We broke up but still live together until moving out in a month. How do I deal?
March 24, 2010 12:01 PM   Subscribe

BreakUpFilter: How do I make it through the next month of living together now that we're broken up but before I move out?

Last week I posted about breaking up with my boyfriend of 5 years who I've been living with for the past 3 years. I decided to do it. He's 34 and I'm 30, and although I love him with all of my heart, I feel that being with him simply isn't healthy for me because he makes me feel really bad about myself. He's very critical, rude, and I just think I'm better off without him. I want someone who loves me and makes me feel good/brings me up instead of dragging me down. The problem is that I'm still so head over heels in love with him and he'd be such a perfect person for me if it wasn't for him putting me down all the time and being generally mean.

The situation now is that I've bought my first house. I'm excited for my new home and am going through the documentation process and everything right now. My projected closing date is April 29th and I've already told the now ex-BF and my landlord that I'll be moving out on May 1st. I know this is right around the corner, but I'm already struggling with still living with him and trying to suppress the very strong feelings that I have for him. How do I deal to get through it? More to that point, he's making me feel awful for breaking up with him and is bragging about how wonderful his life is now and how he's going to buy a really nice house and be ultra-successful and how he's so much better off without me and yaddayadda. :( I know I am making the right choice, but I feel like he's trying to make me feel guilty and like I made a huge mistake by deciding to leave him. I'm worrying that I'm going to be lonely and by myself for the rest of my life now.

Any advice on how to get through these next few weeks while trying to move onto the next stage of my life? I know I need to be busy with house stuff and packing and stuff, but it's still so hard when we still live together, still share the same place...*sigh*. I've been out on the town with friends and such and it helped, but I'm such a homebody during the week. I love coming home from work, going running and then just relaxing and unwinding with some tea and cozy pajamas after work. It's hard for me to feel like I can't go home. :( I've had friends offer for me to stay with them, but I really don't want to put them out.
posted by floweredfish to Human Relations (38 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I've had friends offer for me to stay with them, but I really don't want to put them out.

Do this, they wouldn't offer if they didn't mean it. You can rotate between the friends to avoid putting too much pressure on one. And you can always go back to the place you're playing rent on as well. Use this for some extra flexibility.
posted by grouse at 12:04 PM on March 24, 2010 [14 favorites]

Move out right now. Take your friends up on their offer to let you stay with them. That's what friends are for. You have absolutely nothing to gain by staying there. And by the way, stop thinking he's such a perfect person except for being mean to you. That right there is a dealbreaker. That's who he is, a mean person who makes you feel bad about yourself. Time to go, now.
posted by Kangaroo at 12:09 PM on March 24, 2010 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I just wanted to add that keeping my distance from him is really hard right now. I mean, he still emails me every day at work telling me how wonderful his day is going and it just makes me feel worse. It's so hard to look forward when I feel like he's still holding me back. :(
posted by floweredfish at 12:09 PM on March 24, 2010

I've had friends offer for me to stay with them, but I really don't want to put them out.

They wouldn't offer it if they weren't ok with it. Also: The inconvenience-damage you'll do to your friends, as a courteous guest, is nothing compared to the emotional damage you'll do to yourself and your ex by living with him. Impose on those who've offered, be a good houseguest, rotate between them to keep the guest-load low, and get out now.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:10 PM on March 24, 2010 [3 favorites]

Stay with your friends. If you've had multiple offers, you can stagger them a bit so you only spend a week or two with each. Put your stuff in storage, move out now, and let your friends act like your friends.
posted by jeather at 12:11 PM on March 24, 2010

Even though you see the light at the end of the tunnel, one month (or more if closing gets shifted for any reason) is a LONG way away in a caustic environment. One of the most draining experiences in life IME is the feeling of "I don't want to go HOME."

Take your friends up on their offer(s)....they would not be offering if they were not serious.
Alternatively, find a local extended stay hotel and stay there (the added expense will be worth your sanity). Good Luck!
posted by labwench at 12:14 PM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

floweredfish: "he still emails me every day at work telling me how wonderful his day is going..."

Block him. Jesus, he's doing ti to make you feel bad, just like he did when you were together. Fuck that guy.
posted by notsnot at 12:14 PM on March 24, 2010 [33 favorites]

Keep your head down, keep moving forward. Get to a friend's ASAP, that's what they're offering for.
posted by Damn That Television at 12:16 PM on March 24, 2010

Nthing take the friends up on the offer, and put your stuff in a rented storage facility for a month. You can reward them by inviting them to the most awesome housewarming party EVAR!

