Is Living With a Partner After a Breakup Bad for Your Mental Health?

Couple with wall between them

After a breakup, many people desire time and space to heal, and choose not to interact much with their ex-partner. However, more people nowadays continue living with their partner after a breakup. There are multiple reasons, including financial issues, the desire to remain friends, or being joint “parents” to a pet.

Other people simply don’t like change, and want to remain in their homes.They assume that if their breakup wasn’t contentious, they will be able to continue to live amicably with their ex.

There are some situations where this arrangement can work out well, but it can be risky for both partners. There are important variables that impact whether or not this will work for you and for your ex-partner. Here are a few to consider.

Jealousy

When you or your partner start dating again, you may be shocked and blindsided by the amount of jealousy that you feel. Even if you were the one to end the relationship, there are still feelings involved.

If you like your partner enough to remain living with them post-breakup, then it’s reasonable to assume you consider them a friend. Watching a friend, with whom you have a romantic and sexual history, bring someone else into their room late at night can be uncomfortable for all parties.

Awkwardness

If friends come over to your apartment, they may feel uncomfortable, not knowing how to treat your ex. This goes double for parents or other family members.

Also, when you have friends over, you may want to talk about your breakup, or about new partners or love interests. This is difficult to do with your ex-partner hanging around, making pasta in the kitchen.

Finances

Unlike most roommates, you know the ins and outs of your ex’s financial situation. This means that if you end up buying more of the cleaning supplies, or they are late with the rent check, you may feel more resentful.

Additionally, it can be difficult and awkward to go back to asking for money from someone who you broke up with just a week ago.

Sex

Even if you don’t want to hook up with your ex anymore, just knowing that they are in the next room when you’re feeling lonely, or when you’ve had too much to drink, can make it exponentially more probable that you end up in bed with them again. This may be something that you regret or not, but either way, it usually makes things feel more confusing.

Many people feel more bonded after sex, due to the release of oxytocin and other psychological and biological variables. That’s why having sex with an ex can make you wonder if you really should have broken up with them, even if you know in your heart that it was the right choice.

Emotional confusion

Living with an ex can make you feel like you’re stuck in purgatory: not dating anymore, but not entirely single. It can also be very hard to move forward and meet new people when you continue to hang out with your ex. Potential new partners may find your living situation to be weird or off-putting.

What’s Next With My Ex?

Overall, many people struggle with setting boundaries, and if you are such an individual, then it is unlikely that it will be good for your emotional health to continue living with an ex. In a situation where both people have excellent boundaries and neither remains attracted to the other, then it’s possible that this situation can be healthy.

However, for the majority of people, when you break up, moving out needs to be next on your agenda.

Published by

Dr. Samantha Rodman

Clinical Psychologist