DEAR NATALIE: My girlfriend and I (we've been dating for about a year and a half) just split up two weeks ago but we are still living together. We just grew apart and while we both want to stay in the apartment, we can't afford it without the other person, and this is lending itself to some weird nights. My mom told me I need to just move out, but I think she should have to because it was my apartment first. What should I do? -- STAYING PUT
DEAR STAYING PUT: It all depends on how many more weird nights you want to have together. Do either of you have any prospects for a roommate? In order to stay in the apartment, the person who has a friend who wants to move in should be the one who gets to stay. I know you feel as though you have dibs on the space, but if both your names are on the lease, at this point the place is fair game. Personally, I would want a fresh start and wouldn't want to stay there because of the memories, but not everyone is so sentimental. The other thing you can do is both move out and find new places that you can afford on your own -- which is challenging in today's modern rental world -- or both agree to stay and just be friends. (And I can hear some of my readers snickering at that thought right now, especially if the space is a one bedroom).
At the end of the day, you have broken up. So, unless you aren't really ready to move on from one another -- you need to both move on. Ask her what her thoughts are on finding a roommate, and see who comes up with one first. Then, the other person will have to leave. But because it seems like an amicable split, perhaps whoever is staying could help the other with some moving costs, such as part of the security deposit, or helping to get a moving van. Some people might think that's weird, but a lot of relationships simply evolve and don't blow up. You can remain civil and friendly during this tricky situation and come out on the other side as friends(ish). But whatever you decide, do it now, not in two months. There is a shelf life to this, after all.
Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to email@example.com or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)