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Breakups are always hard, and cohabitation adds another layer to the emotional — and practical — turmoils of saying goodbye. Just like in any breakup, it’s important to lean on your support system and practice self care. And in this situation, your self care might involve setting boundaries and taking care of business so you can part ways in the practical sense as well as the romantic.
There might be temptation, anger, sadness or animosity in the air. Every relationship and breakup is different. But there are a few strategies you can use to cope with your breakup while one — or both — of you high tails it out of there.
If you’re the one planning to break things off — or maybe you already have — that means you have time to plan and adjust to the situation. For the most part, being the dumper rather than the dumpee gives you the opportunity to take responsibility for the logistics. This means you can find a new place or at least begin your search sooner. If you’re initiating the breakup, you can take the lead in finding your way out.
If your partner was the one who broke things off, don’t let them slack or push you around. Make sure they know that they can’t kick you out or expect you to take all the initiative. If they want to split, they need to make it happen too.
If you share a lease and share the rent, your mutual quarters are still just as shared as they were before the breakup. Regardless of who dumped who, remember that you have a right to your space, even if it’s now temporary.
You don’t have to tolerate behavior you wouldn’t normally tolerate, and you don’t have to vacate spaces just because your ex is there — be it the whole apartment or the kitchen during a coincidental overlap in mealtimes. The space is still shared, which requires some level of coexistence.
Your boundaries will depend on your specific breakup and relationship, but it’s safe to say that you should probably sleep in separate beds, and give one another much more alone time and personal space.
If you’re afraid you might have sex again, make it clear that you don’t want that. If your partner expects you to continue emotional or household labor linked to your couple status — things they wouldn’t expect of a roommate — put your foot down. You don’t need them in your bed, and you don’t need to do their laundry or remind them to call their mom.
If you’re having trouble coping with the situation, getting your ex out of sight sometimes does the trick of keeping them out of mind. When you’re both spending time at home, try your best to find rooms and spaces to spend your time where your ex doesn’t usually go. Creating designated private spaces can be great for this.
This might also be a time where you naturally find yourself out of the house more. Going out with friends, hanging out at their places or even crashing with a loved one for a few days may give you the separation you need to process your emotions about the situation.
Setting a firm move out date for one or both of you is crucial in moving the breakup forward and allowing you to heal in a space that feels truly your own again. While it might be hard, you need to discuss your expectations together. Have the money talk, figure out who is staying and who is going and discuss the fate of your joint possessions.
This way, when the moving day comes, you’re both prepared to step up and move on.
Living with your partner makes breakups complicated, but you have the power to take control and get through it. Whether you’re staying put or finding new digs, you’re entering a new chapter in your life freer than ever before.