that while crying uncontrollably, I couldn’t help but lie to him and tell him I’m willing to try,” Jolene told us.
Of course, a breakup while living together isn’t too easy to navigate and you may be tempted to lie about your dynamics health to avoid the awkward conversation. However, doing that is only going to keep you in a strained relationship. Let your partner know that you have been thinking about the relationship and you want to talk about it.
It’s best to choose a time that is comfortable for both of you, since the conversation may be long. Have a heart-to-heart communication with him/her and introduce them to the “pain points” of your relationship. Don’t indulge in blame-shifting. Start with “we” instead of “you”. For example, instead of saying something like, “I feel terrible,” you can say something like, “We’re not nice to each other anymore, and this relationship isn’t benefiting either of us.”
If you’re looking to end a toxic relationship when you live together with your partner, you need to be brutally honest about it. You can say something like, “This relationship is harming our mental (or physical) health, and it’s not a dynamic either of us should be involved in. We’re incompatible and we will be happier without each other.”
3. Be ready to face extreme consequences
Geetarsh explains why breakups hurt us so much, and why breaking up after moving in together can hurt tenfold. “People get comfortable in relationships. The other person will get upset only because his/her comfort zone is going to get disrupted. They’re used to the routine, dependency and emotional closeness. When that routine is disturbed, they will get upset.
“It’s human nature to be in denial when such a revelation takes place. Hence, while figuring out how to end a relationship when you live together with someone, you must also take into account that they’re not going to reply favorably when you bring it up.” If your live-in relationship takes such an extremely negative turn, then you must have a backup exit plan in place.
It’s important to be able to gauge how your partner would react to the breakup conversation. That’s precisely why, as Geetarsh suggested, it’s important to talk about this subject gradually, over a period of time. To avoid extreme consequences, you must make sure you navigate around your partner’s mood. If they get too upset, try to calm them down. If they are in denial, give them space and time.
Related Reading: Survival Guide: Dos And Don’ts Of Being In A Live-In Relationship
4. When you’re breakup while living together, seek support from your friends
If you are thinking of how to break up when living together with your partner, talking to your BFFs is always a good idea. They won’t judge you for your choices and will help you in such an emotional crisis. Geetarsh explains how you can seek support. “First and foremost, you’ve got to understand who your friends really are, and who’s going to truly help you through this. Second, if you’re getting a friend in the middle of your breaking up process, make sure the friend isn’t a complete stranger to your partner.
“The inclusion of a friend should only take place when you both are not able to understand each other. Otherwise, things may get out of hand since your partner may feel that you didn’t discuss these things with your friends before talking to them. That can be hurtful.”
If you’re trying to end a toxic relationship when you live together with your partner, try not to share intricate details with your friends on instant messaging apps like WhatsApp. Especially if you cannot move out right away after breaking up with your live-in partner, it may create extremely difficult situations. Since this isn’t really the easiest thing to go through, seeking support from friends or family can be of help. Even if you just want someone to listen to you, having someone to talk to is a blessing.
5. Plan the exit route wisely
If you are breaking up with someone who lives in your house, keep your emergency bag packed with a few essential belongings if you’re fearing physical or verbal abuse.
“One of the most important things to keep in mind while ending a live-in relationship is to make sure you’ve thought about who has to move out and by when,” says Geetarsh. “If one of you owns the house you’re living in, it’s important to have a conversation about moving out,” she adds.
Figuring out how do you break up with someone you live with isn’t as simple as navigating an average breakup. You’ve got to plan things like your exit route, and there will be a bunch of complications you need to keep in mind.
6. Ease out the complications
Many live-ins don’t end in disasters like the one mentioned above. Many such cohabiting partners may grow apart but still remain cordial while resolving the complications that follow a breakup. This may include setting a time limit to find a new base. Ideally, 2-3 months are reasonable to find new accommodation for both partners.
If you can handle a breakup while living together as mature partners, there’s not much to worry about. But since we’re all humans, living cordially after parting ways isn’t really going to be too easy. Hence, make sure you’ve talked about the complications that follow while ending a long-term relationship when you live together.
7. Discuss living arrangements post-breakup
Geetarsh says, “Of course, establishing living arrangements get very challenging after a breakup. The things you used to do will need to be stopped immediately, and basic arrangements like cooking and eating, laundry, etc. need to be discussed. After a breakup, the person who has broken up cannot be callous about the living arrangements.
