Dear Captain and Company,
I recently finalized the ending of a relationship…I say finalized because I’ve been trying to break up with my ex since October, but she finally was able to accept it months later…no matter how many times I told her, “my feelings for you have changed,” “I’m no longer attracted to you,” et al. For the record, she’s not a bad person…hardcore GSF carrier, yes, but a generally decent, well intentioned (if a little misguided a lot of the time) human being. When the ending finally hit her, we were able to talk more openly than we have in months and are working out all the transitional stuff without conflict.
The question is this…we rent an apartment together with me taking on the bulk of the expenses as I make more money. While I could likely move with ease, she’s not in the same position…she wants us to stay as platonic roommates for another year, continue to work on our friendship as we move forward with our separate lives. Most of my Team Me think I am nuts for considering it. I’m torn. I don’t want to be the person who says, “F You, I don’t care, I am looking out for me,” but I want to be sure that I – and she, for that matter – can move on with our lives and be okay with it. I’m at the point where if I saw her with someone else, I’d be totally happy for her. No jealously, no angst. I don’t know that I trust her to be okay in the same way. It worries me that she refused to hear the very explicit statements I was making with regard to wanting to end our relationship, and I worry about how that could pan out should I meet someone else. On the other, we do work together in terms of splitting things up around the house well, and have pretty much been platonic roommates for the last year of our relationship.
Is this worth it to save money and hassle, or should I run, run, run?
Thanks, Domestically Challenged
Dear Domestically Challenged,
Listen to your friends!
EXCLAMATION POINTS! YELLING!
You have been trying to break up with this person, by my count, FOR FIVE MONTHS. I just met you (sort of) but your friends have been watching this saga unfold and if they say “Run!” I say “Run!”
Breaking up is a unilateral decision. When you say, “My feelings have changed and I am breaking up with you” the relationship is over! The other person does not have to agree or consent for this to be true. And once you break up, one of the pieces of good news is that you get to stop “working on” the relationship. Some exes make great friends, and sometimes the transition is pretty easy because face it, you already were more like friends and like lovers. Not so with someone who refuses to accept the reality of your breakup and thinks you should “work on” that for another YEAR of your life.
Have you ever heard the expression “Sometimes the cheapest way to pay is with money?” I think it’s a nice gesture for the ex who makes more money to help the person who has less in the event of a breakup and dissolution of households, and if you can afford to pull together a security deposit-ish fund you could give her, it would be a kind gesture. On the one hand, your ex has manipulated you into staying longer than you want to and she has had five months to ponder “Domestically Challenged seems to be making noises about ending our relationship, so where would I live if we were to break up and not live together anymore?” and you don’t owe her any money (or more time). In your shoes, I would prioritize getting yourself out first and helping her second, if at all. On the other hand, sometimes the cheapest way to pay is with money.
Before you contemplate continuing a friendship with your ex, I think you need a space of your own away from her where you can hear yourself think, not another year (!!!!!) of dragging this out. Tell her you don’t want to keep living together. Offer her some relocation money if that’s something you can do. Consider staying with a friend for a few days to give her time to process the decision. Then move out of FEELINGSHAUS and into the next phase of your life. Then figure in where (and if) your ex fits into your life as a friend.
179 thoughts on “#828: Can you live with your ex? (Spoiler: Not this time!)”
Seconding the Captain, LW. I read this and my eyebrows and shoulders both flew up so high they attempted to leave my body entirely. You must get out of this situation. It is not going to go well.
FEELINGSHAUS is a nightmare scenario, LW, get out of there. Your ex clearly has trouble accepting your decisions, there is no telling what the motivation truly is with “keep living here for a year to ‘work on’ our ‘friendship’.” Just get out of there. It will be better for you both.
Here’s where I see things going if you live with your ex platonically for a year:
You won’t have any headspace (or literal space) to date anyone new.
She will try to manipulate you back into a relationship.
You will not truly move on.
“Working on” your “friendship” will be marked with multiple attempts to suck you back in, a continuation of her refusal to hear your no, and issues with anyone you may try to date.
After the year is up she’ll want to continue living together because things are so hard for her/you make more money/etc.
Do NOT do this.
Your ex is grown. She can find another place to live, find roommates, figure out what she will do. You do not have children, she did not stay at home to take care of the house and you while you got a huge important job. She’s an adult and she can damn well start adulting. She would have found a way to support herself if she hadn’t met you AND was single. She will find a way now.
The last, yes, this. You are not her parent. You are her EX. Which means that literally nothing about her future life is in any way your responsibility.
RUN LIKE THE HUNGRY GHOST OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP IS CHASING YOU
Because it is.
And it looks like that girl from The Ring, scuttling across the ceiling.
What these nice people have said! One of the things my husband and I put explicitly our (self-written) marriage vows was, “Your problems are our problems, and my problems are our problems.” Whether spoken or unspoken, that’s usually part of any relationship that’s close enough to involve living together. The flip side of that, dear LW, is that when you are no longer involved with someone…. guess what? THEIR PROBLEMS DO NOT HAVE TO BE YOUR PROBLEMS ANYMORE! It’s one of the great joys (and, frequently, reliefs) of breaking up! All those things you used to worry about them over? Not your circus, not your monkeys. Not anymore.
LW, I heartily join the crowd endorsing the GTFO path to sanity and a new life. You will not be able to begin the second, and may well find the first being steadily drained, if you are trying to share living quarters with somebody who wants a type of relationship with you that you don’t want with them, and is bad at taking ‘no’ for an answer.
What I was going to say, but better put.
Trust me, LW: if you care about your friendship, and if you want to work on it, the best thing you can do is give both of yourselves space from each other. Staying there WILL kill that friendship and I would bet she’ll end up being “bitch eating crackers” because you are in VERY different emotional places.
I would highly recommend taking a complete break from each other for a while.
“She’s an adult and she can damn well start adulting. She would have found a way to support herself if she hadn’t met you AND was single. ”
This is a really ableist statement here. We have no idea what the ex is capable of, why she makes less money than the LW, etc.
I agree that the LW should do what they need to do, including move out. But comments like this are unnecessary, ableist, and not evidence-based.
I don’t take it as particularly ableist; it’s a statement of fact: If the ex had never met the LW, she would be in some other living arrangement that doesn’t involve LW.
I think I see what Ms. Pris is getting at, whether or not we decide to apply the label ‘ableist’ to it, since the comment presupposes that, without the LW, the ex would in fact be adulting successfully and so is capable of doing so. But why assume that the ex would be living on her own and fully financially independent without the LW’s support? In my case, I ended a relationship with someone who was not capable of adulting, despite being well into legal adulthood, precisely because of medical issues. That meant that she had to move back in with her (kind of horrible) parents when she moved out of our shared house after the break up. So it was not the case that she found a way to support herself, unless we think that finding someone else (not me) to support her counts as supporting herself. (Getting disability would not be nearly enough to live on; we live in an area with a high cost of living and a very tight housing market.) Of course, it’s still true that, “if the ex had never met [me], she would be in some other living arrangement that [didn’t involve me],” but that living arrangement wouldn’t be one in which she was supporting herself. This is what makes cases like this difficult: how do you force someone who is financially (and perhaps in other respects) dependent on you to move out when you know that that person cannot in fact support themselves through no fault of their own?
Sounds like this ex still works and makes money, just less of it. I don’t think disability is what we’re dealing with here.
The good news is that we don’t have to really speculate or find the answer to this! The LW didn’t dig into why this is the case – presumably they were ok with their arrangement up until now.
Not to sound harsh, but in the end it doesn’t matter. LW’s ex is an adult – adult enough to be in a relationship. It’s up to ex to sort out where they go next – disability or not. I know people who’ve ended up homeless because of situations like this, however that is not the fault of the ex, it is the fault of society for not investing in social security etc.
Remember the Awkward motto: put on your own oxygen mask first.
I agree that it doesn’t matter when the question at issue is, should the LW continue to live with the ex? I was not attempting to dissuade the LW; I agree that the LW and ex should not continue living together, even if that means that the ex is in a horrible housing situation. (Note that that does not mean that the LW will and ought to feel great about what transpires.) My point was simply clarifying Ms. Pris’ point, and I think that point stands: we need not assume that the ex, being an adult, is therefore capable of supporting herself and securing a living arrangement that does not depend on others helping her out. Moreover, though this does not matter for determining the answer to the main question (and though it wasn’t implied by what I said above), I think these sorts of factors DO matter when it comes to filling in the details of the transition.
But…solving your housing problems by moving back in with your family *IS* adulting! It’s leveraging the assets you have–in this case a relationship with your parents.
If her parents had been dead, or unavailable to help her, she’d have found something else. She just would have. Disabilities, etc.
And OK, so maybe once you leave the relationship, she can’t support herself. She’d go to whatever other option would have been available–even if it’s not one in which she is supporting herself. It’s not the I Want To Break Up person’s job to fill in all those blanks.
Yes, this, exactly.
From the fact that someone works and makes money it does not follow that they do not have a disability, nor does it follow that they do not have a disability that is impacting their work/ability to work/daily functioning. Note also that I was not speculating about LW’s ex, but merely pointing out what I took Ms. Pris to be getting at: even though LW’s ex is indeed an adult, she may not be capable of supporting herself, and we simply don’t know enough to know, so we ought not to make assumptions!
Huh. Something strange happened here. This was intended as a reply to Jules, and I hadn’t seen Captain’s reply when I first tried to post it. Oops!
LW did not, as one of their concerned, list their ex having a disability that would prevent her from supporting herself.
That really doesn’t matter in terms of my comment.
OP’s ex was not described as disabled. OP did not disclose whether they are able-bodied, disabled, or dealing with physical/mental health issues personally, either.
Yep. Get out. Either you keep the apartment and get her name off the lease and give her a specific deadline and enforce it, or you move out and get your name off the lease. Totally understandable to worry about how she’ll manage (either keeping the apartment or finding a new place to live). That is very caring and compassionate but NOT YOUR PROBLEM. Don’t let her make it your problem. She can get a roommate if she keeps the apartment and you move out (which is the most likely way for you to sever this reasonably). She can become someone else’s roommate to save on living expenses if she moves out. Either way, not your problem.
I gotta tell you, I broke up with my ex, and he actually believed me, and it was such a relief. For about an hour. I thought we could continue to live together while we sorted out all the things (we owned a house together). Nope. He started hammering on me “BUT WHHYYY?” every night. I started desperately searching for alternate housing and moved out after one week. I had managed to box up my most precious items that I couldn’t bear to lose and was willing to walk away from the rest, while refusing to engage in the “BUT WHHYYY?” discussion. I had friends help me load up a truck and move out while he was at work. And I didn’t give him my new address or phone number. I spent the next 3 months coming over to the house almost weekly to sort out the things and put the house on the market. All of it was hellish.
Your situation doesn’t sound as extreme, but it is far more likely to be the frog in the kettle situation. Don’t wait until you feel the boil. Get out now. Soonest. It’s better for both of you. Really.
How many years were you living together? Paying with money might be a nice gesture; it might also be a legal obligation. I definitely agree with the advice “live separately asap” but like, she may have some legal rights to help with the transition to a new living arrangement, not just moral ones.
How so? Are you saying they might be common-law married, or . . . ? Or do you just mean that LW might have to give her ex X number of months before “evicting” her?
LW said they “rent an apartment together,” so LW moving out would not be evicting anyone. I would also like to know what legal rights you are thinking of, Polychrome.
In some states/countries ex-spousal maintenance is a thing. Even in countries where it isn’t, there may still be legal requirements re the separation of assets. Polychrome is right. Definitely look up the definition of “defacto spouse” in your legal jurisdiction. I believe it’s 2 years where I live.
