How to Break-Up With Your Partner When You Live Together
Breaking up is hard to doóbut when you live with your partner, breaking up can seem impossible.
Who gets all the jointly purchased furniture? Who stays in the space, and who leaves? What about the dang cat? All of these issues almost make it seem like itís easier to just stay together and live in miseryó
but believe us when we say thatís not the best route, and it is totally possible to part ways.
"For many young couples who live together, breaking up is no different than if they were married," says couples therapist Tara Fields, Ph.D., author of The Love Fix.
"Itís easy to get distracted by fighting over things, but at the end of the day itís important to remember that you loved this person at some point, so making a graceful exit is a better way to do your relationship justice, even if itís in your past."
Below, Fields details seven smart ways to keep your wits about you when splitting up with an S.O. who also happens to be your roommate.
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Be sure of what you want
If youíre the one doing the breaking up, donít do it on a whimóitís a major decision, so take it as seriously as you (hopefully) did when you first moved in together. "Itís really helpful to be clear about your intention," says Fields. "Check in with yourself and figure out what you really want to result from this decision."
Do you want to get your own place? Spend some time being single? Remain friendly with your ex? Move on from an unhealthy relationship and figure out the rest later? All are validójust keep in mind that it will help you get through this volatile situation if you donít forget your big-picture goals and stay steadfast rather than waffling on what you want.
When communicating with your S.O. about the emotions behind the breakup or the logistics involved with moving out, do your best to be really honestówith him or her, as well as yourself. "Itís really tragic if you never told your partner how you felt, or what you were going through, and didnít give them a chance to make it better," says Fields.
Assuming you did communicate that you were unhappy and there were problems, all you can do is explain your decision and be clear that youíve made up your mind. "Say, ĎIíve realized I canít change you or us, so Iíve decided to change what I can control and move out,'" says Fields.
Own the fact that your anger and frustration with your partner or the situation may actually reflect more vulnerable feelings underneathósuch as sadness that the relationship you may have hoped would last forever is ending. This will allow you to be softer and more flexible during this tough time.
Examine your motives
As with any breakup, itís healthy to dig deep on where the relationship went wrong and how you contributed to its collapse. "Have you done everything you can to look at your part and repair things before giving up?" says Fields. "The worst thing is to leave a difficult relationship because youíre Ďtrapezingí into the next one with someone new."
Because living with an S.O. adds a deeper level of intimacy and commitmentóeven if itís just impliedóit pays to be mindful of the lessons you can take from the situation and use in the future. Donít brush those off, because when you donít face certain issues, they tend to resurface.
Donít fixate on stuff
When youíre in pain, itís easier to focus on (or fight about) who gets the couch you bought together rather than the fact that your relationship is over.
"Decide whatís more importantóthat bookshelf or set of dishes, or peace and closure?" says Fields. "Do your best to go buddhist and a place of non-attachment to material items. And when youíre fighting over an object, think about whether you really want it that badly, or whether itís about wanting to win?" It can also be a way to avoid your sadness, says Fields. Either way, itís much likelier that youíll regret being selfish or uncivilized to your ex than you will losing that blender.
Take the high road
Remember that the end of this relationship marks the start of your newly single, independent life. So making a clean break, and ending things on as positive and gracious terms as possible, bodes well for your ability to move on without stewing about unfinished business or regrets. "You donít want to create moral baggage that you bring with you," says Fields. "Uncouple in a way that lets you not bring emotional baggage with you." Itíll make it easier to move on.
Wait to date
In other words, donít invite that Tinder date over. "Until youíve moved out, itís cruel and itís going to backfire," says Fields. "Anyway, itís not the healthiest choice to date or sleep with someone immediately after breaking upóbut if you do choose to rebound, go to their house; donít rub salt in your exís wound." Oh, and the no-sex rule applies to your ex too, BTW: "Itís easy to do that as a distraction or because emotions are running high, but do your best to stick with your breakup and move-out intention and plan."
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Take your space
Whether or not you actually have your own new place or not, itís smart to get some physical and emotional distance as you go through the breakup process with an ex who youíve lived with.
Just know that itís normal and one day youíll be glad you stuck to your plan.