A Plunge into The Unknown
Breakups are a traumatizing ordeal at the best of times. The emotional involvement, a sense of lost time, and the daunting prospect of building a new identity without their partner all weigh heavy on the minds of many of those who have chosen to end things.
But what happens when there’s not just an emotional commitment but a physical and financial one too? How do you break up with your partner when you’re currently cohabiting?
Choosing to move in together is a huge commitment and a giant step in one’s life, but choosing to end that commitment can be arguably even more daunting. It may even seem near-impossible, leaving unhappy couples feeling ‘trapped’ in their current relationship.
There are no clear guidelines for navigating such a deeply personal and ultimately unpredictable situation but, thankfully, there are some helpful bits of advice that I can impart to you.
Affirm Your Intentions Before Taking the Plunge
Before you take the steps needed to break up with your partner make sure that this is 100% what you want to do. Look at your feelings and your relationship with a critical eye, preferably while not in a heightened emotional state. Blurting that you want to break up during an argument while still cohabiting may sometimes be unavoidable but it’s rarely wise.
Consider if ending the relationship is definitely what you want and why this might be the case. If you go through this process and still want to break up then you’ll be in a stronger position for having the talk, if not then you may have considered other approaches that might help and start implementing them.
During this process start to plan out some of the logistics of the breakup but don’t make it your sole determiner for whether or not you stay in the relationship. Ultimately the happiness of yourself and your partner should play a paramount role in this decision.
Hope For the Best, Plan For The Worst
In an ideal world, every break up would end amicably with both partners understandably hurt but ultimately able to come to terms with the situation and move on with their lives.
Sadly this is reality and things are very rarely ideal.
What’s more, when you’re living together you have more than just the break up itself to worry about but also the logistics: who will leave the house/apartment and who will stay?
How will rent/mortgage and bills be paid without the extra income?
When will your partner or you move out?
What if your partner refuses to leave?
All of these are very important issues to factor in and need to be addressed.
When Rent.com surveyed 1,000 US renters about their own breakups while cohabiting they found that 45% of renters agreed that they should have saved more money as a precaution so make sure that you’re financially stable before having the necessary conversation. Make sure you have a support network in place too. Friends and family will be invaluable during this process.
Beyond that, a Brittish site”Advice Now” has an extensive resource that helps walk people through what needs to be considered before, during, and after breaking up while cohabiting.
These things may seem like the last thing you want to think about amidst your own emotional turmoil but they will ultimately help you and your partner get through the process smoother.
Be Respectful But Firm
The breakup process itself should be handled as respectfully as possible. This is the person that you once chose to build your life with, after all.
Breaking up means that your old life will cease to exist for both of you (and one may not have even seen it coming) so you need to handle the situation with as much grace and compassion as is possible.
Sit your partner down and have a conversation with them, letting them know how you’ve been feeling and why you think this is the best decision.
Be firm but fair.
Listen to their struggles and comfort them where needed and express your gratitude for the good times rather than dwelling/hammering on the bad.
Moving out won’t be instant but neither should it be indefinite.
Set a moving-out-date that you can both agree on as soon as is possible and share any useful resources that you found during your planning with your partner.
Wherever possible work to make the breakup work for both of you so that neither partner is left in a financially or emotionally dangerous situation.
During this period do not allow yourself to fall back into your role as a couple and, if you do, remind yourself of why you made this decision once again.
Whatever you do, do not eat sleep or party with your partner again. Rebound sex is never the answer and will only muddy the waters more when you part ways.
Stop having dinner together and set up a temporary separate bed if you have to.
A New Life Begins
These are just a few bits of advice that will hopefully make the process of breaking up while living together a smoother process.
Of course, it will never be easy but the silver lining is that after the pain subsides you’ll both have the room and freedom to build new lives and grow as people.
Where will your new life of independent living take you?
Only time will tell.