Should I offer financial assistance to my ex-girlfriend?
February 16, 2017 6:48 PM   Subscribe

I'm in a bit of a sticky situation with my ex-girlfriend. We broke up in November but we're still living together. I'm looking to move out but feel compelled to offer some financial assistance to her in the coming months. What is reasonable in this circumstance?

As the question states, we broke up in November but have been living together since. The breakup was initiated by me. We had been living together, thinking about marriage, and have two dogs together. I knew in my heart it wasn't right and I'm confident with the decision to break up. We're both 26 and live in a major US city. We have separate bedrooms and bathrooms and the rent is $1,500 + $125 in utilties.

She is in a healthcare related graduate program and will be graduating at the end of May with a good salary, though doesn't yet have a job lined up. I have been paying the rent and living expenses since we moved in together a year and a half ago. I have a sufficient salary to cover expenses with the original expectation in the relationship that she start to contribute when she starts working in June, though the expenses do stretch me a little thin. She doesn't have any student loans but borrowed money from her father to pay for school. Apparently he is pretty well off and could offer additional financial support, though she says he won't help anymore than he has and won't pay for rent.

The rationale behind continuing to live together is to make it until she can get on her own two feet. She started paying 1/3 of the rent this month with babysitting money but didn't pay anything in December or January because she was mostly out of town (though I also realize as an adult this isn't an excuse you can tell your landlord). I never especially wanted to continue living together, though I suppose I haven't really felt like there is any other option. We are both on the lease and she is unable to make the payment in entirety. She refuses to move out with the rationale that she doesn't have the money nor does it make sense, considering that she'll possibly be moving out of state this summer so she only has a few months left. If I move out she has threatened to not pay rent and leave me on the hook with the landlord.

The breakup has been mostly amicable though only as amicable as a breakup can be. We're mostly friendly but she often drops little digs at me and on more than one occasion has come into my room crying talking about how I've ruined her life. While I can deal with the day to day cohabitation okay, it's these occasional breakdowns that I'm not up for. It's time to really make a split and live separately.

Considering that she refuses to move out, it seems like moving out myself is the best option. I am viewing a bedroom for rent tomorrow in a house with three other people. The rent is $700, so less than half of my current rent. My conceived solution is to move in next month and then pay 1/2 the rent at my current apartment through June. Our lease is up in September, though my landlord is reasonable and may be able to bump it up to June for us. If not, I would not offer to continue to pay this 1/2 rent past June when she will be out of school and will have the time to work.

My family and friends think I'm nuts and say I'm throwing money away. I do see their perspective. If I were to really leave her on her own, I think that she could probably find a way. It wouldn't be unreasonable to take out a student loan for these expenses, or I imagine her dad would help her out if she were really in a bind. Additionally, I've been covering the expenses for a year and a half so I feel like I've done my part.

On the other hand, we built this life together and I don't want to leave her in the lurch. I am much more financially stable for her and it wouldn't be terribly difficult for me to cover the 1/2 rent through June. I have a good stash of savings given to me by my family whereas she has virtually nothing in the bank. I rationalize it as $1,500 out of my pocket each month to pay my new rent + 1/2 rent, which is what I've been paying for the last year and a half anyways.

Do you think I am being taken advantage of? Should I see if I can get my name removed from the lease and let her figure it out? Or should I continue to offer some support through the end of her school year with the hard limit of nothing past June?
posted by masters2010 to Human Relations (35 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This depends on you. What will make you feel worse when you obsess on it at 3am: that you paid more than you had to to someone who's not in your life anymore, maybe got taken advantage of; or that you left your live-in student girlfriend in the lurch? They're both possible interpretations of the fact pattern. Which one makes you feel ashamed and like you made the wrong choice? Spot the one that makes your stomach turn, and then do the other one.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:58 PM on February 16, 2017 [18 favorites]

I think that's very kind. Both of you had plans and made financial decisions based on those plans. Now the plans have changed and she doesn't have the money to support herself. If you have the resources to throw some money at the problem and help her out, it isn't a horrible use of your money. This also gives her some time to figure out what to do next.
posted by meemzi at 7:00 PM on February 16, 2017 [14 favorites]

If I move out she has threatened to not pay rent and leave me on the hook with the landlord.

