Moving in with a partner is one of the most exciting times of a relationship. But realizing things won't work out can be rough, especially when you've already integrated your lives into the same physical space. Unfortunately, this is something countless couples are having to contend with today, as the coronavirus pandemic and its subsequent stay-at-home lockdowns have forced constant togetherness onto partners.
Experiencing some relationship discord at this time is understandable, of course, as we grapple with a totally new reality. But for some couples, quarantining together is serving to speed up a relationship dissolution that was already coming. Knowing how best to end things, though, when the other party lives with you is challenging, pandemic or no pandemic.
That's why one FGB'er sought support from the FGB Community regarding her breakup.
“Have you ever had to break up with a live-in partner?” she recently wrote to the FGB Community.
“My boyfriend and I have lived together for almost three years, but I have decided I'm done with the relationship. While I know I'll be able to do it, I could really use some success stories to help my major anxiety about this … Thankfully only he is on the lease, and we lived pretty far below our means, so I am pretty free to go. I will definitely ask him about how he wants to work out the finances, though,” she continued.
Several FGB'ers wrote to offer similar stories, as well as advice on how to handle this particular type of breakup.
“I've done this more than once. It's never pleasant,” one FGB'er wrote. “But the amount of time you'll spend in that unpleasantness is far less than the amount of time you'd spend unhappy if you stayed in a relationship that wasn't working for you.”
“I'm in a somewhat similar situation,” another FGB’er wrote. “After living together for more than 10 years, and now with two preschool boys to consider, I realized that this is not a man with whom I want to spend the rest of my life with. I'm working on breaking the codependency. It's hard. I have been working on improving my finances, and I went back to school. I know that support is key. A therapist, a coach, a family member or trusted friend is great to have in your corner during times such as these.”
“So sorry to hear, but that's exciting that soon you'll be off to a new adventure that'll hopefully make you much happier,” a third wrote. “Before you rip the bandaid, figure out living ideas so you'll have them ready. Will you move out, or do you have someone to stay with? Should he move out? Should neither of you move there? Going in with a proposed outcome might soften the blow.”
It is important to be prepared for all outcomes and reactions.
As the above FGB’er mentioned, prepare your plan for the post-breakup: finding a new place to live, when you will move, how you will do so, when you will need to be out by, etc. Also, it is important to prepare for all ways in which your partner might react to this news. Breakups are hard, and you can never predict how difficult it may be for the other person. Prepare for every possible reaction, from the best to the worst case scenarios.
“I'm sorry to hear of your situation. This doesn't mean that the relationship is over, but that this form of the relationship is over. You are both moving from dependency on your partnership to independence and autonomy. One suggestion is to honor any commitments you made, such as financial until something new is worked out," one FGB'er wrote. "If you're both paying rent and utilities, then continue until you've both moved out (unless he's staying and doesn't need your contribution). When it comes to separating your items, try to be fair, even if you're feeling less than objective; you'll probably feel better a few months down the road. You might consider not only who bought an item, but who uses it more and whether keeping it will bring you happiness or sorrow.”