5 Psychologist Tips For Facilitating A Healthy Breakup When You Live Together

Cohabitation, once treated as a taboo, has now become the norm. According to the Pew Research Center, more adults between the ages of 18 and 44 have lived with an unmarried partner than those who've been married. Living together can make sense for a lot of reasons — couples can have more quality time, get to know each other better, work toward shared goals, and save money by splitting living expenses.


But what about when the relationship ends? If you share a roof — and rent — you might find yourself stuck in a sticky situation as you try to navigate a breakup while having to face your ex every time you brush your teeth. Continuing to cohabit post-breakup requires a careful plan to avoid clashing with your former flame. Or, to avoid you and your ex continuing to act like you're a couple, trapping you both in a confusing, ill-defined relationship.

To find out how to have a healthy breakup while still living with an ex, we reached out to licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Maya Weir, who specializes in couples therapy. Here are five tips the expert shared exclusively with Glam.

Establish clear ground rules

Whether you've been shacking up together for months or even years, some aspects of your living arrangement must change now that you're broken up. Notice what's challenging about living together post-split. Is it sharing a bed? Imagining the thought of your ex inviting their new love interest over? It's crucial to discuss these sore spots and establish clear ground rules, Dr. Maya Weir shares. "If there are certain rules that would make it easier to navigate living together, make them!" the psychologist explains exclusively to Glam. "It's important that the home feel like a sanctuary and that your rules are clearly communicated."


For example, if you'd rather not sleep in the same room anymore, suggest to your ex that you alternate nights spent on the sofa. And if you don't want to see them with a new date, set a rule that you both have to consult with the other before inviting people over.

Setting these kinds of ground rules can feel awkward at first, especially if you tended to go with the flow when you and your ex were a couple. But clearly discussing your needs and setting boundaries can make all the difference in your breakup recovery.


Maybe you and your ex-partner weren't meant to be a romantic duo, and that's okay. However, as you continue living together, you still share a relationship with one another, albeit a platonic one. Nurturing this new relationship can make sharing a home a breeze, though it requires some reflection and an honest assessment of what went wrong.


Dr. Maya Weir suggests starting a dialogue with your ex, ideally at a time when you're both ready to move the relationship into new, non-romantic territory. "Some couples might find it helpful to do the following exercise on a piece of two columned paper: In the first column, write down ways you used to relate to each other when you were together. Then in the next column write down how you would like this to be different now that you are separated," Dr. Weir shares exclusively with Glam. "Then communicate these differences to your ex so you both feel clear on what needs to be different."

Get clarity on emotional boundaries

Living under the same roof as your ex requires some extra finesse as you work out who sleeps where and whether to continue sharing groceries or not. But don't forget that you're still going through a breakup and might have evolving emotional needs that require your attention (besides making some practical adjustments to your living arrangements).


As Dr. Maya Weir tells Glam exclusively, "Breakups are generally a time of emotional turmoil. Figuring out what emotional boundaries you need to process this big life change is really important." It can be difficult to grieve privately, especially when you still live with your ex. But it's up to you how you choose to share those feelings and allow your former partner to respond. "For example, if your ex sees you upset and used to hug you but that hug no longer feels supportive emotionally, it might be helpful [for] you to communicate that," adds Dr. Weir.

Respect each other's privacy

You and your ex have already seen each other naked and shared intimate details with one another, so there's no need to lead private lives now, right? Not true, says Dr. Maya Weir, in her exclusive interview with Glam. "Because the nature of the relationship has shifted but the space you live in hasn't changed, figuring out what type of privacy you need is really important."


Establish what is yours and what belongs to your partner — and that doesn't just mean giving back the sweatshirt you borrowed or not using each other's face wash. Take stock of things you may have lost sight of during the relationship, including alone time and personal space. Then, as Dr. Weir suggests, consider what level of privacy you need around these things. You might decide that you'll no longer change clothes in front of your ex and that you prefer for them to do the same. Or maybe you stop sharing electronics and resist the urge to text your former S.O. when they're out of the house to find out where they are. Respecting each other's privacy and space is healthy in any kind of relationship, but it's especially important when trying to move on from a breakup.


Designate time to communicate about household logistics

Staying on top of chores and grocery runs can be hard enough when ending a relationship, but it's especially challenging if you have to negotiate these household logistics with your live-in ex. Still, making sure the bills get paid and the dishes get done will make life much less stressful in the long run.


Since you and your ex are no longer hanging out and checking in as you did when you were dating, you might need a bit of extra structure to ensure household tasks are taken care of. "After a breakup, communication is often not as frequent as it was during the relationship so having a set time to discuss household logistics can often be helpful in mitigating frustrations," Dr. Maya Weir tells Glam exclusively. "Expectations also change after a breakup so this meeting time can be helpful in setting new expectations." 

Consider having a scheduled weekly check-in where you can update each other on when to pay rent, what needs to be fixed or cleaned around the house, and other shared responsibilities. This can also be a good time to discuss eventual move-out plans because, sooner or later, you'll likely find that living on your own is the last step needed to fully move on from heartbreak.