Sometimes, we genuinely adore a partner while simultaneously understanding that the relationship is on a one-way train to Pittsville — and there’s no off-ramp.
When it’s time to sever romantic ties, and you’re living separately, then yes, you’ll ride the breakup rollercoaster.
But breaking up with someone you live with further complicates matters.
Let’s look at the signs associated with a dead-end partnership and tips on breaking up when cohabitating.
13 Indicators It’s Time to Leave a Relationship When You Live Together
There was a time when you couldn’t stand to be apart. You would babble together about how well you fit, and friends would roll their eyes (lovingly, of course) when all you could talk about was your partner.
But time can be a cruel master, and things have changed.
So how do you know when it’s time to take Fraulein Maria’s advice and say “so long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night” to the relationship?
1. You Feel “Hidden”
Is your partner weird and nervous about you hanging out with his friends and family?
This is a giant, mewling, barking, red-light-district flag. Keeping things low-key at the beginning of a relationship is fine. But if you’re living together, and they still don’t want you around outside of the house, get out.
Hiding romantic partners is never a feasible long-term strategy. It only breeds resentment.
2. You’re Living in a State of Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive dissonance is the feeling of discomfort that arises when our values and views are debunked. Humans hate the sensation, and we’ll limn absurd and irrational excuses, justifications, and explanations to avoid it.
Is your relationship rooted in rationalizations? If so, it may be time to see yourself out.
3. You Can No Longer Overlook Their Faults
Ask anyone happily married for over ten years how they do it, and there’s a 95% chance they’ll say something like: We learned how to ignore the small stuff.
It may sound dismissive, but it’s true: Couples who’ve been together for a long time have a switch they turn on and off when their partners are doing or saying something annoying.
But when the switch stops working, and you’d rather eat wet sand than endure your partner’s sniffs, loud chews, and droning conversations about [insert their interminably boring hobby], it’s safe to say that the love has, indeed, gone. (Cue the Earth, Wind, and Fire song.)
4. Infidelity Recidivism
For some folks, cheating is a dealbreaker, and if it happens, the relationship is over. No questions asked.
Other folks can excuse one or two lapses in judgment.
However, if your partner is serially cheating on you, trust that it’s a sign of doom (if you don’t have an open relationship).
Stepping out again and again is a problem. And no, they don’t love you how you deserve to be loved if they know you hate cheating and don’t stop.
5. You’re a Different Person Around Your Partner
Sure, we all learn from friends and partners and may change a bit because of their influence. But if you feel like you’re playing a role and your authentic self is being buried under a cloak of expectations, consider pulling the escape hatch.
Maintaining a facade is unsustainable, and you’ll only grow to resent the relationship the longer you try.
6. You’re Stuck in a Loop
Is the relationship stuck in a loop? Do you both vow to change its trajectory only to keep landing at square one? If this sounds familiar, ask yourself if this is the furthest this partnership can go. Are you fine with that?
If not, it’s probably time to cut ties.
7. Nobody Is Making an Effort
Both of you want more, but neither is trying to make it so.
If yes, it may be time to say goodbye.
Things change. People change. Relationships change. But if you’re not making an effort to grow in the right direction together, then what’s the point?
8. You No Longer Feel the Same
Ask a Buddhist, and they’ll tell you that impermanence is life’s essence. Nothing stays the same forever, and sometimes that something is a relationship.
Don’t force anything that no longer exists. If one or both of you has changed, see it as a sign to move on. Cherish the good times spent together, but move forward separately.
9. Partner Expects You To Change
Unconditional love preservers through faults. If a partner expects flawlessness, run from the relationship. Perfection is impossible.
We’re not talking about things that will improve your well-being, like quitting smoking or overdrinking. Partners have every right to draw boundaries around such things. But if someone expects you to dress differently, lose weight, or become softer, hand them walking papers.
Likewise, demanding superficial changes from your partner is just as much of a sign that it’s time to leave the relationship.
10. You Hamstring Each Other
Sometimes, a relationship works in every way except logistically. You love each other but want different things; your goals don’t align.
If your dreams give you purpose but don’t fit into your current relationship, then maybe it’s just not the right pairing. Besides, no rule says you can’t be in each other’s lives in a platonic capacity.
11. You’re Scared of Being Single
The American Psychological Association once studied the relationship IQs of people who admitted they’re terrified of being single. The organization found that people fearful of being alone wound up staying in terrible relationships, further damaging their mental health.
Unfortunately, letting fear of singledom hold you back is common — but it’s the opposite of healthy. Besides, studies show that married and cohabiting people aren’t happier than single folks.
In fact, many single folks lead more fulfilling lives than their coupled-up counterparts. In other words, the stats aren’t on your side, and there’s no guarantee you’ll feel worse if you cut ties. Most people wind up finding it freeing.
12. You Live in the Relationship’s Past
Reminiscing is heart-warming. Living in the past is about as healthy as deep-fried bacon…dipped in lard.
Think of your relationship as a middle-aged guy who was once his high school’s football star. These days, is he the guy that’s moved on, has a job, and grown with the times?
Or the one that still goes to every high school football game and spends the rest of his time at the local bar, talking about his glory days?
Moving on may be your best bet if your relationship is stuck in the past.
13. You’re Abused
Abuse is never OK. Ever.