These are not the words of someone I would be doing any favors. I'd give her a good chunk of time to get a roommate and just make a clean break. You've been more than fair and it's nice that you are being thoughtful. I can imagine it might be tough to date and explain to someone why you're paying your ex-girlfriend's rent. Some of this may be cultural. Where I come from it's not so much that you are being taken advantage of as much that this is more than most people would expect and I would only do it for someone who was really without means to manage this situation otherwise which it does not seem is where your ex is at.
posted by jessamyn at 7:02 PM on February 16, 2017 [52 favorites]

Having a lease hanging over your head until September is a big liability. Make getting off the lease top priority, and if you have money left over after that, feel free to give her some, though you've already paid the bills for several months post breakup, which is more than most people would expect. I'd expect her to want to move to a less expensive place now.
posted by metasarah at 7:06 PM on February 16, 2017 [6 favorites]

Sublet your room. Make her find the roommate since she'll be living with this person. Make sure it's not illegal as per your lease. You might also ask the landlord to substitute the new roommate for you on the lease.

She's an adult, not your dependent.
posted by jbenben at 7:10 PM on February 16, 2017 [13 favorites]

What will you want to look back and have done, 5 years from now?

It sounds to me like you want to do this to help her, because you are ultimately a fair and kind person. You have this internet stranger's encouragement.

You could pose it to her as a loan where, in good faith, you expect her to repay once she is employed in her field.
posted by Dashy at 7:15 PM on February 16, 2017 [5 favorites]

My divorce was finalized two months ago Sunday. We lived together for waaaaay too long after we officially split up. Here are the mistakes I made. Their effect on my health and well-being were awful, and I encourage you to avoid them.

1) I waited too long to move out, because I was waiting for a place I loved. Don't do this. Move out as soon as you find a place you can afford that suits your basic needs. Sign a short-term lease if you have to. You think things are amicable now, but a few months from now you will be clawing your eyes out.

2) Don't prioritize her well-being over yours. She's an adult. She needs to be able to support herself, even if that means relying on family for help. You are not obligated to be her help. Don't stay because you worry she can't make ends meet if you don't. That's on her, not on you.

3) Absolutely get off the lease if you can, because it sounds like she's perfectly willing to be passive about moving out and let you take the hit for it. If you can't get off the lease, sublet.

4) Speaking as the person who initiated the breakup and then stayed in the house afterwards, my best advice for you is to GET OUT NOW. She's upset that you broke up with her. She may be hiding it well for now, but the longer that resentment simmers, the worse it's going to be in the end.

I'm actually shaking a little reading your question, because I'm reliving the 12+ months of misery that I experienced because I was reluctant to move out for $reasons.

You need to do what's best for you. It may feel heartless, but it isn't. Your obligation is to yourself, not the person you broke up with.

(This is a really hard lesson to learn for some reason. It seems so simple, but for a person with empathy, it isn't.)
posted by mudpuppie at 8:25 PM on February 16, 2017 [22 favorites]

I've never regretted helping people who were trying to make it on their own but various circumstances had made life difficult. I've resented people who felt entitled to my goodwill or resources, who didn'ttry to compensate another way (housework for example) and who forced me into conflict after ignoring multiple polite requests. Thesent people also resented me withdrawing the support.

If you can't see any practical way to move out soon or to stop supporting her, I would suggest you draw up an agreement where she does a certain number of hours at tasks you set, and/or a financial agreement that this is a loan, with the expectation she will pay you back at 15% of her income until debt is cleared. You don't ever have to collect if you want, but maybe she will respect the separation of resources better now.
posted by b33j at 8:30 PM on February 16, 2017 [4 favorites]

