Things are not working out. You want her to move out. This is a tricky situation that needs to be handled with tact and diplomacy. There may actually be two tasks you must accomplish: breaking up with a girlfriend and evicting her. Even if you do not want to break up with her, you are terminating a part of your relationship and this must be handled with sensitivity. If children are involved you must be sensitive to those needs while still holding boundaries. Although most states only define your girlfriend as your tenant if she has been paying rent, do not assume this is the case.
Try Talking it Out
Simply talking to her is the most straightforward, honest approach and the path of least resistance. Sit her down and explain to her that things are not working out, you cannot live with her any longer and you want her to move out. When discussing options with her give her a few choices to ease the pain of the situation, but do not leave the terms of when and how she leaves open-ended or she may never leave. Say to her something like, "I understand that this may be hard for you but I think it's best that we get some closure rather than leaving the arrangements open. Do you think you can be out by this date?" Allow a reasonable length of time to find new housing in your market, and be prepared to negotiate the date in good faith. If at all possible try to have a neutral acquaintance present, both as a witness and as someone who can help keep the discussion civil. It's also useful to have this conversation on neutral territory, if you can.
Don't Let it Slide
Once you've agreed on a date, be sure to follow up and make sure she's actively seeking a new home and preparing to move. If she agrees to a month and a half and she has not started packing her stuff by the end of the first month, get some boxes from the grocery store and offer to put her items in these. Appeal to her family if necessary. They may be able to talk some reason into her. If children are involved, try to be understanding but do not let her use the children to manipulate you. If they are your children make formal financial support arrangements and work out a visitation schedule. Remain emotionally detached. While she may resent this approach and try to continue to emotionally connect with you, this is not healthy for either of you in the long run and will only lead to false hopes. If you are also breaking up with her as a girlfriend, do not continue to be physical with her and do not put yourself in situations where this is likely to occur.
Be Prepared for Formal Eviction
If the agreed-upon time to vacate has come and gone, get a lawyer. If you have an Employee Assistance Program through work, many of these programs offer an initial free consultation. A lawyer will be much more helpful than the police, who will likely say they can do nothing if she wants to stay -- it's a civil rather than a criminal matter. If she has been paying rent, she is legally a tenant and formal eviction proceedings must commence. Although states differ, all require notice to be given formally to evict a tenant, whether or not she is your girlfriend. Tenants have many protections under the law and any mistakes you make can be costly. You can serve a nonpayment notice if she has been paying rent and this has lapsed. There are also conditional or unconditional notices you can give, which basically give the tenant a certain number of days before further legal proceedings can be initiated. If you have not given notice, you cannot legally proceed with an eviction.
A relationship that ends badly isn't always necessarily a mistake, but it is at least an experience you can learn from. If living with her was making you unhappy, perhaps she was unhappy too. When a relationship is limiting, both parties tend to feel positive after a period of mourning has ended. If you are also breaking up with her, take your time to really get to know someone new when you are ready to start a new relationship. Do not let future girlfriends move in with you unless you get them to sign a lease. If you set appropriate boundaries at the beginning of the relationship, it will be easier to maintain them and your relationship just may be happier. Think hard about what you want in a relationship and wait to move in with someone you feel could be a long-term partner to you.
Brenda Scottsdale is a licensed psychologist, a six sigma master black belt and a certified aerobics instructor. She has been writing professionally for more than 15 years in scientific journals, including the "Journal of Criminal Justice and Behavior" and various websites.
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