Should You Keep The Gifts From Your Ex?

“Keep your old love letters/ Throw away your old bank statements,” it is said. Or should it be the other way around? Rings, neckpieces, jewellery boxes, books, movie box sets, clothes, CDs, love letters, dried flowers, stuffed animals, practical gifts… when you’re in a relationship, you tend to accumulate a lot of stuff. But what happens to it all if you break up? Do you just put all of the gifts and memories and things in a box, until you know for sure you are over it? Or till you don’t care and are not bothered? Do you keep one great thing from them and throw the rest out? What’s the right thing to do with the gifts from your ex? It is said that when a relationship is over, you should burn all remnants of it and sprinkle lye so nothing can grow there again. But does it really work like that? So what do you do?

Some believe that having things from a prior relationship serves the same sort of purpose as an old diary entry – you would not rip pages from your diary to simply ‘forget’ someone. That relationship happened, with the good and the bad included. Discarding anything simply because it came from a prior relationship doesn’t mean it never happened. Learning from past experience is what helps people to grow and mature. Throwing those things away might make you feel better, but it’s not like you’re discarding the memories.

For some, it would depend on the gift and relationship. Ultimately, how important was the previous relationship to you and what were the mementos? Do you have children from that previous relationship? (So, jewellery could be handed down and children might want a photo of their birth parent.) It also depends on how serious this relationship was. There is nothing ethical or unethical here. Unless it is a very expensive gift, you could go with what your heart says about your ex. Some gifts aren’t really gifts. If the gift was an engagement ring, then it would be fair to not only your current relationship mate, but also your ex, to return said gift. Basically, any high-priced item given to you as significance of the relationship between your ex and you, if it was intended to be a long-term reminder of your relationship, would benefit your current relationship if you removed it from your ownership. If your ex refuses to have it back, and if you have a bad feeling about him and its presence gives you a headache or heartache, you should just dispose it off for good. If you feel a sense of connection or feel good about it then keep it with you. You may also want to return things that were valuable to them – like their video games or books or something they might want back. Don’t keep their favourite music, for instance, or if your now-ex specifically asks for something back that is important to them, return it. That applies to things like their favourite t-shirt or a lucky cap.

It also depends on how the relationship ended. Your past makes you who you are. The people you date and the experiences you have with them, help to shape that past. If your ex had value to you, if you grew and learnt from the relationship then yes, keep them. They are physical manifestations of your emotional growth and maturity. Good or bad memories, they will mean something to you because they will remind you of paths not taken either positively or negatively. It reminds you of where you’ve been with love, and where you are at now. Even if they were really bad, it’s a good reminder of how you survived. If you can move on, keep the gifts. Without sentiment, they are just things.

Ultimately, how you feel about the person and the items will determine what you do with them. Whatever happens, don’t allow the past to hinder your present. If you continually keep going over and over the past, you will never move on to the present and that is a dangerous place to stay when you can have a perfectly wonderful relationship now – something far better than you imagined and hoped for.

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