She's leaving but not gone.
December 15, 2010 8:58 AM   Subscribe

My soon-to-be-ex girlfriend is moving out. How do I keep myself sane the next month?

My live-in girlfriend of about six months has recently announced that she is moving out to her own apartment in the middle of next month. She has found a place and signed a lease. I've made it clear that I'm not interested in taking a step back in our relationship, and that this would effectively kill what we have. She's okay with that, and says that she doesn't love me anymore. This was all pretty shocking for me to hear. I thought our relationship was on solid ground. We were having fun and making long-term plans. I've tried everything I can think of to get her to reconsider this but after a couple weeks of hours-long teary talks I am just heartbroken and exhausted.

So she's leaving in a month. I'm torn between wanting her out as soon as possible and wanting to keep her close with the hopes that she will come to her senses and stay. We are still, for the most part, very civil and friendly. We are still sharing a bed and having sex. She still calls me "honey," and makes coffee in the morning. Her day-to-day actions clash greatly with her big-picture plan and I am just lost.

So, MetaFilter, what is my next step? Do I need to tell her to leave, now? Do I start sleeping on the couch? Or do I just grin and bear it, make the best of the time we have left even though I really feel awful?
posted by richrad to Human Relations (42 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
No, she starts sleeping on the couch and finds a way to up the move-out date as much as possible.

Trust me. I've been there. Get her out of the apartment so you can start internalizing what is, in effect, a break up.
posted by lydhre at 9:01 AM on December 15, 2010 [18 favorites]

We are still sharing a bed and having sex.

What? No. If she wants to leave, she doesn't get your goodies. One of you (her) should be staying at a hotel or with friends until she officially moves out. Offer to cover her half of the rent for this month if that's an issue.
posted by oinopaponton at 9:01 AM on December 15, 2010 [25 favorites]

Offer to cover her half of the rent for this month if that's an issue.

(Or, more clearly: she should absolutely be the one taking care of all the financial and emotional aspects of this after dropping that bomb on you, but if money is the reason she's sticking around this month, you should value your mental health more than the cash)
posted by oinopaponton at 9:04 AM on December 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

Stop having sex yesterday. She sleeps on the couch, and moves out when she can.

Spend as little time in the apartment as possible.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:05 AM on December 15, 2010 [8 favorites]

I'm sorry. Tell her to leave, now.
posted by yarly at 9:06 AM on December 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

No, you don't really want her to stay and "come to her senses." Suppose she did? How could you trust her again? It would only delay the inevitable. The truth is, her heart's just not in this. It happens. In the mean time, she's enjoying all the benefits of a relationship without any investment. That's unfair to you. Unfair to both of you, really. You can't possibly heal from what is absolutely a breakup while she's going about her days as if nothing has changed. She needs to be out of the apartment immediately. If you can't bring yourself to kick her out, then she needs to sleep on the couch as has been suggested. No more sex. You're roommates for the next month. You don't have to be mean about this. It doesn't have to be a vindictive move. Your current situation, however, is not healthy.
posted by katillathehun at 9:08 AM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Why are you rewarding her for breaking up with you in a shitty and childish way? Stop giving her everything she got before she dumped you. Minimum, she sleeps on the couch.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:09 AM on December 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

She said it herself: she doesn't love you. She might love the idea of you (a warm bed, a routine, and so on) but not you. You don't want her back - not right now. The best thing you could do for yourself is to temporarily find another place to stay, in order to get on with healing and the rest of your life. Qualifications: I've done this twice. :)

I'm not saying there's not exceptions to this very common situation, but at the very minimum, you need to be the one receiving heartfelt reconciliation and reconsideration from her, not the other way around. You haven't done anything wrong (not has she, to be clear).
posted by kcm at 9:10 AM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Echoing what everyone else is saying above. You can either still be where you are now in a month (if not worse off), or you can be a full month further along in the healing process than you are now. Your choice.
posted by hermitosis at 9:10 AM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Yeah, if it's over, you need to insist that she goes ASAP, and she does not share your bed while she's working on it. All that does is make it way harder on you emotionally. If it were me, I'd also ask her to rent a storage locker if need be to get all of her stuff out as quickly as possible. In this instance, she's the one controlling the changes in the relationship, so she can sacrifice the comfy bed for the couch.

