Breakups Suck
March 22, 2010 10:14 AM   Subscribe

After some soul-searching, I've decided I need to break up with my live-in boyfriend. Our lease is up in August, and I'm worried about how to deal with living together when we're no longer "together" while we're looking for new apartments. I'm sure many of you have gone through this, so any anecdotes or advice would be helpful.

How long did you live with someone after breaking up with them? Would you have done it differently if you could do it over again? What would have made it easier for both of you? I love my boyfriend, but I've realized he's not the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. We've talked about marriage and kids, and while I've expressed concerns about our relationship, I don't think he knows that I don't see us that way, so I know that this will probably come as a surprise to him. Ideally, we'd both be able to move out when the lease is up (neither of us can afford the rent alone), but I'm worried about the timing. I want to try to minimize the pain for both of us, and make the transition to having separate lives as uncomplicated as I can.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (28 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The kindest thing to do would be to arrange separate housing for yourself (with family or a friend if you can't afford a second rent), pay the balance of the rent you owe, and move out immediately after breaking up with him. Whether or not that's feasible is another question, but living with an ex is almost always a recipe for disaster.
posted by oinopaponton at 10:23 AM on March 22, 2010 [7 favorites]

Allegedly, a friend of friend of mine is stuck in a mortgage with their ex. And it is apparently a disaster. I think oinopaponton has proposed the most ideal solution, if you can swing it.
posted by demagogue at 10:25 AM on March 22, 2010

Can one of you crash with a friend for a couple of months? Can you talk to the leasing agent to see how air tight the lease is? They might prefer looking for a new renter in say May rather than August. How much is the early termination of lease fee? Might both of you break the lease and split the cost of that fee?
posted by mattbucher at 10:26 AM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

Jeez, if you're that interested in making things uncomplicated move out. It's impossible otherwise, and I think you know that.
posted by gadha at 10:28 AM on March 22, 2010

YMMV, of course; but oh, man, I cannot urge you strongly enough to not even try it.

My GF of four years and I broke up amicably while living together. Because we were friends first and still loved each other very much despite realizing that we weren't right for each other, we decided to try to maintain the living arrangement rather than make a clean break. It was the messiest, most emotionally confusing time of my life, and if I had it to do all over again I would have slept on a friend's couch until I found a suitable apartment.

You and your soon-to-be-X may both be far more emotionally mature than we were, of course, but my experience doing this was abysmal, and it made for a much harder breakup than it might otherwise have been. I think it would be fair to say that my X and I find each other to be utterly intolerable now. We haven't spoken in years.
posted by Pecinpah at 10:31 AM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

It'll be waaaaaaaaay easier to keep being friends if you don't live together. Or to not be friends while avoiding killing each other.
posted by beerbajay at 10:35 AM on March 22, 2010

Generally speaking, if you break up with someone you are living with, you should have alternate arrangements made before you do so. Breaking up with someone and continuing to live with them is a really bad idea.
posted by Justinian at 10:45 AM on March 22, 2010 [4 favorites]

Do NOT keep living together. Been there, done that, total nightmare. I ended up talking to the apartment complex we lived in at the time, and they let us break our lease if I signed a new one for a smaller apartment.
posted by BryanPayne at 10:47 AM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

How likely is it that either of you could find a housemate to share the space with? Because that's another way to do this — X finds a housemate, X and Housemate finish the lease out, and Y moves out immediately.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:47 AM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Having been through a situation like this back in my 20s, I'd strongly suggest that you try to keep as short a time as possible between when you tell your boyfriend you no longer want to live together and when you are actually not living together.

Breaking a lease isn't fun, but it's doable, and seems far preferable to living for months with a just-dumped ex-lover.
posted by zombiedance at 10:56 AM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I concur with everyone else -- do whatever you can to avoid this. Do either of you really want to be confronted with hearing your ex fuck some new girl or boy next door while you are laying awake at 3am?
posted by modernnomad at 10:56 AM on March 22, 2010

I broke up with my ex #1 after living together for two years. I knew for a couple of months I was going to end it, and in that time I arrange for another apartment. I told him, then I moved out, and made arrangements to get my things at his convenience. I also paid my share for the remaining three months on the lease. It wasn't easy, but I think it was fair, and the least painful way to go.

When ex #2 and I broke up with me, he had been living in my apartment for about a year. He stayed for one month while arranging for a new place to live. It was a brutal, horrible time. I would never recommend that route.
posted by kimdog at 10:59 AM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

A sibling of mine is doing this right now. She says their relationship is better than ever since they broke up and now see each other as roommates waiting for their lease to be up. If you think you two can live together amicably until the lease is up, it's up to you. If it's going to be painful and excruciating, then I totally agree with what everyone else has been saying.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 11:11 AM on March 22, 2010

Been there, done that. You should find a new place, break up with him, and immediately move out. Anything else is crazy or dumb. Sorry.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:13 AM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

This happened with an ex of mine and I. Unlike everyone else in the thread, it wasn't too soul-crushing. All the same, it's looking like ours was an edge case, so take their advice and have an exit strategy prepared if at all possible (with alternatives so you're not just fait accompliing your soon-to-be-ex).
posted by jtron at 11:27 AM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I only did it for a month and it was a terrible terrible plan. Totally amicable, etc. Except all the things that drove me nuts about him still drove me nuts and there was nothing to do about it. Move out.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:50 AM on March 22, 2010

My ex husband and I continued to live together for about 6 weeks after we decided that the marriage was over because we had already planned to move (I was relocating to another job), so we just kept that moving date. The first couple of weeks wasn't horrible (he slept on the couch, which wasn't unusual at that point in the marriage) because it took some time for it all to sink in I guess. But after those couple of weeks I was ready to be away from him. It wasn't that we were arguing or hostile, but I had put so much work into trying to please him in order to save the marriage that I was tired of pretending and ready to start moving forward. I felt like he was still "holding me back" somehow, and I felt like I had no privacy in my own home (I had to go sit in my car to vent/cry to my friends on the phone because I didn't want him to hear anything I was saying).

