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Hey, Carolyn! So I'm currently living with a boyfriend of about four years; we've had ups and downs, broken up and gotten back together a few times. We moved in together over the summer, and for me at least I knew it would be instructive in understanding if there's a future in this relationship.

As it turns out, I'm sure that I don't see a future with this man. We have different behaviors: I'm social, typically wanting to see friends at least once a week; he will go months between happy hours or other stuff. Different priorities: I'm a believer in traveling/experiencing things now, he's much more of the "save now, play later" school. We even want to be in different places: I just took a great new job and like where we are, he is ready to move to a state with a lower cost of living as soon as possible.

I also find him a generally negative person — I get a little tired of hearing about terrible things around the world basically every night when I come home. To be fair, he might accuse me of being Mary Sunshine. I wouldn't disagree.

Our lease is up in a few months. Would you recommend ending things on the now-ish side, and have a few months where we're either living together awkwardly or someone ends up paying for two apartments or whatever, or whenever the lease comes to us for renewal, ending things then? I can survive through the lease; I'm not at physical risk at this point. I just want to be considerate about this.

— Breaking Up

Breaking Up: You will have a few months where you’re either “living together awkwardly” or paying double if you break up now, yes — but if you wait to break up, isn’t that also “living together awkwardly”? With a lie of omission on top?

With very few exceptions, the time to break up is when you know you want to break up. It’ll be hard, I’m sorry — but if you can afford a few months of extra rent, I suspect it’ll feel like money very well spent.

Re: Breaking up: "I'm not at physical risk at this point" strikes me as a red flag that didn't get addressed in your response.

— Anonymous

Anonymous: I took it at face value — that staying is not a safety issue — but if there’s a “yet” element, then, National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE.

To all the unhappy cohabitators: I was you, once, and engaged, too. I remember feeling like the energy required to break up was more than I could muster. All the wedding details to unwind, moving apartments, the heartbreak of the actual breakup. I remember feeling like I just didn't have the power to stop the gathering momentum.

The way I solved it was just saying the words out loud, first to my mom, then to my fiance. "I don't want to get married." And then the rest, it just happens. Hard, yes, but possible. Just saying this in case it helps someone muster up the courage to make a hard choice.

— Out Loud

Out Loud: This is so helpful, thank you.

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