Should I stay or should I go now?
March 17, 2011 3:32 PM   Subscribe

We broke up. Who keeps the apartment?

Relevant details:

My now-former partner of 3 years and I moved cross-state last year and moved into an apartment together. We broke up in February. Our lease is up at the end of April. My ex initiated the breakup. No infidelity or anything like that involved; the relationship tanked due to a combination of shitty communication on both our parts, a hypomanic episode I had in November (for which I'm now being treated medical and therapeutically), changing life circumstances, and my partner falling out of love with me as a result of all the foregoing.

We initially got the apartment through my best friend, who is the building manager. I also put down the entire deposit ($600, a little less than half of a month's rent). Our rent is pretty good for the area, also due to my friendship with the manager.

My ex wants to stay in the apartment because it's close to the place where she currently has a contract job, because it's close to public transit, because she has a lot of furniture, and because it's an awesome place. I want to stay in the apartment for all of the same reasons; I commute to work but the place is ideally situated for said commute. (I don't have as much furniture, though.) I feel like my ex has a weird sense of entitlement around the apartment, especially given my connection to the manager and the fact that I was the one who was dumped, but that could just be me letting my emotions cloud my perspective.

At the moment, we're sharing a car that belongs to my ex, an arrangement that has been ongoing for the past year-plus. That's ending in a few weeks; as a result of all of this I've arranged to buy a friend's car. That's sort of hosing my savings, and moving will be financially burdensome at a time when I don't have a lot of extra cash. My ex just started working again after a lengthy grad school stint, and is making around twice as much as me at the moment… she has no savings at this time (I've been floating her rent money for the past few months, but have been paid back in a reasonable amount of time), but she will have a lot of money in the bank by May.

My ex is "willing to talk about" (her words) me staying in the place until the end of May if she is able to stay in the place. When I said that I might want to keep the apartment, my ex said (another quote) "Fine, then I'll move out at the end of April or before." She's been passively-aggressively hostile around this issue and the car situation. I wouldn't characterize her as a mean person--our relationship was loving and healthy for years--but breakups bring out weird stuff in people and she's acting out in uncharacteristic ways.

Additional complicating factors: I just got pink-slipped from my teaching position, and while I think my job will ultimately be renewed for next year I'm sort of stressed about the spectre of unemployment. She doesn't seem willing to let me stay there past the end of May if she stays in the place, and May is a busy enough month in education that I probably won't have time to do a big apartment hunt, and would probably end up couch-surfing with friends starting the last week-and-a-half of my school year. (She's not showing any empathy about any of this.) For the record, if I keep the apartment I'm comfy letting her stay as long as she needs provided I can get one month's notice so I can find a roommate.

Aside from all of this I'm heartbroken, which is messing up my perspective. Plus, I'm not good at standing up for myself, especially in the aftermath of breakups. (I'm working on this with an excellent therapist.)

So: should I try to keep the place? How do I present it to her if that's what I decide to do? Should I walk away from it just to be out of a crap situation? Is there stuff I should be considering but haven't?

Thanks for helping me think through this, MeFi.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (26 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
When I said that I might want to keep the apartment, my ex said (another quote) "Fine, then I'll move out at the end of April or before."

So what's the problem here? Let her move out; this will give you plenty of time to find a new roommate.
posted by lalex at 3:35 PM on March 17, 2011 [15 favorites]

You put down the deposit? You're friends with the manager?

Have the manager roll over your deposit to a new lease with only you on it. Kick her ass to the curb.
posted by Oktober at 3:36 PM on March 17, 2011 [10 favorites]

I agree with the above posters, she agreed that she would move out (albeit, in what sounds to be a rather snarky way of putting it) and you knew the manager and paid the deposit. Also, if she stays and the apartment is no longer under a lease, is it possible the deal wouldn't be so great since the manager was your friend rather than hers?

Best of luck with your job situation, and I hope this works out well for you however the chips land.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 3:44 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

She's leaving you. Therefore she should, you know, leave (since that's how you want it). Accept the month's notice (end of April) she provided, start interviewing roommates and inform your friend, the manager, to take her off the lease. It's also fair because you're trading inconveniences: you're getting a new car, she's getting a new place.