Yes, it’s two years where I live too, and ex common-law spouses can have both asset division and maintenance obligations. It is *possible* that LW should see a lawyer or do some research about legal their legal rights/obligations.
If LW is genuinely doing okay financially, then ponying up for an extra month or two’s share of rent might be a good idea–even if the Ex has no legal writes. But it sounds to me like LW has a lot of trouble accepting that she has the right to leave the relationship. If a one-time (and clearly addressed as such) expenditure doesn’t endanger LW’s financial well being *and* helps her finally give herself permission to move on — IMO, it’s not the worst idea.
That said, there be dragons here, and the most dangerous dragon of all would be the Ex assuming the cash flow can continue. But only LW could assess to what degree the Ex seems likely to pull that kind of thing, or how vulnerable LW would be if she did.
As for legal rights–if they’re both on the lease, which is entirely possible, LW genuinely may need to pay up her part of the remaining rent to be sure an eviction notice doesn’t show up on her record.
What Monica said, below — I was thinking of a common-law spouse scenario.
Yikes! Your ex has already asked for 6 months of your time to accept a breakup, and she now wants another year? I second the RUN!
If this were October, some financial assistance or a waiting period might be in order, but in this case, I think you should pack up your things and let your ex decide if she wants to try to find a roommate or if she needs to move too. This might make it impossible for you to be friends, but honestly, I’m not sure if a healthy friendship is in the cards regardless of what you do.
Please be careful though if you’re living in a rental to separate your responsibilities to the rental agent and any existing lease. If you are living in your own house, please check with someone regarding tenant rights, if your girlfriend has been living in your house steadily for over a year you can’t just throw them out, and if you’re living in an apartment, you can’t just unilaterally decide to move out without tending to any remaining lease obligations as well as separating out security deposits and what might happen if she gets ticked and wrecks the place. You also if it’s a rental can’t unilaterally make HER leave either. It’s very important to make agreements going forward regarding living arrangements and it’s best for you if they’re in writing (IE she’s responsible for x, you for y, if there’s a lease.) won’t help you if the rental agent decides to sue because you’re on the lease, but you could later go after her for what you had to pay (or not, that’s on you it’s your money to spend or not, and I agree with the Captain that you probably, if you have the money, want to foot these expenses in exchange for getting rid of her.)
What obligations she has – if any – depends entirely on what state/country she lives in. In some (USA) states, she would have none, in others she might have any. If they’re on a month-to-month instead of a lease or if the lease is up for renewal (which it sounds like it might be, if the ex is asking for another year), getting out could be as simple as not re-upping the lease or giving your notice period of a month.
Either way, LW, if you’re not sure what your obligations are to her, finding out is probably as easy as reading your lease or googling “tenant rights + State” (if you’re in the USA.)
True, which is why I suggest checking, especially about the living in the LW’s house thing, a lot of people have ended up in trouble because in their jurisdiction anyone who stays for more than a few days to a month, is considered to have living rights equivalent to a tenant whether or not they pay rent or are asked to pay rent. And a lot of people don’t know this at all. They only think about living in an apartment vis being a tenant or having a professional agent involved, but in some places if they stay you can’t just shove em out. You actually have to file eviction on them. Because the general idea is that someone who has been living somewhere for a long time has a right to notice and time if you want them to leave. It’s not fair to just shove them on the street.
Now, it could be as simple as just writing them a letter and sending it to them that they have 30 days to get out (if that’s the time in your area,) but it could be as complicated as actually having to go to court. So it’s seriously worth the Google-fu to make absolutely sure where you stand. Particularly with the fact that you want as little contact with the ex as possible right now.
The landlord/landlady may also have a say, too. During the phase that all of his stuff was still here but he was not, my ex informed my landlord that he was moving out.* Landlord said that as long as it was reasonably amicable and we were still legally married, not yet divorced, he wanted ex’s name to remain on the lease for the remainder of the term or until the divorce was final, for the protection of his own finances as landlord. (Now that it’s renewal time and time for the lease to be only in my name, landlord asked for income verification to decide whether to let me stay here on my own. When I mentioned alimony, it turned out he’d forgotten we’d been married.)
*It felt disrespectful to me because this was now my landlord only, and instead of me being able to show adult responsibility and reassure the landlord personally, ex was informing him without my knowledge or approval, after I’d already specifically asked that he and I inform the landlord together. It also meant there were several days where the landlord knew but I didn’t know that he knew. If you move out, it would be kind and respectful to ask her if she’d like for the two of you to inform the landlord together (for example, a three-way phone call or email with everyone cc:ed) or for you to do it. It would be very generous to offer to let her do it herself, but it sounds like you have good reason to believe that she would drag her feet and you couldn’t trust her to do it, so that might not be the best choice for protecting your interests.
Are you sure you’ll *want* to stay friends? You need to work on your own life first before deciding if there’s a friendship to work on. If you truly feel like helping her financially, make it a lump sum and retreat immediately to Team You. Good luck.
This is what I was wondering, too. I get a struggling-to-say-something-good vibe from LW re the ex: “For the record, she’s not a bad person…hardcore GSF carrier, yes, but a generally decent, well intentioned (if a little misguided a lot of the time) human being.” Not a ringing endorsement. More like a description of someone the LW not only no longer loves, but isn’t really sure about even liking that much. Time apart is so important for cooling any resentful feelings and clarifying what the best path is forward for any connection these two may have.
100% agree with the Captain.
But I do need to ask – what’s a GSF carrier? Urban dictionary isn’t helping…
Geek Social Fallacy carrier. 🙂
Geek Social Fallacies
I believe that GSF = Geek Social Fallacies, a phrase used quite often to good use on this site.
Geek Social Fallacies, I think.
Thank you, Emma. Urban Dictionary described something I was sure we weren’t talking about.
*Makes a mental note to look this up on Urban Dictionary sometime way after lunch*
Should look it up on this site. Captain awkward is who came up with it. 🙂
I think nottakennotavailable meant that they were interested in what the (probably dirty) definition was on Urban Dictionary.
Though the Captain has come up with many wonderful things, the geek social fallacies are actually from a different site originally.
What geniusscientist thought. 😉 Might be worth noting that I lost heart after lunch because I did not want to also lose stomach.
Ah! I was wondering that too. I know about geek social fallacies but I get confused by acronyms.
As someone who came right in the middle of a similar situation, let me echo your friends: RUN. Time for true story time:
Around the time we met, my now boyfriend was ina breaking up and getting back together cycle with his ex, who lived with him. I’m pretty sure that, if we hadn’t met, he would have taken even longer to end things for good. And even when he did, he still let her keep the key to his house, and to keep her stuff there until she could find a new permanent residence. That proved to be a bad decision because when we started dating, he would be afraid that we would arrive home and she would be there, or she would decide to pop by when I was there alone (and she would sometimes do that without calling first). Even though it was over for him, she still had hope (as your ex clearly seems to have), and keeping her things at his place was probably a sign of that to her. When she found out he was seeing someone else she was very, very mad. She took his cat (which kept his dog company and is the part that makes me sad) and a WHOLE LOT of his stuff from the house when he wasn’t there. From couch to television to hair triming kit not really fit for a woman with long hair. That’s the thing about relationships: it can get messy and people get hurt even though we try to prevent that from happening. A clear break will be upsetting now, but to let things get messy is even worse. I think the captain offered some good ideas on how you can be supportive but still take care of yourself now. Your feelings and need are just as important.
The bit about her still having hope is also SUCH a good point.
Though it doesn’t feel like it, moving out and moving on (and maybe limiting your contact with her) is actually being KIND to her. You are not allowing her to nurse false hopes of a reunion for years while she doesn’t actually move on and keeps trying to rekindle things. You are ripping the band-aid off for her, it’s going to hurt a lot, she’s not going to like it, but ultimately it is the kindest thing.
I second the “giving her hope” thing. My SO had left a super shitty, manipulative relationship a few months prior to meeting/dating me, and because of the desperation of the break-up (she got violent), he was forced to leave a lot of his stuff behind. When we started seeing each other, MONTHS later, even though he hated her, he was still in contact with her because she was kind of holding his stuff hostage, wanting him to come get it personally (a two hour drive and an excuse to pull her melodramatic manipulative BS in person). Meanwhile, she was also dangling her rebound boyfriend-who she started dating immediately after the break-up-in front of his face constantly, alternately telling him how happy she was to be in a new relationship to complaining about how horrible her new BF was. He didn’t understand that’s what it was at the time, but looking back… when did she flip out big time? When she found out he was dating someone new. Because she really had been holding on to the hope that he’d come crawling back to her at some point, and the idea that he had actually moved on made her go off the rails. (Harassment, stalking, suicide threats, the usual). She even called a few months after we’d been dating to tell my SO that she broke up with her rebound BF, and “are you going to break up with Onyx now?” SERIOUSLY. When he laughed and gave her a hard no, she was immediately back in a super bubbly, perfect relationship with rebound boyfriend. And my SO never did get the rest of his stuff back.
This situation is a little more extreme because it involved serious emotional blackmail and absurd stunts on her part in her bid to make my SO jealous/guilty/realize he belonged to her, but it’s the same song. Every tactic possible to keep him in her life, to hold something over him, to hold onto her own hope that on day he’d come back to her.
LW, this is what your ex is doing, if in a less insane way. Don’t take the bait.
As the person who still had hope long after it was reasonable, I completely second this. That breakup ate several years of my life. It was my own fault; I swore up and down that I wasn’t still hoping, and she believed me, because she still loved me as a friend and logistical things made it much easier (in some ways) to keep living together. But if she had insisted on making a clean break, I know that I would have gotten over her much more quickly. She and I are friends now, but it took a really long time for me to really accept that that’s what we are, and it was much harder on me than a clean break would have been.
yah — I will fault my ex for many things but not for leaving me with no hope about our future, although it was devastating at the time. It would have been SOOOOO much harder if I had been clinging to false hope for a dragged-out extra several months.
Ohhhh man, I just remembered from your story that my now-husband’s ex did this too! Except! She was the one who left! They had been living together and she kept breaking up with him and then they would get back together out of inertia, and then the last time she “suddenly” got together with their married friend who was “coincidentally” going through a separation with his wife at the same time (I think my husband still might not realize she was cheating on him?).
Anyway, when I came along months later, her shit was STILL at his house. And she would pull, like, weird territorial stuff like asking him to do her favors and getting him suuuuper nice birthday gifts. It was pretty apparent that she wanted him to still be in love with her just in case/so she could feel good about herself, and leaving all of her stuff in his place and moving it out over a period of NINE MONTHS (which was when he finally put his foot down; she would have happily left it there longer) was the ticket to getting to be around him and feel good.
It is so much better to just end things during the breakup. There is no need to drag it all out like this; it doesn’t help either party.
Wow. That is incredible. I hope your boyfriend’s doing well now.
She took the cat?!?!?!? That’s terrible. 😦
I have had a front-row seat to my best friend and housemate’s yo-yo break-ups TWICE now. The first was with a girl who was nice enough, but kind of…on a different wavelength of reality. (The nicest way to put it was that she was a bit like a fairy, or like StarFire from the Teen Titans.) Their relationship had been on the rocks for ages, he broke up with her, but she wanted to still hang out because there were other things they liked to do…and a week later, he was back in the relationship, for months, before the much messier end.
The second one…she was actually emotionally abusive and tried to manipulate him away from his social support groups. He broke up with her for my sake, but because “She’s going through a rough time, and she only knows one other person in town, and we were watching this show together…” etc, he kept hanging out with her. Like, a lot. They got back together on the down-low. And he *knew* he wanted to break up with her, he *knew* she could wreck his whole emotional state if she was in a mood to, and that she did. But…he didn’t want to hurt her. He wanted to still support her, because she *was* legit going through some rough stuff…
…it ended…very very badly. For many people, not just the two of them, because that was some massive, messy fall-out.
