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6 Breakup Rules for Exes Who Are Still Living Together

Are you in the process of breaking up with someone you live with? Here are 6 rules to remember, in order to avoid the awkwardness.

breakup rules for exes living together

Breakups suck, but so does being homeless. Due to lack of having a job, making less income, upcoming lease expiry or other complicated reasons, sometimes we must continue living with our ex post-breakup.

If you’re thinking: How could I live with my ex? Wouldn’t that be a self-induced hell? Then you’d be right. Living with your ex is no walk in the park, especially if you didn’t want to break up in the first place, if you’ve already found a new mate, or if infidelity was what ended your relationship. Unfortunately, personal circumstances sometimes force uncomfortable living situations post-relationship, but fortunately for you it can be made bearable.

One of the most important things is to make sure you show respect. This may be difficult, especially if you were burned in the relationship, or if your relationship had already become toxic in some way. Regardless, you’re now stuck together and the worst thing you could do was make your home a constant battle ground. You broke up, there were hurt feelings, but now it’s over and in a few short weeks, you’ll be out of each other’s hair for good. So how do you do it?

How to handle the breakup while still living together

When you have no choice but to stick around and endure until your situation allows, here are the 6 rules you need to follow to make your transition from lovers to roomies more bearable.

#1 Don’t make it weird. I know, how can it *not* be? What I mean is, don’t tiptoe around your ex, if you ever expect to live comfortably during your time together. Obviously, this experience isn’t going to be something you’d want to repeat, but being insanely polite and walking on eggshells around your former significant other is only going to make matters more awkward.

The sooner you get back to lazing on the couch, checking your Instagram while he watches TV, the better. On the other hand, you may find you start to develop a callous hatred for your ex, especially if they are the one who called it quits. If this is the case…

#2 Get a social life. When you live with your ex, it’s going to seem a lot harder to get over them, especially if you didn’t want the relationship to end in the first place. This makes it all the more necessary for you to get back out there, maintain a social life, and come back to the conclusion that you kick ass and were likeably charming before your ex was ever attached to your hip. [Read: 8 most common post-breakup habits to avoid]

#3 Expect that sooner or later, one of you will move on. Even if you’re the one who ended things, it may still come as a shock to you when your ex starts seeing someone new. Even if you didn’t want him anymore, it’s always weird to see your ex with a new lover, plus the fact that he got over you so quickly may start to irk you. Just remember that these are the necessary steps needed for both of you to move on. [Read: 8 ways to deal with an ex seeing someone new]

#4 Make your home neutral ground. If indeed you have both begun dating again, make it a house rule that no new lover is to come over – ever. If you’re in need of a shag or some snuggle-time, go to your new mate’s house instead. Ignoring this rule will only bring up hurt feelings and create super awkward situations for everybody involved. [Read: How to get your self-esteem back after a breakup]

#5 Set boundaries. Are you trying to stay friends, or are at least pretending to, until one of you can find an apartment? Then it’s important that you set boundaries with each other. Are you still going to be sharing the same bed? Most would advise against this practice, as physical contact tends to muddle these situations.

Ground rules must be set, such as no more mutual showers, absolutely *no* breakup sex, no getting drunk together, and no romantic movie nights, etc. Remaining buddy-buddy is fine, mature even, but make it clear that continuing any remotely semi-romantic behavior is only going to confuse things, and make your living together that much harder. [Read: 10 reasons you shouldn’t give your ex another chance]

#6 Discuss money matters immediately. Now that you’ve decided on living with your former lover, you need to get that awkward money situation out of the way with ASAP. Likely, you already divvied up who pays what when you first moved in together, but you may have been taking some of the extra brunt on account of you loving that person.

Split the bills 50/50, or according to paychecks, and discuss how your grocery situation is going to work. Is he buying his own food? Will you still do communal hauls? Should he stay away from your chip-stash? These are definitely issues that need to be worked out post-breakup.

Bonus rule: What if you have kids?

If you happen to have procreated with your now-ex and are still living together post-breakup, there are a whole new list of rules you should abide by.

#1 Reassure your children that it isn’t their fault. This one seems like an after school special, but believe it or not, children of all ages often blame themselves for their parent’s dismal relationship, and retain guilt over this for years.

#2 Don’t fight in front of the kids. Easier said than done, I know, but I know plenty of adults whose parents went through a divorce who admit to seeing their parents fighting in front of one another. Getting the child involved in the drama of the breakup can leave them emotionally scarred in one way or another.

#3 Don’t use your children as leverage. So you’ve left your ex, and you understandably begin a strong dislike of them. Don’t let this cloud your judgement as a parent! Your issues with your ex involve you and you alone, not your children. There’s no reason to sabotage their relationship with their parent, just because your relationship with him or her is over.

#4 Remain united as parents. Yes, you can’t stand your ex. But it’s important for the emotional wellbeing and growth of your child that he or she still sees you as a united front: as parents who agree and make decisions regarding their children together.

[Read: 15 lessons you can learn from your own breakups]

Living together post-breakup isn’t easy, in fact, it can be downright heart wrenching, or just plain annoying. Stay calm, cool, collected, and respectful of your former mate, and you’ll be able to keep the upper hand in the situation until you can find your own separate abodes.

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Waverly Smith
Waverly Smith is a freelance writer who has been getting paid for spreading her sarcastic take on love, life, and sex since 2010. She is many things that people...
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