Living With Your Ex | The Guide To Ground Rules

Breakups are hard as it is – but what if you had to end up living with your ex?

Living with your ex while moving on and leading an emotionally-healthy life is possible, but it should be avoided if possible. However, if you have to, setting some ground rules and keeping some distance is essential. As long as you treat your ex like any other housemate, things remain manageable.

Whether you should or should not live with your ex needs to be circumstantially decided, and if you already know that you have to – our guide of ground rules will help you survive this awkward phase.

Can You Still Live with Your Ex After a Breakup?

It’s simple: If it does not impact your well-being in any way, you can live with your ex. But if it constantly bugs and bothers you, it is best that you find a way out of this situation.

Here’s when you CAN live with your ex:

1. Your Financial Situation Doesn’t Allow You to Move Out

Outside of “can” or “cannot”, your circumstances are a great identifier of whether you should live with your ex.

If your current situation, financial or otherwise, does not permit you to move out or if moving does more damage than good, you will be staying with an ex.

And when you absolutely have to, you will be able to find ways to cope and figure out a way to stay with your ex while also staying sane.

Your Financial Situation Doesn't Allow You to Move Out

2. It Doesn’t Really Bother You

If staying with your ex benefits you in any way, such as not having to find a place to stay in an expensive, crowded city, and it doesn’t bother you at all – living with your ex will be an easy bet.

Once you’ve moved on and they don’t impact your emotions or decision-making, it’s perfectly fine to live with your ex and move out when it is convenient for you.

3. They Do Not Display “Toxic” Traits

Living with an ex you had a healthy breakup with is reasonably comfortable and easy. The hardest people to live with are ones that affect your mental health, gaslight you, or keep picking at you.

Living with a toxic ex can leave a mark of self-doubt, impair future relationships, and make you feel guilty for breaking up.

As long as your ex does not display any of the so-called “toxic traits”, you can consider living with them under the roof. Here’s when you CANNOT live with your ex:

1. You Are Still in Love

You should never try to live with an ex you’re still in love with. While it’s possible to find a way to get through with it when that’s the only option you have, it should be avoided at all costs.

Living with them, seeing them daily, and sharing a space can make you uncomfortable and make it harder to move on. It might even make your mental health and stability go down with time.

You might end up stuck in a loop, constantly desiring them or hoping they might return.

When your ex remains in your mind, you would be unable to give your complete attention to any new potential dates. In case you end up living together despite the risks, read till the end.

2. It Hurts to See Them

You may not be in love, but the heartbreak of your previous relationship can leave you aching for a long time.

If it still hurts to see them, talk to them, or you want to strangle them every time you are reminded of what happened – your best bet is to move out as soon as possible, if not immediately.

What’s worse about living under such circumstances is watching them move on, hook up, or get in relationships while you can’t even get your mood under control.

That’s certainly not a situation you would want to end up in.

3. You Plan To Continue Hooking Up

Everything’s great after you’ve broken up and you’re good friends – but you still want to hook up? That’s a no for living together.

Living with an ex when you’re hooking up together makes the relationship ten times more complicated.

This can get worse if the two of you were involved in a monogamous relationship, which is generally associated with high levels of emotional attachment.

When you hook up, you might re-ignite these feelings or reinforce your attachment, which can end up being painfully one-sided.

How do I Survive Living with My Ex?

Now that you’re stuck in this situation, it is best that you focus on solutions that make your experience as easy as possible.

One of the key solutions to surviving living with your ex is to try to stay as far from them as possible, not give them any privileges, and let go of the past. Here’s how you can implement these:

1. Set Clear Boundaries

The most fundamental rule of living with your ex is to set definitive and clear boundaries on both ends.

Before setting up your place, or making changes, have a direct and detailed conversation with your ex about what is and is not acceptable to you.

If you need a certain amount of space and distance to move on, do not hesitate to ask for it.

Similarly, unconditionally respect the boundaries that your ex sets for you, and be courteous even if it feels weird to you.

Most importantly, ensure any worries or issues have been clearly communicated and put down for the future.

Set Clear Boundaries

2. Keep and Offer Privacy

Things with a lover are starkly different from things with a housemate.

You may have built up habits of being open, expressive, and oversharing with your ex from when you were together, but they should end as soon as you break up.

Do not allow your ex into your personal space, your private living, or access to your possessions.

Stay private about what’s happening in your life, and do not go around informing them of every little detail, especially those that do not concern them.

Most importantly, don’t just ask for your privacy; offer some too. Avoid peeking, looking through their stuff, or eavesdropping on their conversations – anything considered an invasion of privacy.

3. Avoid Bringing Up the Past

What’s done is done – scraping old wounds will only make living with your ex a place of hell.

You will constantly end up getting in disagreements, hurting each other’s feelings, or even temporarily rekindling feelings that have no future.

Whether it is about the good or the bad, avoid bringing up the days you were together at any point. Allow yourself and your ex to move on and grow towards a new type of life.

Also, focus on building your new relationship and setting new norms for both of you.

If your ex keeps bringing it up, try driving the conversation away from the past or let them know that you don’t want to hear it anymore.

4. Focus on Individuality

Most of your relationship phase must’ve largely been about and around each other. Within a relationship, people tend to build and work towards a common identity – an idea of oneness, or a team.

Now that you’ve broken it off, focusing on your individuality is the best way to move and not let it bother you.

Both of you should aim to build individual lives, have your own friends, separate outings, and explore new interests.

This will allow you to reduce your dependency on your partner, thereby reducing its emotional repercussions.

5. Stay Away from Memories

It might sound a little cliche, but get rid of everything that reminds you of your relationship.