When a person you want to break up with doesn’t let you, that person is trouble, and distance is needed. Given constant, day-to-day interaction and little to no space, they will manipulate you back into a relationship you don’t want to be in.
That cat thing makes me sad too. It’s one of those weird mostly-irrational fears I have about dating now–what if things go badly, and he takes it out on my cat? (I mean, you never know someone until you do, y’know?)
Slightly different situation, but I think something relates. I stayed in a defunct relationship for far longer than I should have because I couldn’t afford to move out. Looking back, if I could tell my younger self to run, even if that had meant living in a total dump or squatting, it would have been better for me emotionally than staying. So don’t feel guilty about your ex. She may well be better off with a proper split too even if she can’t really afford the move. Not that YOU needing your own space isn’t enough on its own, but you know, it might help the brain weasels.
Yeah – in many ways it sounds like this situation has the potential to be worse for ex, because she is going to be holding out hope and not pushed into finding ways to move on into a life without LW. It’s kind financially to stay, but if the relationship is over it’s actually not kind in any other respect however much it feels that way in the moment.
I agree that you should move out ASAP and not stay because of her financial reasons. She’ll figure it out.
But. While reading the actual words that LW said he used to break up, I did wonder if he ever ACTUALLY said the words “I’m breaking up with you and I don’t want to be in a relationship any more.” Or did he just say things that would “let her down easy,” and all the while she thought it meant he wanted to work on the relationship to help it continue. It is quite possible that he is not as socially adept as he thinks he is.
I say this from experience, since I dated a guy who broke up with me because of the relationship moving to long distance, and he gave me lots of “reasons” like, long distance will ruin the relationship, it can’t work out, etc. And then he agreed to stay in communication and revisit our relationship status once I’d been long distance for a couple months…and long story short, all his reasons boiled down to “I want to break up,” only he’d never had the social skills to actually say it in a way I would understand, because while he was giving all the reasons to break up, AT THE SAME TIME he was saying things like, “we had something special”, and, “this relationship was a really good thing.” Mixed messages ftw. (And then he tried to gaslight me into believing the things that I’d said were things that he’d said, so fun times all around.)
LW, I really hope that isn’t you. I really hope you were as clear as humanly possible to your socially confused girlfriend. But consider that you might not have been as clear as you could have been, especially when you were noticing that it took her months to understand you. Consider, for the future and other relationships, that you might have to work on your communication skills, too.
So, no, I don’t think it’s a good idea to stay in the same space for another year. You both need time to move on and grow apart. But, if as suggested, if you could help her out financially with the transition that might be a nice gesture. But it’s not a required one. Make it clear that you will be moving out and she needs to find a new place ASAP. Set a move date to help her understand. Suggest a way to find a new housemate or send her links to craigslist housemate wanted posts. Make sure she knows she can’t wait around and hope the situation won’t change.
Did I miss some nuance here? Where’d you get he from for this LW?
No pronouns for LW that I saw. In my mind reading the letter they were female, the advice is good either way.
I saw other people using it and assumed I’d missed a clue that signaled the LW was a he.
No pronouns. I checked earlier when someone else pronouned LW as she.
While this is good advice, I’m a little concerned that the LW may read this and think that they are in the wrong and now “owe” the ex something for being “not sufficiently clear”. And let’s also note that sometimes a breakup is a “mixed message” because the other person doesn’t want to hear what is actually a clear message, or because there will be Consequences if the breaker-upper does not give a soft no that can be driven over.
LW, if you were not 100% clear before, take the Captain’s advice and say clearly ‘our relationship is over’, and guess what, it’s over! Your ex does not get a veto! She does not get to “decide” whether you are together now or friends or working on anything.
Agreed that we don’t have any indication of LW’s gender, but like mybodymystory I wondered if LW wasn’t engaging in some GSF-like thinking themselves: listing reasons the relationship isn’t working, with the hope/expectation that girlfriend will draw the “logical” conclusion (“we need to break up!”) without LW having to say so unilaterally, and everyone can proceed along happily.
But like the Captain says, breakups aren’t consensus-building exercises, and trying to convince the other person that they deserve to be dumped is neither necessary nor really in anyone’s best interest. One person hears a reason to break up, but the other hears something they can fix.
Regardless of the reason for it, prolonging the situation could turn a sad-but-amicable breakup into a toxic situation all around. After I ended a relationship of 5 years, I got a lot of “but whyyyyy” (including from his and my family members), and eventually I just had to do it anyway and let people be unhappy about it. It sucked, but everyone got over it eventually. It’s hard, but you both deserve the chance to move on, and not stay mired in a situation that’s making you both miserable.
Good luck, LW.
I thought I was sufficiently clear on the “yes, move out and move on” point, but perhaps not. My concern was that everyone else seemed to be assuming that LW’s ex was a super clingy person who could turn into a stalker and all the fault in the super long breakup was due to her. So my point was a counter point to other commenters as well as saying what nuances I had seen in the letter. Yes, there can be lots of reasons for breakups to be confusing and drawn out, but again, I see all of the fault for confusing breakups being placed on the person being broken up with and I’m pointing out that that’s not always the case. Of course the ex does not get a veto, I wasn’t suggesting that. I was just suggesting that the person doing the breaking up has a responsibility to be clear about it.
All my other suggestions of helping the ex move out more easily were just echoing what others had said. In fact, I would add that not being friends sounds like a better idea than being friends. Take time away from each other and maybe later, if you want to, try and be friends.
I think this is a good point (and it came through clearly the first time). Stuff like this can be super messy and I think we all gotta start taking more real responsibility for boundaries and owning our shit. It can be really easy to fall into the ‘clingy, bad dumpee’ role if you don’t really want to be dumped and the dumper is giving mixed messages.
This. I once had someone just kind of — refuse to understand we were broken up. I felt terrible about breaking up with someone who was super in love with me, and he’d say things like “let’s go out for our anniversary!” and I’d say “…but we aren’t together, we don’t have an anniversary” and he would get SUPER SAD AND WEIRD and then I would go out with him because I felt super guilty about how sad he was.
Reader, I was already dating someone else by then! I could not figure out why this dude thought we were still together! IT WAS A MINDFUCK AND A HALF. Was it me? Was I ambiguous? Was “I want to break up” and “we’re no longer together” and “I am dating someone else” insufficiently clear? No. I was not insufficiently clear. He was the king of denial.
This finally ended when he assumed we’d be sleeping together after one of these things he thought was us still being together and had guilted me into, during which I tried to return my engagement ring (he wouldn’t take it) and an expensive gift he’d gotten after we split (he wouldn’t take that either). I was like “…no WE ARE BROKEN UP, TAKE THE RING, also I don’t want this other thing, oh my GOD” and he still DID NOT GET IT and so I asked if he could give me a ride to a mutual friend’s house. He did. (I was dating her roommate, which Ex did not know.) I then went into my new bf’s room while ex talked to Mutual Friend and refused to leave when Ex wanted to leave.
I remember standing on the stairs and watching Ex realize that I’d meant it when I’d broken up with him.
But it didn’t matter how clear I was, or how many times I’d said it. I imagine if I’d been living with him it would have been a lot worse, and I might have had to move out in order to make him get it.
Yikes. Shoulders/ears 😦
That’s kind of scary.
On the flip side, my ex said things like, “sometimes you have to put the relationship down in order to pick it up again,” meaning, after the long distance time was over, we could go back to being in a relationship. And I would be like, “so, that’s more like taking a break than breaking up?” And he was like,”well, it’s breaking up to save the relationship.” And then I was like, “We’re either breaking up or not – I can’t be in limbo for a whole year, and if we break up we’re not getting back together. But we can take a break and still talk to each other and then in a few months when I’m actually overseas decide whether we’re breaking up or getting back together?” And he said, “ok, how about 4 months?” And I said, “ok.” So we stayed in friendly contact for four months, which, had we actually broken up I would have ditched all contact – and I had told him this. But then when I emailed him to say let’s get back together, he said, “wtf I broke up with you four months ago.” And I said, “wtf?!?”
So while I obviously didn’t want to be broken up with, the message I was receiving was, “we’re not really breaking up, we can fix this.” Being clear about the breakup – or even, at the four month mark, finalizing it without saying that he’d ACTUALLY broken up with me four months ago…which, from my perspective, even agreeing to the four month check-in meant we hadn’t actually broken up – would have saved both of us heartache and messiness.
Because, while there are exes who cause the messiness, I’m uncomfortable with this thread that is demonizing the ex without knowing the situation fully. Especially because I read from the letter the possibility that it took months for LW to be clear about the breakup, not just that it took months for LW’s ex to understand.
I had that done to me, too. It sucks doesn’t it? Dragged it out for months with all his talk of “taking a break” and “it doesn’t have to be forever” and all that nonsense. I don’t think he had any intention of getting back together but I was his security blanket plus he was too cowardly to rip off the band aid.
I lived with a college boyfriend for a couple of years, and near the end of a semester he started talking about me moving out for the summer “to take a break.” I told him that if I moved out, we were breaking up, period, and that he needed to be sure that’s what he wanted. After a week or so, he said that’s what he wanted. I ended up in a studio in the same complex, because the manager gave me a great deal. My ex helped me move, and he seemed clear that we were done. About 4 months later, he invites me to lunch and starts talking about “when” we get back together. I told him that it wasn’t happening. He sent me flowers. He CALLED MY MOTHER to try to get her on his side. She said, “[Name Redacted], I think you’re confused.” It took me a month to get him to understand that I was never taking him back.
Sounds like maybe he had plans for the summer that didn’t involve you and maybe did involve…other people. Good thing you didn’t take him back, by the sound of it.
ugh, that is an unkind thing to do to someone!
And it’s true that we don’t know how well the LW used their words, but I just wanted to say, it is COMPLETELY possible to have used unambiguous words and have them somehow not register on the mind of your now-ex.
@amberxebi – If so, there was never an inkling of it. We had a lot of mutual friends and were in the same major department at school. Once he got it through his head that we were done and started seeing someone new, I heard about it right away. I doubt he could have kept a fling secret for 4 months. I think he just really wanted a time-out (at a time when that wasn’t terribly common) and didn’t take me seriously when I said, “If you ask me to move out, I’m never coming back and we’re breaking up for good.” It fits with the pattern of our whole relationship where he didn’t take a lot of what I said seriously unless I was saying something he agreed with. He was quite the piece of work.
When I’d been seriously dating my now-husband for about six weeks, a woman we both worked with came up to him at a party, introduced my boyfriend to me with “Have you met my boyfriend yet?” and stuck her tongue down his throat. It was very weird. She was very upset when he pushed her off, and ran away shouting about him breaking up with her in public.
He had taken her on exactly one date several months before. Had not spoken more than a few “Hellos” in passing in the halls. Found out from a mutual friend that apparently, in her mind, he’d been her steady boyfriend for several months, and one of the things she loved about him was how *not-clingy* he was.
That’s…more than a communication gap.
My gob. It is smacked.
I cringe now to think that *I’ve* been the sad clingy one in a breakup. More than twenty years ago, I was in a relationship with the only man I’ve ever loved. My bf and I were really happy, and it was a total shock when he told me he wanted to breakup. I fell apart – turns out that I had been using the relationship as a crutch to make up for my terrible childhood and parental abandonment. I didn’t have a good Team Me because I’d invested everything in this relationship and was totally unprepared to cope with the loss.
Funnily enough, I was the one who wanted to go no contact as I couldn’t cope with his need to stay friends. I was depressed, gained weight and my hair fell out. My friendships and work suffered too. I lived alone and the empty weeks would drag on, then he would call and because I was so sad and desperate, I wouldn’t tell him to get lost.