Yes I'm all for generosity but I'm not convinced that your ex in this situation is where your generosity should be directed- it sounds like she's being a bit recalcitrant and spiteful. Understandable given how much break ups suck, but nevertheless you shouldn't feel bad if you are firmer about her needing to ask her dad for financial support/finding a flatmate to take your spot/getting her to find a cheaper room in a sharehouse and you taking over the rent and finding your own (non-ex) flatmate if you choose. Both moving on is the generous thing for both of you in the long term and that doesn't involve continuing to live together for any longer than necessary and/or you continuing to pay her way.
posted by hotcoroner at 8:41 PM on February 16, 2017

It's not clear to me how long you've lived together. Where I live, you might be considered to be in a common law marriage and she could be entitled to support. Since you are both on the lease, I think you should talk to her about a roommate and then you should put all the things in place to help find the roommate (run the ads) but she gets to vet them and approve them. It would have to be a short-term sublet. You should also go with her to talk to the landlord about bumping up the lease end to July or something.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 8:55 PM on February 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

The original idea of you covering the rent until she finished school was contingent on you both staying together, I assume. Since you have broken up, she should no longer feel entitled to this arrangement.

Making rude remarks to you and blackmailing you, after you've covered her rent for 18 months, is not okay. Obviously I don't know what precipitated your breakup and she might have legitimate grievances about how it went down, but if she feels strongly enough to be rude about it, she should do you both a favor and move out. She doesn't have the right to be surly and enjoy free rent, unless you did something horrible to her and she's unhappily stuck with you because she would literally be homeless if she moved out. Then she might have justification for her behavior, because she would be stuck between a rock and a hard place. But I am not getting that impression.

I don't understand how she could leave you "on the hook" with your landlord if you left. She is also on the lease. In the landlord's eyes, she is accountable for paying rent. So if you left, it would be on her to pay up.

If you move out, your ex will find a way to pay her rent. She will get a roommate, she will babysit, her dad will pitch in, or some combination of those three. If push comes to shove, I assume she has a friend or two who would let her couchsurf.

Please don't deplete your savings to support someone unless you are certain she will be homeless and completely without resources if you cut her off. And even then, I would limit outright financial support to the bare minimum and insist she find part-time income to make up the difference. Only do this as a last resort. Best of luck.
posted by delight at 8:55 PM on February 16, 2017 [8 favorites]

She is in a healthcare related graduate program and will be graduating at the end of May with a good salary, though doesn't yet have a job lined up.

How intense is her program? How on track is she for finishing? If there's a thesis or big exams, it would be really kind to let her stay until she graduates. It's only 3 more months.

She doesn't have any student loans but borrowed money from her father to pay for school. Apparently he is pretty well off and could offer additional financial support, though she says he won't help anymore than he has and won't pay for rent.

It sounds like you are a bit peeved that you are supporting this woman when her own father can well afford it. As in if he were not well-off, it would not sting as much. I wouldn't dwell on it; that way lies darkness. He is probably peeved that you wasted 1.5 years of her youth.

Additionally, I've been covering the expenses for a year and a half so I feel like I've done my part.

When you were together, you were OK with covering the expenses, given the nature of your relationship at that time. You can't retroactively turn that into "prior contributions toward post-breakup equitability"!

Do you think I am being taken advantage of? Should I see if I can get my name removed from the lease and let her figure it out? Or should I continue to offer some support through the end of her school year with the hard limit of nothing past June?

Yes and no. If you had to. Probably.

If you can afford it, emotionally and financially, you can be the bigger person by not forcing her out until she graduates her program. Especially since you initiated a breakup 6 months before graduation. After that, it's on her to find a job or move back home. Set a clear timeline and get on with your own life.

On the other hand, she is young and motivated enough to get most of the way through a graduate program in health. She is not without family support. She is likely to be resilient enough to deal with whatever you do, even if she doesn't want to. By not subsidizing her any longer, you might be allowing her to discover her own strength.

Then again, it's only three months.