And when she goes, I think it's helpful to do a bit of redecorating. Doesn't have to be major, even something like rearranging furniture or putting a new blanket or quilt on the bed, just to give your apartment a look that is 'yours' rather than 'what used to be ours'.
posted by Kurichina at 9:11 AM on December 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

I went through almost the same thing with someone telling me they didn't love me all the time. They would "come to their senses" after lots of begging and jumping through hoops. Its horribly painful, ridiculous cycle, but you have to get rid of them. There's so many nicer and hotter girls out there, just go find them.

good luck.
posted by mewmewmew at 9:19 AM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

We are still sharing a bed and having sex. She still calls me "honey," and makes coffee in the morning. Her day-to-day actions clash greatly with her big-picture plan and I am just lost.

This is completely unacceptable behavior on her part. It is not okay. You do not deserve to be jerked around like this, which is what she's doing. She's not helping you - she's hurting you. She's probably doing it in an effort to not hurt you, and unless she's a sociopath, she probably feels bad about breaking up and wants to comfort you and be comforted. But she doesn't get to have that anymore - or shouldn't - because hi, she broke up with you. Doesn't want to be a couple anymore. Which means no more couple-y things with you. She's delaying her pain and increasing yours.

She needs to start couchsurfing on other friends' couches, like, tonight. Her stuff either goes into a room with a door in your current place until she moves out or it goes into storage.

After that, don't have contact with each other for a while. Like, months. No talking or email or texting or chatting or anything. Good luck, and I'm really sorry you're going through this.
posted by rtha at 9:21 AM on December 15, 2010 [16 favorites]

Agree with everyone - create the boundaries of the new (non-) relationship now. No bed sharing, no "honey." If it's over, it's over. Let her accept the consequences of her decision - this muddy water sounds absolutely confusing and miserable. Claim some dignity back; you can't lure her with the pretense of an unchanged life. I'm surprised someone who has said they don't love you wants to treat you like that; but maybe I shouldn't be - maybe she's taking advantage of the comfort or power she can still gain by treating you as if nothing's changed. But things have changed, and your living arrangements need to reflect that honestly.
posted by Miko at 9:23 AM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

I forgot to add that I was thrown by your referencing of her as your soon to be ex-girlfriend. If she doesn't love you, and she's moving out, DTMFA. Then it'll be much easier to tell her not to sleep in your bed.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:24 AM on December 15, 2010

If it's really not practical for her to leave, remove yourself from the situation as best you can. Stay out late at night with friends, only come home after she's asleep and sleep in another room. It's only for a month, which in the history of the universe is not a very long time.
posted by Melismata at 9:25 AM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

We are still sharing a bed and having sex. She still calls me "honey," and makes coffee in the morning.

Not okay. Shut it down.
posted by jerseygirl at 9:25 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

When I said she didn't do anything wrong, I just meant the actual breakup (she IS your ex, not soon-to-be-ex). The 'honey' and bed-sharing stuff is pretty selfish and horrible, on the other hand.
posted by kcm at 9:26 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

When the gf I was living with ended things (badly) I made her sleep on the couch... in her house.
posted by bitdamaged at 9:33 AM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

No, her day to day actions do not clash with her big picture plan. She does not mind keeping the status quo for the next month. She probably enjoys having sex with you and might even enjoy making coffee for you in the morning.

None of that is inconsistent with deciding to move out, hearing you say if she moves out it's over, and deciding that she's rather move out than be in the relationship. She likes things fine at that level of relationship - you want a deeper level of relationship. Her actions are consistent with where she wants to be.