He would come over, we would have sex, I would beg him to tell me what I did wrong or to get back together, he would tear up, look sad and tell me he didn’t feel the same way about me – while curled up in bed, snuggling on the couch, etc. He’d call me on my landline, (days before mobile phones) and be upset if I didn’t answer because it meant I was out, drop in when he was liquored up and wanted affection, etc. I always gave in, but it would end with me begging and crying. This dragged on for two years before his calls became less and less frequent. The mixed messages made it so hard to move on and I lived in constant fear (that he would meet someone else) and hope (that we would get back together).
We didn’t speak for the next 10 years, then literally bumped into each other in the street. He was eager to be friends and bombarded me with calls and invitations. I thought I was over him, but it took only a month of long, chatty, funny calls, too long hugs and inappropriate affection for me to get hooked. The whole cycle began again. He always initiated contact and was clearly into me! He often told me he loved me – unprompted! Eventually, we began having sex and I started whining, begging him to get back together and couldn’t understand why he didn’t want to. I was mad at myself for sleeping with him, mad at him for his selfishness and desperate for us to be together. It was a terrible mix of emotions that went on for nearly THREE YEARS!
It stopped when I found out he met someone else. I was furious, a screaming match ensued and it was over. A week later, I accidentally-but-on-purpose drove past his house, saw the lights were on and could hear music blaring. I parked, sat in the car for 10 minutes with a huge knot of anxiety in my stomach, then crept down the side of his house to spy on him through his kitchen window – I can’t explain my actions, I just had to know who he was with! Halfway to the window, I came to my senses and realised I had become a stalker and a trespasser. I thought about how foolish I would look if he caught me creeping around his house at night and was scared he would call the police.
The next day I called a therapist and made my first appointment. It was the beginning of the long process of getting over him. That was over eight years ago, and there have been a few more misguided attempts at friendship, but I’ll never be sucked into the drama again. Sorry for the long story, but the point is that it sucks being on the receiving end of mixed messages and it’s hard to be friends when one person wants more (also grief and anxiety can make you temporarily insane and behave in ways that horrify you).
Unsurprisingly, I’m a big advocate of breakups being clear, kind and final. And if you’re serious about a friendship, a break often helps give you the time you need to get over someone. Also, I no longer demand closure or think that people are *compelled* to work on a relationship – this blog has helped me realise that it’s not something anyone owes me, when they’re done it’s up to me to make my own peace and move on.
Jedi hugs if you want them! I can totally relate to your story, having been there myself, including the weird stalking thing but especially the bit about not understanding Surprise!Breakup, being totally devastated and the emotional crutch/parental abandonment thing. And having gone through something similar, I’m sorry you did too.
Sorry for the tangent, but this quote from someone on a forum I frequent massively resonated with me and I just wondered if it might with you, too: “The loneliness you feel [in my case, after a breakup] is not what an emotionally healthy person feels. What you actually feel is the gnawing anguish of an unloved child and it is different to the loneliness an emotionally healthy person experiences.”
That was the moment I realised that I had been experiencing a kind of transference where I sought the profound love and affection I should have had from my parents from my romantic partners instead.
RedCat, that sounds incredibly painful. Thank you for your willingness to be vulnerable in sharing that with us. This really helps me remember that even when we have to set boundaries with people, we can still feel compassion for them; the two feelings are not mutually exclusive.
Making him drive you to your new boyfriend’s house was just cruel. Don’t create drama for the sake of creating drama.
I feel like in a situation where the dude was not hearing ANYTHING he didn’t want to hear and *expected* J. Preposterice TO SLEEP WITH HIM after he browbeat them into going out….driving to the new bf’s house was less in the vein of drama-making and more an attempt to get to a safe space and not be alone with a scary person who ignores boundaries and apparently feels entitled to sex.
For Pete’s sake, no. If you need to get somewhere and transit doesn’t exist in your city, and you need to be somewhere where people will back you up when you tell the ex yet again to get lost…I think anyone is totally justified in asking for a ride to a mutual friend’s place that also happens to be your boyfriend’s residence.
I disagree. I’ve been in many situations where a guy refused to hear my “no,” and acted like my clear, repeated refusal was a speed bump to drive over. Oddly enough, the only thing that persuaded those guys to finally leave me alone was thinking that I had another boyfriend.
No, cruel is assuming that the relationship isn’t over until you say it is and your former partner doesn’t get a say. Cruel is making someone so afraid for their safety that they needed to find a safe place to hide.
And anyway, J Preposterice said that they went to a mutual friend’s house and stayed in new boyfriend’s room, not that they engineered any sort of confrontation between ex and new boyfriend. The story would be exactly the same if they had asked for a ride to their parent’s house and hidden in a sibling’s room.
I’m sorry, he’s ignoring “we’re no longer together” and “I am dating someone else” and “…no WE ARE BROKEN UP, TAKE THE RING, also I don’t want this other thing, oh my GOD” and somehow you think Prepostorice getting to a safe space where someone else can try getting through to the clingy lunk is what’s creating drama?
I’ve been in the exact same position as your no-longer-girlfriend–it’s kind of scary how closely things line up, including the being in denial for a while.
My ex basically gave me an ultimatum: if I didn’t get the job I was interviewing for at the time, I’d have to leave and go live with my family. As it happens, I did get that job, and after settling in there was able to search for new living space. That didn’t take long once I was seriously looking, as my sights weren’t all that high–it was one room in a shared condo, but that was enough for then.
It may be that I had some advantages your ex doesn’t, but as someone who’s been on that side and come through okay, I say getting out of the same living space ASAP will be the best thing for her too. If she wants a “smooth transition” out then she should only get to stay as long as she’s seriously working to make it happen (searching for that new place and GingTFO). At most. If you can handle that, and if she can in fact make solid, honest progress in a timely manner. If not (and it sounds like not) she can make that search from someone else’s couch or a hotel. Or you can be the one who leaves, and she can pay her own rent. Wherever she ends up, you did not put her there. She did, by refusing to acknowledge the truth and your need for space.
I’ve seen a few people suggest she be the one to leave. Don’t do this! If she’s the one going, it leaves the possibility of misfortunes happening on her way out – oh, no, the apartment she was going to rent fell through! Shoot, the friend she was going to move in with is dragging their feet. ..darn the luck! The movers never showed up? What are the chances? !
You leaving the apartment – and paying the fees associated with the land lord drawing up a brand new lease – will be much smoother and far more final.
I’m a huge fan of paying cohabitating exes who earn less, or are unemployed, some chunk of money when they move out. I did this with my ex, mostly because he got rid of a bunch of things when he moved in with me, and it gave me a peace of mind that helped me get over the relationship.
Another argument for refusing to live together for another year, is that you really don’t want to. There’s nothing in your letter that sounds like “I’d miss blank about living together.” If you decide to live with your ex because she wants you to, you are going to resent the crap out of her for “forcing” you to live in a situation you don’t want. Living on someone’s charity while being the target of their resentment sucks.
You need Out, but you might want to pull together Team Her. You are not a member of this team. They can help her find a place to live, go over finances, and help her present to you a clear plan of “please let X stay on lease till Y date and supply Q portion of rent” to get her established and not homeless.
Team Her will talk shit about you. This is ok. Team Her may have demands you’re going to nope on. That’s ok too. But a breakup gesture–some cash and a violet and a No, Now I’m 100% Done declaration–may help you sleep easier.
My ex cornered me into financial dependence and I was essentially homeless after our breakup–we were going to move in together and my lease was up and I didn’t have a job. I’m still angry that he left me to twist in the wind, and had we established a This Is Over, Take Some Money clear boundary that was workable it would’ve been better. Instead we Fought Over What We Morally, Financially, and Emotionally Owe Each Other until I told him I hope he got hit by a truck and banned him from ever contacting me again.
Don’t be me. Do better.
I feel like it would be better for the girlfriend to do that on her own. If LW tries to assemble a team to take care of her, that’s still LW taking a really inappropriate amount of responsibility for their ex’s life.
I agree–when you break up with someone, you are not responsible for them going forward. Ex must assemble her own Team. Ex must do her own processing. Ex must take responsibility for her own life.
Right, speaking of boundaries, assembling a Team Ex is really, really not appropriate.
Calling them all together for an intervention is weird, but texting the ex’s best friend or sister and saying, “Look I’m moving out and Ex may have some feels and I’m 100% done with her feels” is more kind.
It’s like the traditional Last Call in a bar: “Folks, you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”
With my most recent ex, I didn’t pull together a Team Them, but I did give their Team Them a heads up that their support would be needed and probably not asked for. And an acknowledgement that I would understand if they felt it was appropriate for our friendship to lapse for the interim, if not forever.
It wasn’t 100% altruistic – priming people to provide support meant that there was little possibility of my being called on to provide that emotional support myself, which meant that I didn’t have to say no, which made it a much cleaner break and less stressful for me. And I am important and I matter and I’m worth taking care of.
ITA — you can’t assemble Team Them, because that’s on her, but talking to a friend or two that you know well enough to reach out to isn’t overstepping, IMO. I might feel differently if LW & the Ex hadn’t already broken up, but in this situation the friends have or should have this information.
I work with someone whose relationship broke up while they were living together and her ex stuck her with the lease, and you know what, it was a shitty situation, but she dealt with it. The rest of us helped her out when we could and she found another roommate from among our coworkers and everything turned out okay.
I am not comfortable with the idea that the LW owes their ex anything besides honesty in their feelings (which LW had provided). The relationship is over. She’s not being tossed out into the street as they are still living together and divvying up their belongings/figuring out the logistics of breaking up. LW’s ex has time to find another place if this place is too expensive. LW does not owe their ex the effort to pull together her Team You or anything else. LW does not need to stage manage their ex’s feelings or life. LW’s ex knows what’s best for her and she can handle her own life.
If LW wants to be nice sure. But given the ex’s behavior–not hearing no, refusing to hear LW’s statements about wanting to end things, wanting to hang on, etc.–I am leery of this. The most I’d concede–and this would be after talking to a lawyer to ensure that it would not end up biting LW in the ass–is maybe covering the last couple of months of the lease, if that’s all that is left to the lease.
LW’s ex is a grown-ass adult. She can find roommates, or find someone who needs/wants a roommate. Given her past behavior, asking LW to continue to act as an emotional support/caretaker will further enmesh them with someone who is not willing to let go, and that is not a good idea, IMO.
Enlisting people has the benefit of making LW sleep better and the much more important benefit of making other people bear the brunt of Ex’s emotional needs in addition to acting as controls on her behavior. “Maybe we’ll get back together!” “No, LW is moving out and told everyone they know you were over. No, don’t sad text LW. Let’s get some ice cream.”
LW has no control over what Team Ex says and does, nor should she.
Oh, LW, this is tough. You want to make sure she’s going to be okay, and that is commendable, but if your relationship is over, she’s not your responsibility. Give her money or help her move if that works for you, but please don’t consider continuing to live together, not for one hot minute. I’ve been in a similar situation to yours—twice. The first time, I broke up with the other person but stayed for three months because the place I was planning to move into wasn’t ready yet. HELLISH. The second time, I broke up with the other person but let them stay for almost half a year while they got themselves together for their move. EVEN WORSE. And in that second case, I did it because I really, truly wanted to help them and give them the best possible start to the next phase of their life. But it was so very, very hard, and basically my entire life was utterly stalled during that time: no grieving, no healing, no processing, no peace, just six months of anxiety and resentment and frustration and wtf. I do not wish that on you.
Good luck. You sound like you really want to do the right thing for her. Remember to do the right thing for you, too.
