How To Break Up With Someone You Live With

Photo: Laura Govan/Instagram

Breaking up is tough; breaking up with someone you live with is even tougher. Take the case of former NBA player Gilbert Arenas, who lived unmarried with his longtime girlfriend, Laura Govan, for the better part of a decade before calling it quits last year. The two are now embroiled in a bitter legal battle over child support, engagement rings and unkept promises. That’s pretty bad, but let’s just say it doesn’t get much easier for us regular guys. Here’s our guide to managing the pitfalls of breaking up with a cohabiting partner so you can both move on. Remember—keeping things civil is your best bet.

You’ll need time to figure things out
The traditional breakup goes like this: it happens, and then you never see each other ever again. However, when shared belongings and finances enter the mix, you’ll need time to get things in order. The relationship can end immediately, but you must leave room for discussion—about as long as it takes to safely quit your lease, for example. You should also set a firm deadline by which all big decisions must be made, lest things drag on.

Focus on the big picture
The breakup process requires you to figure out everything from who gets the dog to how you’re splitting the security deposit. Who’s earned the right to keep that Cleveland Cavaliers mug, on the other hand, isn’t as important. (Yes, even if she’s a bandwagoner.) Pick your battles and compromise easily on the little things.

Avoid sex
So, the relationship’s over, but you’re stuck with each other for the foreseeable future. You may be tempted to have sex and return to business as usual. Don’t. This will only confuse you and prolong the breakup. A temporary reconciliation will only set you up for another big falling out when the same old problems that prompted your breakup in the first place return with a vengeance.

Have a backup

There’s a chance an altercation arises as you sever ties. That’s your cue to leave immediately. To give yourself a way out, cover your legal bases. Save enough money to pay your half of any outstanding bills, cancellation fees and rent so that financial obligations aren’t an obstacle. You should also gather important personal items ahead of time and leave them at a buddy’s before initiating the breakup. When it comes to that last part, it also pays to have your buddy there with you to lessen the chances of a blow up.
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