Can moving out help a troubled relationship? 9 things to consider

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Relationships are hard.

You don’t have to tell me that. I feel like I’m an expert in troubled relationships with a Ph.D. degree, no less.

It’s especially hard when you’re on the edge of actually moving out (omg, girl!) to save your love.

Geez…I can only imagine how you feel now!

We all know that happy and healthy relationships don’t just fall into your lap. There will always be issues and struggles, and you need to put in the time and effort to make things work.

But what if you feel like moving out is the only possible solution? Can moving out help a troubled relationship? Well…It’s a big decision that can make or break your couple.

I’d like to help you with that. It is extremely hard to wrap your head around an issue as big as this.

So, let’s start with figuring out the main questions you need to ask yourself before making the move.

Ask yourself these questions before moving out

1) What were the main reasons you moved in in the first place?

People move in because of different reasons. Generally speaking, there are three main reasons why couples live together:

  • They want to spend more time with each other;
  • They want to prepare for marriage;
  • It saves money.

Ideally, you move in together for all of the above. But, out of all these three, the last one is often the most common and the most important one. 

In urban areas, the price of rent is extremely high. Sharing a room or apartment makes a lot of sense if you want to stay in the city and not break the bank.

However, what’s good for your wallet may not always be good for your relationship. 

Maybe you’re just not ready to live under one roof. Maybe you’re not ready to split the bills and household chores yet. Maybe you want more individual freedom while you’re younger.

Moving in together may sound romantic if you’re still in the honeymoon phase, but the reality is often different.

In fact, one survey found that out of 27% of its respondents who moved in with their significant other after dating for 6 months only 7% saw it as a good idea.

Another survey, yet, discovered that 40% of couples who move in with each other too early break up rather sooner than later. 

It’s all about moving in too soon in the relationship. 

Consider practical things like your lease, financial situation, and individual happiness before moving out—or moving in!

2) How will it feel like to live on your own?

If you’ve been living with your partner for a long time, living alone can feel daunting and lonely.

If you plan on moving out, you need to learn how to keep yourself busy and have a good time with yourself. 

Otherwise, you’ll just feel lonely and regret moving out (then you might move back in, getting back to all the unresolved issues that you still have with your partner).

Now that you have more time and space to spend on yourself, try to become a better person

This is a great time to practice self-improvement.

Not only will this keep you distracted, but it should also clear your mind and help you get a clearer vision of the struggles you face as a couple. 

This will eventually lead you to make a more thought-through decision about breaking up or staying together.

3) How will you fix your problems if you move out?

While you might generally believe that absence makes the heart grow fonder, ask yourself: 

Do you actually have a solid plan for how you’ll resolve your relationship’s problems with the distance that moving out gives you? 

If you don’t, then nothing will likely change. You and your partner need to have a plan of action on how to tackle your relationship woes.

If you still don’t have one, it’s a good time to think about it. 

So, in order to improve a situation, you need to look at it objectively. It’s hard to do that when you’re so emotionally invested in it.

What you need to consider is to get an outside perspective—and a professional one too.

I’m bringing this up because I genuinely believe it may be hard sometimes to wrap your head around difficulties without any help from the outside.

Because who wouldn’t agree that relationships can be confusing and frustrating at times? 

Sometimes you just hit a wall, and you really don’t know what to do next. 

So, my friend recommended this resource to me, and I can say it was a deal-breaker when I felt lost and confused in my past relationship.

Relationship Hero is all about the love coaches who aren’t just talking. They have seen it all, and they know all about how to tackle all sorts of difficult situations.

So, go ahead and use this helpful resource to connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.

Click here to check them out.

4) Are you able to go back to “phase one”?

Living together might stop you from prioritizing the relationship. After all, you “see” each other every day. However, this can be dangerous for the emotional health of the couple. 

If this is the case, moving out can help you make an effort to prioritize your partner once more, especially if your lifestyle prevented you from doing so before. 