OK, maybe not quite that dramatically, but
0.) Figure out the legal stuff. Is it a lease or a rental agreement, and what happens when someone moves out? Who has the utilities, and what’s required to change them over? What does the worst-case scenario look like, and how much of that harm could be mitigated?
1.) Set a budget for yourself. Are you going to find a new place to move? Budget for security deposits, application fees, and movers costs, and set that money aside.
2.) Set a budget for your ex. Figure out what financial help you’re ready to offer. If you’re both moving out, maybe you pay for professional cleaners to come through. If they’re moving out, maybe you offer to pay for professional movers to move their stuff. If they’re staying but you moving out means they have to put in a new security deposit before the original one is released, maybe you put down half of the new deposit. Figure out what you’re willing to offer, and budget it, and do it all before you start talking to your ex.
(this is a really good “can we be friends” test, by the way. You’re setting boundaries, and making explicit, limited offers of help. Will they respect those boundaries? Will they accept the limitations you’ve set?)
3.) Set a timeline for you. Once you know what has to be done, and once you’ve got the money ready, set a deadline to act. This too is a good litmus test of your ex’s reactions. Will they argue against the deadline, or try to get you to change it? Will they accept it, and have their own plan in place by the deadline, or will they stay in denial until you’re walking out the door with packed boxes?
4.) Set a cooling-off period. Another agreement the two of you should have is that once you and/or they have relocated to better living arrangements, there is at least 30 days of no contact. Sanitize your social media, and agree to no texts, calls, or emails for at least one rent cycle. You need to settle in your new place and/or they need to settle in theirs. There’s unpacking, and restocking pantries and maybe a modest housewarming party for a small number of friends, and all of that should be free of ex’s. This cooling off period might even be better for 60-days, because if your ex does run into problems with a new living arrangement, that’s drama that you shouldn’t be any part of. (plus, they may ask for financial help, which goes back to point #2)
Also, figure out ahead of time if your landlord does separate cheques for return of deposit automatically, or if you have to request. There may be a fee. Eat the fee. A joint cheque is just one more opportunity for ex to cling.
This is excellent.
Yes, such great advice.
Re: #4. This include changing your passwords to any Netflix/Hulu/HBOGo/Showtime etc accounts. Sounds mean but I tell ya, if either of you have any neurotic tendencies, the lure to read to into everything the other person watches will you keep both emotionally tethered to each other in a unhealthy, voyeuristic kind of way.
Oh man, and ESPECIALLY your Amazon Prime subscription, if you have one. Your ex, if of a mind to, could bleed you dry with movie purchases/rentals.
It also leads you to look at Netflix months after the breakup, frown, and mutter out loud, “I HATED A Very Long Engagement, so why is it on my…THAT BASTARD!”
There are so many electronic threads to cut in modern breakups. The day I changed the Netflix and HBOGo password I felt like I was being vengeful and petty because I could see his viewing history that he was in the middle of an episode of Miss Fisher’s mysteries, but that’s exactly why I needed to do it. I needed to stop tempting myself into seeing what he was watching (the same stuff he’d been watching before, actually). One that you can’t really cut is meetup.com. There’s no way beyond self-control to stop yourself from seeing what meetups they attend (I wrote and asked).
I felt guilty enough that I took screenshots of his entire Netflix queue to share if he asked, but he never asked me about it.
Meetup is the only way I know my ex is still following me on FB, which was an unpleasant discovery to make when I was looking for new ones to join. (When he dumped me I immediately set about removing every trace of him from my life, starting with social media.)
I remember foaming at the mouth in your ex’s vague direction when I read your letter, so FWIW to you, some internet stranger thinks his getting cut off in the middle of an episode is modern poetic justice.
“I just met you (sort of)”
Hey, we just met you
But that sounds creepy
So here’s some advice:
Just run already
In addition to echoing all of the “get out” advice from every else – I have a side a/side b option for you to also think about in regards to financial points
When I broke up with my ex, I was in the position of making more money/where would my ex go guilt cycle. At the time, we were on a cellphone family plan that I had always paid for. When we moved out, I continued paying for his phone in some kind of “I feel bad and can continue to do this” fashion. While financially it was one thing off his plate that I could still cover and helped alleviate my guilty feelings for breaking up (I also took a long time to finally end things), it also led to a very uncomfortable reunion about 4 months later at the cellphone store to untwine our plan.
It wasn’t the end of the world to do that, and it did seem like some kind of right/fair/ok decision at the time. But there’s also the complication of once you continue to pay for X, if you want to stop doing it – you need to get back together to sort it out. I don’t remember my financials exactly at the time, but had I been able to afford it – a better way would have been for me to offer paying all of our remaining bills for the apartment.
I definitely do NOT believe that the OP owes the ex any money necessarily, but I know during my breakup it did feel right. And no matter how awkward and unpleasant the reunion was, I would have rather done something like that given the entire context.
Yeah, I think offering some financial assistance is nice if the LW can swing it, but it should definitely be a one-time payment and not a “I’ll cover some expense for you indefinitely that can be a continual excuse to talk to me/that one day we’ll have to affirmatively discuss me no longer paying.”
I agree with this, and with each other recommendation to make it a lump sum – but it may not be possible for the LW to simultaneously come up with their own costs of relocation including deposits on a new place, plus a lump sum for the ex large enough to meet the peace-of-mind level. We only know that LW is making more than the ex, not that they have such a huge gap (or savings) that they can afford to cover all of that now.
In which case I’d suggest maybe offering it as (for example) three monthly payments of (affordable amount which will be enough to help ex cope), with the clear understanding that after those three, there will be no more and ex has to have found their own solution.
Paying directly to the ex also means it’s up to the ex to use that on the necessary bills, without LW being a named debtor for any of the billing entities.
“Sometimes the cheapest way to pay is with money.”
This may be a life-altering phrase. *stares*
I first learned this phrase when my mother was babysitting for us somewhat regularly, and making us very upset with her refusal to, like…prevent the children from playing with fragile objects and feeding them candy and bringing random plastic crap to our house. But it was free babysitting! And the kids love her! And she loves them! BUT WHY IS THERE BROKEN PLASTIC CRAP FROM THE DOLLAR STORE KNEE-DEEP IN THE LIVING ROOM OMG.
Mr Hypotenuse finally said “The cheapest way to pay is money” and we hired a babysitter and never looked back.
The biggest red flag in the Ex’s whole expectation is that she expects LW to stay and “work on our friendship.” Sorry, my friendships aren’t hard work. They’re where I go to get a relief from hard work. Anyone who tells me I need to “work on our friendship” gets the “Too Much Work” stamp and becomes ex friend effective yesterday.
Holy shit, why have I not thought of this fact before?!
So much this!
“I don’t want to think over all possible interpretations of what I say before saying it. After a decade of friendship we should be assuming the best of each other.” Why I don’t put effort into a former friend anymore.
When a life change pulled me out of their “good people” category, every conversation was laced with tests on whether I was still worthwhile or had become an awful person like everyone else in that circumstance.
Ugh! Let me go ahead and save you the trouble.
*tilt-y hand gesture*
I think close friendships can be worth “working on”, if you’ve hit a potentially-resolvable conflict in something that’s been a good and valuable friendship.
However. If a friendship is in a state where it needs “working on” (particularly “working on” which is apparently going to take a year) — you should not simultaneously be co-habiting with that friend, dear god no.
For me, it’s all in the framing. It’s not that I never have conflicts with my friends that require effort to resolve, it’s that those incidents are never framed as the friendship itself needing work. “Work on our friendship” = “Work on our relationship [romantic edition]” where the person being directed to work is really being told to annihilate their needs and desires relative to the other person. How someone frames conflict tells you a whole lot about how they think, and this particular type of framing is a red flag, in any relationship.
Also, I suspect in this case the aspect that needs “working on” in LW’s Ex’s eyes (perhaps unconsciously) is “we’re not a couple any more”. Or at least “I feel so sad about how we’re not a couple any more”.
Which is not a thing that should be worked on between them.
It’s extremely possible that there will be awkwardness that they’ll need to navigate around in the shift from a romantic relationship to a friendship, but working on/around that is going to be much easier to handle if they have some space from each other.
Yep. Some years ago I had a massive falling out with a roommate who was also a dear friend. We put the friendship back together, and it took some work to do so, but we put in said work only well AFTER splitting up housekeeping. It wouldn’t have been possible otherwise, and TBH if we’d lived in the same house for even one more month it would have gone nuclear.
Yeah, I was also utterly baffled by this turn of phrase. I may be more blase than most about letting a friendship end/fade away, but I cannot think of a single time when a friendship was both so utterly necessary, and in such dire straits, that it needed to be “worked on” for A YEAR while the friend and I LIVED TOGETHER.
Some additional advice:
1. If she claims that she will move out and you can stay, do not take her up this. She will most like likely drag it out forever for Very Good Reasons why she can’t move “this month” or whatever timeline is agreed upon. Which will just be a nightmare with no end in sight while you spend your days feelings guilty over wanting her gone already. Many, many lovely relationships between lovely people have been wrecked by dragging out the inevitable end whereby one person feels needy as hell and the other, resentful until you can’t even remember why you liked each other to begin with.
Not to mention, physically moving out of a communal space to a new, all you space (even if it’s just your bedroom with other actually platonic, boundary respecting roommates) can work WONDERS on closure.
2. Make sure all of your most valuable possessions are out of the house and with one of YOUR friends before you tell her. Do this stealth style, while she is not home.
Remember, this is the kind thing to do for BOTH of you. It doesn’t sound like it, is but truly is. There is nothing kind in fueling her false hope (which I suspect is the real reason she wants you to stay another year) that you will wake up one day and realize: she is the one!
2 is a good one to practice when possible in any moving-out situation where the roommate relationship has gone bad. Also remove any pets from the situation if they are yours. Short-term boarding is a good solution, with a STRICT instruction to the kennel or cattery not to release the pets to anyone but you.
Or at least move out.
You and Ex can “work on” your friendship from your separate homes. The two of you can even double date with new loves. Just stop living together. Please.
Greetings! I am sorry that breakup took so long, that is definitely the worst. And kudos to you to being willing to be friends with her, though I agree it is much easier in separate dwellings. Related to Captain’s advice, I have had two directly applicable experiences. Boyfriend K and I got along great but we had certain intractable issues that finally came to a head…11 days after we moved into the house we literally built together. We broke up, and of course (like probably your ex) hoped it was just a phase or cold feet or something, so we didn’t tell anyone at first, to get used to it. He moved into one of the extra bedrooms and I had the master (I had more house equity). Then we slowly started telling people, who were weirded out, but accepted it since suddenly we were much happier in general, with the burden of not Trying To Make It Work or Feeling Powerless over our heads. I threw him an epic surprise birthday party and our parents met, with wedding bells in their eyes, and about half the people there had no idea we were broken up. Finally, everyone knew. And it was fine. I started dating people, and he did too, and that was more weird for our dates than for us. We were great roommates and good friends and with the pain over, it was actually pretty great in the house. Eventually (a year and a half later) I moved to another state and we sold the house (which we now regret but sharing that kind of property across state lines was just too complicated) and he was just my new husband’s groomsman. It can work, BUT boundaries are EVERYTHING. And I am so glad we did. I almost moved back to be his roommate twice when I needed to come back to town, and that would have been fine. It CAN work but you both have to know it’s over, publish that it’s over, and live in that reality, and give each other space.
I lived with Boyfriend R two years longer than we should have been together because I financially couldn’t move out. It was miserable, painful, resentment-making, and he’s still the only bf I refuse to talk to or be friendly to. My friend said, “but maybe you can’t afford NOT to move out,” I was so sad and depressed all the time. Back to Captain’s cheapest way to pay is money. It so was. It was very very financially hard, and there are solutions. Poorer people than myself live in this city and survive, I could and did.
