Breaking up is often hard to do, even when there’s no romance involved. Sometimes a roommate breakup can be even tougher than a romantic one. You live together, after all… all the time!
Sometimes, a break is mutual, driven by outside forces that have absolutely nothing to do with the roommate relationship. But in cases where personality conflicts are the motivation, steer clear of bad blood (or actual bloodshed) by following these basic tips on how to break up amicably with a roommate.
Face the facts
A roommate relationship is a big deal, and your soon-to-be-ex deserves a face-to-face goodbye. Never, ever break up with your roommate on a Post-It note; that’s tacky. E-mail, voicemail and texts aren’t cool, either.
Sharing the news in person affords a chance to discuss your roommate problems openly and air both sides of the story. This talk, however uncomfortable, may be your only chance to salvage the friendship. To make it easier, you might use the classic “it’s not you, it’s me” strategy. Stick with “I” statements like “I can’t afford to live here anymore” — instead of “you never pay your rent on time!”
Don’t wait too late
No matter how bad your roommate disagreements are, don’t spring a breakup on your roomie at the last minute. If you think your relationship has soured, this will make it even worse.
Be considerate and give plenty of notice that you are leaving (or kicking them out,) remembering to honor any lease commitments. A thirty-day warning is customary, for instance.
What if you are the break-ee…
All right, let’s say YOU are the one who is broken up by the exchange – and looking for a new apartment to live in! If the change is a surprise, you may have an adjustment period to get through. If the development is not unexpected, you might even be relieved to get a chance to move on to greener apartments, so to speak.
In either case, remember to stick up for yourself and insist that all formal lease agreements be followed. Roommates have rights – though, to be legal ones, those rights must be spelled out in the lease agreement.
I can’t wait to get out of here!
Here’s another scenario: you’ve decided you can’t live another month with your roommate, and you’re prepared to get the heck out of there, pronto.
Stop a moment and remember your responsibilities: namely, is your name on the lease? If so, there may be unwelcome financial consequences to skipping out on your roommate.
You might pursue options with your landlord first, before the courts, but realize that your lease agreement is likely binding. Depending on local laws, however, there might be an out if the apartment has become “uninhabitable.” You might consult an attorney to determine your legal rights as a renter in this situation.
Plan a friendly follow-up
Once the deed is done, let things simmer down. If you still have to live together for a while, keep your distance until you get a sense that tensions have died down. If you want to try maintaining your friendship, wait a month and then plan a casual outing with your former roomie. Make the first meet-up short and simple, like lunch or coffee, just to find out how the other person is doing. If all goes well, you can then resume your Wednesday night trivia tournaments, for instance.
Even if you really don’t want to stay pals, it’s nice to follow-up with an email, phone call or text just to say hi and ask how they like their new place. (Try not to brag about how awesome life is without them around!)
Roommate breakups aren’t fun, but they can be manageable if you follow the golden rule: treat your future former roommate like you yourself would want to be treated!
Photo credit: Shutterstock / Melissa Ann Kilhenny