It can be emotionally draining to have to live with someone you just broke up with. Especially since the general advice is to go no contact! I hope you both manage to pick up the pieces and move on.
posted by metaseeker at 9:27 PM on February 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

I would first talk with your landlord and get clarification about the possibility of shortening the lease and/or adding a new roommate. Depending on those possibilities, find out your own legal obligations should you move out and she remain.
From there I would suggest sitting down with your ex-girlfriend again, making it absolutely clear that you have decided that living together is no longer an option, and stating that you will be moving out if she prefers not to. (Your current state of limbo sounds emotionally taxing for everyone, and I wonder if some of her behavior might be driven by holding on to what little is left of this relationship.)
If she still wants to stay, and a new roommate is a possibility, it seems fair to me to allow a month or so to get someone in place and offer to help with finding that person and/or rent in the interim. If this is not possible and she insists that she doesn't have the means to pay rent, i would re-iterate your willingness to stay so she can leave and find a place that works better for her. Maybe help with moving expenses/planning/etc. Whatever plan you decide, I would make it something you can finalize within a month so you guys both have some space to move on & move forward. Be kind, be firm.
posted by gennessee at 9:37 PM on February 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

Some good info here so far, thanks to everyone for taking the time to respond. I reviewed my lease and to my surprise the lease actually expires July 31st -- good to know! As expected, I see both sides of the argument in the responses. My inclination is to pay half the rent through the end of the term, especially because I am not depleting any savings to do so. Looking back in 5 years I know the money won't have any significance to me. For me it's more a balance of being a kind and generous person and perhaps being taken advantage of vs making the tough decision to be firm and unrelenting and let her figure it out on her own, though as one response said maybe empowering her to develop her own individual strength. I need more time to reflect. Regardless, I will do my best to get out of the space ASAP.

Also a couple other clarifications from questions that arose:
- this semester is a stressful one for her, culminating in her board certification
- there were no special circumstances leading up to the breakup besides her wanting to get married and trying to pressure me into it when in my heart I didn't want to
posted by masters2010 at 9:54 PM on February 16, 2017 [8 favorites]

You signed a lease. You didn't sign a lease contingent on this relationship working out; you signed a lease. If it's like most apartment leases, you are both separately liable for the entire rent. As in, if she doesn't have assets or income, they can come after you for the whole thing. Signing a lease with someone does not make you liable for only 50% of the rent money; they can generally collect from both of you collectively in whatever fashion they can.

I don't think she should feel entitled to this support, I only want to make sure you have reasonable expectations here. Your landlord would be kind of an idiot to let you do this, to trade someone who they know can pay for someone who they don't know can pay. In order to make sure your own credit and housing situation remains stable, you should probably be at least assuming financially that you're going to be on the hook for the rest of the rent until such time as the landlord has formally terminated the lease. You don't want to wind up surprised by that.

Again, not about whether she's behaving well here, this is purely about the fact that she's not saddling you with this lease--you did that yourself and you need to plan for it being enforced exactly according to the terms as written. Not that you can't go after her for part of it later if the landlord comes after you for the money, but there's still going to be an impact on your credit and rental history if you do that.

Plan for that, and then if you can get out of it or if you can get her to get a roommate, great. Fail to plan for that, and you could wind up hurting later if you've taken on other living expenses and you suddenly can't afford another $1500 a month.
posted by Sequence at 9:56 PM on February 16, 2017 [9 favorites]

She's a grown woman who does not need any charity from any man.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:02 PM on February 16, 2017

Do you think I am being taken advantage of?
Absolutely 100%

Who gives a shit though? It's only money and you should do what makes you feel better.

Also, move out and don't have sex with her again.
posted by fullerine at 11:14 PM on February 16, 2017 [6 favorites]

What's happening with the dogs? Is she taking them? Would helping her out with the rent also be helping them?
posted by thebots at 12:23 AM on February 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

We haven't figured out the dogs yet, I think we're going to split them. Also we haven't had sex since the breakup.
posted by masters2010 at 5:19 AM on February 17, 2017

We're mostly friendly but she often drops little digs at me and on more than one occasion has come into my room crying talking about how I've ruined her life.

Well, IAN in this relationship, but I have been in many, and a person who does this... let me just say, these incidents are like mice in the house. For every meltdown you see, there are many others you don't. It's not behavior that gets better, as long as you have to live inside the crucible with all the elements that contribute to the reaction.

