How to break up with someone you live with as smoothly as possible


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Breakups are tough to handle on their own accord no matter what the circumstance, but when you’re breaking up with someone with whom you share a home? Generally, that’s a whole lot messier. When you live with your partner, your lives naturally become more intertwined, so ending things not only forces you to have that difficult conversation to make sure you’re both on the same page about the ending of your relationship and then mourn the loss of it, but you also have to untangle your lives from each other. And, at least one of you probably needs to look for a new place to live. It’s a lot, so clearly, knowing how to break up with someone you live with is valuable information to have. You know—just in case.

If you find yourself needing to know how to break up with someone you live with though, you can exhale easily knowing there are strategies to help you ensure all goes as smoothly as possible. So, keep reading to learn how to know for sure that it’s really time to go your separate ways, plus the step-by-step process experts recommend following for a nice and smooth roommate uncoupling.

How to know it’s time to end a relationship with your live-in partner

There are a number of signs to look for that point toward it being a good idea to split with your live-in partner. One of them, says marriage and family therapist Lauren Cook, is that you dread being home with them or avoid spending time with them altogether. Furthermore, you may have experienced a sense of dissatisfaction that’s been
going on for a long time.

Jess McCann, relationship coach and author of You Lost Him at Hello, adds that signs can really include any evidence that you’re not happy or feeling fulfilled in the relationship, since these things point to an unhealthy status of your relationship. While this is highly specific to every relationship, if a lack of trust or compromise is present, or your partner is constantly belittling you, it might be time to inch toward ending things—both regarding your relationship and living situation.

“If you and your partner cannot rectify these differences, it may be time to have some serious conversations about what you will do moving forward.” —Lauren Cook, therapist

Values are also a big-ticket item that can make or break a relationship. For example, one person may like going out every night while the other prefers quiet nights at home. “If you and your partner cannot rectify these differences, it may be time to have some serious conversations about what you will do moving forward,” Cook says.

How to break up with someone you live with in 9 simple steps

1. Talk to people

Before the actual breakup takes place, Cook recommends talking about it with someone you trust. This person may be able to help you see different perspectives of the situation that perhaps you’ve been missing. It’s even more helpful to talk with someone who’s been through a similar experience and can offer additional guidance.

2. Have pre-breakup conversations

If the relationship is something you do want to try and save, consider having pre-breakup conversations to talk through where you both are, headspace-wise, address any problems that are surfacing, and surface any other problems you’re feeling. McCann recommends covering three key topics during these conversations: How you each feel things are going in your relationship, whether or not you feel happy, and what you can both do to make things better.

3. Set up a time to chat

Given that you care about this person, it’s only right to not just suddenly spring on them the bad news that you want to stop living together and also want to break up. Instead, set up a time to have a serious conversation. “Mentally preparing them for what you are about to say will help them digest your message once you give it to them,” McCann says.

4. Be conscious of the way you have “The Talk”

“Although you can’t exactly deliver the ‘I want to break up’ conversation in an upbeat way, you can do it lovingly,” says breakup coach Nancy Ruth Deen. That means don’t blame the other person or throw in their face how they contributed to the breakup that’s happening. Instead, focus on expressing your own authentic emotions, and make the conversation more about what you need in your life right now.

5. End in peace

To avoid unnecessary drama and hurt feelings, focus on having a peaceful ending, no matter the reason for the breakup. “Regardless of how mad you are or angry you feel, remember that this breakup will be sad for the other person as well, and that it’s best not to leave a relationship trying to win or have the final word,” McCann says. “You’ll regret that later. Instead, try to leave in peace, knowing you did all you could, and preserve the love that was once between you.”

6. Give each other some space

After you’ve had the talk, things will likely feel a little sensitive. That’s why Deen recommends spending a few nights away at a hotel or at a friend or family member’s house. “This is important, as you need some meaningful distance to process the end of the relationship,” she says.

7. Discuss how you’ll part ways

The next step in answering how to break up with someone you live with has to do with the logistics, like ending a rental lease, who gets to keep what, etc. “It’s better to ask your partner how they want to deal with the lease and bills and allow them to take the lead on it,” McCann says. “After all, you have just laid a big blow on them, so the least you can do as a peace offering is let them have priority on who does what, or who gets what. Approach the discussions in a state of love and peace, and not anger. You’re more likely to get you way.”

8. Gather a support system

You’re not meant to go through it all alone. Reach out to friends and family to be there for you during this time, not just emotionally but to help you sort out all the nuts and bolts, too, like packing, getting organized, looking for a new place, and moving out. “Social support plays a huge role in the healing process,” Deen says. “Having a loved one by your side can also help diffuse any potential fighting between you two in the process.”

9. Process, process, process

Once everything is said and done, Cook says it’s important not to bottle up or suppress your feelings or emotions. “Talk with family, friends, and perhaps a mental-health professional as you navigate this loss,” she says. “If it’s helpful, process the loss with your partner so that you both can get a sense of closure.” During the healing process, every day will be different, so remember to tune into what your mind and body needs and give yourself the time and space to move through it all.

Now that you know how to break up with someone you live with, learn about how your attachment style can impact how you handle a breakup. And after it happens, this breakup playlist can help you move on.

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