Who gets the stuff?

| August 05, 2009

Dear Carolyn,

My boyfriend and I finally broke up for good this time. It was the right thing to do and while I would not call us “friends” I will say that we wish the best for the other. He’s a long haul trucker and as you know, he’s gone all the time. My problem is how do I handle the giving back of the stuff? We didn’t live together but he kept a bunch of his stuff at my place. I’m not exactly sure what the rules are for this part. A lot of our things are mingled together. I don’t want to make this any harder than it has to be but if we are going to make a clean break, we need to finish the task. My girlfriends say just throw his stuff out on the front lawn. I’m not going to do that.
Please help. He reads your column all the time so he’ll go along with whatever you say.

Angie

Dear Angie,
I’m very glad you asked me this very reasonable question. I’ve seen the dividing of the stuff take all kinds of directions and the throwing out on the front lawn is one that can result in simmering hostilities. Don’t do that.
Do this. Get a pad of post it notes and make two piles. One pile is clearly marked His. The other one requires some discussion. Invite him over during the day to go through the discussion pile. In that pile you should have the things you got together and things you got or gave as gifts.

It sounds like you are in a good enough place that you can calmly go through the second pile. If not, use the sticky notes to mark the items you are not sure about. Example: I want the toaster oven because my mom gave it to us and you don’t like toast.
Or, You can have the crappy Brittney Spears CD’s and I’ll take the Beatles vinyl.
And so forth and so on.
Remember, it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you handle what happens to you. So be calm. Be friendly. Be firm. And mostly; get it done.
I’m just say’n.