This can be great to patch things up and “rediscover” yourselves since you’ll be meeting up on dates and not simply discussing grocery shopping while making dinner. 

5) What will you do with all your stuff?

When someone from the couple is moving out, it doesn’t necessarily mean they want to reignite the romance. Sometimes, it’s just a precursor to the break-up they plan in the near future.

Now, if this is you, trust me: the hardest thing about moving out is packing up your stuff.

If you’ve lived together long enough, then you’ll have a lot of stuff to pack. This includes some of the heart-warming things that will fill you with sadness, nostalgia, or regret once you realize you have to pack…or leave them. 

I highly recommend reaching out to a trusted friend or a family member to help you move your things. You really don’t want to ask your partner for help. 

Make sure to get everything too. You don’t want to find yourself late for work because you just realized your blow dryer is still at their house.

If you have pets, it’s even trickier. Overall, consider the logistical side of things as much as the emotional and financial ones.

6) Do you have compatible schedules, lifestyles, and intimacy needs?

If you deceive to move out and carry on with your relationship, you might soon realize that you have incompatible schedules and lifestyles. It might not have been so obvious when you lived together, but now it has become clear.

You and your partner might have:

  • Different work schedules;
  • Conflicting housekeeping preferences;
  • Varying social needs;
  • Different cleanliness tolerance levels.

Any or all of these will cause rifts between you and your partner. While it’s definitely possible to work them out, some incompatibilities are just too big to overcome.

Let’s say you work the graveyard shift while your partner has a regular 9-5. Living separate lives might make it easier for both of you to plan dates. 

On the other hand: as much as moving may help to reignite your passion, it may also be detrimental to intimacy.

For some people, moving in together made them closer and enhanced their relationship. They might find that the decreased time they have with each other after moving out hurts their emotional bond.

In the end, there is no one-size-fits-all piece of advice. Consider your own specific situation and personal needs.

7) What will you tell people who ask about it?

Prepare for mutual friends to be intrigued and ask about the situation. They’ll be curious and ask if you broke up or are still together—and probably a billion other things about your relationship.

If you don’t respond to them or give them clear answers, then they might gossip about your situation. 

But will you be willing to explain this decision to anyone while going through a tough time yourself?

Probably not. You need a considerable amount of space and time to clear your head and work things out with your partner.

If things become too negative, you can always tell your over-curious friends that you’re in a difficult place and that you simply need some time before you can give them an answer.

Overall, this isn’t that big of an issue. But it’s still best to keep it in mind and prepare for it.

8) What about the kids?

If you have kids—either the ones you have together or those you have from previous relationships—then things become much more complicated.

If any of you have kids from previous partners, it’s best to live separately. Living with your kid and your new partner may just cause a lot of issues.

So if this situation applies to you, then it’s definitely a good idea to move out.

But if you have kids together, then you need to have a good, long talk about it. Make sure to discuss the following:

  • Who will the kid stay with?
  • How often will they visit?
  • How will we both contribute to raising the kid?
  • How will the kid feel about the separation?

…and a whole lot more. Additionally, you should also ask your kid about what they think so they don’t get left out of the picture too.

9) Will your relationship survive the distance?

If you’re moving out as a way to save the relationship, I’m pretty sure you know that you will see your partner far less often than before.

While this may not be a problem if you live in the same area, things become harder the farther you live from away from each other.

One study found that couples who were more than an hour’s worth of travel away from each other had a higher chance of breaking up

This is just inevitable. Once you start to live separately, you will spend less quality time with each other. This might be difficult if you’ve gotten used to seeing your partner every day.

So before you move out, ask yourself these three things:

  • Is the relationship worth the extra effort and distance?
  • Will moving out affect your intimacy and your enjoyment of quality time with them in a negative way?
  • Do you have what it takes to maintain the relationship after getting used to cohabitation?

In my experience, moving out after years of living together will almost feel like a long-distance relationship!