From this statement alone, I intuit that she is likely to blame you for unpleasantness, for life obstacles, for anything that makes it necessary for her to shift focus from the graduation/job goal to things like paying bills and rent and all that. And that path is likely to only escalate, over the next 6 months.

There's empathy, and there's a sense of obligation, but there is also guilt over you (maybe) internalizing responsibility for what looks like a person in a lot of pain. Breakups are about many things, but the sense of loss, time wasted, trust broken, etc., can be utterly devastating; planning for the future, pets together, etc., are SO hard to handle, when you see your (imagined) future, dashed before your eyes. It's even more so for someone who may not have had a lot of well-formed coping skills to begin with. At age 26, I don't know many people who are super-skilled in that area. That she blames you, takes it out on you, tries to wound you (either aggressively or passive-aggressively) tells me there is a deep well of anger and resentment. Is it justified? Who knows. And at this point, it's kind of irrelevant.

Here's my take- nothing you do will mitigate that anger. No amount of money will ever be enough; no arrangements will ever be sufficient, etc. That well cannot be filled by you, since you are the person who caused it. To think there will ever be "enough" that you can do, is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. There isn't.

Sure, money and favors etc. may seem to smooth the path now, and appear to be forms of "compensation," but again, they are always only temporary, stopgap measures. This is why the only true solution is (as others have posted) to take care of YOU. Otherwise the precedent for dependency is set. You go on record as "admitting responsibility" because you continue to offer solutions, money, etc. to mitigate her issues.

If you cannot see yourself cutting off all support, can you at least set a threshold, beyond which you promise yourself, no further? This much money, this much leeway, etc.? Or will you simply not be able to draw hard lines with her? I am sorry this is happening. I wish you both the best.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 5:28 AM on February 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

If you move out, your ex will find a way to pay her rent.

I would not assume this. There's an FPP on the blue right now about how frequently evictions happen to people who everyone thinks can get their family to help.

Jessamyn is correct that this is a cultural thing. From my cultural perspective, if I were dating you afterwards, I would be horrified to learn that you had lived for 1.5 years with a woman you had no intention of marrying, broken up with her when she started making noises about it, and then despite knowing she had no ability to pay for the apartment you rented together, bounced on the financial obligation in the most stressful part of her schooling. Straight up horrified. Personally, I'd feel like you were morally on the hook for the whole thing (minus the third she can pay) until July. But there may also be women who don't have these feelings, and might be horrified you were paying for an ex's apartment. How you react to this stuff often depends on what you feel the obligations are in a long term relationship. So what does your cultural background say about these kinds of situations?
posted by corb at 5:29 AM on February 17, 2017 [18 favorites]

I don't know enough about your circumstances, but to my mind it sounds as though you entered this deal knowingly, as did she, with the expectation you would be on the lease until she graduated. We miss a whole lot of back story here-- whose idea was this apartment? Who suggested this way of living in the first place? All of those questions are relevant. Did you lead her to believe she could rely on you for this set up until she graduated when you signed the lease?

If you did, then to my mind you are on the hook fair and square with no "taking advantage of" involved. This is not high school and there's more at stake than hurt feelings. She's doing something which will determine her future earning potential. She counted on you to provide specific support until she was finished and you (apparently) promised you would do so. If the ending were years away, I'd feel differently, but given that it is a question of months, going back on your word now could very well mean that all her years of work come to nothing. I remember that point in my own degree, and having to move or deal with an eviction at the same time would have likely meant I wouldn't graduate.
posted by frumiousb at 6:07 AM on February 17, 2017 [7 favorites]

She's a grown woman who does not need any charity from any man.

While I like the sound of this, both from the feminism angle and for the empowering notion that womanhood means never having to say you're sorry poor, this other comment stops me:

The original idea of you covering the rent until she finished school was contingent on you both staying together, I assume. Since you have broken up, she should no longer feel entitled to this arrangement.

OP, there are reasons to not help her out if you want to find them, but please don't go for this particular justification as it rewrites your relationship into retroactive prostitution.