I'm sorry you're in pain.
posted by carmicha at 3:44 PM on March 17, 2011 [15 favorites]

Also your reference to The Clash in the post title clearly shows your the better person! ;)
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 3:46 PM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

Generally speaking in my world, the person who has done the breaking-up is the one who needs to move. I'm sure lots of people deal with this differently. I think the rest is details. Tell her you'd like her to move out, that she can stay in the apartment for a month [or whatever you're comfortable with] and that you'd prefer if she made herself scarce until she actually moves out. It's okay to feel pretty crappy when people dump you. Her issues finding a new place are not your concern. This isn't who deserves the place, this is "okay you said you'd move out, let's figure out how you're going to do that" time.
posted by jessamyn at 3:46 PM on March 17, 2011 [8 favorites]

Your ex should let go of the apartment. But you should stop sharing her car for transportation like, now. Get a rental, do whatever. It will prevent more bad feelings (and maybe a super awkward situation if you were to get in an accident).
posted by griselda at 3:47 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Agreed. She should be the one to move out.
posted by grapesaresour at 3:48 PM on March 17, 2011

I actually think you should move because it's really really really not worth the fight.

Plus, it sounds like starting over in a new space might be good for you. Plus, you can't afford the apartment on your own.

Move in to a temporary roommate situation or a small sublet until your ex pays you back and you are financially flush again.

I currently doubt your ability to attract a stable and positive long-term roommate to the flat you are in right now with all this extra drama in your life. The odds are high you will make the wrong choice in roommates right now.

I think you should stay fluid and keep your obligations minimal until you are in a better mental and financial position to make decisions.

Worrying about who has "rights" to the apartment in this situation is a total derail compared to you getting your life stable, happy, and strong.

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 3:48 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

So... most of the furniture is hers, and so is the car? And she makes lots more money than you do? From her point of view, you have been relying on her, and the place is therefore hers. That explains her sense of entitlement.

You are going to need to change that assumption in order to convince her that you should keep the place.
posted by twblalock at 3:52 PM on March 17, 2011

While I agree that the relationship-leaver should ideally be the one to leave the apartment, I think the most scrupulously fair thing would be for both of you to move out and find new places.

Also, do you really want to live alone in the place where the two of you lived together for so long? I did this for 6 months at the end of my last horrible breakup and those were, hands down, the six most depressing months of my life.
posted by elizardbits at 3:53 PM on March 17, 2011 [5 favorites]

You were the one who got the apartment in the first place, and she's leaving you. She's not entitled to the apartment. If she wants to collect something for your use of the car for a year, that's up to her.

P.S. Letting her kick you out of your apartment is not going to make her love you again for being generous and sweet. Just in case no one brought that up.
posted by bartleby at 3:57 PM on March 17, 2011 [8 favorites]

do you want to live alone/can you afford the place on your own? i know about your savings being drained. will you continue staying in the place after?

just one option (many of the options above make a lot of sense - she did agree to move): this could be a good time to move in with roommates, even for a short-term sublet, to save up money, collect some furniture, and have new energy in your life? you said you moved cross-state with your ex? living alone after living with someone is really hard - i know, as i have done this (and i was the one who initiated the break-up).

i'm sorry you are in a challenging place right now and wish you best!
posted by anya32 at 3:58 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Generally speaking in my world, the person who has done the breaking-up is the one who needs to move.

Came here to say exactly that. The exception would be if the breaker-upper was already paying for everything and had, say, invited the break-up-ee to move in.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:58 PM on March 17, 2011

She should be the one moving out. But what good does it do you to poll us? If she's good on her word of moving out, let her be hostile and just stay calm. She did the breaking up, so she needs to find a place to stay unless her name is the sole name on the lease. Then again, you've been floating her rent money, so if I were the sole decider, I'd say you get to stay.
posted by anniecat at 4:02 PM on March 17, 2011

For clarity...

If you hop into a bad roommate situation, it will be easy for you to get out of that and hop into a new and better situation.

If you invite a bad roommate into your current apartment, you may have a lot of trouble getting rid of them.

Your current apartment sounds like a one bedroom, yes? Then it might not be suited to comfortable roommate living, anyway.

I think your ex sounds like she is being practical about this and you are basing the decision more on emotions.

Be practical here and you can't lose!
posted by jbenben at 4:10 PM on March 17, 2011

Generally I'd cite the unwritten laws of breakups and say that she should move out and you should stay, but I'm going to agree with elizardbits on this one. You should both move out. This apartment might be convenient for a number of reasons, but living alone in a place full of good (and bad) memories will, I think, only make things worse for you right now. You need to get somewhere new, somewhere that's going to give you new things to think about, new things to do. They say no matter where you go that's where you are, but sometimes you've got to just be somewhere else before you can move on.

