I Lived With My Ex After We Broke Up, and It's One of My Biggest Regrets

I'm a very sensitive person, and I always have been. Whether that can be explained by my birth chart or childhood trauma, there's no denying that my sensitivity has shaped who I am. I feel things so deeply that it often takes me months or even years to get over heartbreak and other painful emotional experiences. As you can probably imagine, then, breakups can be excruciating. Though I've moved on from it now, my last breakup was no exception.

The fall of 2019 was an incredibly difficult time in my life. I had just quit the only job that provided me a consistent income in favor of freelancing until I figured out another path forward. I was living with my partner at that time, and while I was struggling with my mental and financial health, both he and our home together were a great comfort to me. We were coming up on our one-year anniversary, and I was so in love with him. It can be painful how vividly I remember the moment that all changed. My partner unexpectedly came home from work during his lunch hour one Friday in October, and within minutes, our relationship was over. He broke up with me, then returned to work after watching me cry hysterically for 20 minutes. It was like I didn't even know the man sitting in front of me anymore, and to say I was shattered is an understatement.

Because I had just left my job, I wasn't in a financial position to move out right away. Although a few friends had offered up their guest bedrooms or couches to me while I figured things out, I was in so much pain from the breakup that I had no idea how to go from sharing a bed with the love of my life to sleeping alone in someone else's living room. It would end up being one of my biggest regrets, but I decided to continue living with my ex until I could get on my feet financially and get my own place. We continued to share a bed, and after some initial discomfort, we essentially fell back into many of our old routines. So much so that I started to feel like we really had a chance to work things out.

I know now that claiming that I needed a "slow transition" out of the apartment I shared with my ex was ridiculous. My friends knew it and tried as gently as possible to point out the flaws in that line of thinking, but I secretly hoped that we would be able to reconcile if I stayed. Beyond that, though, I also wanted to feel like I still had a "home." For months before the breakup, my partner and I had lived so harmoniously together that it felt like a fairytale. To this day, we can both say that living together was one of the best things we ever did. We loved sharing a home together, and still have so many great memories from it. After the breakup, though, that rapidly changed.

Within 24 hours of ending our relationship, my ex began actively sleeping with other women. There's a chance that I would have never known, if it weren't for the fact that we still slept in the same bed every night. Obviously, as much as I tried to deny it, watching him form any kind of connection with other women right after he ripped the rug out from under me caused me to crumble. I cried all day on most days, and my mental health was rapidly deteriorating. In hindsight, I can say that my next decision only made that worse. After a few weeks of trying to cohabitate as exes, we began having sex again. I fully consented to this, and claimed that I was OK with it being a casual arrangement, but as you can probably surmise, I absolutely thought this was going to reignite the spark and bring us back together. I could not have been more wrong.

While living with my ex nearly broke me, it also taught me to never give anyone that kind of power again.

In the months that followed, I hooked up with my ex a lot. We fell into such a similar pattern of sex, date nights, and cuddling on the couch that it truly felt — to me — like getting back together was inevitable. Of course, it wasn't, and when he eventually made that clear (much to my confusion), I felt even more devastated than when he broke up with me. He strung me along, all while getting just as much sexual satisfaction from other women as he was from me. As much as I wish I could go back and slap some sense into past me for letting all of this happen, I instead hold on to it as the biggest and most painful reminder to never forget my worth. Though I allowed our connection and this arrangement to continue, my view of him has never been the same.

Luckily, the friends who offered up their guest rooms and couches still had my back even after I chose to stay in what I now know was a toxic environment. I was able to move in with one of my besties, and ended up getting a new job and finding my own apartment two months later. The idea of living fully on my own for the first time — no family or roommates or partner — was terrifying, but years later, I can now confidently say that living alone has been the best decision I've ever made. I've grown, blossomed, and thrived while cultivating my own space and learning true independence. While living with my ex nearly broke me, it also taught me to never give anyone that kind of power again, and that the relationship I should always put first is the one I have with myself.