Here’s what Quora user Janet Garlick, who’s a teacher and a mom, has to say about a long-distance relationship’s effect on the couple dynamics:

“I think it can actually be very helpful in some situations.

“If the relationship is troubled, it could well be that the demands and pressures of everyday life are complicating your situation and making it hard to resolve interpersonal issues.

“If you and your partner are committed to one another and love each other, a separation like this could prove helpful as long as, during the interim, you stay connected and work on the problems.

“If you are unsure about the level of commitment you want, then staying together won’t help the situation. Sharing a home requires and demands a huge investment- emotionally, financially, and otherwise.”

Concerns you might have about moving out

Can you live separately after living together?

Absolutely!

Who said couples always have to live together? Living together is not a prerequisite for a happy, healthy relationship.

It’s understandable to feel as if you’re “taking a step back” with your relationship if you move out after living together. People see cohabitation as the ultimate expression of love and compatibility.

However, I’m here to tell you now: living together isn’t necessarily an indicator of your love for each other. Couples who live together don’t necessarily love each other more and aren’t in happier relationships than those who don’t.

It’s completely okay to admit that you moved in too soon or that it’s more practical to live away from each other (for example, if your workplaces are quite far from each other).

Being able to do this while still maintaining your love for each other is actually a great sign that the two of you are in a healthy relationship!

Can you move out without breaking up?

Of course!

Again, moving out might make it feel like the relationship is going downhill. But the concept of distancing yourself more from your partner in order to help it is not an old or baseless one.

In a 2011 article in the Wall Street Journal, marriage counselors claim that trial separations can be a valuable tool when it comes to saving a marriage.

Is moving out after living together a step back in a relationship?

No, it doesn’t have to be a step back…

In fact, it just might be a step forward! Let me explain.

We’ve established that moving out can be beneficial, especially if:

  • You’ve realized that you moved in prematurely;
  • It makes better logistical, financial, or practical sense;
  • Allows you to appreciate each other’s more by not being together 24/7;
  • It brings you the space to fix both individual and relationship issues.

What’s truly a step back in your relationship is forcing cohabitation after realizing these things. It will only create new issues and/or worsen existing ones.

I’ll share someone else’s experience.

My cousin was living with his girlfriend in her apartment for a few months. However, his office was so far away from her apartment. 

He was always too tired from the daily commute to contribute to the household chores. He was also always cranky, hurting the affection between them.

Inevitably, his girlfriend grew resentful.

They decided to move out and see each other on weekends. Two years later, after focusing more on their jobs, they’re now engaged and can afford a nice house to live together in!

However, there are people who have the opposite view. For instance, let me cite Rahim Reshamwalla, who shared his thoughts:

“Yes. It is most definitely a step back…

“Here’s what I learned: You cannot go from something intimate to something casual. Moving in together is a step forward that you both embark on willingly. It is an acknowledgment that your relationship has grown to a point where you want to take the next step. Conversely, moving out is an acknowledgment that the relationship is not working.

“It is the beginning of the end of a relationship.”

While this might not be the case for everyone, it’s still helpful to learn different opinions and form your own.

The best thing you can do is discuss your thoughts with your partner in a nice way and see how you both can deal with this situation. 

How to approach the subject

Because the prospect of moving out after moving in together can feel like a step back in your relationship, it can be a tricky subject to approach. 

It’s definitely going to be a difficult conversation, so choose the right time and place to bring it up (for example, don’t bring it up during a fight!)

Do it gently and lovingly but honestly and transparently. Tell them that things have been tough and that you think moving out can help improve your relationship.

Explain to them why you think moving maybe wasn’t the right decision:

  • Maybe you moved in with each other too soon; 
  • Maybe you didn’t plan this decision thoroughly enough;
  • Maybe living with each other has worsened existing issues. 

Expect your partner to feel confused, defensive, or saddened by your decision. They might feel like you love them less and therefore want to be around them less often.

What’s important is to emphasize that it’s actually the exact opposite: you love them so much that you’re willing to do something difficult in order to improve the relationship.

