The coronavirus pandemic has created tons of uncertainty in people’s lives. It has introduced a whole new way of living, with limited access to life outside the home. Couples cohabitating together are dealing with a fresh set of challenges — and in some cases, the stress of this crisis might even lead to a split. If you find yourself stuck quarantining together after a breakup, it doesn’t have to be a terrible experience. It’s all in how you and your ex choose to navigate the situation.
For whatever reason, you’ve determined that your relationship just can’t survive this chaotic time period. That’s OK, and it’s bound to happen for many other couples, too. “This unprecedented time will test couples greatly and bring underlying issues to the surface,” breakup coach Natalia Juarez tells Elite Daily. “Irrespective of the terrible timing, it will be necessary that people know how to end their relationships in the best and most loving way possible.” Living together in isolation (especially if you moved in together before you were emotionally ready to) may force you to take a closer look at your realistic compatibility, and potentially determine that you’re just not the right fit for each other.
Breaking up in a normal, non-pandemic situation is hard enough, but when you’re quarantining with someone, it gets even trickier. The White House has recommended that people stay home as much as possible and practice social distancing to slow the spread of the virus. This means that moving out isn’t really an option at the moment, or at least, will be extremely difficult (and unsafe) to try and pull off.
Until the social distancing guidelines are lifted, you and your ex may have to find a way to live together. “Breaking up while quarantining together is not ideal, but it may force you to treat each other with more respect and sincerity than is usually done today,” says Chelsea Leigh Trescott, breakup coach and podcast host of Thank You Heartbreak. Experts typically recommend a 90-day no-contact period after a breakup to give you a chance to heal, but if you’re in the same house, you can’t avoid one another entirely. Instead, you’ll need to set ground rules about how you plan to interact.
If you have a separate bedroom or living space in your home, "moving" into a different location might help you get some mental clarity. “Having some extra space within your existing home could offer the physical and emotional space needed during a breakup,” Juarez says. “Try as best you can to give each other space, and take breaks to go for walks (if you’re allowed) to give the other person time home alone.” Both of you are dealing with a lot right now: the stress of a global public health crisis, economic turmoil, plus a personal heartbreak. It’s only natural that you need some alone time to process.
You’ll also need to decide what your new daily routine will look like. “If you’re living and working together, have open conversations to discuss routines and boundaries,” Juarez says. “Will you still eat meals together, and go for walks, and watch Narcos together?” It’s really up to you about how much time you decide to spend with your ex, but you should be very clear about the boundaries you need to set to move on. “Although it’s uncomfortable, it’s better to over-communicate than under-communicate,” Juarez notes. The more you can talk through your feelings directly, the better you’ll be able to survive this period of cohabitation.
When you’re hurting, you may find yourself wanting to lash out at your ex or be passive aggressive toward them. But the last thing you need during this stressful time of quarantine is a hostile living environment. “Because you’re still living together, you’ll have to ask yourself how you can drop your egos, distance yourself emotionally, and show up in a way that honors both your past, and the courageous decision you’re making to split,” Trescott says. “Ask yourself what your best self would do, and if the tables were turned, how you’d want to be treated.” Even if you feel betrayed, take the high road and treat your ex with kindness.
Whatever you do (and as hard as it might be), try not to blur the lines between your relationship and your breakup. “If you’re going to break up, be broken up,” Juarez says. It may be tempting to fall back into your regular routines: cuddling, sharing inside jokes, maybe even having sex. This will only make things more difficult for both of you, and it can drag out your healing process indefinitely.
As tough as this situation is, try to reframe it as a chance to end your relationship gracefully and to stay on good terms with your ex. “Quarantining with a partner you’re not in a good place with will be excellent practice for future relationships,” Trescott says. “[There’s] less running, less hiding, more letting go and leaning into the discomfort. These life skills and character development will serve you in quarantine and out of it, too.”
Natalia Juarez, breakup coach