Returning an ex's stuff can be tough for multiple reasons. One: You probably don't want to pay a visit to that person post-breakup. Two: You may be feeling a little too petty to be generous at the moment. And three: You might just want to keep all the gifts and belongings left behind by your ex simply because you like them. But as tempting as it can be to keep your ex's cozy college crewneck, giving things back to your ex after a breakup is sometimes a lot less painful than having an ex-lover's things hanging around your place.
Just think about it: Do you really want to continue wearing that sterling silver necklace or that oversized sweatshirt knowing that they were given to you (or, worse, actually belonged to) a person who broke your heart? I dove deep into the AskWomen breakup thread on Reddit to find stories from women who actually made the bold decision to return something to their ex and — as painful as it may have been to return something that once meant a lot to them — these women all found the experience to be pretty cathartic. (But that doesn't mean it wasn't also totally awkward.)
This Heart-Wrenching Reminder
I only returned one thing: a ring. I had the same ring on for 13 years until it broke and it meant a lot to me — I never took it off. Unfortunately, it was cheap and beyond repair. My ex knew I want something with as much sentimental value to me, so he bought me a ring so that I always know he's with me and he loves me. When he broke my heart, I gave him back the ring because it lost all of its value.
Everything else he ever gave me I put away in the back of the drawer until I am ready to wear it again. Six months later, still can't look at any of it... I will one day though.
This Reluctant Return
[I gave my ex back] all of his things, including a very good bottle of bourbon. That was a challenge to hand over.
This Rational Reasoning
I've only given one thing back to an ex. Usually they were gifts that they wouldn't have wanted back, though admittedly I held onto one thing out of spite (I was young). Anyway, I gave my most recent ex back an 'ARMY' T-shirt that he got me. I knew that I was just going to either wear it and get sad, or see it and get sad. It was unisex sizing so I figured he could re-gift it.
This Heartbreaking Heirloom
I kept my engagement ring because it is a rare stone I will have re-set one day. It is a rare type of sapphire and I just really love the stone.
Gave the wedding ring back though because his vows did not mean sh*t. Felt good.
...I was given an antique jewelry box that belonged to his great grandmother. I gave it back because I felt it needed to stay in the family, and I wasn't in the family anymore.
This Dusty Dis
I chucked his jumper underneath my bed [because] I didn't want to see it. The next week when I had the chance, I retrieved it. It was covered with dust bunnies, and I chucked it in a bag with his cologne and dropped it off his house.
This Painful Present
Some of the coolest gifts anyone's given me were from my ex. When I ended things, I gave them back to him. He found a recording of the first lunar landing on vinyl and it was honestly the BEST present I've ever received, but every time I looked at it, I thought of the time we listened to it and fell asleep on my couch together. Was too sad.
This Pricey Package
Initially [my ex's stuff] went in a box in the basement.
After feeling a little more emotionally ready, I evaluated the things I had and whether I wanted to keep it or move it along. Some stuff had zero sentimental value and had use so I kept it; other things I moved along to friends or donated.
The only thing I dealt with immediately was my engagement ring, which I sent back to him via courier.
This Broken Promise
I have such awesome stuff from my exes that I just don't want to get rid of it. My ex from high school gave me an Xbox 360 and a computer. My most recent ex gave me a laptop and a Nintendo DS... like hell I'm getting rid of that.
It really depends on how bad the breakup was and how I feel about the situation. I had a 'promise' ring from an ex that I gave back to him because it was just too painful to look at. But if it was just a sweet gift, I'll keep it and wear it.
This Regretful Gesture
Cards and small mementos are in my lifelong memories box. Occasionally I go through it and chuck things that are no longer meaningful to me.
Useful or wearable gifts I kept as long as I still liked them. If I was mad at the ex, I saw them as spoils of war, and if we were cool, then no harm in keeping something I like.
The one thing I did get rid of was a diamond tennis bracelet from my a*sh**e ex. I gave it back to him when he broke up with me, saying I didn't feel right keeping it. It was honestly a guilt trip attempt on my part, and today I wish I had kept it, because I don't think I will ever have anything that nice again, since neither I nor my husband would consider it a good use of our finite money.
This Stress Reliever
My ex gave me a promise ring for Christmas. I kept it for a while after we broke up, but inevitably I gave it back, although it was a fairly expensive ring (which stressed me out even at the time).
These Not-So-Precious Pearls
When we were dating, jewelry came up eventually and he asked how I liked pearls. I was honest and told him that pearls aren't my thing. They never have been. Plus, I tend to be picky with my jewelry and would prefer to have input on it.
So naturally on one of his deployments, he bought me this MASSIVE string of pearls in Hong Kong and paid a pretty penny for them. Now, don't get me wrong, they're absolutely beautiful and lovely, but they're not me.
So when we were split up and I was packing to move out here, he goes, 'Hey, so all that jewelry I bought you that you don't wear... can I have it back maybe? You know, since you don't want it or wear it?'
...did I mention that while we were going to marriage counseling I found out that he'd been seeing another woman?
I wonder what he wanted those pearls for?
I told him to pound sand and that those pearls were MINE and no, you can't have those. Now they're at my parents in their safe and I still don't wear them. Petty? Yep. Do I care? Nope.
But I sure gave him back the jewelry he gave me while we were dating that I told him multiple times that I didn't want him to buy me because I didn't like it. (Bonus: This included a small set of pearls, too. I told him I wouldn't wear those either.)
I still have my engagement ring and fancy band. I don't know what I'm doing with those yet. I have thoughts on having them redesigned into something but haven't gotten around to it. The initial courthouse band is somewhere in the Puget Sound. It was cathartic.
This Wise Investment
I gave back a silver ring that was his mom's and pawned everything else for $110. I used the cash to buy the first two seasons of Game of Thrones on Blu-ray.
The more sentimental value you attach to something, the more difficult it might be to let it go. But even if it's super uncomfortable to actually do, returning something that once belonged to an ex is totally worth the weirdness.