Living With Your Ex? Here's How To Cope With A Breakup While Cohabitating

Ending a relationship is never easy, and breaking up with someone you live with can be even harder. After a breakup, the last thing you want is to have to see and talk to them every day. Many people follow the no-contact rule and stop all communication with their ex to help themselves heal. The no-contact rule can help you develop boundaries, rediscover your values, and see the relationship without rose-colored glasses (via mindbodygreen). 

Unfortunately, sometimes there's no clean break and a breakup doesn't go the way you thought it would. If you find yourself still living with your ex post-breakup, you're not the only one, and there are many others who find themselves in the same situation. A study by Direct Line Home Insurance in 2019 revealed that nine million people in the UK admitted to having to live with an ex after breaking up. If you're stuck living with your ex post-breakup, there are some ways you can get through it.

Set firm boundaries

Breakups are stressful, and tensions might still be high after you and your ex have called it quits. A study done by the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that at the end of a romantic relationship, the average person found their stress to be more than three on a scale of one to seven. This is why it's vital that you set firm boundaries between you and your ex to avoid arguments and confusion. Now that you're no longer in a relationship, the way you live together will inevitably have to change. 

Set boundaries about house chores, where the two of you will sleep (separate beds are recommended), finances, and anything else you need to discuss to be able to live in harmony together. This can also include having a conversation about any rules you have about having friends over, the way you speak to each other, and the amount of contact you want to have moving forward.

Don't invite dates over

After a breakup, the last thing your ex will want to see is you moving on with someone else and vice versa. It can be heartbreaking for a person to see their ex with someone new, especially when that person hasn't moved on yet or is still in love with the ex. Helen Ferguson, a psychotherapist who specializes in trauma, tells Refinery29, "[I]n a situation where you're no longer with your ex-partner but you're still living with them, and they start meeting new people, that is going to impact on your self-worth and mental health." 

Keeping new love interests away from your shared home will help you avoid arguments, and will stop you and your ex from competing with each other to see who moves on first. If you're seeing someone new, avoid talking about it with your ex and instead share the news with your friends and family.

Create a plan

Create a long-term plan that sets a timeline for your living situation. Set a clear move out date, so that both you and your ex can have an end to look forward to. Pricilla Martinez, life coach and founder of Regroop, tells AskMen, "You are both going to need a plan to go your separate ways fully. [...] And whatever you do, don't get comfortable in relationship purgatory." If you're in a situation where you both can't move out just yet, you need to have an end goal that you're working towards and a set timeline to keep in mind.

It's vital that you don't get comfortable living with your ex, which is why having an end date is so essential. When you get into a comfortable living situation with your ex, you'll become less motivated to move on. You won't be able to fully close the chapter and open yourself up to meeting someone new. Don't stay stuck in the past and focus on a brighter, better future.

Focus on yourself

After a breakup, you may find yourself needing to rediscover who you are again. According to Dr. Gary Lewandowski Jr., author of "Stronger Than You Think," "Research shows that breakups lead you to experience a loss of self. When you lose a relationship, part of who you are as a person goes with it" (via The Everygirl). Even though you're living with your ex-partner, you will still feel this loss of self and question who you are without them. 

To help, find comfort in the hobbies, passions, friends, or other activities that you neglected during your relationship. Spend more time doing what you love, and get active in your social circle again. Make plans with your family and friends that you can look forward to, and lean on them for support when you feel alone or lost. Keeping yourself busy will allow you to heal and slowly start to move on, rather than ruminating on your failed relationship.

Stay respectful

Even if you feel slighted or upset over the end of your relationship, stay respectful while you and your ex continue to live together. "To continue living together peacefully, everything you do must be grounded in respect," Pricilla Martinez tells AskMen. Avoid making passive aggressive comments, being snarky, or completely ignoring your ex. This will create a hostile living environment that neither you nor your partner will enjoy. The last thing you want is to have fights with your ex-partner once the relationship is over.

Instead, keep up with your weekly chore schedule, maintain the home, and be as respectful as you can to one another. You don't need to make small talk or hang out with your ex, but being civil will go a long way. Both you and your ex will benefit from a respectful living situation and this can also help you both move on.