Breaking up is hard. It’s even harder when you add the discomfort of dividing the stuff that kind of belongs to both of you.
From furniture and DVDs to mutual friends and shared pets, it can be tough working out how to deal with all the shared stuff during a breakup (even while you’re struggling with the emotional stuff).
Who Gets the Stuff?
Over the course of a relationship, you can accumulate a lot of stuff. Whether you merged assets when you moved in together or started fresh with new furniture, it’s never easy to divvy up the possessions you’ve shared.
Some things are easier to say goodbye to (we’re looking at you, full-length Justin Bieber poster), while others can spark extra disagreements when you need them least. To help make the process a bit easier, we’ve put together a list of negotiation methods that could help turn your potential conflict into a reasonable compromise.
Make a list of who bought what
They made fun of your receipt-hoarding habit, but who’s laughing now? The easiest (and probably least emotional) way to divide your stuff is to give each item to the person who bought it. Jot down a list of the things you each bought to determine who owns what. Even if you don’t have receipts to refer to, you can probably remember which purchases were yours.
For items with a hazy history or that were bought together, keep reading.
Give things to the person who uses them most
So you purchased a pointlessly big Hi-Fi system and haven’t personally used it in years, but your ex gladly blasts their music collection through it daily. If you don’t really use it, don’t keep it – let the sad sap have the dang CD player (how else will they cry to End of the Road by Boyz II Men?).
If one of you purchased an item that the other uses or enjoys more regularly, use your common sense (and common courtesy) to allocate it to its new owner. Sometimes it’s better to skip the technicalities.
Split shared items evenly
Items you’ve bought together should, in an ideal world, be split up evenly. Don’t rush in and claim all of the big-ticket items for yourself – take turns choosing larger items (e.g. couch, dining set, whitegoods) to ensure you each have your fair share. A little bit of compromise will make for a smoother process, so don’t ask for more than your half of the big stuff. And remember: just because you licked it doesn’t mean it’s yours.
Heartbreak hack: Holding onto an item that brings back painful memories? Sell it online or at a garage sale and put the past behind you.
Who Gets the Friends?
No, we’re not talking about the TV show boxset. That’s obviously yours.
You probably have a lot of people in common – that kind of just happens when you’re in a relationship. Sharing mutual friends after a breakup can be tricky. In some cases, one of you will have to say goodbye. In others, you can both maintain the relationship by following some ground rules.
Consider whose friend they were first
You may have to accept that the people you met through your ex will become a part of your past. If your ex isn’t comfortable with you hanging out with their best friend since kindergarten now that you’ve split, you should respect that.
Parents are an obvious no-go zone – there is nothing more awkward than running into your mum having coffee with your ex. Know when to bow out gracefully.
Keep talk of your ex off-limits
If you do decide to maintain your separate relationships with the same person, keep each other out of it. Asking how your ex is going can make your mutual friend feel uncomfortable, and complaining about your ex is a definite no-no (save that for your own friends and family – and don’t forget the wine).
Heartbreak hack: Removing certain people from your life can be tough, but it also gives you more time to spend with other people who are important to you (which is exactly what you’ll need right after a breakup).
Who Gets the Dog?
While sharing custody of your pet may seem like the obvious solution, this can sometimes lead to bigger problems. Not only does it keep you and your ex connected (which can be tough if your relationship ended on bad terms), but it also tends to breed resentment.
When it comes to your furry or feathered friend, you should leave them with the person who is most able to take care of them. Factors including living environment and working hours usually indicate who is more capable of caring for an animal. It can be hard to say goodbye, but if it’s best for your pet, it’s the right thing to do.
Heartbreak hack: If you happen to be the ex with a busier schedule and you have to hand your pet over, you have two options. 1: go to a shelter and adopt a new best friend, or 2: take advantage of having one less responsibility and go on that overseas trip you’ve always dreamed of.
Dividing your stuff doesn’t have to be an emotional roller-coaster that comes off its tracks, ending in flames and devastation. Who needs your ex’s stupid sofa when you can get a new sofa that looks like a pizza? Single life isn’t looking so bad now, is it?