After splitting up, some couples make a clean break. But others are in unavoidable situations, forced to cohabit with their ex-partner – and this may get worse.

When Chantal Tucker broke up with her long-term partner, she immediately started to look for a new place to live. Tucker, 37, who co-owned a flat in London with her boyfriend of five years, hoped her now-ex would buy her out, and even got as far as putting down a deposit on a room in a shared house. But when the pandemic hit, the arrangement fell through.

“We both agreed that the easiest thing was for me to stay put until the situation with Covid became clearer,” she says.

For a few months, the pair were able to live apart, with her remaining in their jointly-owned flat, as Tucker’s ex decided to stay with his parents for the duration of lockdown in order to assist with his mum’s medical needs. But six months later and with lockdowns lifting, they made an unconventional decision for going forward.

“I knew that I would never be able to afford to buy property again, and the prospect of renting in London forever was increasingly unpleasant,” she says. “My ex and I talked quite a bit during this time, and eventually he decided to move back into our flat.”

Since then, Tucker and her ex-partner have remained living together. They sleep in separate bedrooms, and even recently got a couple of cats to complete the set-up. And although their decision is unconventional, they are far from alone. A recent survey from British real-estate company Zoopla, seen by BBC Worklife, shows that a third of the 500 respondents who purchased a home with a partner and then broke up continue to co-habit. One in eight even still share a bed. For some, like Tucker, the experience is amicable, but a startling 91% of cohabiting exes reported that they have not been able to remain diplomatic, and 22% described the situation as “excruciating”.

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