Surviving a Live-in Break Up

By Elizabeth Stickley

One month ago my live in girlfriend broke up with me… over the phone… at 8 am… on my way to work…


As my world crumbled down around me, a million questions ran through my head. How could she do this to me? How did I not see this coming? What could I have done better?


I sat through an entire work day with these questions churning, just a zombie staring through the computer. It wasn’t until I was sitting in LA traffic on my way home that I realized…. We fucking live together.


Breakups are hard enough, but when you live together, it’s a whole different story. How are you supposed to recover when you have to see the person who broke your heart every single day? The answer is simple… you don’t.


In an ideal world, you’ll be able to afford your own place, or your friends will have endless spare rooms for rent. But for most of us, that is not the case. So, we suck it up and coexist because well… we have to.


Get yourself out

The best thing you can do is get out of the shared space. My ex and I worked opposite schedules, which was very helpful, but coming home to an empty apartment isn’t that great of a feeling either. So, I started saying yes to midweek invites from my friends. Maybe I needed a little extra coffee the next day, but hey, it was worth it. Being out with the people who love you can help take your mind of what is going on at home. Plus, reconnecting with friends is one of the positives of a breakup.


You’re not strangers, so don’t act like it

The first week of the breakup, I had no idea how to act. I felt like I was living with a stranger. I felt like I was walking on eggshells. I didn’t know how to even talk to her, but one day she stopped me in the hall and said, “You know we aren’t stranger right?” And while I didn’t want to be her buddy, I realized that we could still coexist comfortably and have normal conversations.


If you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up.

The longer you’re living together, the more likely you two are going to fall into the old routine. Making dinner, watching your favorite shows, cuddling, and eventually sex… I definitely don’t recommend this, but shit happens, and you can’t go back in time to change it. No one is perfect and a live-in breakup is a new territory for almost everyone who experiences it.


For me, it was towards the end of the month, just before she was going to move. We thought we had it all figured out, I mean hell we made it this far! So, we decided to go out to dinner together. BIG MISTAKE. We were laughing and touching as if nothing had changed between us. Needless to say, we go home, one thing leads to another and the next thing I know I’m waking up in the morning, regret like a pit in my stomach. I felt all the feelings come flooding back to me and I was back at square one. But I knew I couldn’t go back in time, so I just kept moving forward.


Keep it simple

Eventually, the day will come where it’s just you and your ex stuck at home together. Of course, this wasn’t ideal, but my ex and I made the best of it. In order to avoid making the mistakes I mentioned above, we kept everything light. We chose classic reruns of comedies over our new TV shows, we kept conversation cordial and light, we smoked a joint to calm our nerves. Whether you’re the breakup-er or the breakup-ee, you need to recognize that both of you need that time at home to relax, so don’t ruin it for one another out of spite.


Say what you need to say… to a point

With each day you get closer and closer to that final goodbye. It’s important to let the other person know how you are feeling. If you’re having a bad day it’s okay to let them know. If you’re missing them it’s okay to let them know. It’s unhealthy to lean on one another during your individual recoveries, but it’s important to communicate during this time. It’s definitely NOT worth bringing up old problems and picking fights. You’re making your last memories with this person, so why ruin it for yourself.


Have an end date

Knowing when one of you or both of you are going to move out really makes the process a lot easier. It’s easier to navigate when there is a light at the end of the tunnel. My ex knew she was going to move in a month, but had nowhere to go in the meantime, so we stayed in our apartment together. I had some tough days during that time, but it was comforting to know that this was a temporary arrangement.  


I’m in no way condoning living with an ex, but sometimes we don’t have a choice. However, if the relationship is abusive or unhealthy in any way disregard ALL of my advice and get the fuck out of there.


Live-in breakups are their own breed. I scoured the internet for any advice on navigating this new situation I found myself in, but everything I found was either super negative or just bad common sense. I worked through it on my own, and I survived. And you will too.



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