And, consider blocking the ex's emails. No point in reading them if all they do is upset you.

One more thing - After this, next time any of your friends needs crash space, it's your turn to open up your house to someone. Friendship is awesome that way.
posted by Citrus at 12:16 PM on March 24, 2010

Nthing take up your friends' offer. You can offer to help them out if they need it because you'll have a house.

Oh, and create a rule for email that diverts his email from reaching your main inbox. Delete, spam or just another folder - just get it out of your face. If you need to, give his # a silent ringtone on you phone as well.

Don't let him drag you down.
posted by neilbert at 12:17 PM on March 24, 2010

What jeather said! Gather up a few people, rent a truck and a storage locker and get yourself out of there in an afternoon. I'd be tempted to do it when he's not there, but at least if you have some friends there things shouldn't get too weird.

And block his emails.

And consider seeing a therapist. You should not be feeling guilty for leaving someone who treats you like shit!
posted by mareli at 12:18 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

We've been on the friends side of this equation and we really wouldn't have offered if we didn't mean it. I'm the kind of guy that loves having guests in my home, and when we offered this service, I was a little disappointed our friends tried to keep herself scare around our house.

Oh and block his email while you're at it.
posted by advicepig at 12:19 PM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

he'd be such a perfect person for me if it wasn't for him putting me down all the time and being generally mean.

Re-read this objectively and notice how little sense it makes.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:26 PM on March 24, 2010 [23 favorites]

And practically speaking, closings do get rescheduled more often than not, so that date is rather fluid (I'm married to a realtor.)

Take your friends up on their offer!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:41 PM on March 24, 2010

he'd be such a perfect person for me if it wasn't for him putting me down all the time and being generally mean.

It's very likely that your friends have been silently rooting for you to leave this guy for years now. They are ecstatic that you finally realized how he's been hurting you and will do anything they can to help you move on without him. This is what friends are for! Go stay with them. Get some time away from this guy and you will find that what you think is your overwhelming love for your ex is really just a response to his manipulation.

Do you have a therapist? If not, I really suggest that you find one and let them help you get over these years of emotional abuse. And congrats on the new house!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:42 PM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

if you don't want to stay with your friends for whatever reason, get one of those pay by the week motel rooms. when it's time to go back to your former house to pack, either ask him to be gone (which i suspect he won't agree to, or agree to and then be there) or bring a friend. better yet, bring movers. it's just money and your well being is worth the price. block/divert his email. he's trying hard to manipulate you. after the meanness, expect he'll change tactics and be sweet as pie. master manipulators hate to lose. the best thing you can do is not play the game.

everyone in a break up thinks this is the first time anyone has ever felt this way - but please learn from my example - living with my ex for a month after we broke up was possibly one of the most emotionally damaging things i've done to myself. it's been 8 years, and i still cringe and feel icky when i think about some of the things that were said and done.
posted by nadawi at 12:42 PM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: he's making me feel awful for breaking up with him...

Don't do things or hang around people who make you feel bad.

I mean, he still emails me every day at work telling me how wonderful his day is going and it just makes me feel worse.

Don't do things or hang around people who make you feel bad.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:42 PM on March 24, 2010 [8 favorites]

Get out now, stay with friends. Block his emails.

I know everyone else said it, but the more of us say it the greater chance we have of making you understand that it's the best thing to do.
posted by komara at 12:43 PM on March 24, 2010

Sorry, not making you understand but helping you understand.
posted by komara at 12:44 PM on March 24, 2010

This is a time when it's ok to rely heavily on your friends' generosity. Put your stuff in storage (I hear good things about that Pods company), and make arrangements to stay with one of your kind friends (or arrange to stay one week at each person's place).

Bring flowers or beer or something else nice. Thank them. Don't break their stuff.

Then, when they are having a hard time down the road, and need someone to be generous with them, return their kindness.

Seriously, don't choose to spend a month living miserably with someone who treats you like garbage--who actively seeks to make you unhappy--choose to spend the time with people who are literally asking you to let them show you kindness.
posted by Meg_Murry at 12:45 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: First of all, congratulations! You bought a house! You're a homeowner!

Now, onto business... you're definitely not in an easy situation right now, and I know it's hard to brush off such abusive and hurtful remarks, especially when they're coming from someone you care so much for. Let's focus on the "tools" you have to survive the next few weeks.