You don’t have to break gifts, burn clothes, or bring chaos and commotion – you just have to find a way to stay away from anything that gets under your skin and constantly reminds you of the moments you shared.

If you’ve been living in the same space with your ex from when you were together, try changing around the layout, colors, decor, or furniture to make it feel like a new place.

The aim is to change your surroundings and your life so that it indicates a fresh start and keep your headspace uncluttered.

6. Split Your Finances Formally

It’s common for couples to merge their finances, spend on each other, or even slip into dependency. Whatever your earlier living situation was like must be let go of after you break up.

To live sanely with your ex, treat most things the same way you would do with any other housemate. Split bills, costs and rent, and maintain a clear track record of all expenses.

Make sure that you store and share invoices, keeping it as formal as possible. Finances are a pervasive point of conflict among most people, and the more sorted you keep them, the better.

7. Do Your Own Tasks

Just like finances, seek to split your tasks as well.

Only share tasks that help both of you manage your lives better, but don’t try to go after your ex helping them with fixing, cooking, cleaning, or organization all the time.

For e.g., if your housemate broke a leg and can’t clean after themselves, it is natural for anyone to aid them in their tasks.

But you wouldn’t just go around taking care of people when they are capable of it, would you? Neither should you and nor should they.

Doing your own tasks will also further reduce the time you spend with your ex, keeping any leftover feelings at bay.

Plus, you won’t have to deal with the frustrations of their habits – just take care of your own self in your own space.

Do Your Own Tasks

8. Define Your Current Status

Everyone has a different relationship with their ex based on the cause and method of their breakup.

Not clearly communicating the kind of relationship you share with your ex while living together can mean both people end up having a different view of each other.

Try not to assume what your ex wants – whether you think they’re trying to fix things, want to hook up, be friendly, or hate seeing your face, don’t let your own perception get in the way.

Just like boundaries, define your status, expectations, and plans rather than leaving each other hanging.

9. Be Honest with Your Current Partner

One of the biggest challenges that come with living with an ex is dating a new person. Worrying about what your ex might think or what your date might think is common, leading you to hide the truth.

Although you don’t have to give your ex every detail of your life, you need to tell a date you’re serious about that you live with your ex.

It may or may not upset them, and you may have to console them and explain your situation to them.

Having it revealed to them through other means can cause rifts between the two of you and ruin a potentially great partnership and their trust.

10. Don’t Obsess Over Their SO

Since the two of you are living together, it is natural that you get certain updates on their relationship status from time to time or have their dates visit your place.

Obsessing over their dating life will not only slow down your period of moving on but can also make you feel bad about your own dating life.

Avoid giving into the temptation of interrupting their conversations, being curious about what they’re doing, or stalking their current SO. Comparing their chemistry with your own is always a bad idea.

You should try and keep your focus on yourself outside of everyone else.

How to Live with An Ex You Still Love or Just Broke Up With?

Living with your ex may be possible, but it’s inviting disaster if you’re still in love with them. You shouldn’t live with an ex you still love for all the upheaval it brings.

For those that are bound circumstantially, try to stay away as much as possible and aim to move on to avoid any further conflict.

1. Avoid Common Areas

Try reducing as many points of contact as you can. If you never see or talk to them, are they even there?

It’s easier to get them out of your head, focus on yourself, and avoid emotional impulses when you do not come in contact with your ex.

Common spaces such as kitchens, living rooms, and balconies should be avoided to just casually hang out (especially when you are alone) or used at separate times whenever possible.

2. Stay With a Friend (Temporarily)

If it’s a fresh breakup or it’s hard on you regardless, taking some time out of the house is a simple fix. Choose a friend or a family member you can trust and confide in.

A change of environment can be of great help. Add their company on top of it, and you’ll feel better in no time.

Even if it’s for a couple of days, find whatever time you can outside of the shared space with your ex.

3. Take a Vacation

Similar to visiting friends and family, a vacation is a simple getaway that will help you shift your focus from the pain to working on yourself and feeling better.

Depending on your personality, you can choose a trip alone or with friends and family.

Either way, a vacation will also allow you to meet new people, go out on dates, or adopt a new identity- at least for a brief time.

Take a Vacation

4. Cut Down on Conversations

Since you’re living together, you cannot completely avoid crossing paths. You still have to discuss the important details, such as bill splitting.

It is not recommended that you run away from responsibilities, but you should cut down on small talk or casual conversations.

Don’t talk to them about it unless it’s essential for them to be in the know. Avoid sharing personal information and feelings, and most importantly, avoid drinking too much at home.

You should never indulge in activities that put you in a vulnerable position, overshare, or make your ex uncomfortable.

If they keep trying to talk to you, be honest and tell them you’ll need some space for a while.

5. See Other People

Since you haven’t moved on yet, seeing other people may not seem like the best idea. You don’t want to end up lying or hurting someone’s feelings; and you don’t have to.

However, seeing other people will allow you to explore, get out there, and keep you company. It will, for sure, make living with your ex much easier by occupying your mind.

Just make sure that you are honest with your dates. If you aren’t looking for anything serious, let them know.

However, you are the only judge who can define whether or not you are entirely ready to date just yet. Trust your instincts, and go for it if you feel the time is right.


Living with your ex is only hard for the first handful of days.

Once you’ve set rules and systems in place and habituated to the idea of moving on, dating someone else, or simply them not being your partner, it becomes not only easy but a part of everyday life.

If you still doubt it, know that people have done it before, and you can, too. And if you’re still uncomfortable – you should just find a way out of this situation instead.

Shashank Verma

A trained theatre actor and a STEM graduate who brings perspectives and methods from these worlds into dating and relationships. Also a big time Krav Maga enthusiast and practitioner.

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