She can happily spend time with you and not want to Be With You the way you want. Either way, you're not going to change her mind, not even a 1% chance. If you are cool with things staying like this for the next month, then that's fine, but know that her mind isn't going to change, and at some point you will have to accept the breakup, no matter how hard you try to look at it differently.
posted by mrs. taters at 9:49 AM on December 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

Why allow her to set a timetable for you in your place? Out now.
posted by Postroad at 9:50 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Her moving into a seperate apartment could actually improve y'all's relationship. Are you breakign up with her because she's moving out and that is the "step-backwards" in your relationship that you aren't willing to take? In any case, take turns sleeping on the couch, stop having sex, but I think the coffee-making is ok.
posted by fuq at 9:50 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I went through something almost identical, and I'll nth what everyone else has said: stop sleeping with her, take care of your own stuff and let her deal with hers. End it as quick as possible.

As for the next few months, after she moves out, I can say: if I could go back and relive my own situation again, I would have started dating other people again as soon as possible and kept communication with her to a bare necessities minimum. Move on.
posted by natteringnabob at 9:51 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

No, sorry. She doesn't get to have all the perks of a relationship (companionship, sex, lodging, warm bed in which to snuggle) while leaving you emotionally barren. That's completely unfair. Do yourself a favor and, like everyone else here has said, distance yourself from her as much as possible until she can leave. Which should be soon. Very soon.
posted by phunniemee at 9:55 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've been there. Sorry you are going thru it.
I agree with the advice given so far, and agree you should not hang out with her in your apt - but watch her as she packs and moves. Make sure she doesn't 'accidentally' pack / move out with something that's yours. You'll never get it back.
posted by saragoodman3 at 9:55 AM on December 15, 2010

Echoing everyone else. She needs to leave ASAP. If she absolutely can't, at minimum she should be on the couch. No more sex, no more "honey." Why string out the pain?
posted by SisterHavana at 10:01 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

When I broke up with an ex of three years we tried that, it failed miserably. You need to get her out of there. Not on the couch, out of the apartment. She finds a friend to crash with, you find a friend to crash with and she pays the rent for the remaining month, however you need to make it work you need to get her out. Bring in a couple of friends and you all pack up her stuff. You're there to make sure she's not stealing shit, they're there to keep your tempers down during the process.

The "honey" and coffee in the morning and bullshit is because you're a familiar, comforting habit and people don't like breaking habits. Don't be her transition.
posted by schroedinger at 10:02 AM on December 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

Her moving into a seperate apartment could actually improve y'all's relationship. Are you breakign up with her because she's moving out and that is the "step-backwards" in your relationship that you aren't willing to take?

Hm, this is a good point. I asked my partner to move out at an early point in our relationship when we had progressed too quickly. He did, we kept dating, and eventually moved in back together again, where we are now. So it's kind of hard for us to really interpret everything here - did she propose moving out for the health of your relationship, sort of as the way to give it its best shot?

I think I presumed not, because it sounds like she made all the arrangements in secret and was pretty definite in telling you she doesn't love you. But it's hard to interpret over the tubes. Only you could tell us whether she said that in a "I don't love you now and don't think I'm going to love you ever" or "I'm not feeling the same intensity level of love you are right now" way.

In any case, if she proposed moving out but wanted to continue the relationship, but you decided not to take what you saw as "a step backward," then the actual breakup was your decision. In that case, you broke up with her, but are living as if you haven't broken up.

