Practical Preparation for Breaking Up
January 20, 2017 12:15 PM   Subscribe

This might sound heartless, but here goes: I'm at a crossroads with my boyfriend, and I think there's a very good chance we're going to break up. I know my heart will take a while to heal; what else do I need to be thinking about before hand?

This is me. I've decided that it's time to tell boyfriend that I'm not getting what I need; this weekend, I will be letting him know that I need him to make a decision by the time I get back from a big conference, otherwise I will be fully moving into a cute studio apartment I've decided to rent. I love him very much, but this is making me so unhappy - I've cried every day for the past month or so, and I'm tired of being with someone who isn't fully invested in me.

With that in mind: what are the practical considerations for breaking up with someone who you've been with for 3+ years? I set up my mail forwarding, and I purchased some home essentials for the new place. What else do I need to be prepared for?

I know this is going to be emotionally devastating, but I want to set myself up to be in as good of a place as possible. I've got a therapist who I like working with. I've got a place to stay. Is there anything else I should be thinking of or prepping in the event of a break-up?

Thanks, AskMe. This is brutal.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (16 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I think you should make a clean break of it after the conference. He's not going to change after 3+ years. It may sound cruel to not give him as much time as you can, but this way you don't have to go to the con having recently broken up (because I think that would be worse than going knowing you're going to break up).

I'm so sorry, but you know it's over. Don't string yourself along anymore.
posted by disconnect at 12:34 PM on January 20, 2017 [14 favorites]

You'll need to split your belongings if you've been staying together for a long time - maybe put some thought into which things you want out of that and sort of be ready ahead of time for that.
Obviously separate banking, change any passwords he may know, let your friends know you may need their support very soon or now about this, and get some other fun stuff on your schedule to look forward to.
posted by jitterbug perfume at 12:34 PM on January 20, 2017

What are the practical considerations for breaking up with someone who you've been with for 3+ years? I set up my mail forwarding, and I purchased some home essentials for the new place. What else do I need to be prepared for?

I somewhat recently moved out of the home I shared with someone I had dated for over half of my life and lived with for about a decade. By the time I actually got out I was pretty much climbing up the walls with teeth-chattering anxiety anytime I had to be around him, and my first nights in the new place were downright ambrosial. So this is all from that perspective.

What I was not anticipating was the profundity of the quietude that ensued. I had lived alone for years when we moved in together, but in the intervening decade, managed to completely forget what it was like to come home and have no one to talk or listen to. I am an extrovert so the sudden dearth of human interaction was especially rough. So now I leave the TV on at low volume at all times unless I am asleep. I had honestly never felt lonely in my entire life before but I do sometimes, now. It sucks, but not half as much as it did living with someone who didn't even really like me. tl;dr - Get ready for awkward silences with yourself.

Prepare to lose at least a couple of your mutual friends, especially if your nascent crush will remain in the picture. Even the ones you feel sure will be "yours" post-breakup can get skittish and avoidant, depending on how your soon-to-be-ex relays his side of the story.

Prepare to lose more of your personal belongings than you are currently anticipating. It can be really hard to regain custody of things that have morphed into joint household items over the years, and at some point you're just going to have to say "fuck it" and go with what you have. So if there's something of yours that you really love that managed to turn into ours during your relationship, try to liberate it from its current position and ferret it away ASAP.

If the breakup has the possibility to create any kind of fiscal instability in your life at all, buy a shitload of shelf-stable food now, and stash away a few hundred bucks. I spent years carefully cultivating a post-breakup pantry and though the cash has long since evaporated, I still have tons of amazing food to eat even when I am (as I am currently) at the you-must-choose-between-your-electric-bill-and-gas-for-the-car level of broke.

Read the answers to this question. I wrote it about a year and a half before I finally gathered my shit up enough to be able to pull the trigger on the move-out and the answers were enormously helpful in both getting me ready for the shit to hit and working through the aftermath.