- You have good supportive friends who love you and want to help. Imagine being in your friend's position, knowing that one of your besties is being treated like dirt in her own home. Knowing that your friend is miserable would make you very sad too, right? You'd be happy and relieved if your friend took you up on your offer, wouldn't you? As Kangaroo said, that's what friends are for. Simply remove yourself from this toxic environment. And as grouse said, you can rotate between friends to keep your visits short. It's only for a few weeks anyway, and that's nothing between friends.

- You have YOU. Your strength and independence. Don't even acknowledge his insults. He's showing his true colors now, and acting every bit like the selfish, childish prick that he really is. He still views you as something to be possessed, controlled, and manipulated and is pulling out all his tricks. What he's too blinded by his own ego to see is that you've changed and grown as a person - he hasn't. You're stronger now, you hold the upper hand. He thinks he's so clever, but his desperate attempts to pull you back under him are so obvious, aren't they? You're not "alone," you're free now. Really, all this time he was not the man you hoped he was, and he was keeping you from finding the man you really want. Now you can.

In summary, if being in that house with him is making your life hell, leave! This place is not your home anymore so don't think of it that way. The people who love you, your friends can be your home. And soon you will have a place to really make your own.
posted by keep it under cover at 12:53 PM on March 24, 2010

Best answer: is bragging about how wonderful his life is now and how he's going to buy a really nice house and be ultra-successful and how he's so much better off without me

Jesus, what an asshole. Fine. Let him go be ultra-successful and be better off without you then. If he's so goddamned better off without you, then he doesn't need to be emailing you so block his dumb ass. You know this is all manipulation, right? He knows what gets to you. Don't let it get to you this time, though. The easiest way to do that (as tough as it is) is to cold turkey not have any contact with him whatsoever.

I'm worrying that I'm going to be lonely and by myself for the rest of my life now.

Roughly 99.7% of people feel that way when they leave relationships. You loved this guy and he was a part of your life for half a decade. Of course you're going to miss him. Give yourself some time to grieve and don't worry about if and when and how there's a next person. I assure you, there's a next person. But let's leave him out of the equation for now because he's just adding stress and he's not even here yet.

I'm still so head over heels in love with him and he'd be such a perfect person for me if it wasn't for him putting me down all the time and being generally mean.

This is what roughly 99.7% of people think when they're in an unhealthy relationship, which *hint* you are. No one's all good or all bad, so this guy probably has some qualities that you do like. But remember it's one big package deal and all the shit comes along with the shiny. You likely "love" what you wish he were, but he's not that great, he's just familiar. The reality is he's manipulative, degrading, disrespectful, and unsupportive. He's probably also humorous, attractive, sweet, and thoughtful at times. This is really tough to do, but face forward and do not look back at this guy. Remind yourself over and over that while fundamentally he has some quality stuff goin' on, the counterbalance is alllll this stress and crap and bullshit you don't need or want. You're idealizing him, which is very common during a break up. Remember that. It's ok to miss him. But always come full circle in your mind, recalling the bad things, too. This will make much better sense in a month or two after you've had no contact and your head is clearer.

Go, you! Congrats on the house, now go fill it with happy happy.*

*Not this guy.
posted by December at 12:54 PM on March 24, 2010 [11 favorites]

Cannot stress this enough: he is NOT the perfect person for you. The perfect person for you is not someone who is mean to you and manipulates you emotionally. This guy is not, and never will be, the perfect person for you. Not even close.

You deserve to feel good about yourself, don't let some jerk tell you otherwise or stand in your way. Cut ties, let your friends help you move on from this guy as soon as possible, and enjoy your new house!
posted by illenion at 1:14 PM on March 24, 2010

Good for you for having the self-respect to make this decision, and definitely, definitely take your friends up for their offer; I have no doubt they really mean it. Hell, I don't even know you but if I lived nearby, you'd be welcome to stay at our house, too. (But man, your ex had better not show up, because after reading your posts, he's seriously starting to tick me off.)
posted by sively at 1:17 PM on March 24, 2010

Take your friends up on their offers. Rotate friends like others have suggested. Pack up everything you won't need before you get into your house and put the rest in suitcases. Put the stuff in storage, or if you have a nice friend with some garage space, put it there.
I have lived with an ex in the past and it suuuucccckkkkeeed big time. You won't be putting your friends out at all as long as you are a conscientious guest, and it already sounds like you are a conscientious person.
Tell him to stop emailing you. If he doesn't, put a filter on his emails so they go to trash. Don't answer his calls or texts.
posted by ishotjr at 1:17 PM on March 24, 2010

It's very likely that your friends have been silently rooting for you to leave this guy for years now. They are ecstatic that you finally realized how he's been hurting you and will do anything they can to help you move on without him.