In the grand scheme of things it worked out...we both found ways to keep ourselves busy and surprisingly enough talking about the marriage never happened (guess that tells you it really was over). We also used that time to divide up our belongings and it was nice to have him helping out with packing/moving. However, in my experience I wasn't happy for that last month and it added a considerable amount of stress to me.

YMMV of course...if he doesn't see this breakup coming then it will most likely be harder emotionally. I'm inclined to tell you to find a place to stay or arrangements for the lease before you break up. You guys might be able to stay cordial and take a couple of weeks to work out the arrangements, but then again one/both of you may be so emotional about the situation that you'll need instant space and privacy. Don't get me wrong....looking back I can't believe I stayed for those 6 weeks...I guess I was already used to his lack of affection for me so in my eyes nothing had really changed in our daily routines. I'd never do it again though.

Good luck to both of you.
posted by MultiFaceted at 11:53 AM on March 22, 2010

I had to live with a boyfriend AND the girl he cheated on me (don't ask) with for a month or two after we broke. It was an utter nightmare. It's impossible to have privacy or boundaries during an extremely emotional time. I should he found somewhere else to live immediately.

In my case, the two of them could cover rent with no problem -- the issue was the security deposit (which I had paid, he did not, and they weren't planning on moving any time soon). It took near constant harassment for me to get that back. So my advice is to get the landlord involved and make everything official. Either you're both going to move out and you need to figure out how to break the lease, or one of you is and you need an official walk through to assess any damage at the time of move out, etc.

Good luck! I feel for you.
posted by Kimberly at 12:09 PM on March 22, 2010

Don't live with your ex. I tried it. It wasn't the end of the world, but it's not a good idea. You should take one for the team and seek out alternative housing, especially since you're the one who will be the dump-er in this break-up. While it might not seem the case now, it really is the nice thing to do for both him and yourself.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:12 PM on March 22, 2010

In the minority here in that I had a good experience with such a situation. The initial breakup was amicable and mutual. We lived together afterwards for almost a year - it was originally meant to be less time, but the situation was working out so well and ended up being so cheap that we just stuck with it. We both dated other people during that time and it was fine 99% of the time. The main issue was that in the beginning we fell into the habit of sleeping together when we were bored or otherwise unoccupied. I wouldn't recommend that.
posted by peanut butter milkshake at 12:42 PM on March 22, 2010

When is your lease up, and how much time do you have to give him/your landlord notice that you are moving out? I think that's going to have to be a major factor here.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:02 PM on March 22, 2010

I lived with an ex for three weeks after I broke up with him. He started looking for another place immediately, but -- it's New York, so it took him some time to find a place. Neither one of us had the money to rent a hotel, none of my friends could put me up, and he didn't have friends in the city.

But -- a couple I knew lived in an apartment in our building, and they presented me with a spare key to their place. They couldn't put me up as such, they explained (they had a one-room apartment that was barely big enough for the two of them) -- but since they knew I'd want to get the hell out of his face time to time, they gave me free leave to have their space be the place I fled to. I could hide in their place for hours at a time, I could come by when they weren't home, whatever I wanted.

I ended up going home to my parents for a week, then came back to New York and made several visits to my friends downstairs until my ex found a place.

Yeah, ideally one or the other of you temporarily staying with friends until you settle the question of "who moves out" and that actually happens, but...that isn't always easy or immediate, so that kind of arrangement can really help.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:08 PM on March 22, 2010

In my experience, even amicable breakups that seem fine in the beginning have bumps in the road. A friend lived with her ex for a while and suddenly could not stand it for one more day because of something he did-- something he probably thought was acceptable. Sure, sometimes it works out but when it doesn't it's awful, and you are the one dumping him. I don't think it's fair to expect him to do this.
posted by BibiRose at 1:30 PM on March 22, 2010

Three months. It was the worst three months of my life. Avoid doing this if at all possible. It wasn't possible in my case, but I sure wish it would have been.
posted by ishotjr at 1:40 PM on March 22, 2010

You're going to need to go through a process. You have to tell him the relationship is over. It would be good to have a place to stay for a few days, then meet with him to find a way to work out the finances.
posted by theora55 at 4:10 PM on March 22, 2010

I did it once, for about three months. Amicable break-up turned into insane screeching hell. Worst. Idea. Ever. For me, anyway. Ugh. I shudder even thinking about it.
posted by indienial at 5:33 AM on March 23, 2010

When I was getting divorced, I continued to live with my wife for a few weeks as we figured out living arrangements and etc. While our divorce was as amicable as it could be, I was staying in our guest room, she was asking me to sleep at friends' while her new boyfriend stayed over and it was generally the worst, most soul crushing period of my life. Part of what was hard for me in ending a long term relationship was the feeling that I was on a path down one way in life, and then was derailed and didn't know where life would take me. Staying in the same place prevented me from moving on, getting life together, and realizing how exciting that could be.
posted by CharlesV42 at 8:09 AM on March 23, 2010

Bucking the trend here - my ex, her new partner, my new partner and I continued living in the same house for six months. There was no shouting since it had all been done. There were some awkward moments but the overall experience was OK, and better than trying to house-hunt plus cope with the blizzard of divorce paperwork all at once.
posted by jet_silver at 2:26 PM on March 23, 2010

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