Another technique you can incorporate to soften the blow is to admit your own shortcomings as well—and before you hand out any criticism yourself. 

Tell them that you need to grow as an individual first so you can be a better lover to them. 

Now, this conversation is still important regardless if you end up actually moving out or not.

Because even if you don’t move out, you are still able to bring greater awareness to the issues you face as a couple. 

You will likely have a strengthened commitment to solving these issues so that you may decide not to move out anymore.

Never shy away from difficult conversations with your partner. As hard as these conversations are, they are absolutely essential to continue nurturing the love, trust, and intimacy between the two of you.

What to do if your relationship is in a crisis

The truth is if you’re considering moving out due to problems in the relationship, then they’re probably really big problems. 

I’m talking about problems like cheating, deep frustration with sexual incompatibilities, or severe mental health issues—problems that push people to need some space and require a lot of work to overcome.

Whether you end up moving out or not because of these problems, I have 5 main tips that, in my experience, are crucial to giving you the best chance of saving your relationship.

They’re all related to rebuilding your connection with your partner.

After all, both to fix your relationship’s problems and to prevent future ones from occurring (or at least make them easier to deal with), it’s paramount that you stay affectionate and intimate with each other.

Relationship health and happiness aren’t just about the lack or management of conflict—it’s also about the levels of positive engagement you have with each other.

1) Talk more with your partner

Don’t you miss how it felt when you first met your partner? Or those first few weeks of the relationship where you talked to each other 24/7? 

While you’ll never relive the honeymoon phase, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep the flame alive. After all, our relationships are like plants that we constantly need to water.

We’re so caught up in daily stressors and the various distractions that we often forget to simply talk to our partners.

A famous series of experiments by Arthur Aron and his team found that feelings of closeness are generated through personal disclosure—or learning about each other.

So, it might be a good time to go and have that deep and meaningful conversation with your partner.

2) Say thank you for the little things

It’s in the little things—and how we react to the little things.

Make sure to always express gratitude and appreciation for the things your partner does for you. 

Even if it’s as mundane as taking the trash out, picking up that shirt you left on the floor, making you breakfast, or even driving you to work. 

It doesn’t matter if they already do it every day. Thank them every day too. This is key to the consistent atmosphere of joy and peace that is required of a good relationship.

If your relationship is experiencing a crisis, the two of you are practicing offensive or defensive behaviors. This does not build bridges at all—it actually burns them down.

Saying thank you for the little things is an incredibly simple and easy way to rebuild that connection between the two of you.

3) Rediscover physical affection

I’m not just talking about sex. In fact, many couples have this issue without them even knowing it: that touch has been relegated almost exclusively to the bedroom.

Countless studies show that expressing physical affection regularly is key to maintaining intimacy in your relationship. 

It’s not only a great way to express your love, but it’s also incredibly effective in comforting your partner in times of stress.

In fact, touch soothes your emotions and forms cooperative bonds—things crucial to a healthy relationship.

Aside from regular mutually-fulfilling sex, here are other ways you can express physical affection:

  • Kissing each other before leaving;
  • Holding hands;
  • Leaning on each other;
  • Random hugs throughout the day;
  • A hand on their thigh or forearm.

The thing is, you probably did these things earlier in the relationship. 

Who says you can’t keep doing them? 

Trust me, this is a game-changer.

The feeling of closeness this establishes will help you approach problems in an “us vs. the problem” way instead of a “you vs. me” way.

4) Celebrate and cherish each other

Being there for each other through troubling times is important. However, so is being there during the triumphant ones!

Make sure to celebrate your partner’s achievements, no matter how big or small. Regardless if it’s as big as getting a promotion or as inconsequential as improving at making the recipe they’ve always wanted to perfect.

Often times we don’t realize that we’re dismissing our partners when they share small wins with us through a lack of attention. As I said above, it’s really all about the small things.