This! This was my exact experience, except that I stayed with a friend for 3.5 months while I looked for, made an offer, and settled on a condo (said friend was my realtor and we now live around the corner from each other). This particular friend has a 5 bedroom house to herself, so it was really not an imposition, but I also "imposed" on another friend for a few nights several times before I moved cities - I slept on the couch and it was glorious freedom.

This guy is mean. Get away from him.
posted by Pax at 1:40 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

You share an apt. You probably paid 1/2 the deposit. Use that for April's rent, which is the fair thing to do in a break-up. You don't say if it's 1 or 2 bedrooms. Don't stay over unless you sleep in a separate room. Get organized about packing; it gives you a structure for the time you spend in the apt., and it will only get harder, not easier.

Block him, or send his email to a folder, and don't read it for a week. He's playing games you don't have time for.

You know you're doing what's best for you, but you have 2nd thoughts. You show a tremendous sense of self-preservation to have bought the house and ended the relationship. You're going to be just fine.
posted by theora55 at 2:04 PM on March 24, 2010

is bragging about how wonderful his life is now and how he's going to buy a really nice house and be ultra-successful and how he's so much better off without me

Pfft. We'll see about that one, won't we. Never seems to work out quite like that for these sorts of twits.
posted by oflinkey at 2:30 PM on March 24, 2010 [3 favorites]

Yup. Stay with the friends. Go out after work, don't explain your whereabouts. Just stay away as much as you can.

On the emails about how peachy his life is:

"I'm so happy that your life is humming along so well. Really, I couldn't be more pleased that things are working out for you. I can't tell you what a relief it is to know that you're going to be fine without me - I was so worried about you. Thank you for letting me know how you're doing; please forgive me if I can't respond to your emails individually, I'm pretty swamped right now. I'm sure you understand. Love, Floweredfish"

Amend as necessary for conversations about his new-found fabulousness. Do it with a sweet, concerned, unflappable smile. Knowing, of course, that you're smiling because anyone who as to brag about how great their life is clearly pathetic and lame. All the better if you can somehow swing a smile that says "I know you're lame and am just playing along as to preserve your fragile ego."

On his constant criticisms and put-downs:

"Isn't it a good thing we broke up? Personally, I can't imagine why anyone would stay in a relationship with someone so obviously flawed. Don't worry hun, in a few weeks you'll be rid of me and you won't have to put up me at all."

As for you. Not to resort to playground psychology, but you do know (right?) that his criticisms and insults are designed to a. bolster his own shaky self-regard and b. make you feel like no one else in the world but him could possibly want you, so you stay. It's a pretty standard game for abusers (and yeah, he sounds like one) - make someone believe they are so defective that they don't have the confidence to leave the partner with the real problem.

Good for you for leaving. In time it will get easier.
posted by space_cookie at 2:33 PM on March 24, 2010 [3 favorites]

Like everyone else has touched upon, he's not telling you about his awesome day and all that jazz just to make YOU feel better. Someone willing to try anything to salvage the relationship wouldn't immediately play the "look how much better off I am!" card.

Just put your head down and slog through the next however many weeks. If it gets worse, take people up on their offers. Have your friends help you move. You'd be surprised at how people will come out of the woodwork and help you out if you just ask. Even mutual friends - the good ones will remain friends with both of you and listen, but not choose sides. I assure you, it'll be okay.

Also, go furniture shopping. Go to IKEA, go to Target, find things to make the place your own. Throw yourself into comparing cable vs satellite. Take your mind off of the negative by focusing on the 'OMG I'm gonna be a homeowner!' part.
posted by kpht at 4:30 PM on March 24, 2010

This is what friends are for.

This guy sounds emotionally abusive, I'd go so far as to put all your stuff in storage in the meantime. It's only about 5 weeks. Rotate from friend to friend. Maybe take a vacation, but get out. You sound like a very considerate person, I'm sure your friends will be happy to put you up.

Also, I don't know how feasible this is for you, but I'd get on craigslist and see if there are any furnished subleases for April.

Another idea is to see if your employer would allow you to telecommute for a few weeks and go stay with family.
posted by whoaali at 6:11 PM on March 24, 2010

What everyone else has written is great advice. I just want to chime in because I answer calls for a domestic violence hotline and what you have described sounds like emotional and verbal abuse to me. You can "google" those terms and compare what you find to your ex-boyfriend's behavior.

