Realizing that your relationship with your live-in partner is not working can be one of life's worst experiences. Not only are you breaking up with her, but you also must deal with being around each other after the breakup -- and trying to divide up your belongings to go your separate ways, which can get just as nasty as a divorce. If you truly feel that your relationship with your girlfriend is over, let her know as soon as possible and remain respectful and civil as you both deal with this painful process.
Plan ahead for the immediate aftermath of the breakup. If you know that ending the relationship will take your girlfriend by surprise, expect her to be both angry and hurt. Spend a few nights away at a friend's house to give her some space before getting together to discuss moving ahead.
Tell your girlfriend gently and as soon as possible. The longer you put it off, the more difficult it is for both you and your girlfriend, says Anna Pulley, sex columnist for the Chicago RedEye. Start with discussing her positive attributes, and then focus on why the relationship is no longer working for you. Let her ask questions and do your best to answer, even if the discussing gets heated; then, make your retreat to your buddy's house for a few days to let her think and cool down.
Discuss logistics civilly. Remain calm, despite the high emotions likely to occur during the breakup, which makes deciding what to do next easier, reports Melissa Melms, relationship contributor for "Glamour" magazine. Focus on the most important things first, such as who will move out of your shared space; next, discuss the process of dividing up belongings that you purchased together.
Make living arrangements if neither of you can move out right away. While moving out is the best option, you must work out essential arrangements such as who will sleep in the bedroom or if you will rotate. Decide if you are going to split all the bills 50/50 at the present time, and how to give each other as much space in the space as possible until you move out.
Set ground rules about moving forward. If you both decide to continue living together for the next three months, for example, commit to that time frame and don't move out earlier, which could put a financial strain on your ex. Avoid bringing dates to your house or apartment as it might hurt your ex-girlfriend. If you want to date right away and have the freedom to bring a girl home, then make a plan to move out as soon as possible.
Don't hook up under any circumstances with your ex-girlfriend. If the two of you plan to continue living together for a while, you might become civil and even friendly again, which could easily lead to an emotional hookup. This will only confuse your ex or even yourself. Unless you are 100 percent sure you want to reconcile with your ex, keep your distance as much as possible.