Relationships are expensive. And a breakup can be just as costly. Nearly everyone nods at that statement.
Let’s assume a good portion of the money spent in relationships is spent on gifts. This is ‘Murica after all. We love consumerism! So this leads us to wonder: “What do you do with gifts after a breakup? What is the breakup etiquette?”
Should You Return Old Gifts?
In movies, people burn the old gifts after they break up. I did that once. But it would arguably be better to simply give the stuff away to someone who doesn’t have the associated memories. That’s not a bad plan. Returning gifts after a breakup doesn’t seem bad, either. You could also put the memories aside and keep everything. But what about selling the stuff?
The idea of listing gifts on eBay first popped into my head after breaking up with a girl who gave me a silver money clip from Tiffany & Co.
I never used it. It was just a reminder of how little she knew me. I know she loved sparkly things that came in little blue boxes, but that’s not my style. And not only did I not use it, but to this day, it tarnishes every six months. Then I have to polish it back to life.
I’m a bit of a minimalist, so I don’t like things just lying around. Especially things from past girlfriends. What to do, what to do…?
I thought about selling it, but that seemed shallow, for some reason. And yet, whenever I have a feeling like this that I can’t fully explain, it’s usually silly. Would selling it really be a bad thing? Is there such a thing as breakup etiquette?
Selling Gifts After a Breakup: What is the Protocol?
Turning the possession into cash can sometimes serve as a soothing balm on some hurt feelings.
“Different people feel differently about breakups,” says professional life coach, Amy Schoen of Motivated to Marry. “If it was a horrible breakup and you don't want to have any reminders of that person, I recommend you donate or sell an item. It may be helpful to get rid of that reminder.”
I think this is good news for anyone who feels bad selling an old gift. As I mentioned earlier, I felt bad about selling old gifts, but I didn’t have a way to explain why. It is far too difficult to put breakup etiquette to words.
Of course, not every relationship ends badly, and if the gift is the result of a relationship that ended on good terms, you may want to reconsider selling.
“However, sometimes a relationship just can’t work out,” Schoen says. “The person wasn’t horrible; it just was a timing issue or a realization that they were not a good fit for the long haul. So, depending on how much the gift means to you, if the breakup was not traumatic, then you may want to keep the item.”
Not Sure Where to Sell Items?
If you do choose to sell the gift, there are many resources to help you do it. Auction sites like eBay, Amazon, or Craigslist may be helpful, and they can be a great way to clear your home of reminders, while also providing you with a great way to stay financially secure.
Of course, if you want to have a little more fun with it, the website Never Liked It Anyway will help you sell your gifts with the catch that you share the story of the gift and the breakup first. This is the perfect chance to vent some breakup anger, while also refilling your wallet! It may be a bit of a violation of breakup etiquette, but it sure is a fulfilling one!
However, while you can sell your gifts, there is also the option of renting them out. While this is a bit more of a hassle than just selling it, renting out equipment can be a great way to increase your monthly income over a long period of time, which could be more useful than a potentially smaller lump sum.
If you do choose this option, Fat Llama can be a good place to start looking for potential renters.
Another option, if you don’t want to sell or rent the gifts, is to donate them. This can help get you past the feeling of violating breakup etiquette. Donating clothes, jewelry, or other items can be a great help to families in need, especially those struggling in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.
Donations can also help your finances, as charitable contributions can be deducted from your taxes.
Each donation can be deducted by fair market value, according to the Internal Revenue Service, so you will be saving money and helping a struggling family all at the same time.
Organizations like Goodwill offer receipts as proof of your donation, so there is no need to worry about whether or not you will have to prove your contribution.
Visit a Pawn Shop
Given the COVID-19 crisis, it’s not likely you’ll want to host a yard sale anytime soon. Instead, an option could be to sell your gifts at the nearest pawn shop. This way you never need to worry about shipping or delivering your items. Instead, you can drop off your things, get paid, and leave without much hassle at all.
This is an easy way to clear your home of gifts from a former relationship, while also getting paid!
The Bottom Line
Breaking up can be extremely emotionally impactful, and it can also cause serious financial disruption. So why not take advantage of the gifts those relationships left behind? Selling or renting out old gifts can be a great balm to your feelings and your wallet.