& it is infinitely more sexist than thinking that your ex needs help - not because she's a weak woman, but because she doesn't have the damn money for the rent. That is, it's true, not your problem, but there's no law saying you can't be generous if you can afford to and if you can do it without living there.

on the subject of giving financial help to a woman who shouldn't need a man's help: it's not going to corrupt her soul to help her get through the program without getting evicted. If she feels insulted by the offer, she can say no. Personally, I think it is infinitely more degrading to take money from a man I'm sleeping with than from one I'm not.
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:29 AM on February 17, 2017 [6 favorites]

I suspect that everyone here is bringing not only their own cultural biases but personal experiences as well to this question. My personal experience was as someone who made a very generous divorce settlement to their spouse: not just the house (which had a significant amount of equity in it) and assumption of several thousand dollars' worth of credit card debt, but also alimony payments for three years. I did this out of guilt because my estranged spouse had recently lost her job, even though we both saw it coming and I begged her to find another job, which she refused to do. She admitted to me that she couldn't have gotten a better settlement if she'd contested it, and all of my relatives said that I was giving her too much, which turned out to be true when I filed chapter 7 bankruptcy a few years later, still maintaining my payments to her. And I got zero thanks from her for that.

The significant parts of your story, for me, are that she tried to pressure you into getting married when you didn't want to, and that she feels free to dump on you whenever it pleases her. I don't think that you owe her a thing. If she has to pay the full rent through the end of July, that's about $7500, with another $625 in utilities. That is not a huge amount to have to borrow, by any means, and she could offset part of that by subleasing. I think that maybe some of the people who are saying "but you promised" are skating past the part where "she often drops little digs at [you] and on more than one occasion has come into [your] room crying talking about how [you]'ve ruined her life."
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:22 AM on February 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Looking back in 5 years I know the money won't have any significance to me.

I think you should offer to keep paying. She gets to have more stability while finishing up school, you get to feel like a generous person, and the only downside is being out a few thousand dollars, which it sounds like you're fine with. Somebody can only take advantage of you if they have some kind of leverage over you, which it doesn't seem like she does.
posted by panic at 7:47 AM on February 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

I think she needs to move out. She is an adult. She cant pay her half of the rent. Therefore she must go. You can afford the rent, you stay. You keep the pets, you can afford to care for them. This is how adults responsibly solve their issues wirhout dragging innocent bystanders (the dogs, the landlord etc) into the mess. She needs to walk away and stop expecting someone else to solve her problems. I assume you let her keep the ring you were asking about before. If you want to be super nice (to yourself and get her outta there faster) offer to pay her security deposit where ever her new place is. But get her out now, and dont let her take the poor dogs until she has the financial means to care for not only them but herself!

PS Im happy for you that you broke up with her, this will all work out for the best, even for her. I promise!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 9:03 AM on February 17, 2017 [4 favorites]

The way I see it, OP, you do have an ethical obligation to give her a reasonable timeframe in which to fill the hole in the household finances left by you - therefore continuing to contribute to the finances until that time.

There are three things, however, that make this tricky in your scenario:

-Prior to the break-up, you were more-or-less solely responsible for the household finances.
-She is a full-time student, limiting her ability to earn money, albeit temporarily.
-$1500/month is a fairly substantial sum, and it's not realistic to expect her to be able to cover that sum while she is also a full-time student.

Yet, you also have an obligation to your well-being, and your well-being (and probably her well-being) is negatively impacted by your continuing to cohabitate. Ideally, she would move into a place that she could pay for with money earned from babysitting - perhaps aided by a loan and/or a small sum from you to help with the transition - and you would remain in the apartment. But clearly, that is not going to happen.

So, considering all of this, I believe your plan is ethical and reasonable. I don't think you are being taken advantage of. You are making a rational decision to resolve a tricky situation in a manner consistent with your well-being and hers'. It entails some sacrifice on your part, which you are at least arguably not required to make, but such things are necessary sometimes. Think of it as a fee for sanity.

