In today’s world, more and more often couples are finding themselves having to live together after their breakup or divorce due to financial or legal complications. This can be an absolute emotional nightmare!! Especially if you are still in love with your ex.

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

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

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

You don’t have the same rights as you did when you were together.

You don’t need to know where they are; in fact, it’s best if you don’t.

You don’t get to talk to them the same way. They don’t have to fix you a drink, pick up your stuff, or even care what you are thinking. And you need to respect that.

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

Here are some things you can do to make it easier on both of you:

  • Set clear boundaries for finances and behavior. Who will be responsible for what household expenses? Who will be responsible for what household chores?
  • Don’t force small talk just because you are in the same room together.
  • Don’t cook together. It creates an atmosphere of false intimacy and expectations. Make separate spaces in the fridge and cupboards for groceries. 
  • Don’t drink together – this just leads to fights or makeup sex, neither of which is a good idea. It is always going to end badly.
  • Sleep in different rooms! Make sure you give each other space by spending more time in your room or a spare room.
  • Discuss how you will deal with having friends over.  What times or days?
  • Oh yeah – on dating others - this should go without saying…but don’t bring them home! This can be devastating to the person that is having more difficulty moving on, not to mention awkward for your date. Sure, it’s considerate to let them know that you are dating, but don’t go into detail. And don’t ask questions you really don’t want the answer to! If you are being picked up for a date, meet your date a few houses up the street. Don’t have them show up at the door.
  • Spend more time with friends and family.  Stay overnight with them as much as possible to help relieve the stress of seeing your ex every day. Spend more time outdoors doing things you enjoy. Learn to do for you.
  •  Respect each other’s privacy. Treat the bathroom as if you are living with a stranger, make sure you lock the door so as not to accidentally create an awkward moment.
  • Set a move out date as soon as possible.

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

Beth Lynch is a dedicated, solution-focused Breakup Coach whose mission and passion is to get you through the painful aftermath of your breakup or divorce and on the road to recovery so you can start to live the life you deserve. You can reach her at www.beyondtheblindside.com

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