Jessica Kidby feared her relationship was doomed when her boyfriend Leo asked her to move out of their home.
Feeling ‘super hurt’ and fretting about their relationship, she did – but was unsure what the decision spelt for their so-called future.
But now, she admits it saved their relationship – and claims it now made their relationship stronger, as it prompted her to work on her mental health.
Now the couple has moved back in together but are happy to admit that living apart worked extremely well for them.
Jessica, 20, and Leo Hounslow-Caracciolo, 22, had been together for six months before they decided to move in together in October 2020.
But they found themselves squabbling constantly, over a series of mundane issues, which soon cast a shadow over their relationship.
They’d bicker over who should cook dinner or washing, and would fall out when one would leave a mess.
Fears over co-dependency caused rows too, as did when one had to work long hours leaving the other at home.
Fed up, Leo ended up asking Jessica to move out of the apartment a year later – leaving Jessica feeling despondent.
Jessica said: “I admit I was super super hurt at first and then I realised maybe it would be good for us.
“Leo pretty much just explained where his head was at, telling me he still loved me and he wanted things to go back to the way they were when we first met.
“He said he was stressed because of his job and he struggled coming home sometimes if I was in a bad mood.
“I pretty much told him that I understood and that not living together would probably be a good step in our relationship for me to work on my mental health and myself as a person.
“We both agreed we would still be boyfriend and girlfriend, we would just live separately for a little bit.
Looking back, Jessica, a support worker and psychology student, says she can see how the cracks in their relationships developed.
Jessica and Leo met through a mutual friend back in May 2020 when the pair were both living in New Zealand with Jessica living with family and Leo staying with two friends.
Smitten with each other, the happy couple decided to move in together with Leo’s friend and his girlfriend after just six months together but cracks soon started to appear.
Jessica admitted: “It was really good at first and then slowly we realised that I was becoming pretty co-dependent and he was getting overwhelmed about it.
“We had also just come back from a holiday in Australia where we spent two weeks with each other, pretty much were together 24/7, so when we got back, it was hard for us to adjust and ended up causing arguments.
“We were just arguing about stupid things. I was annoyed that he wouldn’t cook and he often got annoyed that my side of the room was a mess.
“I’m a pretty messy person in terms of my bedroom and he’s super tidy so he would get annoyed about that.
“In terms of co-dependency, I didn’t care about him going out without me – I just didn’t have many friends due to moving from Australia, so when I was by myself, I would get angry at him because I was lonely.
“It was really hard moving out & definitely felt like a break up. I was really scared that I might end up losing him – that was also really eye opening and made me realise I needed to work on myself to be a better girlfriend for him. I needed the wake up call.
“All my family was really supportive, they all loved, and still love, Leo.
“My friends, on the other hand, definitely thought it was a bit weird. None of them had been through a similar situation except for one who said that she did a similar thing with her partner – they went on a break and have now been together for like seven years.”
Leo asked Jessica to move out during an argument on his lunch break that ended in floods of tears.
He returned to work while Jessica headed to her family’s house where they both calmed down before discussing the idea of living separately in a difficult phone call.
Petrochemical electrician and business student Leo said: “I was constantly stressed and tired from work as I worked 15 hour days, and I would come home to her being upset or annoyed about something.
“I think this was because of the stress from her job as well as never seeing me because of my job.
“I suggested she move back to her family’s house so we could try to work on our relationship and have some time to both to work on ourselves.
“I was pretty confident it would do us good. I knew she still loved me a lot and I still loved her. I wasn’t sure how it would work but I wasn’t scared of her breaking up with me.”
Jessica moved back in with her family in New Zealand whilst Leo stayed in the apartment they had previously shared and the couple worked on their relationship from separate homes.
Now eight months since making the difficult decision, the pair have both moved to Brisbane, Australia, and say that living separately made their relationship stronger than ever.
They recently moved back in together having worked on the issues that arose in their first attempt and are both feeling way happier this time around.
Jessica said: “Living apart, we enjoyed each other’s company a lot more and there were barely – if any – arguments any more.
“I also got closer with my friends again which was really nice.
“Leo and I still hung out quite a lot when we weren’t living together – we probably saw each other the same amount we did whilst still living together, but when we saw each other now, we were both happier and less stressed.
“Now living together again after that break, it’s honestly amazing
“We still get in little arguments about things, like washing and cooking, but we now know how to communicate better with each other and not just get angry about the small things.
“I am happy we decided to live separately after living together – it definitely helped our relationship.
“We communicate better, we know how to give each other space without getting mad at one another, we appreciate each other a lot more, we don’t argue over silly things and we’re just overall a lot happier as a couple and as individuals.
“I don’t think we would do it again – we have learnt how to grow together now instead of apart and we know how to communicate a lot better so I think we wouldn’t need to.”
Leo said: “Living apart was definitely a lot better than the last few weeks of living together.
“We pretty much still did everything together but there were less arguments and less stress.
“It was definitely hard though – I wasn’t used to not seeing her before bed or when I woke up.
“It definitely made us a stronger couple as well as better people individually so I am happy I did it.
“It’s a lot better living together this time round. We definitely aren’t perfect but we argue a lot less and are both better communicators.
“I don’t see things going back to how they were before, but if it did, I would probably just stay at my family’s house for a couple of nights until we both had time to cool off. I can’t see us needing to live separate for as long as we did the first time.