HOWEVER, I don't think you should move forward with your plan as described. Why? Because "if I move out she has threatened to not pay rent and leave me on the hook with the landlord." She's also not willing to move out herself, when that would quite clearly be the best and most reasonable course of action for you and for her.

This tells me that she is willing to play hardball. And speaking as someone who once had a dispute with a roommate - albeit in very, very different circumstances - who was willing to play hardball, you don't want to mess around with this.

If you move, and she does not pay rent, you will be on the hook for all of it. As a previous poster stated, the landlord can go after either of you for the rent. Seeing as you're the one who has money, the landlord will go after you. It doesn't matter if the landlord is reasonable; it doesn't matter if you are no longer in the apartment. You have agreed to pay the landlord a proscribed amount, an your ex doesn't have the money. You do. The landlord wants the money - the landlord is going to try to get it from you.

If you're thinking "wow, that sounds really unpleasant," my answer is yes, and that's why you need to be careful. Your ex, by being unwilling to move out and by saying that she is willing to leave you on the hook for the rent if you do, has indicated that she is willing to tolerate a substantial degree of unpleasantness in order to stay in the apartment and not pay the full rent - probably because her other options are even worse. And the thing I learned in my dispute with my roommate was: the person who is willing to tolerate the most unpleasantness in these scenarios has the upper hand.

Considering this, the person you need to be talking to is the landlord, NOT your ex. The landlord may be willing to let you break the lease or renegotiate somehow. There is a risk that this leaves your ex out in the cold, although perhaps you could reach an agreement with the landlord that at least gives her some time.

Whatever you do, do not just move out with the with the assumption that an informal agreement with your ex will suffice. She is willing to play hardball. You need go to to the landlord, and you need to get things in writing.

There is, of course, the possibility that the landlord will simply say no, and that you'll be SOL. In that case, I'm sorry; you'll probably have to put up with this until July.

The only other option is this: do you have a local relative who would let you move in rent-free temporarily? If you can't renegotiate the lease, you could go hole up with a relative for awhile and continue to cover however much of the rent you need to cover. I know this really, really sucks, but if it's possible it might be worth it for your sanity.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but I really think just moving out with the assumption that your ex will pay half the rent is a capital-B Bad Idea. Everything you have said in your post indicates to me that she is not willing to do that. If you don't cover your ass, you are are going to wind up paying the consequences, unfair as that may seem.
posted by breakin' the law at 9:19 AM on February 17, 2017 [10 favorites]

I think it's a question of what you'll be able to live with later, since it's not one of what you can afford. Personally, if I think ahead to Future Me, I would rather she look back and think "ugh, I kind of got taken advantage of by my ex during that breakup, but I could afford it and it's not the end of the world" than "ugh, it really would have caused me no significant pain to do the kind thing there to someone I had once loved, and instead I made her life actively worse at a very stressful time." Your calculations might be different.

I do think, given her threats, the most self-protective thing you could do would be to try to get off the lease pronto. And then either give your ex monthly through June what you would otherwise have paid the landlord, or if you can afford it, give it all in one lump sum now and make a clean break.

But if the landlord won't go for that, I would just stick with your plan.
posted by Stacey at 9:29 AM on February 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

A clarifying question: is she saying "I won't pay the rent if you move out" as a threat to get you to stay living with her, or as a statement of objective fact, ie, she doesn't have the money for the rent and can't possibly pay it? Because the one is a jerk move, the other is understandable if she's a student and simply can't afford it.
posted by corb at 9:33 AM on February 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

I think you should act in whatever manner is best for YOU, practically and emotionally.

1. Your name is on the lease, so whatever money you pay to keep that from messing up your credit is best for your finances.