If your partner aggressively lays their hands on you or, god forbid, hits you, get out ASAP. The same goes for those who verbally abuse you. And don’t dismiss one incident. If it happened once, it could happen again. Don’t fall for promises.
There are public resources even if you don’t feel like you have anywhere to turn.
Also, understand that you don’t need to be married to someone to get help from organizations like the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233). You can also text START to 88788.
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How to Break Up with Someone You Live With: 11 Kind but Firm Tips
You’ve made your decision. You want out. So next up is learning how to prepare for a breakup.
We’ve got a few tips.
1. Don’t Spring It On Them
Surprises can be awkward even when they’re good. But bad news surprises are about as appetizing as overcooked steak. So try not to spring the breakup conversation on your partner.
Let them know in advance that you want to have an important talk. Set a date, and do your absolute best not to break it. Pick a time that’s good for you both, and the chances of work obligations popping up are slim.
(Caveat: If you’re in an abusive relationship, there’s no need to have “the talk.” The primary objective is getting you out and somewhere safe. You owe your abuser nothing.)
2. Choose a Stress-Free Time
Picking the right time is so essential we’re dedicating two tips to it.
When setting the date, think about a few factors. Are there kids in the picture? Will they be around? If so, make plans to get them out of the house for the talk.
Other times to avoid include:
- Birthdays and holidays
- Right before work
- Right after work
- The day before a big social event (best friend’s wedding, retirement party, et cetera)
3. Plan Your Statement in Advance
Don’t go in blind. Work out what you’re going to say beforehand.
When mapping out your statement, keep it simple. This is not the time to recount every micro-grievance. Stick to the broad strokes. Explain why you need to move on in macro terms.
Also, prepare for questions your partner will probably ask. Right now, you need to accomplish step one: understanding that you’ll no longer be a couple.
4. Let Kindness and Compassion Guide Your Conversation
You may be furious with your partner. Still, try to let compassion be your guide. Engage in active listening. Try to put yourself in their shoes.
We’re not suggesting you give in and agree to give the relationship another shot. By all means, stand your ground. Just do your best to be as kind as possible.
Doing so turns down the volume and makes the challenging moment a bit more manageable.
5. Mind Your Tone
This is not the time for sarcasm or dismissiveness. You may be fed up and ready to throw in the towel. You’re done!
But coming in “hot” won’t make the discussion easier — quite the opposite. If you adopt a “tone,” tempers will certainly flare.
Moreover, do your best to let the conversation devolve into a screaming match. Allow your “cooler” head to prevail. To ease yourself into the right mindset, try meditating beforehand.
6. Focus on the Logistics
You don’t need to hash everything out the night of the talk. In fact, don’t dive into the details for at least a week. You have more important things to worry about, like the logistics of changing your living situation.
If neither of you can move out immediately, new house rules must be established until you can physically separate. Otherwise, one or both of you will need to secure new living arrangements.
Once that’s out of the way, you can worry about closure and processing emotions related to the relationship’s downfall.
7. Stop Having Sex
It’s common, but it’s rarely the right move — so please take our advice and stop having sex with someone you genuinely want to leave.
Maintaining a physical relationship complicates matters and messes with your hormones. (Sex makes us feel more bonded to our partner.)
8. Set Boundaries
Boundary setting is essential in the wake of a breakup.
You need time and space to process the situation and determine your next steps. Moreover, a lack of boundaries could lead to getting back together. If that’s what you want, have at it.
Do you. But if you know in your gut and heart that this partnership isn’t it, erect boundaries for the time being.
And remember: They’re not indestructible. No rule says you can’t be friends in the future.
9. Don’t Bolt
Absconding with the furniture and your stuff without telling your former live-in partner is not a great move. It may temporarily give you a sweet sense of revenge, but it’s poor form.
No, the relationship didn’t work out. And yes, your partner may deserve the Mike Caussin Award for Cheating Achievement. Still, take the higher road. It’s better for your mental health in the long run.
The goal is to stay cool, calm, and collected throughout the transition. Once it’s done, then you can explore, vent, and transform.
Again, this rule does not apply to people fleeing an abusive partner. If the safest way to get out is to pack up and leave when they’re not around, then godspeed.
10. Give Each Other Space
Go above and beyond to figure out another living arrangement for the week after you drop the news.
Since your partner may not have been expecting a breakup, etiquette demands that you leave during the initial parting period.
If you can’t afford to stay at a hotel for the week, ask friends and family if they have a bed or couch on which you can crash.
11. Don’t Gang Up
How do you feel when people gang up on you? It’s a miserable feeling. So avoid inflicting it on your former partner.
Of course, there are exceptions. If you’re being abused, by all means, tell your friends and family so they can support you through the ordeal.
But if it’s an otherwise amicable breakup — and only non-criminal mistakes were made — consider taking the high road.
Sure, you may be angrier than a sack of cats, but acting with decorum and respect will serve you best in the end — especially if there’s a possibility that the breakup spawns a legal action or children are in the picture.
If you cohabitated, the relationship was strong at one point. Try to keep that atop your mind when ending things.
Respect the partnership that came before, and wish each other well as it ends.
But don’t stay in the relationship if it’s over – and remember that while breaking up when you live together may be difficult, it’s much less expensive than getting a divorce down the line.