Good luck, we're rooting for you!
posted by amnesia and magnets at 1:16 PM on January 20, 2017 [14 favorites]

I agree that you should make a clean break after the conference. You've taken all sorts of practical steps already that indicate that you've actually made up your mind. And that's okay! (In case it needs to be said, you don't need his permission to end this relationship.)

To answer your question though, make a little list of anything precious you want that you think he might lay claim to. Before you talk to him, remove any private documents like passport, birth certificate, bank statements etc. from where he might have access.

These steps are a good guideline for taking care of yourself IMO.
posted by purple_bird at 1:21 PM on January 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

I think you should say nothing, move out either before or after the conference, or a few days after the conference...

I want you to feel empowered. I remember you. You can't believe him if he comes around, which if he did would only be on the surface. You know this, that's why you have rented a studio apartment. Break up with him clean, then go home and enjoy how much courage and self-care you are showing yourself. Immediately check out Pinterest or similar and start designing your new home, price out your ideas and make a budget. Furnish your new home and don't look back.

You're a boss. You can do this.
posted by jbenben at 1:25 PM on January 20, 2017 [15 favorites]

Hi, Anonymous. I'm glad you're following up and proud of you for making this move; I know it's hard, but it seems like the right decision for you.

You mention that you "need him to make a decision" by a certain time, but I think it'd be better for you to make this decision, now. You don't need to break up with him today, but it will help if you go into the conversation with your mind already made up. No room for negotiation. Don't leave an opening for him. People tend to promise all sorts of things when they think their relationship's in jeopardy, and don't follow through once they think they're safe.

Line up a few weeks' worth of distractions now, because in addition to mourning the relationship you may be surprised and unsettled by how quiet it is in your new home. Nothing that threatens to put a dent in your health or wallet, but don't force yourself into activities you don't particularly like, either. Books and Netflix binges are generally the best way to fill up time and thought. Make a list now so you're ready to go when you arrive home in your new place.

The no-contact rule is always good. None. Zero.

If it's financially doable for you, leave the shared stuff you don't need and replace it later. Better than fighting over it or trying to divide it. It's a crap move to abandon your non-shared things (e.g. shoes or jewelry) for him to deal with, but if you brought the dishes and towels and you both use them now? Eh, let him have them, not worth the hassle. For that matter, if there's stuff that's only yours that you know you no longer need, sort and purge in advance (and you can cover by talking about a new year's resolution to be tidier or something like that). Post-breakup stuff negotiation is not only a pain in the ass on a practical level, but it invites and prolongs drama, and people frequently use it to get their literal foot in the door for getting back together. Do as much as you can in advance and try to make the moving out as swift and complete as possible.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:27 PM on January 20, 2017 [12 favorites]

Nthing leave behind anything you can replace. Can confirm you will not use any of that stuff, you will tend to avoid it!
posted by jbenben at 1:40 PM on January 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Get Amazon Prime set up so you can order whatever crap you need in the aftermath without ever having to step foot outside of the house (you may have a joint Amazon Prime account before, now is the time to get your own).

Buy some candles, and a box of matches so you can light them up all around the studio.
posted by moiraine at 1:49 PM on January 20, 2017 [4 favorites]

Agreeing with those who say to just leave. Don't give him the final say over your future. You already have your answer. He's had over three years to make the kind of commitment you want and he hasn't done it. He's given you his answer repeatedly through his actions. I really hate the idea of one final "give me what I want or I'm leaving". That's not a healthy relationship dynamic at all. Both of you have to want the same things and be fully invested in each other. That really doesn't sound like what you've got in this relationship.

Hold your head up high and move on. You've got your answer. You don't like it but you already have it. Please don't grovel and ask one more time. Absorb the blow and start anew in your own place. He had his chance. Now's the time for you to be strong and finally hear what he's been telling you. I'm sorry. It hurts and it sucks and it's going to feel really bad for awhile but it will get better. It will get better.
posted by Kangaroo at 2:17 PM on January 20, 2017 [9 favorites]

Have some plans to look forward to right after your move, preferably with supportive friends. A concert, a weekend trip, a craft-a-thon to help your new place feel homey, an evening of frivolous cocktails and a frivolous movie, a class you've been wanting to take. Money is probably tight because of your move, but if you can spare it for some serious fun to look forward to, it will help.