2. Moving out now to avoid the meltdowns is best for your mental health.

3. Helping her until she can get a job is probably best for your conscience.

4. Finding her a roommate is good advice and would be best for your finances.

I know this is a difficult thing and I'm sorry that you are going through it.
posted by raisingsand at 9:50 AM on February 17, 2017

This is a challenging situation, OP, and I feel for both of you. My perspective is similar to frumiousb's. Since your ex is in the final semester of her graduate program, which will affect her long after you are out of the picture, I think it's only fair to stick to the spirit of your original agreement since there are specific non-negotiable deadlines (graduation, certifications, financial aid) that impact her ability to change the situation. I see no reason not to believe her when she says her father will not help. I've known plenty of people who seem to have options and assistance available to them, when, in fact, they do not. Since the environment has become unlivable, moving out seems to be the kindest decision for all involved, but there is nothing wrong in looking for a subletter to defray the costs. Since you may have a hard time finding some place that will allow pets, let the dogs stay with her (consider their care part of what you are paying for) and revisit pet custody when you set up your new living situations.

Honestly, the game-changer here is that she is in her final semester of graduate school, something she probably would have approached differently if there wasn't an established partnership, and, once you ended the relationship, you agreed to maintain the original parameters. Changing the agreement now genuinely puts her in a bind and has far reaching implications for her beyond the end of the lease. You've stated that you can afford to do this, even though it stretches you a bit thin, so don't worry about the people who are telling you that you are foolish to continue to do something that feels right to you. If she had more flexibility or this covered a much longer period of time, my answer would be very different.

Also, it sounds like she's genuinely devestated by the end of your relationship, and that is coloring her treatment of you. There's nothing wrong with deciding to end a relationship and you absolutely do not have to stick around to receive ANY of her anger and hurt. I would not be surpised, however, if your concerns about being taken advantage of are fueled by the ways she is lashing out and not really because you think she views you simply as a scholarship fund. From her perspective, her world has been up-ended, and she is without options. You shouldn't beat yourself up for making the right decision for you and you shouldn't let her do it either. Loop in your landlord, remove yourself, find a subletter, and support your ex as you originally agreed: no more, no less. Best of luck!
posted by katemcd at 10:32 AM on February 17, 2017 [9 favorites]

Ask the landlord how much it will cost you to terminate the lease early. If less than what you will pay for rent through September. Take it. Don't look back.
posted by JayRwv at 12:50 PM on February 17, 2017 [2 favorites] had lived for 1.5 years with a woman you had no intention of marrying...
This is false, feels like projection, and is frankly offensive.

People get to decide after living together that getting married to a certain person would not be a good thing. His ex's threatening and abusive behaviors after the breakup show that he made a great decision.
posted by blueberry at 1:01 PM on February 17, 2017 [7 favorites]

So, I gave up a scholarship in part because I expected my bf to marry me. After giving up the scholarship, I found out he was not ready to make that commitment and was only letting me tell all our friends in front of him so as to "not hurt my feelings." I promptly dumped him. We did eventually marry, but it has been enormous food for thought in my life

There is a strong cultural bias that assumes the husband is the primary breadwinner and the wife will do the cooking and cleaning and move where his job takes him and so forth. If you have been living with her 1.5 years, the odds are extremely good that a lot of her time and energy went into traditional "wifely duties" like cooking for you and this is part of why you make enough money to pay the rent for both of you.

While you are calculating how much to help her, keep in mind that someone like me would drop you like a hot potato if I was dating you and learned that you left her in the lurch after saying you would marry her and then deciding to dump her instead. It is possible she has been pressuring you to marry her because she kind of knew this was coming and was scared of being screwed out of the security she thought she was investing her time and energy in.

Your lease is up this summer, she graduates before then. Create some clear, pragmatic plans for making this transition without unduly screwing her over. If you do not, I think the odds are good that future ladies in your life will be professional victim types and it won't exactly be happy fun times for you.
posted by Michele in California at 1:26 PM on February 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Here's another option that could be helpful: if the landlord isn't willing to let you break the lease and your ex is as obstinate about things as I suspect she will be, you ask the landlord if it's OK for you to move out after finding a roommate yourself. That is, you pay half the rent (because your ex won't pay), and new roommate pays the other half. You get the landlord to sign off on all this and present it to your ex as a fait accompli.

Obviously, try to get your ex's input on the new roommate as much as possible, but I'd be more comfortable controlling the process myself if I were you. I strongly suspect she'd drag her feet, at best.
posted by breakin' the law at 9:36 AM on February 18, 2017

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