After The Breakup: The ABCs of Moving Out and On
(This is an excerpt from the book “It’s a Breakup, Not a Breakdown: Get over the Big One and Change Your Life – for Good!”)
Congratulations on your breakup! Nobody ever says that, do they? But they should. Breakups are big. And not just because of the heartache and pain, but because of the empowering pleasure that comes from eventually moving on. If you’re not there yet, don’t worry. You’ll get there. One day soon enough you’ll be minding your own business, actively engaged in your new and amazing life and you’ll realize, I’m over it. Doesn’t that sound exciting?
If at the time of your breakup you and your ex were living together, your post-breakup progress depends upon your ability to clean house. And by that I mean the quicker you part domestic ways, the better. If you can move out, great! Sure it can be a costly pain in the butt initially, but it will save your heart a lot of hurt in the long run. By breaking up with both your relationship and your shared space, you get to create a whole new home to heal and move on in. (Now that’s a win-win!)
Moving out (and on)
If you’re the one moving out, do so as quickly as possible. Even if you have to move in with friends momentarily, it’s better than crashing at the scene of the crime for weeks on end. You can always put your stuff in storage until you find a more permanent place to live. Or maybe you’ll luck out and find the apartment of your dreams in your ideal price range right away. After a particularly painful breakup of mine, I stumbled upon my first solo apartment — a cute studio in my favorite neighborhood within weeks of moving out. I’d initially thought I might be staying at my sister’s place for a few months until I found something.
If you’re the one who’s moving out, arrange a time for you to pack up your belongings when your ex is not home. The less contact you have right now, the better. (You don’t want a bad breakup to escalate into a shouting match, restraining orders for the both of you, or worse, reconciliation with the wrong person!) If at all possible, do not rely on your ex to pack your things. As hard as it may be to return to your shared space, you need to be responsible for your stuff. Plus, depending on how your ex feels about the breakup, your belongings might not make it to their new home in one piece.
After you’ve packed everything up, try to schedule your move for a time when your ex isn’t around, too. That will alleviate any unnecessary tension and stress. However, if your ex decides to be difficult, insisting he be there to ensure you’re not trashing the apartment in his absence or packing up any of his stuff (like you want his back issues of FHM or his video games that used to make you crazy), ask a friend along for moral support. Your ex is less likely to be a jerk if there’s a witness.
Staying put (and still moving on!)
And if your ex is the one to heave ho? Show him the same courtesy you’d expect of him by making yourself scarce when he’s packing his things and moving out. If you’re worried about him trashing or stealing your stuff, ask a trustworthy guy friend to supervise in your absence. And try to resolve any security deposit issues, rent worries, or other financial issues amicably (and ASAP). Neither one of you needs to drag things out, act petty, or throw a temper tantrum. Things are difficult enough right now. You’re both adults. Act like it. (And be sure to get his keys back so that you don’t have to worry about any post-breakup revenge rage at 3 A.M.)
Exorcising your ex
Once your ex has moved out, you’ll want to follow these post-breakup rituals to help exorcise your ex:
* Get rid of any evidence that your ex actually existed: This includes old photos, his cologne under your bathroom sink, the alma mater mug he used to slurp coffee from, and so on.
* Rearrange furniture so things don’t look exactly the same: Just be sure to plug in a night light so you don’t trip over that footstool or bookcase on your 4 A.M. trip to the bathroom.
* Replace items your ex took with things that make you happy: Brighten your space with colorful flowers, a new picture on the wall, or that end table you’ve been eyeing that your ex always thought was too girly but you’re now free to buy.
* Sleep in the middle of the bed: It’s all yours, Baby!
If you follow these house rules, your breakup recovery will be that much smoother. Of course, there will still be times when it’s hard. Just remember — when you’re in the middle of all that breakup angst, you’re not having a breakdown. You’re breaking up so that you can eventually move on. (And that totally rocks!) When in doubt, visit www.BreakupChronicles.com to share your breakup stories, meet other breakup survivors in the online community, and shop for inspiring, insightful, and/or celebratory t-shirts, journals, and more in The Breakup Shop.
Lisa Steadman, a.k.a. The Relationship Journalist is an accomplished relationship writer, speaker, and coach. She is the site creator of BreakupChronicles.com featuring stories of how breaking up with the wrong person is the right thing to do (and always leads to bigger and better opportunities in life – including meeting Mr. or Ms. Right!). Her first book It’s a Breakup, Not a Breakdown: Get over the Big One and Change Your Life – for Good! is available at The Savvy Gal Store.