Shelley J Whitehead

What to do if you’re living with your ex

21 February, 2023

In an ideal world, when a relationship is over, you or they can move out and start to move on. But in reality that’s not always an immediate practical possibility for some. You might have to carry on living with them because you or they don’t currently have enough money to move out or move on. You might have children together and want to work out the details of a divorce and parenting plan before you move out. Or maybe you own a place together and need to sell it first to release funds so you can get another place.

All of these reasons – which relate to practical constraints – are totally valid reasons… but that doesn’t mean that living together will not be without challenges.  So here are a few pointers that are helpful to keep in mind…

1. Pay great attention to maintaining healthy boundaries

Where you can, set up your own sleeping and even living area. If that’s not possible, then ensure that you are spending time outside the home as well – it isn’t helpful to continue on ‘as normal’ as though nothing has changed – it can slow down your healing. 

2. Keep things respectful but ideally keep a detached distance

Don’t get tempted to seek connection or closeness in these early stages of nursing your heartbreak. Think of them as a kind of ‘housemate/ work colleague’ and try to use this frame to avoid the temptation towards intimacy of any kind. 

3. Don’t make any radical decisions or changes

It’s better to wait until you are in your own space again before you start anything drastic (like a big home declutter). Decluttering itself is healing and is something I teach as part of my but of my 5 step healing from heartbreak process but it also can take a lot of your energy and stir up a lot of emotion. In my opinion, it’s best to do this kind of spring clean as a kick-start to your fresh start, rather than whilst you are still in a shared space. 

4. Check in with yourself to make sure you don’t have any other options.

In the course of my work as a relationship coach, I sometimes see people carry on living with their ex for reasons that I don’t think are in their best interests. Sometimes there is no real practical reason for them to be doing so but they are harbouring a hope that the relationship will be repaired. Only you can know when a relationship is over but, once you reach that point of no return, it is better not to cling on to the fantasy that things will go back to the way they were. It will only slow down your healing process. Knowing when it’s the right time to end a relationship and when it’s time to move on can be quite difficult for some… if you think you might be holding on to something you should potentially be letting go of then you might like to watch my video ‘How to know it’s time to end a relationship’. 

I hope these pointers have been of value to you. I love sharing my tools and tips with you… so if you’re curious to learn more, I encourage you to explore my YouTube channel, where you’ll find lots of helpful resources.

Shelley J Whitehead
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