I lived with Boyfriend E after that, and he heard the story of Boyfriend R, and before we even talked about moving in, he said he would have funds set aside to help me, because he didn’t want me staying longer than I wanted to because I couldn’t afford to go. After 6 years of sadness and trying, it was time to cash that check, so to speak. My dad helped me, and Boyfriend E gave me a few key household goods I didn’t have (a skillet, a TV) and helped me with my utility security deposits, and it was a very loving act of breaking up. It was a small thing for him and a huge leg up for me, and it actually also helped cement our friendship after breakup a little too.
All this to say – it can work both ways. It’s what your gut says that is the most important. If you feel a physical need to get separation, get it, pay for it, it will pay dividends of your being able to establish an After Romance relationship that may be an important one for your life. If you can make the boundaries work, I never liked any roommate better than Ex Boyfriend K in all my years. We had super fun times, more so than when we were dating because all the pressure was off (and we were getting sex on the regular from our new heartthrobs).
I wish you all the happiness because it is clear that you want to do what’s right for someone you have cared for as a person even after you stopped wanting a relationship with them, and to me that is the best kind of kindness.
OP. MUST. RUN. FAST. !
Ok so maybe that bit was a little aggressively dramatic, but SRSLY. RUN. Your ex has sucked you into the “no we’re not breaking up because I don’t want to” hell dimension for months and months – if you don’t get your stuff and go, you could very well be trapped in this hell dimension FOREVER (ok, another year….but then something comes up and you stay another few months…until another thing comes up…see where this is going?). She’s had 5ish months to figure out a plan for her solo future – but she’s been banking on being able to guilt/pretend not to hear you repeat that it’s over, over and over. By sticking around, you’re playing the game, and with this it may just be a lot more along the lines of Russian Roulette.
LW, I did this. On the verge of moving in together, I broke up with a live-in partner who did not want a breakup, who rejected and resisted and logicked his way out of the new reality for months. Once he finally accepted that we were not together, he still urgently wanted us to be friends. And he would also tell me sob stories about how he had no money to live alone, how he’d made all his plans around us living together, how he had no other support. Add that to my crushing guilt over dumping someone who loved me so much, and you have a pretty potent force. Then mix in my naive optimism that he was telling the truth when he said he could live happily as my platonic friend, and voila. We moved in together.
It was a terrible year. And when I look back on it, what bothers me most is how unkind it actually was to him. Yes, we had painful fights every time I actually acted like an independent person who was free to come and go. No, I never even tried to date during that year; but if I went to spend time with colleagues and he started to imagine that I might meet men there, he would lock himself into the bathroom with a knife or bleach and tell me to call 911 before I left because he’d be dead before I got home. And every time I’d point out that this couldn’t go on, he’d beg me not to move out because he would be 1,000 times more miserable if I weren’t there. And I’d listen. I’d keep accepting his assurances that it would be harder on him if I left, and so I’d tell myself not to be heartless, that this was the least I could do for someone I’d hurt so badly. That I was helping. I’d keep paying the rent, and I’d stay.
I was totally wrong about that. It would have been so much kinder to be “cruel”, in his eyes, from the first minute. To be consistent and resolute. I was never, never going to give him 100% of what he wanted from me–which was to be loved as a partner again–and so doling out this half-measure of kindness and financial support and physical presence, which he said he wanted, was really just keeping that wound open. I dragged us both through a lot of pain because my guilt made it expedient to enable someone who was not making healthy choices for himself.
LW, I’m not predicting that your ex will keep pining for you, or will become self-destructive. But I am reassuring you that there are other people for her to live with. People whose most recent role in her life isn’t “lover who just rejected me.” People whose emotional needs and boundaries she hasn’t already refused to hear and process in a healthy way when they conflict with her own desires. And if you two are ever to discover a healthy friendship, a shared apartment immediately-post-breakup is not the petri dish where that friendship can be cultivated. Please form a plan to step out of this living situation. It’s going to be harder on both of you than life needs to be. Being fair and honorable and compassionate are all fine goals; offering yourself up to insulate her from pain or difficulty isn’t.
(Sorry for the double post. WordPress is outsmarting me today.)
I have lived with an ex once. It worked because he accepted that we broke up, and we were both quite self effacing people. He spent most of a week in the computer lab, then we were polite to each other for a bit, then he found a new girlfriend, and we lived out the rest of the year just fine. I don’t think I have another ex I could have lived with after the break up.
We were friends before we went out, and we broke up because we found we did much better as friends than as PantsPartners. And if it hadn’t worked, we had a plan for one of us to find somewhere else to live, but we didn’t need it.
In short, move out, OP. You don’t have a Chris.
I’ve actually found that the best way to be real, genuine friends with my exes is to have a period of absolutely no contact (I’ve found between one to six months, depending on the length of the relationship.) If the months pass and I don’t actually miss them? I don’t want to be friends. If I do miss them? I ask myself if I’m genuinely over the relationship (sometimes I’m not, so I have to wait longer), then I contact with them. I’m friends with most of my exes these days.
Having a period of no-contact gives me a chance to reset expectations and let go of all the FEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELINGS that develop when a relationship goes bad. When I broke up with my gunner, I was so, so, so mad at him. Why wouldn’t he just call when he said he would??? But a month later, I started realizing that hey, that’s just the kind of guy he is. He had always been unreliable, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that he stayed unreliable. Since I’d writing my (unsent) FEELINGSMAIL and FEELINGSPOSTS and FEELINGSCOMPLAINTS, I’d gotten it out of my system, and I could let go of the things that made me angry and remember the things about him I liked.
If you really truly genuinely want to stay friends with your ex, in almost all situations, you need to get the hell away from them for awhile.
Holy crap, I am so sorry that happened to you. That’s completely awful of him. You had no way of knowing he would treat you like that, or try to manipulate you with self-destruction. I’m so sorry you blame yourself for his pain or his actions. You didn’t ‘enable’ those choices. He made them of his own free will, instead of coping in healthy ways or getting help. It wasn’t your fault. That’s not fair to you at all.
Thanks for your kind thoughts, Fiver. I almost didn’t include details about how exactly that year went south, because they were so individual and not necessarily predictive of this LW’s situation. And beyond the sordid details, I still feel like there’s a more broadly applicable lesson. LW doesn’t necessarily want to continue to live with this ex for her own pleasure; LW is considering that doing so would be a support and a kindness. And I would just offer the advice to pay attention to those instincts saying “I don’t know that I trust her to be okay [if I date someone else],” and “It worries me that she refused to hear the very explicit statements I was making with regard to wanting to end our relationship” and “I worry about how that could pan out should I meet someone else.” Those instincts have important information for you. As the very recent ex, who she tried so urgently to hold onto, you’re not the one to help her architect her life independent of you.
I wish you both the very best moving through this, whatever that looks like.
I haven’t had a chance to read through the comments yet, but I thought you might like to hear from someone who has (sort of) been in your ex’s shoes.
Admittedly there are some key differences–I never lived with my ex, and he also turned out to be a massive a-hole, so obviously pick and choose what parts of my story speaks to you.
Here’s the thing. YOU ARE NOT DOING YOUR EX ANY FAVORS BY CONTINUING TO BE IN HER LIFE RIGHT NOW.
Let me elaborate: My senior year of college, my then-boyfriend dumped me. I did not take it well. I assumed we would get married (in fact, he mentioned marriage to me not even two weeks before the split) so being dumped threw me for a huge, chaotic loop.
The point is, he told me we could still be friends and I tried everything I possibly could to keep him in my life. I pleaded, I cajoled, I manipulated, I lost friends right and left to keep this guy in my life. I was obsessed with staying on his radar so that he would *magically* realize that he still loved me and we would get back together. Insert happily ever afters and riding unicorns into the sunset here.
Your ex is grieving. She is not being her best self right now. Maybe sometime in the future you two can be friends, but I sincerely do not believe that right now is a good time. Be as kind as you can, be as gentle as you can, but make it a clean break for now. Get completely out of her life for a few months (maybe more) to give her time to heal. Because as long as you’re around, she’s NOT going to heal and she’s GOING to hold a torch for you and it WILL be excruciating for everyone involved.
I’m not saying your ex IS trying to force her way back into being your SO by continuing to be friends with you, but it is a definite possibility. You know her best, so just consider whether or not this may be her motive.
In my case, I kept butting my way into my ex’s life for over a year hoping he would change his mind. In hindsight he was pretty terrible boyfriend and turned into a straight up Darth Vader after we broke up (not that it stopped me from chasing him), but I COULD NOT let go of the idea that we were meant to be together. It led to almost constant backsliding into a physical relationship and having my heart broken over and over and OVER as he’d fool around with me and then completely ignore me until he wanted to fool around with me again. I only started healing after he just decided to randomly vanish out of my life for a couple of months.
I’m married to a completely amazing guy now, but that period in my life is STILL messing me up in a lot of ways (just thinking of seeing him randomly from a distance gives me the heebie jeebies). Your ex may hate you for making a clean break, but it is much kinder to her to give her some space to process and find comfort in her Team Her than letting her hope for something she will never get. The fact that it has taken her SINCE OCTOBER to ‘let you’ break up (which I mean, come on, seriously? A breakup is NOT NEGOTIABLE) tells me that she is not a safe ‘just friends’ person right now. Maybe someday she will be, but you can’t wait around for that to happen.
Best of luck to you.
Up to a point, my own Similar Situation was exactly the same as yours: the talking about marriage (he’d put a definite timescale on moving in, getting married, having kids), the loss of friends to salvage something, and so on. I wholeheartedly second your point. I was the dumpee and I didn’t behave well afterwards. Seemingly like LW’s ex, I refused to believe it was over and took literally all the stuff he’d said to try and soften the blow, like “maybe this isn’t forever, maybe one day…” which yeah, he shouldn’t have said, but I should have listened to “I don’t want to be with you right now” rather than “I don’t know what I might want in the future.” I spent about 6 months doing the BUT WHYYYYYYYY dance, sending him very long emails, effectively pushing him as far away as I possibly could have done.
This happened partly because he desperately wanted to stay friends. I still have never met anyone I get on with as well as I did with him. It was as if we were one mind in two bodies (I think that was part of the problem) and even when things were really awful between us after the breakup, even when he was with a new girlfriend, he was saying stuff like, “I have this amazing connection with you that I’ve never felt with anyone else.” The false hope, the clinging on to every scrap of positive stuff he said about us…yeah, well, that killed our friendship stone dead. We broke up in 2007, the dragging out took 2 years, and I haven’t exchanged a word with him since 2009.
My point is that he would never have expected me to behave that badly, so LW, your ex might surprise you yet (and I’m afraid she does sound the type to do similar stuff to what I did).
If we had just decided to take a clean break from each other and accepted that our break-up was permanent, I am sure my ex and I would be very good friends. I’ve lost what could have been a really lovely friendship. You can probably save yours if you want to.
DO NOT DO THIS. MOVE OUT. RUN. DO NOT MAKE MY MISTAKES!!!!
Because, dear LW, I made this mistake. I too was the more financially secure partner who largely supported her SO. I realized that I wanted to break up with him in February of a year long since past. When did I actually do the breaking up? September. After we’d renewed the lease on our place. And for some insane reason, I didn’t move out on my own. I probably could have afforded it, but it would have been really hard, and my ex couldn’t have afforded it at all. And hey, when you’ve spent the last four years of your life financially supporting someone, it’s hard to stop.
