How to break up with someone you live with in 8 steps
No matter what the circumstances are, ending a relationship with someone you live with isn't easy to navigate.
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How to break up with someone you live with in 8 steps

No matter what the circumstances are, ending a relationship isn’t easy to navigate. However, when you’re deciding how to break up with someone you live with, the situation can get a whole lot more complicated. Breakups are fickle, messy things, and when you live with your partner, your lives become so comingled that it’s not exactly easy to cut things off. 

Not only do you need to figure out how to move on from your partner while the two of you still share a space, but it’s inevitable that one of you will probably need to find a new place to live. So how do you figure out how to break up with someone you live with in a kind, caring and yet straightforward way?

Here’s an eight step process for making the breakup process a lot easier. 

How to break up with someone you live with

Let’s start by asking the important question upfront: are you sure you want to break up with your partner? Knowing that the relationship has run its course — and having concrete reasons for why it needs to end — is important before you have “the talk.” Classic signs of a relationship that’s over involve no longer enjoying spending time together, dreading the notion of living with one another, and general feelings of dissatisfaction for prolonged periods of time., although you may have other reasons for wanting to breakup and that's totally ok as well.

If you’ve felt any of those symptoms over a long period of time, it’s probably worth breaking up. So here’s what you’ll need to do.

1. Talk to your friends, family and other support systems

A lot of people forget that breakups don’t happen in a vacuum. All of us have a network of friends who’ve probably heard us talk about every aspect of our relationships. When it comes to breaking up, consulting the friends you know and trust — who also have a perspective on your relationship — can be incredibly helpful in order to approach the situation correctly. 

The same goes for family. While they may be biased, your family members generally want what’s best for you, so they’ll likely have good advice regarding your breakup situation. Finally, talking with a trusted life coach or therapist can be extremely helpful. All of these people (friends, family and coaches) have almost certainly been through breakups before, and in this case, it’s good to have a little guidance from those who’ve walked the path you’re about to take. Choose those you feel most comfortable confiding in and see what advice they have to impart. 

2. Have a pre-breakup conversation  

This might sound strange, but prior to your breakup, it helps to have a “pre-breakup” conversation. In it, you can ask your partner to discuss where they’re at with the relationship — are they happy? Are there problems they’re noticing? Doing this can help prep you to understand their side of the situation before you have the big talk. 

3. Make time to talk 

Here’s the thing about breakups: you don’t want to do them when your partner doesn’t have time to respond. Instead of springing bad news on them halfway through dinner or while they’re grabbing their keys to walk out the door, set aside time to have a long, sit-down talk about your relationship. Getting them in the mental state to have a serious conversation is not only the considerate thing to do, but it helps you both say everything you need to say without being cut off. 

4. End things courteously

Nobody likes a “breakup jerk.” Ending your relationship without putting undue blame on your partner will help you in multiple ways: first, it preserves the good memories you’ve made together. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it helps when it comes to working through the actual logistics of your uncoupling. 

Considering the fact that you may be splitting up money, possessions, living spaces, pets and more, you really don’t want to make an enemy out of your partner during the breakup process. If the two of you remain cordial, you’ll have a lot easier time figuring out everything that happens after the relationship is over. 

5. Give your partner some breathing room

Okay, you’ve had the talk. Well done! That’s the scariest part of any breakup. Now you’ve got to move onto the next part, which involves separating your lives…

Or do you? All things considered, it’s best to give your partner some breathing room before you move into post-relationship planning. Sure, you may be ready to rent that new flat and move on with your life, but the breakup is still raw. While you’ve had months to think about ending things, your partner has been carrying on without knowing what you were thinking — until now. They might need time to decompress, have a good cry, and be with their support system before they’re ready to talk to you about next steps. 

So, give them time. A day, several days, a week; whatever feels “appropriate” for your relationship. The grace period will give you both some much-needed mental health space, and it’ll also prepare you for what’s to come. 

6. Plan your exit together

Now, onto the rest. Once you’ve both settled down some, it’s time to talk about how you’re going to split things up. Make a list of everything that you need to discuss. Those things might include:

  • Whether or not you two will live together throughout the duration of your lease or not
  • Who will keep the apartment or home after the breakup
  • Whether or not anyone owes anyone money 
  • Who will keep which possessions, including furniture, appliances and personal items
  • If there are any pets, who will keep them after the breakup 

Every relationship is different, so your list might look a lot different. What’s important is that you do this all in a caring way. Not only will you feel better about it, but you’re also much more likely to get what you want out of the uncoupling process if you’re not being difficult when you talk. 

7. Make your departure 

Now that you’ve decided exactly how you’ll end things, it’s time to put your plan into action. 

Consider relying on others for support as you transition to a single life once more. Enlist friends and family to help pack materials, move them to a new place, or clean out some of your ex’s stuff from the apartment you’re keeping. Doing this will help you take your mind off things as you work through one of the hardest parts of a breakup.

The same thing goes for getting settled in your new life. As soon as you’re situated, make sure to lean into friends, family and other support groups so that you don’t find yourself sitting alone at home during this time — otherwise, loneliness and regret can start to creep in. 

You also definitely don’t want to make your departure a “messy” one. If you and your ex accidentally fall back into each other’s arms during the move-out process, it only makes everything way more stressful, difficult and complicated. For these reasons, don’t rely on your previous partner too much as you decouple. Getting their assistance with logistics is nice, but the two of you no longer owe each other continued emotional support once you’ve split up.   

8. Process what’s just happened

Now that you know how to break up with someone you live with, you’re ready for the final step: processing everything that’s just happened. Whether you’re living in a new place or staying in the old place without your ex, all this life change can be pretty exhausting. That’s why it’s extremely important to reflect on your situation and what comes next. 

To do this, try talking with friends, signing up for therapy or writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal. These are all great ways to get a better handle on your emotions and understand what you want out of life going forward. Do you want to meet new people right away? Are you thinking of focusing more on your career and family going forward? Or would you rather not think about relationships at all, and spend more time with friends? 

These are all questions you can ask, ponder and answer as you reflect. The important thing is to gain closure on this chapter of your life so that you feel confident about where you need to go moving forward. 

Learning how to break up with someone you live with is possible  

Sure, it’s not easy to break up with someone you live with. But even though it’s harder than a traditional breakup, it’s certainly not impossible. More than that, doing so can help you start fresh, understand what you want for yourself and approach your future with greater clarity than before. 

Want more dating advice? Check out our blog for lots more articles on important topics like relationships, breakups, dating and mental health and more

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