How to Break Up With Someone You Live With

Published February 20, 2019
Couple breaking up

Breaking up with someone you live with can be tricky. Sharing a home can make it harder to leave a relationship, but if you've decided to end it, there are several factors to take into consideration before doing so.

Deciding to Break Up With Your Partner

Prior to ending the relationship, think about what you want the breakup to look like if you'd like to maintain a friendship, where you'd like to live, and if you can afford to pay for housing if you or your partner moves out. Having a firm grasp on what you want can help make the conversation with your partner go a bit more smoothly.

Anticipating Your Partner's Reaction

Because you know your partner best, think about a few potential scenarios that may unfold when you tell them you'd like to break up. Note if they are:

  • Quick to anger
  • Potentially dangerous and volatile
  • Calm and collected
  • Level headed

If they are potentially dangerous, the best thing to do is be prepared by having some essential items packed and stored at a friend's house, and tell your partner in a way that keeps you the safest. This might mean breaking up via an email, phone call, or text. If you are seriously concerned about your safety, you can contact the police.

Having the Break-Up Conversation

Once you've considered the potential reactions that your partner may have, pick a time when you and your partner are calm before beginning the conversation. Keep the conversation short, concise, and respectful. Keep in mind that this may have blindsided them, so give them some time to process what you are saying. There's no need to go into the nitty-gritty details as to why you want to break up, but a simple explanation can help your partner understand your thought process and give them some closure. Be sure to discuss or plan on discussing:

  • Who is moving out and who is staying in the current space
  • If there's rent due and how you both will reconcile payment if someone moves out
  • If there are shared items or assets that need to be divided up
  • If there are shared pets that need to be claimed by one partner or shared

Having a Back-Up Plan

If your partner is reactive and you aren't comfortable sleeping in the same space as them, be sure that you have a few places to stay lined up prior to breaking up with them. If your partner refuses to move out, or you have decided to move out, spend some time looking at potential homes prior to breaking up so you have a few choices. If you are unable to find housing, make sure you have a friend or family member's house to stay at while you look for your own place.

Who Moves Out?

Woman packing

It can be hard to decide who should move out. The best thing to do is prepare for the worst-case scenario. Maybe your partner will refuse to move out and you will feel forced to do so. If your partner is being difficult to deal with, the best thing to do is to remain respectful and not add any fuel to the fire. They may be acting out because they feel hurt so try to be as kind as possible. If you are able to have an amicable conversation, you can discuss:

  • Why it makes sense for one of you to stay- proximity to work, family, friends
  • Whose name is on the lease and whether a name change is required
  • If you can continue living together temporarily

Sharing Your Home After the Breakup

For whatever reason, you may have to continue living with each other until one of you finds a new place. Set up some rules to keep your home life as peaceful as possible. This may include:

  • Not bringing dates back to the home
  • Respectfully notifying each other if you'd like to bring someone back to your home
  • How much contact you'd like to have with each other
  • What you'd like sharing common spaces to look like
  • If you'll split the cost of groceries or buy your own

Processing Your Emotions

Even though you're the one who initiated the breakup, it can still feel painful and stressful to go through. Take time to process what you are feeling and know that it is going to take some time to heal. Whether you end up moving out or your partner does, some good and bad memories will be tied to your home and it may feel bittersweet to continue living there without your partner or feel difficult to live in an entirely new place.

Breaking Up Respectfully

Calmly discussing the logistics of breaking up with your live-in partner can make the process a bit easier to manage. Take your time processing how you feel and enlist friends, family members, or mental health clinicians for help if needed.

How to Break Up With Someone You Live With