We lived in a two-bedroom place, so my ex moved into the second bedroom, which meant I no longer had to share my bed with someone I didn’t want touching me. But that was LITERALLY the only benefit. All the shit that made me break up with him–the co-dependence, the willfully untreated mental issues*, the manipulation, the requirement for me to do all the emotional labor in the relationship, the suicide threats if I ever left him (!!!)–none of those went away. At all. I still had to deal with all his shit for another freaking YEAR. I didn’t move on, because I couldn’t, because the person I wanted to move on from was STILL LIVING IN MY APARTMENT.
There are circumstances where this setup can work. Those circumstances were not mine, and they do not sound like yours, LW. Your ex is a grownup. She’ll figure it out. You need to look after you, and that means moving on with your life.
*Ex knew he had anxiety and depression and probably some other issues, but refused to seek help from a professional because… of reasons? And also hey, why expend extra time and money to see a therapist when your girlfriend is right here and you can just dump everything on her! GAH.
I can relate to this so much. I’m glad it’s a year that’s long behind you.
Heh, I saw your comment shortly after I posted mine and started wondering if one of us was a clone or something. ::fistbump of solidarity:: At least we’re both past it now.
Ex knew he had anxiety and depression and probably some other issues, but refused to seek help from a professional because… of reasons?
These dudes are a type, and I have been there. As in, you’ve moved to a new city and had a rough first week at grad school. Who do you talk to? A counsellor? Don’t be absurd! You might as well paint the words “FRIENDLESS LOSER” on your forehead. You don’t need to pay someone to talk to you! Ignore for the moment the fact that you don’t have to pay because you are in grad school, and the fact that therapy being provided free of cost to all students might go some ways toward indicating just how common the need for it it is. Some professional, with their “degrees” and “training” and “experience” couldn’t possibly help you.
No, no, the person who has the most responsibility for your emotional state is clear – your ex girlfriend, the one you’ve been broken up with for less than two months, of course! And what should she do to help you out? First travel to your new city to visit – then MOVE, not only to your new city, but actually INTO YOUR HOUSE.* There is no way at all that this could go badly, such as by her deciding a few months later to date someone else. You are TOTALLY COOL WITH THAT. IT DOESN’T BOTHER YOU AT ALL THAT YOU THOUGHT YOU’D BE THE FIRST TO MOVE ON, REALLY.
*Not blameless here – I really shouldn’t have gone along with that plan.
i have been with the “refused to seek help from a professional” dude. for seven years. after multiple years of begging and pleading him to go get help, he finally did find something that made him happier: his co-worker, who he cheated on me with for over a year (unbeknownst to me) until i found out and broke up with him. at the very least, the cheating gave me an excuse to call it off that felt less mean than “you’re too sad”
“Sometimes the cheapest way to pay is with money?”
Oh, good God… I have never heard this phrase, but holy crap have you hit the nail on the head. Soooo many things in my life I’d love to just pay my way out of right this very second.
I have never commented here before, but I recognize my former self’s situation in this letter; it hits very close to home. Skip to the very end for a (potential?) piece of advice.
I, too, ended a relationship with a partner with whom I was living and basically supporting financially (I say basically because she did make her own car payments, etc., but she did not contribute to rent, and made only modest contributions to shared household expenses). This situation worked well while we were together, since she also did more of the domestic upkeep, and I have a very demanding job. But when I ended things with her, she was blindsided. To be fair, I had not previously raised concerns about the relationship. It just struck me that I no longer wanted to be involved, and I tried to make this clear to her. Because we hadn’t been fighting, and we generally get on very well, it was difficult for her to accept. The tough thing was, we actually were excellent housemates and very close friends. (This seems to be very similar the LW’s situation. I hesitate to mention my own case for fear of perpetuating the whole lesbian-bed-death stereotype, but it is what it is.) We spent several months processing the break-up. She gradually came to accept it, even though she never felt satisfied with my explanations. (I realize this also sounds like a red flag, but, to be clear, she was not pressuring me for reconciliation. I see why she was genuinely at a loss as to what had happened: why had I changed my mind seemingly overnight with no warning? Of course she was not owed an explanation, but this was a situation where talking further about what happened was clearly the kind thing to do; we had been involved for several years.) And we continued to live together so that she would not be forced to face a housing crisis. However, this was ultimately unsustainable. In am in broad agreement with everyone urging you to resist continuing to live together. That said…
Potential piece of advice: Given that you mention being able to talk more openly than you have in months, could you ask her to think about (not necessarily share with you, but just consider) how she would feel if you were to start dating someone new while still living with her? It was precisely this thought experiment that motivated my ex to see why it might be a good idea to get some distance from one another. She agreed, after several months of living together post-break up, to move out (I was also in a situation where I could not move out for complicated reasons, so it had to be her). We never did take a contact break, but the extent of our contact dramatically lessened once we were no longer sharing a roof. We are now good friends. To be clear, I am not claiming that you are under any obligation at all to help your ex see reasons for your decision to stop cohabitating, but if you are able to have open and frank discussions about the break up now, it might be worth asking her to consider some of the potential negative consequences—for her—if you were to continue living together.
When I broke up with my ex we were happily on the same page (a classic case of “lesbians don’t break up, they just stop sleeping together” – it was either stay together and grow to resent each other, or break up while we could still salvage a friendship). For the sake of ease and laziness we probably would have kept living together and trucking along with status quo.
HAPPILY our rental was being sold out from under us and so we had motivation to move out. *Separately.* I met my now-husband the very weekend I was moving into a my new house; a year later she was out at a bar (never my idea of a good time) and met her now-wife. If we’d stayed I doubt either of us would be happily married and one adorable tiny human and one tiny-human-in-progress wouldn’t exist.
My point is that if you stay, even if you DO somehow (??!?) manage a stable friendship, it will be all-too-easy to stay in the bubble of the life you have now; same habits, same social circle. Same life. There’s better things (and people!) out there!
LW, as someone who was dumped in a cruel fashion 3 weeks ago, the lack of contact, while tough, is crucial in my healing process. If I was living with my ex, I’d probably be stuck in the hopeful stage of “maybe we can reconcile.” Thankfully, we don’t, and the time apart is giving me clarity and perspective on why things would have eventually tanked. (LSS: ex has a lot of issues, and much as I hate to admit it, he did me a favor.)
No contact is painful, and there are times I still miss my ex, but even so, I’d recommend it. You’ll be doing your ex a favor in the long run by leaving now instead of staying.
LW, I have been in this situation twice as the dumpee. It is excruciating torture to live with someone who doesn’t love you back. It is not pleasant on the other side either.
The best thing for you to do now is end it. Live somewhere else. Your ex is feeling so many things—fear of change and insecurity and rejection-pain and only she knows what else—and living with you is not going to help her get past the end of the relationship and cope with all that. If it’s over, and your lease is up (that’s what I infer from the “year” statement) it is time to move out.
I think you should move too because that draws a line under your and ex’s relationship. If you don’t, I think your ex will do a lot more foot-dragging about the breakup. You are not responsible for your ex’s living expenses now. It feels hard-hearted, but it is better for both of you not to keep her dependent on you in any way. If you want to give a boost, be generous with divvying the household goods and things you’ve bought while living together; replacing that stuff is expensive. But you needn’t help the ex with cash.
LW, nothing in your letter is a logical reason for staying in a household with the ex for another year. You do not need to share living space to ‘work on being friends’. Your making a decision that is right for you does not equal “F you” to the other person. Your ex is an adult who has had sufficient notice to work out alternate living arrangements.
Speaking of GSF, another geekly bad habit is spackling over emotional arguments with logic-y sounding rationalizations, because that feels smarter and less scary. “Living together for a year will allow us to work on our friendship!” is not logical – friends don’t have to live together, and exes probably shouldn’t – but it SOUNDS a whole lot more convincing (at least to your ex) than “Please don’t leave me and maybe if we stay in the same house I can change your mind”. Similarly, “We’ve been platonic roommates anyway” really means “the last year of our relationship kind of sucked and there’s a reason I ended it”, not “we should continue to be roommates after a painful breakup where one of us has boundary issues”.
You are going to have guilty feelings and second thoughts. This is normal and okay! But acknowledge those thoughts, instead of anxiously burying them under stuff like ‘but I want to do the right thing’ and ‘she’s not a terrible person’, which will just lead you in the wrong direction.
And now I realize how lucky I was with both my exes when I just moved out — once with a still-active lease, and once with us co-owning a house, and neither time did we end up in a legal entanglement. I was really young and really dumb, apparently. Oh, and do keep any pets safe. Ex #1 stalked me (which is how he found out where I was living), and stole my cat and my bicycle.
Good luck, OP, I know it’s a hard decision, but staying will just make it harder.
A friend of mine tried to live with his ex. Then he brought home another girl. The next day his gas tank was full of sugar.
I think the captain’s advice is spot on, as usual. You may have to give her a hand up, if you can afford it. But I’d get out of there asap.
It sounds like what she really wants is someone to pay most of the rent.
The LW was getting something from the relationship that was enough to enter and stay in it.
There is often a dynamic in relationships where one person makes significantly more money, that the person who makes less is contributing much more to the couples quality of life in most of the non-money areas. Caretaking of the other partner and their kids/parents, maintenance of the home and social life, planning of fun, and much of the emotional work of the relationship.
Many ambitious people prefer a partner who isn’t invested in a career, and encourage them to remain so.
Nothing in the letter suggested that LW’s ex was a parasite, or that they lacked feeling for LW, or that they had nothing to offer another partner. The fact that LW is not invested in the relationship anymore doesn’t make the ex-partner a worthless gold-digger.
I don’t think this is a fair assessment of the situation; the letter just doesn’t given enough details for us to understand *why* the ex is doing what she’s doing. What she *is* doing is plenty of reason for the LW getting out, though.
Another legal thing this occurred to me:
Depending on the rules in you legal jurisdiction, staying for another year could put you over the line for defacto spouse. This would give ex some legal rights re: assets and money. Even if you do consider the relationship over, ex could argue that she held the ‘reasonable expectation’ that you would reconcile and thus the relationship was not over. This sort of thing can get very messy and time consuming, so please seek legal advice before making your next move.
LW – Much like those who have already commented, run!! As much as you want to believe something positive can come out of this, it can’t. You broke up with her – she didn’t believe you. Now that you have put your foot down, she will only believe you if you play by the rules that she wants to implement to control the breakup. Because that is what this is for her – control. Maybe she is a lovely person who can’t handle change well but it is not your responsibility to manage her during the break-up and ensure that she acts like an adult in respect to living her life.
Now the cynical side of me thinks ex-gf knows she has had it very good and doesn’t want the gravy train to stop so she is holding on desperately to keep you around and paying for a lifestyle that she cant maintain on her income. Let me tell you my story of woe and how I got an ex out of the house. I was like you, the main breadwinner and in my situation, I was the one paying the mortgage off on a house I bought before I met my ex. He moved it after his lease “expired” and claimed he had nowhere else to go – red flag number one. He refused to agree on management of the home and allocation of chores – red flag number two. He decided to quit his job and become an artist all without a conversation with me – red flag number three. So after four long months since he moved in, I broke up with him. And lo and behold, he refused to move out. He wanted to be friends and cool exes. I bought into his BS. I wanted to do the right thing. I didn’t want to be the heartless one who tossed him out and have him be homeless (which wouldn’t have occurred due to the number of couches he could have stayed on in the interim). I felt guilt and was embarrassed that he couldn’t get his shit together. I really should have simply changed the locks and dumped his stuff on the front lawn – the joy of hindsight.
