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From Soulmate to Roommate: How to Ease the Pain of Living With an Ex After a Breakup

What happens if you must live with your ex?

In today’s world, more and more often couples are finding themselves having to live together after their breakup or divorce due to financial or legal complications.

This can be an absolute emotional nightmare!! Especially if you are still in love with your ex.

How can you handle the awkward situations that are sure to arise while trying to live as roommates instead of as a couple? Do you ignore each other? What happens if they start dating and flaunt it in front of you? Can you really do this?

Ending a relationship and carrying on living together is hard! It can be hard enough to move to the next level as it is. However, if you find this necessary, you can start the process by beginning to operate as separate units.

At first, you may try to carry on like nothing had happened. Cooking dinner as before or texting to see when they are going to be home, but by doing this, you are putting out confusing messages – why act like you are still together when you just told them that’s what you don’t want? This is stopping the healing process from getting underway.

  • You don’t have the same rights as you did when you were together.
  • You don’t need to know where they are; in fact, it’s best if you don’t.
  • You don’t get to talk to them the same way.

They don’t have to fix you a drink, pick up your stuff, or even care what you are thinking. And you need to respect that.

As hard as it can be, you need to try to set your agreement up as a typical roommate situation. You need to think of this relationship now as if you were renting a room out to a stranger.

Here are some things you can do to make it easier on both of you:
1. Set clear boundaries for finances and behavior.

Who will be responsible for what household expenses?
Who will be responsible for what household chores?

2. Don’t force small talk.

Just because you are in the same room together doesn’t mean you have to talk about the weather or make small talk to fill the time. You don’t have to ignore one another completely, but don’t force a conversation.

3. Don’t cook together.

It creates an atmosphere of false intimacy and expectations. Make separate spaces in the fridge and cupboards for groceries.

4. Don’t drink together.

This just leads to fights or makeup sex, neither of which is a good idea. It is always going to end badly.

5. Sleep in different rooms!

Make sure you give each other space by spending more time in your room or a spare room.

6. Discuss how you will deal with having friends over.

What times or days? If they are mutual friends and it may cause tension, perhaps it would be best to meet up outside the house or at a time when your ex is not going to be home. 

7. Don’t bring dates home.

This should go without saying! This can be devastating to the person that is having more difficulty moving on, not to mention awkward for your date. Sure, it’s considerate to let them know that you are dating, but don’t go into detail. Don’t ask questions you would rather not want the answer to! If you are being picked up for a date, meet them beyond the front door.

8. Spend more time with friends and family.

Stay overnight with them as much as possible to help relieve the stress of seeing your ex every day. Spend more time outdoors doing things you enjoy. Learn to do for you.

9. Respect each other’s privacy.

Treat the bathroom as if you are living with a stranger, make sure you lock the door so as not to accidentally walk in on them.

10. Set a move out date as soon as possible.

Limiting the amount of time you live together will ease tensions and allow both parties to heal. See if you can room with family or friends, or see if your ex has a potential roommate they would want to move in to ease financial burdens. 

So, yes, this does mean you’re going to have to pick those towels up off the bathroom floor and eat and cook alone.

Remember – things you owned before you got together or bought for yourself – they’re still yours. Gifts you bought for your ex – they belong to them.

It’s ok to remain friends, but it will be hard! Remember that you are two people now on different paths – separate paths. If you want to remain, friends, you will need to forge a brand new type of relationship. But it is doable. After all, you do have a history and what friend knows you better?

About the author

Beth Lynch

Beth Lynch

Beth is a dedicated, solution focused breakup support coach with one main goal in mind: to help others get beyond the pain and loss of their breakup.

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  • I think as long as the boundaries are clear and set and you follow above guidelines I could totally live with an x. Although my first husband thinks I’m the spawn of satan… I could totally have lived together we actually used to get along great when we first split.
    Kristy xx
    Ps so interesting seeing the votes… no yes’s yet surprises me… I said maybe because it depends on situation.

    • Hi Kristy, It can definitely be a challenge! The number one thing is respect for each other during this highly emotional time. I was surprised also. So many are being forced to nowadays.

  • My husband is divorcing me and we have to live together. This is the most painful experience i’ve ever been through. I’m still in love with him. We also have two girls. 6 & 8. I cry nearly every day. I have no where else to go. We both want full custody and we both want the house. I am in hell. I just want to wake up from this nightmare. I’m in counseling but it’s not helping. Seeing him every day, it’s like my heart rips in two continuously. I know it would be better for me if i could live somewhere else. But i’ve been a housewife for the past 8 years. I am currently looking for work but not having any luck. I’m trying to get a social life again. My husband and kids have been my world. This is unbearable. Death would be a blessing.

    • I AM at the beginning have to make a choice. I look at her in the morning while she sleeps and just breaks my heart all over

  • Please don’t think that way. Think about your girls. My sister felt the same way and actually did take her life and left her boys. Please fight for your girls.

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