Let Her Know Just How Much Thought I've Put Into Breaking Up?
July 19, 2012 10:26 AM   Subscribe

When breaking up with a live-in girlfriend, should I let show just how much forethought I've put into it?

I've been with my girlfriend for a little over a year-and-a-half, and we've lived together for over a year. I still care about her quite a bit, but, largely because of a turbulent first nine months or so (she has severe rage and jealousy issues), I no longer feel that spark or connection that had been there. She's worked hard to curb those traits and has shown great improvement, but - and I'm somewhat ashamed to say - it's a matter of "damage done", I think. (We also haven't had sex in about seven months due to my lack of inspiration, but it's difficult to want to have sex with someone of whom I have so many vivid memories involving her screaming and/or throwing things at me over trivial or non-existent matters.)

Bottom line is I've decided to end it. It's my house, but I'm prepared to let her stay there for a month or so until she finds her own place. I also have another currently vacant property that I'd be okay with renting to her (or rent her the house if she finds a roommate to help with that cost). In having the initial breakup talk, do I just keep the details to a minimum, break it off, stay as she asks her questions/absorbs the shock, and then leave her with some space? Do I bring up the logistics options right away so she's not thinking she'll need to scramble to find a place on top of dealing with the breakup? I'm not sure it'll make it any easier on her if it seems like I've been planning this for a while and have all the angles already covered (which, sadly, is kind of true). Or am I overthinking all of this?
posted by Theophilus to Human Relations (17 answers total)
How you do it really depends on her personality. You need to choose the way the shows you are serious and aren't just picking a fight or something. That may mean sitting down and hashing it all out, including your option of allowing her to stay while finding a place. But since you say she has a temper, if things start going that route, definitely leave and let her cool down—don't let her put you in any danger just because you may feel guilty about breaking it off.

Good luck!
posted by Eicats at 10:31 AM on July 19, 2012

You're overthinking it. Tell her you're breaking up with her, answer her questions honestly, leave her alone with the mention that if there's anything you can do to ease her transition, you'll do it.

But details are not the best thing to get into right after you've broken up with someone as they need time to deal. (Unless that's part of the questions she asks you)
posted by inturnaround at 10:32 AM on July 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

Actually, you shouldn't be thinking about her feelings as much as your own physical and emotional safety. You need to arrange for one or both of you to stay elsewhere, ideally you while she finds a place with a landlord who isn't you. You should be ready to leave at the moment you give the news, with your clothes and valuables elsewhere.

You are obviously walking on eggshells here and I'm worried that this will be drawn out and go badly.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:33 AM on July 19, 2012 [11 favorites]

Really? Do you want a tenant with rage and jealousy issues, much less an ex girlfriend? The kind thing to do would be to give her 2 months to move out(a month is hard, because leases usually start on the 1st of a month, and it's halfway through this month).

I don't think you need to let her know how much thought you've put into it beyond "I've thought really hard about this."
posted by sawdustbear at 10:33 AM on July 19, 2012 [21 favorites]

You do what she asks of you (within reason, and with regard to your own comfort).

If she wants to be alone for a bit, let her be alone. If she want to ask you a plethora of questions, answer them.

DO NOT, lt yourself get talked/guilted into taking her back or giving it one more try. Be firm and definitive.

Also, it is very kind of you to offer to rent her a place to stay, but be warned, that could cause issues/drama down the road. Be sure of what boundaries will accompany your offer before you offer it.
posted by Shouraku at 10:33 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just break it off. Be kind, but firm. It's possible to convey your seriousness with letting her know the timeline of your decision to break-up. There's no good way or reason to say, "I've been thinking about dumping you for a while." If you haven't had sex in the last seven months of a 18-month relationship, I doubt this will come as a complete shock. You know her better than us, so keep yourself safe in case her temper flares.

Personally, I would be insulted if I were offered a rental from the person breaking things off with me. You do NOT want to be her landlord. No no. I would explain that you will give her some time to find a place to stay, and that you're not kicking her out at that moment.
posted by Katine at 10:35 AM on July 19, 2012 [9 favorites]

Oh and finally, you might want a witness. If there is a physical altercation or she self-harms and then blames you, it could have life-ruining consequences. Stay safe.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:36 AM on July 19, 2012 [9 favorites]

It would be healthiest for both of you guys if you didn't potentially have to contact each other once a month about things such as a late rent check, leaking faucet, clogged toilet, etc. Break up with her, give her 1-2 months to find a place (as someone above said, 1 month might not be enough if all apartments she finds start on Aug 1), and then if she is really having trouble finding a place, you can offer your apartment or house for rent if she gets desperate. But give her the chance to move on without your help. She might also view your offer to help her as an opportunity to stay in touch with you and perhaps change your mind. Let the break up sink in completely, so that even if you do end up renting to her, she will not have those thoughts in her mind by then. Also, I'm sure you know this, but once you break up with her, make sure you don't sleep with her, or sleep in the same room.
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 10:58 AM on July 19, 2012

Absolutely do not rent to your soon-to-be-ex. That is all kinds of drama and hassle to deal with. Plan on never speaking to her again once she moves out. This is best for both of you.