5) Don’t stop getting to know your partner

While you might feel that you know your partner inside-out, especially if you’ve been with them for so long, we are still ever-evolving people. 

There’s always something new to learn about your partner. This is a great way to relive, at least to a limited extent, the good old days of getting to know each other.

Never stop asking your partner about their worries, passions, and desires. 

Ask them about their opinions on the new and different things you encounter in life. Ask them what they think of a certain memory you have with them. Ask them how they think they’ve changed.

And even if you already know the answer, what’s important is showing your partner that you’re still curious about them.

How to maintain your relationship while living separately

Whether you just moved out or you found yourself in a long-distance relationship after your partner finds a great job opportunity abroad, it can be hard to maintain the relationship.

Hard, but not impossible. Here are the essentials to keeping it alive amidst the distance.

Communicate frequently—but don’t overdo it

You’ve heard it before: communication is key.

With modern technology, it’s incredibly easy to communicate no matter where you are in the world. Make sure to frequently talk to each other:

  • Chat about your day;
  • Send pictures and videos;
  • Call when you can.

I’m pretty sure you know the drill.  Of course, it’s not the same as actually being together, but it’s still crucial.

Now, “frequently” will mean different things to different people. 

Some couples want to talk sporadically throughout the day. While others may find a short chat at night to be sufficient. Others need to video call during meals. 

So communicate, communicate, communicate!

But it’s not just any communication—it’s effective communication that’s key.

Most couples under-communicate with each other, but overcommunicating is also a fairly common problem.

As much as I advocate for you to talk to each other often, just don’t overcommunicate. 

You might suffocate your partner with constant texting, demanding instant replies, and calling every 20 minutes.

At the end of the day, you need to find a balance that fulfills both of your needs.

Work on improving yourself

Now that you have more time and space for yourself, you need to use it wisely. Remember that improving yourself also means being a better partner. 

Get fitter. Develop new skills. Focus on your career so you can have more financial capabilities when you move back in together.

Being in a relationship doesn’t mean compromising your own individual life. And when you do see each other again, you’ll have loads of stories to share and bond over with your partner.

Speak to a professional

Once again, handling situations like moving out may be too much for you to navigate through. Sometimes, it may feel like you’re lost between the good and the bad and don’t clearly understand anymore what’s better for you and your relationship.

If that’s the case, I advise you to speak to a professional about your situation.

This way, you can get advice specific to your life and your experiences…

Relationship Hero is a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations. 

It’s a very popular and highly helpful resource for people facing all sorts of challenges in their relationships.

How do I know?

I personally reached out to them when I had a troubling decision to make, and I have to tell you, they’ve helped me to define my priorities and clear up my head.

I’ve received some great advice and was able to move on with my relationship without making tons of stupid mistakes.

So, visit the website if you want to connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.

Click here to get started.

Before you move out of the article…

Moving out might be a difficult, complicated, and even painful decision.

However, if you feel like it’s best for your relationship—or even just for yourself—then it’s a step you need to take.

And once again, it doesn’t even have to be a step backward! Ultimately, it’s what you make of the situation at hand.

Just because you can’t live with someone right now doesn’t mean you can’t eventually live with them in the future. So, listen to your heart, communicate with your partner, and you’ll make the right choice! 

You’ve got this!

Can a relationship coach help you too?

If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.

I know this from personal experience…

A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.

If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.

In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.

I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.

Click here to get $50 off your first session (exclusive offer for Hack Spirit readers).

Anna Dovbysh

With 8 years of writing experience and a deep interest in psychology, relationship advice, and spirituality, Anna’s here to shine a light on the most interesting self-development topics and share some life advice. She's got a Master's Degree in International Information and is a life-long learner of writing and storytelling. In the past, she worked on a radio station and a TV channel as a journalist and even tought English in Cambodia to local kids. Currently, she's freelancing and traveling around the globe, exploring new places, and getting inspired by the people she meets and the stories they tell. Subscribe to her posts and get in touch with her on her social media!

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