Also, I'm sorry you're going through this. I really am. You sound like you're doing the right things, though. I wish you all the luck in the world, and some blue skies tomorrow.
posted by fight or flight at 4:13 PM on March 17, 2011

My ex just started working again after a lengthy grad school stint

Does this mean that you've been supporting her? Because that seriously wipes out her lesser arguments of having more furniture or letting you use her car.

One point to consider: If you've been pink-slipped, and you decide to move, will other places require proof of employment? This might affect whether or not you can move easily, and also timing if you do choose to move.

She's offered to stay, and she's offered to go. Everything else was just her saying crappy things to you. Make the best choice for you, and then inform her of your decision.
posted by Houstonian at 4:23 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Look, I'd go. No breakup I've ever been in where I've stayed in the apartment - even for a few weeks - post break-up has the place not felt haunted by their pressence afterwards. Seriously, go and find a new future without that person. It will help you move on.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:34 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

You loved her, she loved you. Is there a way out that you can both feel good about? You have to get your deposit. Can she afford the deposit and the full rent? Get your landlord-friend and everybody you know to help find another apartment for her. Help her move. Be a good sport. You'll feel better about it.
posted by theora55 at 5:43 PM on March 17, 2011

Can you move into another apartment on the complex? If you are friends with the manager maybe then you can get another good deal if a place opens up. Although it would be awkward if you saw your ex around a lot.
posted by Jaelma24 at 9:33 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

So her initial view was, "We're done and you're moving out because it's convenient for me and I don't feel like moving?"

Like bloody hell.

No guess how you'd feel about living in what had been y'all's place, but if you're okay with it, put up with her through April and she is gone, gone, gone.
posted by ambient2 at 12:24 AM on March 18, 2011

Take her up on her willingness to move out, and go ahead and put up with her being a bitch about it, it's not like you're going to stay friends after this (realistically, everyone says it, but... ). Moving's a pain, but she's the one who ended it, she's the one who should go.
posted by lemniskate at 6:12 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Your ex initiated the break up?

She should move.

It's that simple.

It sounds like you broke up with my ex-wife's sister.
posted by PsuDab93 at 6:20 AM on March 18, 2011

A friend went through this a few years ago. She broke up with him and he left his home of eight years (five years before and three years with her). She indicated that she wanted him to move out and he begrudgingly agreed -- despite much advice that she was the one who wanted something else, why should he live his home.

He had a lovely flat in a tremendous location in San Francisco with a very reasonable level of rent. Enough memories before to carry him through to a new life and all the rest.

He moved in with some older guys (40s, he was 30) and slept in a crap room in a dodgy part of town for a little less rent for eighteen months. He's still roaming through leases looking for a place to call home.

I was confounded for years by this until I really thought about his perspective and the psychological dimensions. She had come along and made his house into a home. A nest as he then described it. They painted everything, saw flatmates leave, and eventually ended up in this beautiful flat together. In many ways, he had built a life he wanted and really enjoyed.

He didn't want to stay after things fell apart. The friends wanted him to stay because it was his claim and he was entitled to it, in our minds at least. He put up a superficial battle for a short-time with her, enduring token discussions, but he was crushed and just needed to change scenery, it didn't really matter where he went.

She stayed for the better part of a year in that flat before quitting her job and going back East to her hometown. Within three months, she had moved back, fallen in love with an old friend, and now they are engaged.

That flat was a f*cking curse on whoever stayed in it, forced to constantly relive the memories of two people building a life together -- bright memories faded into a bittersweet narrative.

In the end, she did him a huge favour by forcing him out of the nest and into what laid waiting for him. He could have stayed and she could have gone. But then perhaps we would have endured the crippling depression and ultimately left not only a house he worked hard to attain but rather an entire life -- personal and professional.

I asked him about it sometime later and he said that he could have stayed if he had really wanted to stay. He was on the lease and knew the landlord. But he knew what that would cost him. He would have had to devalue the entire relationship and basically erase her from his mind, disparaging the longings by demonising their time together. Thus, basically, reliving what didn't work in the relationship to a point of healing.

A penny of self-knowledge is work a dollar of rent control, I tell you what.
posted by nickrussell at 7:20 PM on March 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

(many spelling errors, very late, hope the meaning is not lost)
posted by nickrussell at 7:23 PM on March 19, 2011

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