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Living with an ex: 5 pieces of advice you need to apply


living with an exLiving with an ex for whatever reason is not an easy situation in which to find yourself.  Your relationship has ended and you can’t even mourn that in peace, because for whatever reason, financial or practical, you and your ex are still living together.  How can you attempt to move on while you and your ex still see each other every day, are still living under the same roof?  How can you even attempt to move on past the breakup when your ex is still around? You can’t scream and cry and mourn the relationship the way you want to and you can’t get the time and space you need from your former partner to heal, so what can you do?  Here are five pieces of advice you should apply when you have no choice but to continue living with an ex.

1. Set boundaries

The first and most important thing that you should do after the breakup when you know you will have to continue living with your ex is sit down and talk.  Set the boundaries of your relationship.  Decide what you should and shouldn’t do together, how you will divide the household tasks and draw limits.  Draw a metaphorical line between the two of you and don’t cross it.  If there’s only one bedroom, one of you should sleep on the couch, or you can take it in turns.  But one boundary you should avoid crossing is sleeping in the same bed.

Physical limits

You and your partner need to set some physical limits.  If you decide that it’s okay for the two of you to sleep together while you’re forced to live together, that is your choice, but it is inadvisable.  You need to keep in mind that having sex with your ex does not mean you are getting back together, and while it may scratch an itch, it could mean you’re letting your partner back in emotionally and becoming attached to them again, while they may not feel the same way.  Be aware that sleeping with your ex could actually make this situation a whole lot more awkward for you both.

Plan

Even immediately after the breakup, don’t hover in uncertainty for any amount of time.  As soon as the dust settles, decide on a definitive timescale of how long you’re going to be in this situation.  Living with an ex should never be a long term solution to any financial or practical problems; it’s simply not worth it.  Discuss if one or both of you will move out and decide when it will happen.  Set a solid date and start looking for somewhere else to live.  You don’t want to be in this situation for any longer than is absolutely necessary.

2. Go out

Leave the house as much as possible.  In the aftermath of a breakup you need to put as much time and space as possible between you and your ex and even though you’re stuck living together this should still apply.  You should spend as much time out of the house as possible, and only go home to rest and sleep.  You don’t want to spend time in a house or apartment where the atmosphere is cold and uninviting, and you certainly don’t want to sit awkwardly across from your ex all night arguing over which television programme to watch, so go out.  Even though you’re living together don’t spend any more time than absolutely necessary with your ex.

Make plans

Make plans with friends as many nights as you possibly can.  Go out together or go to their house to escape going home to your ex and do things to take your mind off your breakup and your current uncomfortable situation.  If you really want to, you can hang out with your friends at your own place.  At least with your friends’ presence, there will be a buffer between you and your ex for a while.  If you and your ex absolutely have to spend all night at home together, try to make sure you have a friend or family member there too to break the tension a little.  Since you’re living with an ex, it’s almost impossible to succeed at this every night, but for as many nights as possible, make yourself scarce and spend as little time as possible sitting at home alone with your ex.

Stay at a friend’s place

If the option is there, choose to stay with a friend for a few nights, immediately after the breakup and when living in the same house as your ex becomes too much of a chore.  This is your temporary escape plan, and you should try to have one in place for the times when living with your ex becomes too difficult.

3. Don’t bring dates home

You go out to a bar and spend the entire night chatting someone up, and then they lean over and whisper in your ear, “let’s go back to your place”.  Don’t do it.  If you can’t go to your date’s place then just give them a kiss, say thank you for a good night and go home.  Bringing dates home will be extremely awkward for everybody involved; you, your ex and your date.  It will make you feel guilty, make your ex feel hurt and betrayed and make your date feel like they’re just a pawn in a ruthless game you’re playing.  Unless you really want to explain to your new date why your ex is in the kitchen in their underwear making coffee, it’s not advisable to bring a date home, especially if you ever want to have a second date with this person.

Show respect

cohabitingYou and your ex have broken up but that doesn’t mean that your relationship wasn’t good or that it didn’t end on good terms.  You and your ex have managed to be civil and respectful of one another until now.  Don’t belittle your relationship with your ex by disrespecting your ex now.  Bringing home a date shows a blatant disregard for your ex’s feelings and disrespect for your ex and the relationship you shared.  Try to take your ex’s feelings into account and remain cool and calm, distant but respectful during the time that you have to live with your ex.

