Does Living With An Ex Really Work?

So, you moved in with your partner, and everything was going really well — until it wasn't. After several attempts to mend your relationship, you ultimately had no choice but to break up. Now what? You thought you were going to spend your life together, but instead, you broke up and you're trapped in a lease with them. If you can't afford the rent alone, which is usually the case in places with a high cost of living, you're in even deeper water. You two have to make the difficult decision as to whether or not you can cohabitate as exes. 


Perhaps, the two of you are able to come to an agreement where no one has to move out. It's a good idea, in theory, especially if you can't afford the place by yourself. This dilemma is actually super common. In a study conducted by Zoopla, researchers found nearly 50% of exes can't leave their living situation because the cost of living is too high (via the Independent). So, they're forced to co-exist until the lease is up; however, that doesn't mean everything is sunshine and rainbows. After all, you're living with your ex.

This begs the question: Does living with an ex really work? Here are our best tips for maneuvering this uncomfortable situation.

Set healthy boundaries

Since the two of you are going to live together, it's important to set boundaries if you want to make this work. Doing so can actually improve your mental health and make the healing process easier, according to PsychCentral. Once you've decided to cohabitate, sit down with one another to discuss what you will tolerate and what's totally off-limits. For example, you both agree that neither person should bring home a date or one-night stand. This sounds like a no-brainer, but what happens when you have one too many espresso martinis and those rules go out the window?


Not only do you have to face your ex in the morning, but you also finally have to tell the person you're dating that you live together (talk about awkward). Because you've overstepped this boundary, you've essentially given your ex the freedom to do the same. All in all, if you want to make living with your former partner work, just stick to the rules.

Avoid doing anything too couple-like

In order to move on from the relationship while you and your ex are living together, it's best to refrain from doing any relationship-py activities, especially things you did while you were dating. Say the two of you loved going to the movies or sporting events — those are an absolute no-no. You can also kiss grabbing coffee or your favorite takeout goodbye, too. Save that kind of stuff for your new boo, even if you and your ex want to remain friends. Make sure your new partner is always first in line.


This makes things uncomfortable not only for your ex but also for your new fling. The last thing you want is to combine the two worlds. If your new partner becomes intimidated or uncomfortable with the situation, remind them they're your priority, but if things get too weird, it might be time to end the friendship with your ex.

Refrain from hooking up

This may be the biggest toughest part of living together, but do not — we repeat — do not have sex. This is not the time for a friends-with-benefits situation. (And let's be honest: that never works out anyway.) When you sleep with your ex, you're opening up a can of worms that you won't be able to close. Because you have so much history together, there may still be feelings lingering between the two of you. If there are, you're going to have a more difficult time healing.


The same can be said for your ex. If they're still into you, hooking up is going to make getting over the relationship nearly impossible. Because there were romantic feelings involved, sex isn't just about knocking boots anymore — it's a form of emotional expression. In order to keep yourselves from going down that road again, keep your pants on and step away from the bedroom.

Break up the space

When it comes to divvying up the apartment, treat it as you would any other living situation. Make it known which spaces are common areas — like the kitchen or living room — and which ones are off-limits (this goes back to those boundaries we discussed earlier). You wouldn't just pop into a roommate's space whenever you wanted, so why would you go into your ex's room uninvited? Because you're no longer together, you don't get to do things like that anymore. Besides, going into their space without permission is just asking for trouble.


By redefining your personal space, you've each given yourself a room you can run to when you want privacy or time by yourself, especially when things are tense. Living with your ex is by no means an easy thing, so don't feel bad if you need to spend more time alone. Just remember that everything is temporary.

Establish guidelines

When you were dating, you probably had no issues scolding them when they forgot to do the dishes or take out the trash, but as exes, you can't speak to them the way you once did. Because you're broken up, there's already tension in the home, and fighting over something like vacuuming can only escalate the situation. To avoid confrontation, make a chore list just like you would with a normal roommate. This way, you have something to hold each of you accountable if either fails to do their job.


Establishing these guidelines will make things much more peaceful between you and your ex until you no longer live together. By putting these guidelines and responsibilities in place ahead of time, you can put less energy into getting upset with them and focus more on healing and figuring out how to move on. Things might feel tense for a while, but with time, they will hopefully get easier — and you'll eventually be able to move out to regain your prior freedom.