So, you and your once-significant broke up. Ouch. Once the tissue boxes are empty, the last pint of Ben and Jerry’s scraped barren, and the Death Cab for Cutie playlist decidedly played out, you’re going to realize it: the vaunted “exchanging of valuable s**t you left at one another’s cribs” still awaits you. Bummer. Time to throw that fifty-pound weight off your chest and act like a grown-up, because there is simply no parting with your favorite pair of sweats. Fear not: help is on the way in the form of this veritable how-to-guide on retrieving post-breakup collateral in a manner as painless as possible.
Related: The 5-Step Breakup Recovery Plan
Just follow these guidelines:
1. “Wait for the rage to subside.”
Especially if any of the possessions you are retrieving break easily when hurled against a wall.
2. “But don’t wait too long.”
As in, you don’t want this awkward little act of diplomacy to be construed as a ploy to reconnect.
3. “Decide what you actually need.”
If the things he/she is holding ransom don’t amount to much value — monetary or sentimental — your best option might be to skip the handoff altogether.
4. “Send a text.”
If the mere sound of his/her voice is going to trigger the waterworks, keep things formal and practical with a brief text. Asking the person to gather your things and leave them at the door might not be a bad idea, either, depending on the bitterness of your situation.
5. “Get in, get out.”
Limiting face-to-face interaction will diminish the probability of lots of things, namely a nasty fight or a regrettable episode of breakup (or make-up) sex. Unless you’re fishing for that kind of thing — which we patently don’t recommend, but hey, it’s your life.
6. “Keep gifts, return heirlooms.”
Tiffany’s bracelet: yours. Grandma Tiffany’s bracelet: not yours.
7. “If your ex demands a gift back, take the high road.”
The legal ramifications here can get a little tricky, and even vary from state to state. Apparently engagement rings are considered “conditional gifts” in some jurisdictions, meaning possession doesn’t actually trade hands until after the wedding day. Most gifts, though, become the property of the recipient upon receipt. Still, if an ex insists you return something, it might be easier to acquiesce and move on.
8. “Find a good place for anything left over.”
What to do with the unclaimed orphans of your breakup? Well, if it’s a child or a pet, you need to be responsible adults and parse out custody as you see fit. But in the case of material goods, box them up or, better yet, send them to a charity or a consignment shop. Out of sight, out of mind.