Thursday, April 29, 2010

Breakup Babble: Getting Back Your Stuff

The early 2000s faux boy band 2ge+her said it best: the hardest part of breaking up is getting back your stuff.

After all, you’re probably engaged in an intensely personal heated argument, and there’s a good chance that one or both of you is crying. It might not seem like the best time to ask for your Arrested Development DVDs.

Or maybe he just has a few of your old sweatshirts that don’t seem important enough to retrieve in the moment. But then after a few weeks of not talking and really missing the sound of his voice (but not wanting to be the one to initiate communication), you suddenly remember the sweatshirts and think that this would be a perfect excuse to talk to/see him again without looking desperate.

Except that you will. When you ask him to return your copy of House of Leaves, you might as well be asking him to coffee (which is, essentially, what you’re doing, unless you ask him to mail your stuff, which you know he’s never going to agree to anyway).

And if he knows you’re thinking about all the stuff of yours he has, it’s not hard to figure out that you’re thinking about him. Which you don’t want, no matter how badly you want to get back together with him.

On the other hand, if he has the David Yurman bracelet your parents gave you for your 18th birthday, you should get that back.

Returning possessions is a practical and necessary component to any breakup convo. He might say something like, “You’re breaking my heart, and all you can think about is your stuff???” (especially if you initiated the split), but it’s one of those messy conversations that has to happen.

Besides, it’s a breakup—it’s not like the conversation’s going spectacularly to begin with.

At the same time, it probably is a little petty/insensitive to ask to take your Trader Joe’s frozen dinners in the freezer (unless you’re getting dumped, in which case, grab the stuff that he paid for too).

In an ideal world, we’d start taking our stuff home, piece by piece, as soon as we saw the first warning signs. But breakups are rarely that predictable and usually require a bit more thinking on your feet.

Don’t mention your belongings the moment one of you decides that “it’s over.” Let each party indulge in a cathartic rant/emotional breakdown/stunned silence. But when the conversation starts to get repetitive and unhealthy, say something like, “I think we both need some time to cool off. In the mean time, I want to give you your stuff back.”

If you mention it, the other person is usually more likely to one-up you. After all, if you’re so desperate to get rid of the teddy bear he gave you, he doesn’t want to look like a sentimental schmuck for holding onto your laptop, right?

OK, it might not be that easy, but ask for all valuables up-front. You have every right to ask him to return expensive jewelry and electronics. If you don’t remember it until later, make plans to pick it up as soon as you remember it. And don’t make “plans” plans. Don’t ask him to meet you at Starbucks with a bag of your stuff. Text him at 4 p.m. and say something like, “Just remembered that I left my iPod at your place. Can I stop by at 7 to get it?”

And then do just that: stop by. Don’t linger. Don’t sit down. You don’t want to leave your dignity at his apartment, because that’s not something you can retrieve later.

But if he has books or costume jewelry that can, theoretically, be replaced, let him keep it. There are few material possessions that can’t be replaced with time and money. And while you’re probably short on both commodities, your pride isn’t something you can buy the next time you get a raise.

Asking for insignificant items might make you look (and feel) like you’re not over the split. And in a breakup, who wants to prolong the pain?

1 comment:

  1. This is ridiculous.

    I would NEVER leave my Arrested Development DVDs at someone else's place.