Then after an incident (irrelevant to story), I got fed up. So I got a legal document drawn up that stated that he was a tenant, that we were not and would never be in a romantic relationship, we were not in a de-facto relationship, he had no claim on any of my property or belongings, this was the amount of rent he would pay each week to a specified bank account, these are the household responsibilities that he had to undertake as part of the living arrangement. Failure to comply would result in going to court and $$ penalties would be applied. As he wanted to the friends, I told him that he should have no dramas about signing the document and ensuring that the financials were taken care of so we could simply be friends without any resentment or confusion as to who does what and who pay for particular things. I encouraged him to get legal advice before signing it. He moved out two days later. I was bad-mouthed to friends for 6 months but it was clear that his interest was simply selfish and about his comfort – the rest of us be damned. Best money I ever spent getting the paperwork drawn up – no idea if it would have stood up in court but that wasn’t the primary function. It got him out the door ad for that I am grateful. He wasn’t a bad person, just lazy and entitled. And really, who wants or needs that in their life?
Do yourself a favour and move out and ensure radio silence between you and the ex. It is the best plan you both of you. I really don’t see how you can be friends with her down the road when she refused to accept your boundaries and did not treat you with respect when you told her that you wanted to break up. Refusing to believe you is toxic behaviour on her side and simply wanting to control you and the narrative of you in her life is a huge red flag that you should not ignore. Get out now. You may want the best for her and that is admirable. But by refusing to accept the break-up and trying to manipulate and control you through the living situation, she doesn’t want the best for you. And that is simply enough of a sign to know you don’t actually want her in your life as she is not positive and supportive influence. Walk away. You won’t regret it.
Run. Pack up all your stuff (so she can’t hold anything hostage), take it out and leave. Maybe give her the numbers to some possible roommates or make a craigslist ad or something, but do not stay there. That place is full of bees. Anyone who doesn’t ‘let’ you break up with them, especially for months? Not a person with reasonable expectations or who can be reasoned with. Ruuuuuun!
Hi, new commenter here! (looks around) You people don’t haze around these parts, right?
I agree with captain’s advice. “Woking on the friendship” is definitely code for “trying to prevent you from actually leaving me” to the ex.
Money is DEFINITELY the cheapest way to pay in some situations. I used it when I needed to move out of a house that my former friend and roommate were renting together. It was a toxic, codependant friendship that turned positively evil in the end, but she refused to see that because she enjoyed having me around as a source of entertainment, social capital, and an object of her vitriol. It was horrible. When I said I would move out, she started complaining about how I would be leaving her with huge bills for the house, etc. I suspect she was trying to find a way to make me out to be the Bad Person in this situation to our mutual friends. I decided to pay my rent for the next six months but still moved out. Best money I’ve ever spent in my life.
LW, you definitely do not owe your ex money, but if it is a possibility for you, it might make you sleep better.
LW, for your own mental health and your ex’s please get out as soon as possible. Maybe give your ex one last “it’s official we’re finished” declaration (not a conversation, just a flat declaration that doesn’t allow for argument) in case they honestly didn’t quite understand the first time. Preferably do it in a public place that you can leave if they start making a scene. Have a couple of dependable friends waiting with transport away around the corner. Block your ex on social media . Avoid all contact for an extended period (a few weeks to months -whichever you prefer). Assemble your Team You to help with this. Trust me, you’ll feel much better six months from now if you do.
I totally agree with the Captain on this. Living with someone you split up with can be incredibly risky. Longish story ahead- my friend split up with his boyfriend a year ago, and agreed to live with him anyway, in the flat they’d shared. Friend’s name was the only one on the mortgage, because the ex had such terrible credit he couldn’t get one, Friend paid the whole deposit and most of the decorating/furnishing costs, and because the boyfriend didn’t pay any bills (despite making way more money- it always just mysteriously disappeared). And when I say he didn’t pay them, I mean after he left Friend was better off, because he wasn’t paying for his ex’s car any more. He REALLY didn’t contribute much.
After the breakup, my friend made it about a month before asking him to leave, partly because he realised that the ex had been seeing someone else the entire time, and sneaking him in when Friend was out, despite promising he’d tell him if he started dating. When he was in the process of moving out, he started offering to “keep paying half the mortgage” in writing, and suddenly paying bills he never had before, and that clued us in on the fact the reason he’d insisted on still living there, and was suddenly so generous, was that he was planning to try and take my friend to court and take half his flat. Apparently someone had told him that if theyd lived there together for long enough, he could argue that it was his property, too.
They split up once before, and the ex had told me that he’d been planning on waiting a couple of months then taking all the money saved in their joint savings account, as much of their stuff as he could carry, and leaving while my friend was at work, but he just got too impatient (and nope, i never understood why my friend got back together with him after hearing that). Pretty sure that during the first breakup, he realised he might be able to convince Friend to put his name on the mortgage if they were together, and spent the whole six months of their second try trying to convince Friend to add his name to it. Luckily the relationship hadn’t really ever recovered enough for Friend to trust him that much. And it really, really sucks that a bad relationship was ‘lucky’. When Friend asked him to leave the ex was in a new flat within a week (with the other guy)- so he hadn’t really been having trouble saving money, like he told Friend he was. Just trying to build a good case for being part owner.
Basically I think living with someone you just broke up with, and who doesn’t hear you when you try to set boundaries on the relationship and living together is a reallllly bad idea. My friend nearly lost his house to this guy, and all because he was nice enough to offer him a place to stay until he got back on his feet. People do horrible things when they’re upset with someone, and they can convince themselves anything’s justified. I think the best way to rebuild a friendship is to take distance to grieve the relationship first. And avoid any horrible surprise traps the aggrieved ex might have cooking.
If you’ve been living with someone almost platonically for a year and spent five months convincing them that you were trying to break up with them, another year of living platonically with them and ‘working on your friendship’ will leave you in the exact same place you are now – unsuccessfully trying to break up with them but still in a relationship.
You definitely need separate living spaces, as soon as possible. The practical steps for this are
1) check out the local laws regarding tenancy/leases/palimony etc. to see what you might owe them legally. Can you unilaterally break the lease or kick them out? Do you need to evict them? Might you owe them any financial support afterwards?
2) Decide what you want to do, personally, to help them, given the imbalance in financial situations. You do need to give them some definite notice, so they can find new accommodation (not open ended, though – one or two months, with a fixed end date, and *not* a year). You may want to give them a one time cash gift to tide them over – enough to cover moving expenses and deposits on a new living situation.
3) Figure out your own living situation. Ending the lease and moving to a new place is probably the cleanest way to handle it – avoiding months and months of them slooooowly moving their stuff out of your place. You could arrange a new apartment, move immediately, but let your ex stay out a month or two notice period of the lease, so they aren’t out in the cold, but you aren’t still living together.
4) Present the above decisions as facts, not negotiations. This is what is going to happen – what they do in response is up to them, but you will not be extending the living situation any further.
5) Specifically ask a couple of close friends to keep you on track. Tell them you’re determined to make a clean break, but worried you might be talked into prolonging the situation. Give them a script to read back to you if you’re waffling, or feeling guilting, or are tempted to let it go just a couple more months because your not-yet-ex is so sad/helpless/confused/needy.
6) When you do break up, seriously consider a no-contact period of at least six months. No emails, phone calls, texts, on-line chats, letters, gifts, cards, snap-chats, smoke signals, meeting for coffee, or Facebook contact. After that, re-connect to see if you want to be friends. With someone this determined not to be broken up with, you’re not going to be friends without that break (or a lot or horrible drama if you start seeing someone new).
I let a relationship with my (now ex) drag on for a year and a half longer than it should have because nothing was actually *wrong*, she was just content to wait until I was ready to marry her and while I knew I would never marry her I didn’t want to hurt her at the time.
The final result is we haven’t talked in the two years since the breakup, minus one night she was quite drunk and we were at the same party, and I’ve had some friction with my best friend (who introduced us) who has suddenly become much better friends with the ex than she ever was while we were dating. This will be epically awesome as we are both invited to the best friend’s wedding/bridal shower/bachelorette party/etc. I can’t wait . Anyone have any ideas?
Don’t drink too much, focus on being happy for your best friend, practice graceful conversational exits?
I actually did know a couple who moved back in together after a divorce. They did it because their young daughter was acting out and was very stressed from being shuttled back and forth across the city. So, they rented a 4 bedroom split level duplex along with one other couple and she lived in a bedroom on one level of the house while he lived on another. When their daughter got to be about 7 or so they rented separate apartments in the same complex, so the daughter only had to walk 50 feet to be at the other parent’s house. I suppose they’d have done that earlier if they’d had more money – the duplex was the less expensive solution.
I’m not sure how it worked when they were living in the same house, but I’ve always admired them for putting the little girl first. Not the same situation as LW, of course, but it shows that it can work, in some circumstances.
I know a couple who lived together after their divorce too. I only ever knew them after the divorce, so I don’t know what it was like right after, but they had a decent sized house to be in so they weren’t always in one another’s space, and my general understanding was that it was a mutual decision on their part–no wheedling or anything to get one to stay on longer. It’s just that housing here is really expensive, and their house was basically free (his aunt’s, who lived out of the country most of the time.)
But I also know the guy very well now, and he’s an uncommonly sensible, good person who’s pretty great at boundaries–both his own and other people’s–just by nature of his job. So…yeah, not really something that works for everyone.
(In a much less pleasant example, after my friend’s fiance left him for a felon, we couldn’t kick her out because she signed the lease too, so the three of us still lived under the same roof for almost a year until we found someone to take over her lease because we realized she and her creepy boyfriend were smoking pot in the apartment. We didn’t realize until after they left that said creepy boyfriend was giving our address to his parole officer and had basically moved in until the cops came looking for him. But that was a pretty nuclear break-up–literally no conversation or interaction whatsoever for almost the entire year.)
Two years ago, my now ex-husband informed me one Saturday morning that he was moving to another country to be his authentic self (meaning, he was going to become Jimmy Buffet). Things he said during this announcement: he still loved me, no matter what, he wanted to be friends, there’s no one else, he doesn’t know what this meant to our marriage, he doesn’t know if it means we are separating, I’m not invited to join him, he can’t ask me to give up my career, and I gained weight so I wasn’t the woman he married, so obviously I didn’t care about “us,” so it was a good time to leave.
I let him stay in the house and I didn’t leave for the two months it took him to pack and sell his worldly possessions. He gaslighted (gaslit?) me constantly… simultaneously telling me that the reason our marriage failed was me and my lack of communication skills and that he wasn’t leaving because he didn’t love me anymore and it wasn’t my fault. I was a wreck by the time he left and 23 months today since the day he left, I’m still working on the emotional fall-out from the end of this (the entire abusive relationship, really).
Everyone told me to leave the house; everyone from a supportive internet forum, to my parents, to co-workers, to friends. And I didn’t because I needed to transition slowly out of the relationship. I went from: I could teach in this new country to be with him, I would only take him back if he agreed to a lot of therapy and counseling, to why won’t he just leave, now I hope I never see him again.
He knew long before I did that he was done with us and he was clear with his actions, but then not clear. He was clear with his words, but because he didn’t want to be the bad guy, then not clear.
LW – if you have the strength to leave, do so. If you don’t (and we know she doesn’t), be clear in all of your actions: you are not a couple, no couple events, no couple snuggles, split the check if you get take out. No sexy fun times! (the one true, big, huge regret of my staying during those two months was putting myself in a position where he felt entitled to … me).
(OT: I’m one of the people from that other forum, and glad to see you here.)
I made a movie poster for FEELINGSHAUS: http://imgur.com/orUZcOT
That. Is. Awesome. Simultaneous laugh-shudder from viewer achieved! Level up!
Personal experience: The boyfriends I made a clean break with, with no linger in cohabitated spaces, I still talk to and/or would be happy to bump into. This includes the ex who is now married to a cool chick I’m also friendly with, and who lives in another country.The boyfriend I took time to leave due to comingled belongings and money issues, albeit only two months or so, was left because he cheated and the slow escape velocity didn’t help, though it was as amicable a break-up as possible other than that.
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