Play all the music he hated. Make all the food he didn't care for. Watch the shows and TV you could only watch when he wasn't around. Enjoy being you for the sake of being you.
posted by Pearl928 at 3:11 PM on January 20, 2017 [6 favorites]

If your money isn't already completely seperate you might want to take steps to untangle things like bank accounts, credit cards, bills etc that might be in both names or you might both have access to.
posted by wwax at 3:46 PM on January 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

At some point, you may feel lonely and sentimental and feel a twinge to call up the ex just to say how are you or happy birthday or whatever. This usually happens late at night or when something reminds you of your time together.

Here's what you do - line up a friend now, who will take your call/sms/email at any time. Then whenever you feel even the slightest urge to contact the ex, contact the friend instead.
posted by metaseeker at 4:08 PM on January 20, 2017 [7 favorites]

A few weeks after I moved out after a 12 year relationship, I had the worst homesickness ever. I didn't miss him as such, I just missed being in our house, with all our stuff around. It lasted a couple of weeks (of daily crying fits and general misery) and then I was fine and loving my new freedom and new home. It helped a bit to have a friend recognise what was wrong and label it for me.
posted by eloeth-starr at 5:09 PM on January 20, 2017 [9 favorites]

I wouldn't give him an ultimatum about leaving because coercing someone to commit isn't a great path. I also wouldn't time leaving to coincide with the conference. Move/break-up when you have your stuff shifted to your new place.


Assuming you are in the US, then make sure you collect all your tax documents before you move.

Don't rely on post office change of address. Call every credit card, bank, and loan to change your address. Many of these firms will send a confirmation of the change of address to your current address. Be prepared to collect those notifications if you aren't ready to discuss the move.

As soon as you have address changes completed, change the beneficiary of anything relevant (insurance, 401K, etc.)

As you pack for the conference, take an extra suitcase of clothing and drop it at the studio.

Order change of address postcards. As soon as you move send them to friends.
posted by 26.2 at 6:32 PM on January 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

Yeah, the ultimatum is only going to get him to say something that he doesn't really mean (just like those "I just need six months..." that he's been repeatedly dropping twice a year), and you'll be back in the same situation a few months down the road.

Ideally, you could move out while he was at work, a week before you head to the conference--giving time for you to make sure you grab your needed stuff, and time to get the essentials out of boxes at your new place. And with the deed done, you wouldn't have Moving Day things worrying you at the conference.

With this "boyfriend-mandated escape-hatch" home, your crush on NewGuy, and your AskMe questions, you're obviously (rightfully!) fed up and pretty ready to be done with this keeping-you-circling-the-airport BS. The guy is still looking at the menu after 3.5 years? No.

You deserve a future; there is none with Mr. Zero Growth 2013.

Sounds like you got the mail sorted. Make sure to change things like any joint accounts, or bills with your info (cable/gas/electric/etc). Change all of your passwords--Gmail, Facebook, Netflix. And send out change of address emails to your family and friends so you don't have to pick up any errant xmas cards in 11 months.
posted by blueberry at 6:21 PM on January 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Hey all. OP here.

So, last night, we broke up. I'm experiencing a lot of grief right now - it's a combination of mourning the life I thought I would have with him and losing my best friend. It's pretty devastating, and my heart is broken. His is, too.

I'm pretty much completely moved out at this point. I know that it's ultimately the right choice, but god it hurts so badly. Thank you all so much for your support and kindness through this. I feel kind of like the "bad guy" right now, though I know that it's ultimately the right thing to do.

Anyway, much love to AskMe.
posted by superlibby at 11:34 AM on January 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

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