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How to Live With Your Ex After a Breakup

By DNAinfo Staff on February 17, 2015 7:43am  | Updated on August 31, 2016 1:18pm

 Redmond Hill, 27, lived with an ex-girlfriend for weeks after they broke up, a time that was filled with “animosity and bitterness.
Redmond Hill, 27, lived with an ex-girlfriend for weeks after they broke up, a time that was filled with “animosity and bitterness." He now lives with roommates in Bed-Stuy.
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DNAinfo/Serena Dai

NEW YORK CITY — Breaking up is never easy to do — but it's especially hard when you live together.

Stephanie Gallardo, 28, and Redmond Hill, 27, lived together in the same one-bedroom apartment in Astoria for about two months after they broke up.

While the two are on friendlier terms now, nearly a year later, those two months were an "emotional rollercoaster" that included intense arguments and periods where they acted like nothing had changed.

"There was a lot of animosity and bitterness between us," Hill said. "It wasn't my home anymore, in a way. It was just a temporary place until I could go somewhere else."

Moving on while they still lived together was nearly impossible.

"You’re trying to deal with your feelings," Gallardo said, "but you’re seeing this person who makes you feel a million times of everything."

Living with your ex after separating is a common situation in New York. Couples often move in together faster than they should in order to save money in the city's tough real estate market, several relationship therapists said.

But breaking the lease isn't as simple as breaking the relationship, and the emotional and financial burdens that come with finding a new apartment in New York "adds a whole other layer of horror to the experience," said Suzanne Lachmann, a clinical psychologist who works with couples.

"It’s ugly and messy," Lachmann said. "And it's not fun."

DNAinfo New York talked to several relationship therapists who offer advice for coping with living with an ex:

1. Make a game plan on separation — and on the logistics of living with each other.

Talk immediately about the best way to proceed with moving out, including financial considerations, so that the situation doesn't drag on unnecessarily, therapists said.

Then, discuss practicalities like splitting chores and who's taking the bed versus the couch, therapists said. A frank discussion can prevent resentment and passive-aggressive behavior that can arise from anger or hurt from the breakup.

"The more couples talk up front and have preventative conversations, the better they do," said therapist Lisa Lavelle. "The more people talk about stuff after the fact, the more trouble there is."

After the initial conversation, it's important to regularly check in on how the other person is feeling, much like you would if you were still together, said therapist Meg Batterson, who regularly works with couples and advises on The Bill Cunningham Show.

2. Be considerate about dating other people.

After you've considered the timeline, think about whether you can wait to start dating new people, suggested relationship therapist Rachel McDavid. If the lease is up in six months, for example, consider waiting to jump back into the game, she said.

But if you do date — and this may seem obvious — don't bring your hookups home, several experts said. The situation can be "traumatizing" for the person who's having more trouble moving on, Lachmann said.

 Redmond Hill said he and his ex are on friendlier terms now. But the time they spent living together while broken up was an “emotional roller coaster,” said his ex, Stephanie Gallardo, 28.
Redmond Hill said he and his ex are on friendlier terms now. But the time they spent living together while broken up was an “emotional roller coaster,” said his ex, Stephanie Gallardo, 28.
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DNAinfo/Serena Dai

"It can do a number on self-esteem, on your ability to trust in relationships or in the commitment of a potential partner moving forward," Lachmann said.

And even when keeping the dates outside the home, it can be helpful to let your ex-partner know that you're dating someone else — without giving too many details, Batterson said.

"It's important to help them start moving on," she said.

3. Try not to start hooking up with your ex again.

It may feel comfortable and familiar to keep sleeping with your ex, but usually, you've broken up for a reason, Batterson said.

"You can do anything you want to do," Batterson said. "But if you want ways to make the transition smoother, don’t hook up."

Plus, getting back into bed with each other can lead to a lot of mixed messages, especially since one person usually holds a little bit more hope that the relationship could mend, said Niloo Dardashti, relationship therapist and author of "Fifty Shades of Women's Desires."

"It becomes more complicated," she said.

4. Spend more time with friends and family and outside the house.

Reaching out to loved ones — and spending time outside the apartment — will help with the process of moving on, too, said Batterson, who called the process "bridging."

Focusing on those relationships will help you realize the value of moving on and rebuilding old relationships, she said.

Avoiding home as much as possible will benefit mental health, Lachmann said. Hill, for example, ended up spending more time at work and reconnecting with old friends to transition out of the apartment.

"It's really taxing on your work life and your social life," Lachmann said. "But it is better than having to sit there in front of your ex and feel totally tormented."

5. Finally, be careful next time you think about moving in with a partner.

New romances may be hot in the first year or so, but if finances and convenience play a major role in the choice to move in together, reconsider whether it's the best time to take the leap.

Experts suggested waiting until after a year or two before moving in, depending on when the "honeymoon" phase of the relationship ends.

Once you start thinking about the decision, have discussions on quirky habits, potential roommate issues and — most importantly — expectations on what moving in together means.

Lavelle said that she sometimes sees one person thinking that living together is the next step to marriage, while the other person only sees it as a roommate solution.

Unmatched expectations, experts said, are where the relationship starts to fall apart.

"It’s important to make it clear what it means to be living together," Lavelle said.