If you can move out for awhile to ease the transition and to give her a few weeks to get her shit together, literally and figuratively, that's awesome.

Be very firm about giving notice. Since you own the property and she's your tennant, do it in writing, preferably certified mail.

This sounds cold, but do you want to have to evict her? No. You don't. You don't have to be a dick, when you break it to her that you want to break up, casually mention that you'll be sending her the notice as a formality. In that letter list specifically exactly what she can expect:

1. The exact date you expect her and her stuff to be out of your house.
2. That she didn't give you a deposit, therefore none will be returned.
3. Your expectations of how much rent you expect her to pay you through the end of the next month.
4. Your expectations of how much she owes in utilities.

Once she's gone, send another certified letter, per the landlord/tennant statutes in your area, following up that she's out, no stuff was left behind, and the situation with any damages and outstanding utility bills. (Hopefully they'll be minimal and you won't feel the need to charge her anything.)

This stuff is just a CYA. If she's spiteful, this is just one less avenue that she can hassle you through.

As for explaining about the breakup say as little as possible, "I've struggled with this, but I'm afraid that I'm not happy. I'd like for you to move out by such-and-such a date. I'll send a letter as a formality."

Hopefully, she'll feel the same way and there won't be any screaming, yelling or carrying on. Be as adult as possible, even if she's throwing tantrums like a three-year-old.

It's not nice, but you'll feel SO relieved once you do it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:16 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Don't become her landlord. If you want to ease the transition for her, and you can do so, offer her help with the first month of rent elsewhere, or moving costs. Something that really will help her, but will also help you to get her out of the house so it doesn't become a long and drawn out thing.
posted by Vaike at 11:17 AM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

Be kind and decent about it. You both have shared a life for 1.5 years. Don't do anything you wouldn't want anyone to do to you. How would you like to hear about a breakup? Use that as a guideline. It will keep you in line and not hurt anyone with unnecessary actions.
posted by pakora1 at 11:22 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Let her absorb the fact that you want to break up before you get into any discussions of logistic. You've been thinking about it; possibly she has chosen not to. She will probably not be able to process any details until she's emotionally absorbed the main fact. (That's true of everyone with big news.) It's amazing how much people can fail to hear anything you're saying when their adrenaline is rushing; and how much they can mis-hear what you say.

And yeah, don't be your ex-girlfriend's landlord, that's just a recipe for disaster.
posted by musofire at 11:45 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't think that letting her know you've put a lot of thought into this breakup is relevant or helpful. I think a lot of how to approach this depends on your relationship and how she takes the breakup, which none of us can really know or predict, but I think you absolutely must, at a minimum, be clear that the relationship is over. I would let her decide the direction of the conversation regarding logistics, etc. Obviously if she becomes very upset or potentially violent, conversation is over for now. But at some point you need to communicate to her that you expect her to move out by a certain date, and if you like, you can offer your assistance.

I'm going to nth that you really think very carefully about letting her become your tenant. Even if you have an amicable breakup it's still a messy situation with a lot of emotions and potential for Drama or dragging some aspect of the relationship out indefinitely.
posted by sm1tten at 11:58 AM on July 19, 2012

I would certainly not ask someone I'm kicking out to pay rent through the end of the month I was kicking them out in. They're going to need their money to find another place, and that's what I'd want them to do, and wouldn't interfere with that. If it were my decision to kick them out, it should also be my responsibility to cover any gap their absence leaves.
posted by Miko at 8:36 PM on July 19, 2012

The OP doesn't mention that his gf is currently paying rent but assuming she is, the fact that the relationship is over doesn't absolve her from bills. She's still using power and taking up a room, one can presume. He doesn't deserve to be lumped with that too, all whilst having things thrown at his head amidst a barrage of abuse. I most certainly WOULD expect her to pay, if in fact she takes this new information well and stays her month. I would kindly give her the minimum details, offer her the option of staying X weeks until she can sort her life out and see how well she takes it. If the answer is 'not well', I'd have the police on speed dial and be prepared to ask for my keys back, box up her stuff and tell her to come pick it up at a date suitable to you. Girl's unstable, maybe this is the lesson she needs to learn before she embarks on a new relationship.
posted by Jubey at 9:32 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is when you can finally be totally honest about everything. If she asks (when she asks) how long you've been thinking about it, tell her. It sounds callous, but this isn't a time to spare her feelings. She needs to know exactly why it's ending. The best advice I have is to stick around long enough to make sure that it's all hashed out and not make the conversation too short. I broke up with my live-in girlfriend last year and went about it all wrong. I told her, explained it far too briefly, then packed up some things and went to my friend's place (which I'd already had set-up for a while - having the logistics in place is something you need to do.) But she needed a big, long conversation to get it all out into the open, which is what we did a couple days later. It was cathartic and we both felt better afterwards.
posted by fso at 9:36 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

she has severe rage and jealousy issues
If you have pets, have a friend look after them at their house when you break the news. Also, once she's out, change the front and back door locks.
posted by blueberry at 12:15 AM on July 21, 2012

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