Written by Amy Beecham
Think bumping into your ex in the supermarket aisle is bad? This is what it’s like to keep living with them after the breakup.
If you’ve ever been through a particularly messy breakup, you’ll know that there’s nothing more appealing than the idea of starting afresh. Even if we’re struggling to move on, adopting the classic “out of sight, out of mind” approach – cutting contact, unfollowing them on social media – is often the only way through.
But what about when you can’t avoid your ex? And no, we’re not talking about awkward night out encounters.
According to research from property website Zoopla, rising costs mean one in three people have been forced to live in the same house as their ex after they’ve split – with one in eight still sharing a bed.
Whether it’s because of a rent arrangement they can’t get out of, or being unable to afford to live alone, it’s as awkward as it sounds.
After Louise, 32, and her partner broke up during the pandemic, they found themselves stuck living together for another two months. High financial costs and being on furlough had already placed a strain on the couple’s relationship, so the split had a real impact on them.
“Living together whilst no longer actually being together took a huge emotional toll and I found it really hard to move on and get over him while still seeing him everyday and sharing the same space,” she tells Stylist.
“I learned the hard way that money stresses can really impact an otherwise healthy relationship. And that living with an ex is a really awful situation, and people should do whatever they can to ensure they avoid that.”
Unbelievably, Zoopla’s research also found that 15% of people say their ex started a new relationship while they were still together – even having them over for the night.
“Navigating a breakup is always tough, but especially so when you live under the same roof. The chances are you will be angry with each other, feeling hurt, resentful, distressed and confused, so you’re unlikely to be in the mood to be amicable,” explains relationship coach Jo Hemmings.
When both the emotional and the financial stakes are very high, somehow you need to find the strength to be calm and civil, and to protect yourself from hasty or unwise decisions.
“Similar to when you decided to move in together, you need to try and keep yourself emotionally detached from the situation to be able to have logistical conversations such as what happens with finances, who stays in the property, and what you might need to say to any children or other housemates living in the property,” Hemmings adds.
Two months after the break up, Louise was eventually able to move out of the shared home and back in with her family. “In all honesty, I would much rather have had the ability to move into a place of my own. However, my financial situation, alongside the housing market at the time, made that impossible,” she shares.
The time spent apart provided the headspace needed and eased the financial burden enough for Louise and her partner to both consider what they wanted from the relationship. “My ex partner and I stayed in touch and found that once money was no longer such a prominent issue in our relationship, we were able to rekindle our romance,” she says.
“After months of saving we found a property that was a lot more affordable for us – and we’re still happily together.” However, she’s adamant that she learned a valuable lesson about preparing for the financial implications of a relationship.
“Our situation is definitely not rare and I’m sure many couples have gone through similar situations off the back of lockdown and now the cost of living crisis. It has definitely taught me a lesson, and when we decide to buy, I will make sure to have appropriate measures in place and savings on hand in case anything does go wrong”.
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