“You can’t end a live-in relationship and continue to live in the same house just because it’s comfortable. In such situations, the other person always has hope.” As Geetarsh points out, a lot of things do change after a breakup, including financial equations. Discuss the finances with your (ex) partner if you both have invested a considerable chunk of your savings in leasing the house.
Learn to live together as flatmates, not as a couple. Set private space for both the partners in the house. Also, discuss the individual contribution toward monthly expenses, including food, regular bills, and house maintenance. Try and divide the household chores to avoid any unwanted arguments.
8. Set and respect personal boundaries
With emotional detachment and lots of hurt in their hearts, live-in couples going through a breakup need to respect each other’s privacy. So, don’t act like a possessive partner curious about your ex’s whereabouts post-breakup. Also, don’t fall into the temptation of hooking up with them in the hope of a rebound relationship.
When you’re figuring out how to end a relationship when you live together, you must make sure you respect each other’s physical and emotional boundaries. As is the case with most breakups, you can’t get physically intimate with your ex again, it’s just going to complicate things.
Related Reading: Moving In Together Checklist – Know Your Readiness
9. Stop acting like a couple
“First things first, live separately, in separate rooms. Whatever routine you had about dinner and spending time together, that needs to stop. The basic communication you had must be stopped and you now need to live like flatmates.
“You need to get to levels like, “You have the house key, I have the house key. I am not answerable to you, you are not answerable to me.” You have to undo a lot of things that you used to. If one of you has to move out, do so as soon as possible,” says Geetarsh.
Tell your mutual friends that you have decided to move on in life; don’t fake it in front of them. Update them on your goals and next course of action in life. Meanwhile, you can decide to concentrate on your life and work on your personal advancement goals. You can opt for a new course; relocate to a new city, or move in with your family. Acknowledging that you are no longer together is the right thing to do. Continuing in a fake relationship is just not worth it.
10. Give each other space to grieve
Breakups are hard and painful for both of you. There will be lots of crying and repenting. Don’t deprive yourself or your ex-live-in partner of that right. Respect the emotions and give time to heal. Take judgments out of life and don’t indulge in arguments when you or your ex are in pain emotionally.
“I live with my boyfriend and want to break up, but every time I’ve tried, he’s always ended up being so clingy that we never got any space to accept it as fact. By the end of it, I had to give an ultimatum and move out for him to get it,” Janette tells us. When you are breaking up with someone you are living with, the parting becomes more painful because your lives have been completely intertwined and separating the material things can lead to more tears and grieving.
11. Don’t date again till you move out of the live-in space
“It’s too fresh for anyone to start dating in the ‘living like flatmates’ stage. You’re still in trauma. You’ve loved the person, you see them every day, it’s not easy to go out and date, and I would strongly suggest against it. You’ll just be taking the emotional baggage of this relationship to another relationship,” says Geetarsh.
Breaking up after a live-in is really a painful phase, after which you need a lot of time to heal. Ideally, you need 6 months to heal after a breakup, but if you are spending this time sorting your finances, then “dating” is not a great idea.
Even when you’re over each other, dating will create a new set of complications in life, including jealousy and a lot of awkwardness. It’s something straight out of a movie, and you shouldn’t think about that while trying to figure out, “How do you break up with someone you live with?”
12. Don’t argue over who owns what
Since you were living together, there will be a lot of things in the house which you bought together. When you break up with your live-in partner, it’s best not to argue about who owns what when you are moving out. Giving up certain things if the need arises. This may make things smoother and provide you with the chance to walk away with dignity.
A breakup followed by a live-in is certainly an “eat that frog” phase in your life. But a planned course of action can help you overcome this difficult relationship with dignity.
Geetarsh leaves us with a final piece of advice, “Don’t involve family, don’t create drama, don’t play the victim card, just make sure you’re honest and open in your communication. You must seek help, but make sure you’re making a wise decision about who you’re seeking help from.”
Remember, every relationship is a lesson, and a breakup for a live-in couple could be “the one”. Don’t repent over it; instead, learn from takeaways and help them shape your relationships in the future. And if you’re looking for support, Bonobology’s panel of experienced therapists can help you figure out what you must do, and how to get there.