If your ex brings a date home

If your ex decides to bring a date home then they’re likewise showing a blatant disregard for your feelings and disrespecting you, and as much as it may hurt there’s nothing you can really do about it.  If this happens, pack a bag and escape to a friend or family member’s house for a couple of days.  Don’t let your ex rub your nose in it.  If they bring someone home with them, get out of the house as quickly as you can; you really don’t want to overhear anything.  As upsetting as it is, escape and then try to ignore it.  Find somewhere else to live and a way out of this terrible situation as soon as you possibly can.

4.Consider yourselves roommates

Stop thinking of your ex as a former lover and for the time that you have to share a living space, consider your ex your new roommate.  You don’t owe your ex anything.  You aren’t giving each other anything.  You don’t love each other and receive no emotional benefits from living together, so don’t act like it.  You and your ex are roommates, and so you should divide everything equally.  Split the bills fifty-fifty and the housework too.  Count the pennies and make sure you’re not spending more than your ex.  Divide the household chores and make sure they don’t overlap; you don’t want to be spending any unnecessary time with your ex.  Avoid cooking for one another as this would end up an uneven task and would also lead to you eating together.  While living with an ex, treat them as a roommate that you’re not particularly fond of and with whom you don’t wish to spend any time.

Be passive-aggressive

While it is often irritating when living with housemates, there is no harm in being a little passive-aggressive with your ex once in a while.  If he doesn’t lift the toilet seat or her hair is always clogging the drain, leave a post-it note requesting that they clean up after themselves.  You have every right to be irritated by these things now and you have no reason to clean it up or hold your tongue.  If your ex is the one who’s supposed to be moving out and doesn’t seem to be making any effort to find a new place, leave a newspaper for them to find with suitable listings circled in red marker or send them an email with the link to advertisements for apartments.  Being passive-aggressive prevents your partner from walking all over you and taking advantage, but also allows you to avoid confrontation and full-on arguments that will result in a screaming and shouting match.

Don’t be friends

You should be aware when living with an ex that it is not likely to be a pleasant experience for either of you.  Even if the relationship ended on good terms and the breakup was amicable, the following weeks or months that you live together are not likely to be so peaceful.  This is because when you’re in a relationship with someone, you often bite your tongue about the things that annoy or irritate you, but when you’re no longer together, the gloves come off.  Be aware that living together after you’ve broken up can destroy any hope you have of remaining friends, or at least being civil, with your ex.

5. Move out

staying with your exWhatever your situation is, make sure that the period of living with an ex is as brief as possible, even if it means finding a very cheap place to live, moving into a shared house or having to deal with a long commute to work.  These are better conditions to be living in than living with an ex.  This is why it is important to set a solid timeline for when one of you will move out when your first enter into this arrangement.  If you aren’t strict about a deadline, then you’re likely to fall into habits and it will take you a long time to move out.

Moving on

It’s important that you or your ex moves out as quickly as possible so that you can both mourn the loss of the relationship without having to see the other person every day and so you can begin to move on with your lives; it’s impossible to do this while you’re still living under the same roof.  You won’t feel entirely free until you move out.  Part of you will feel like you’re still in a relationship and therefore shouldn’t be seeing other people because you don’t want to hurt your ex.  You won’t feel like the relationship is really over, like you and your ex are really broken up until you move out.  You will not be able to fully move on while you and your ex are still living together.

Living with an ex

Living with an ex is a very difficult situation to be in.  You’re not together, and you’re not moving backwards, but you’re not moving on with your life either.  It is okay if it is necessary as a temporary solution after a breakup but it is not a long term solution to financial or practicality problems.  If you have no choice but to live with an ex, set boundaries and be rigid in sticking to them.  Don’t provoke your ex by bringing dates home and spend as little time at home as possible to avoid spending too much time alone with your ex.  Regard yourselves as temporary roommates, share finances and responsibilities equally, don’t let the other person get away with having you clean up after them, understand that you will probably never be able to be friends with your ex after this, and as soon as you possibly can, move out and move on with your life.

Antoine Peytavin, fondateur du site jerecuperemonex.com

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