The interpretation really hinges on whether she was seeing this move out as a way to maintain and perhaps repair or progress your relationship, or as a way to end the relationship. If it's the latter, then I stand by my original advice. But there's a chance it's the former. In either case, if you're broken up, don't behave like you're not. It'll make you crazy.
posted by Miko at 10:06 AM on December 15, 2010

Note that in the question the poster states that the girlfriend said she no longer loved him. I think banking on her coming back would be pretty unhealthy.
posted by schroedinger at 10:19 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ah, I missed the "anymore" and thought there was, perhaps, a possibility that she just wasn't as intensely involved as the OP and wanted more time and space to let things grow more naturally, without the stress of living together. As I noted, it can happen. I don't recommend "banking on" someone who has fallen out of love falling back in.
posted by Miko at 10:23 AM on December 15, 2010

Lawyer up if you need her out now, delete her from facebook, and hit the gym to get over this.
posted by ShootTheMoon at 10:26 AM on December 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

We are still sharing a bed and having sex. She still calls me "honey," and makes coffee in the morning. Her day-to-day actions clash greatly with her big-picture plan and I am just lost.

Just chiming in to agree that you should stop sleeping with her and going through relationship motions. It's for your own mental health to separate from her as soon as possible.
posted by nomadicink at 10:35 AM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

she can sleep on the couch and move out now. that's the price. you need recovery time and that means time away and no more sex with her, which will make separation harder and take longer.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:58 AM on December 15, 2010

You've heard from a few people who have been through this from your side, so let me offer you the perspective of someone who's been in your ex-girlfriend's very cowardly position. She doesn't want to be with you anymore. I pulled almost this exact same move with an ex of mine -- told him I wanted to move out because I was too scared to say I wanted to break up altogether, and then even after moving out kept us both in an awful state of limbo for months and allowed him to hold out hope for a future I absolutely did not want. Even though she doesn't love you anymore, this is painful for her too, and her day-to-day actions are a way to delay feeling the full pain of implementing her big-picture plan. It's a shame that she lacks the courage, as I did, to just rip off the band-aid -- but that means you have to be the one who stands firm that your relationship is over, and who insists that she act as such. Recognize that she's disrespecting you by being too chickenshit to take responsibility, and love and respect yourself enough to move forward in your own best interest.

I'm so sorry you're going through this. I wish you luck and strength.
posted by spinto at 11:33 AM on December 15, 2010 [19 favorites]

Nthing what spinto says as the guy who was too cowardly to end it, until I made everyone so miserable that it had to happen. (Our situation was different - the relationship was longer, the finances more combined, the break-up was a longer time coming and more mutual, but still, I was your girlfriend.)

Even though it might seem harsh to you, especially since you obviously still care about her, you will be doing her a favor by ending this more completely. Cut off the all "relationship-like" contact (you can do this by still being friendly and adult, and even still living together) but make sure she sticks to her timetable and take care of yourself. There is never a better time than now to be totally selfish. Act on that.

Seriously, if you love her, if you ever want a "friendly-ex" relationship, do not let this simmer.

Good luck.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:57 AM on December 15, 2010

Nthing no more sex, no more sharing a bed. She, as dumper, can sleep on the couch.
posted by elpea at 12:26 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ditto spinto. I've been the girl in this situation (sorry, ex-bf, wherever you are). She's scared. If you can be the bigger person here, I think that would be best for both of you. If you can, have a sit-down with her and lay it out - this isn't working. This isn't fair to either of you. This situation is preventing both of you from moving on and finding someone new. So as of today, she's on the couch. If she can move in to her apartment earlier or crash at a friend's place, great. You can be the bigger person and help her find a place to stay, pack up her shit, cry together, but you need to take care of yourself and one way that you can do that is by ripping this band-aid off and respect yourself enough to move on without her.

What kind of terms are you on with her friends? If they understand the situation, they're probably not entirely cool with it either and would maybe be amenable to letting her couchsurf briefly.

