Breakup Etiquette: Should You Return Gifts After a Breakup?

Breakup Etiquette: Should You Return Gifts After a Breakup?

•  3 minute read

What do you do with expensive gifts when you break up? Smash them? Re-gift them? Put them on eBay? Here's a guy's view.

Relationships are expensive. And a breakup can be just as costly. Nearly everyone nods at that statement. And to add to the pain, most relationships don’t last. You’re probably nodding again. So this brings up an interesting point: Let’s assume a good portion of the money spent in relationships is spent on gifts. This is ‘murica after all. We love consumerism. This then leads us to an interesting question of, “Should you return gifts after a breakup?”

 

Should You Return Gifts After a Breakup?

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 how little she got 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 and 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?

 

What’s the Breakup Etiquette for Gifts? A Poll

I took to social media with this question to see what other millennials do with their old gifts from past partners. Of the 22 responses I gathered, here are the results:

Keep: 13

Sell: 5

Sell and split the profits: 1

Depends on how it ended: 1

Regift: 1

Throw a séance and burning party: 1

An overwhelming majority of the people I know have had really amicable breakups. That, or they are just really good at dissociating their feelings when they break up. As one person said, “A good wallet is a good wallet!”

Most people I know keep the items without a care. And if they didn’t particularly like the item, they had absolutely no problem giving it a price tag. Not a single person said it was uncouth to sell an item from a past partner. (Some people will even sell a wedding ring or dress after a divorce.)

 

Selling Gifts After a Breakup

Of the people who decided to sell, they said they had no regrets. They could get paid to get rid of the object that reminded them of a past relationship. The new owner could then enjoy the item without the negative associations.

Turning the possession into cash may also be a soothing balm on some hurt feelings.

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.

And since logic should trump emotion (I believe, anyway), I’m right to go with my head (and my peers) and sell anything I have that I don’t want to keep using rather than keeping or returning gifts after a breakup.

 

Final Thoughts on the Breakup Etiquette for Gifts

I’m looking through my stuff, and I’ve come back to the Tiffany & Co. money clip. I’m cool with selling it. Though I’ve noticed a problem: it’s monogrammed with my initials – “WEL.” So if anyone reading this wants a never-used money clip and has the same initials as me, let me know! You could also give it as a gift to your current partner. Though if you two don’t work out, he’ll likely have no problem selling it.