To get you started, I would say that you may be in an emotionally abusive relationship if your partner:
* Calls you names, insults you or continually criticizes you.
* Monitors where you go, who you call and who you spend time with.
* Punishes you by withholding affection.
* Expects you to ask permission.
* Humiliates you in any way.
* Puts you down
* Makes you feel bad about yourself
* Does not trust you and acts jealous or possessive.
* Tries to isolate you from family or friends.
* Calls you names
* Making you think you're crazy
* Plays mind games
* Makes you feel guilty

When your ex-boyfriend does this, he is trying to gain power and control over you. You deserve so much better. If you ever want to talk with someone other than your friends about this, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE (7233).*

*You definitely don't have to be in a physically abusive relationship to call and sometimes it can help to just talk things out with another person.
posted by val5a at 6:39 PM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

That really sucks. I'm sorry. I was in a very similar situation about 5 years ago. It was... not fun. I totally know what you're going through.

Here's what worked for me:

1. Take the long view. Years from now you'll remember this as a brief by unpleasant situation. The time span will collapse.

2. Can you take over one separate room, even if it's just a walk-in closet? If you can convert a closed-door area to "your space," you'll feel better about curling up in there.

3. Remember how much awesome it's going to be to spend evenings at home, once you move. Until then, go the wandering route. I went to a different Starbucks or common area every night. Some nights I'd just pack a book and a snack and sit in my car in a parking lot somewhere and read by street light. My goal was to get home just in time for bed.

4. When you are home, focus on the business of packing and cleaning.

5. Ignore his bullshit as much as possible. Pretend like he's some random roommate you barely know. Exchange vague pleasantries, then get out.
posted by ErikaB at 7:26 PM on March 24, 2010

Please get you and your stuff out ASAP (at a minimum remove all important records, special items, etc. right away--he won't notice). I volunteer at a domestic violence shelter and we are taught time and again by experts in this field that an abuser (and that it what your ex is) is the most dangerous when you are trying to leave. Take a day off of work when he will be gone and get it done without his knowledge. He knows he has another month to torment you and will do so. Don't give him the chance to escalate. Just be gone when he gets home from work.

Take your friends up on their offer--I am sure they are thrilled that you are getting out of this relationship and that they make their offer out of love and generosity. You deserve that despite what your loser ex has said.

I have some personal experiences similar to yours if you would like to Memail me to chat more.

Best of luck and above all else, be safe.
posted by murrey at 8:03 PM on March 24, 2010

Ride it out. Its the only way to do it. When you have the tough feelings, experience them but don't act on them. If you feel love or attraction, go to your room and suffer until you are past it. You are just letting the animal pass through you until you've exhausted the feelings and you have, as the buddhists say, worn the feelings out like a shoe. 30 days. Just think of it in days.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:25 PM on March 24, 2010

My mom is 67. Her father either had narcissistic personality disorder or was close to it. Her husband, my father, either has narcissistic personality disorder or is close to it. My mom has struggled for decades over why she stayed with him, why she is still with him, and continually fears that she's wasted her life with someone who continually - daily - demeans, criticizes, and belittles her. She takes her daily antidepressants, and she struggles many times a year with the idea of divorce, which terrifies her. Oh, and I have my own severe baggage from growing up with all of this, as does my sister.

Good that you're getting out now, find somebody who can really enrich your life and let you grow and flourish.
posted by Auden at 9:35 PM on March 24, 2010

Best answer: is bragging about how wonderful his life is now and how he's going to buy a really nice house and be ultra-successful and how he's so much better off without me and yaddayadda. :(

I'm a 34-year-old guy, and my reaction to this was: WTF. If he's not brilliant at what he does now, then it's going to be a long time (and probably never) before he becomes "ultra-successful". Ignore this horseshit.
posted by A dead Quaker at 10:50 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

I agree with everyone who says to go stay with your friends. Or if you can afford a hotel or B&B, go stay at one. Maybe you'll find a place that will rent you a room by the month - maybe try Craigslist. But your friends are probably your best bet and so long as you're a conscientious house guest no one will mind a bit.

The only thing I really have to add is that this guy is extremely likely to escalate as your moving date comes closer and he panics because he knows he will lose complete control of you. No matter how badly he's acting now, things are likely to get ten times worse. Great that you broke up with him. That's awesome news. Now, figure out a way to go and then go!
posted by hazyjane at 5:43 AM on March 25, 2010

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