And my condolences. This is a shitty thing to do but you have a real opportunity here to be the bigger person if you want. And if that's not what you want, you can take control of your life back by getting her out of it. Part of getting dumped that sucks is feeling like you're not in control of your life. You have a chance to seize control by kind of dumping her and kicking her out. Good luck.
posted by kat518 at 12:57 PM on December 15, 2010

I'm sorry, richrad. Being in your situation would tear me up emotionally. I agree with the people above who said your ex is probably still sleeping with you and making coffee etc. to try to ease the pain of all of this for you. She probably thinks abruptly dumping you would be much crueler, and that suddenly packing up all her stuff one day and leaving would be crueler than giving you a month notice.

I think asking her to sleep on the couch is fair, and moving her stuff to its own section is fair. I think abruptly kicking her out is overkill, especially if she's been paying her share of rent. It would be impossible to ever take the plunge of living with someone pre-marriage if you would be expected to leave that day if it didn't work out. The whole point of living with someone as a precursor to marriage is you don't know yet if it will work out and breaking up is still a possibility.
posted by Ashley801 at 1:59 PM on December 15, 2010

I'm sorry to hear about this. I've been through a bad breakup where there was no pretense of a relationship, but still had to sit across the table from my ex, jamming toast in our mouths and staring at one another like complete strangers. It hurt. Bad.

It seems to me that you have stronger feelings for her than she does for you but there's no mutuality. Maybe she's comfortable with a FWB relationship now, but that isn't feasible for you at this point.

Continuing this is not going to end well for you. If you want to maintain the friendship, I'd simply tell her that you want that, but in order for that to happen, you need to stop being hurt, which means no more sex and as little contact as possible until some theoretical future point when you can deal with this. Ideally, she would pack now and store her stuff where you don't have to see it, e.g. in a storage unit, and get out until she has a new place.

I hope all the best for you. The sooner you cut the ties, the sooner your heart will be on the mend.
posted by Hylas at 2:14 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Tell her to go. Now. She dumped you and you're an ex with benefits when you want a serious relationship -- her continued presence in your life, especially to this extent, is bad for you.
posted by J. Wilson at 3:09 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

We are still sharing a bed and having sex.

This is where Sassy Gay Friend steps in and says "What what WHAT are you doing?" No wonder you are hurting so terribly. You need to kick her to the couch, or even better, to a hotel or short-term rental or friend's house. She might think continuing to play house is making it easier on you, but it's actually very cruel ("honey" being indeed horrible, I would be bursting into tears whenever she said it), and giving you (what seems to be) false hope. Try to be strong and refuse her... hell, get angry like you have every right to be. Be the one to break up with her - for REAL - as others have said, by asserting yourself and getting her out of the picture. Someone wisely mentioned that you need to recover and demonstrate some dignity.

Please, you deserve so much better, and no one deserves that painful limbo for the next month.
posted by mostlybecky at 7:39 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am the leaving girlfriend who doesn't love you anymore.
Do not, do not, do not "try to get her to reconsider" or "try to keep her close".
If you really want her back (and my best advice is to let her go immediately and move on)...but if you really want her back, the best thing you can do is step away completely, focus on yourself, and don't give in if she starts to seek your attention/affection once she's realized she's lost it.
I would try to divide up your apartment time by each of you taking turns staying with friends, etc.
Even better would be if you could take a little road trip by yourself or with a friend.
Just be kind to yourself, remember this happens to everyone, and don't keep stabbing yourself in the spleen by clinging to her/what you had.
posted by whalebreath at 7:57 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice everyone, and especially those with firsthand knowledge from previous experience (on both ends of the relationship.) I get the message you all are sending. I'm still not sure exactly what I'm going to do, but your posts have given me a lot to think about, and made me feel a little better.

To address a couple points...

did she propose moving out for the health of your relationship, sort of as the way to give it its best shot?

Nope. She just wanted out. While I was the first one to bring up that this would end our relationship, it was pretty obvious that was what she wanted anyway.

Even better would be if you could take a little road trip by yourself or with a friend.

I tried almost exactly this. I went out of town for a weekend to give her some space and time to think. She took that time to go get a lease on a new place.
posted by richrad at 8:24 PM on December 15, 2010

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