Should you keep the stuff your ex gives you? - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Should you keep the stuff your ex gives you?

I heard an advertisement on the radio recently urging people to come to this jewelry convention where they take your old jewelry and turn it into new, updated pieces.  I’m not really a jewelry person, more of a “one necklace” kind of gal. Currently that necklace is a monogram that my boyfriend’s grandmother gave me for Christmas, and it doesn’t have any jewels or anything so there’s no need to turn it into anything new.

I’m assuming the jewelry convention is geared toward people who have valuable jewelry with gemstones, and most people who have jewelry with gemstones are women, and most of those women probably got that jewelry from a man. That got me thinking about the jewelry that had been given to me over the years by exes. It’s not much, but the stuff I did get was pretty nice. I know I had a pair of diamond earrings at one point, and a tennis bracelet, and some rings (not engagement rings, just rings with my birthstone or something).

trash-giftsOver the years I’ve gotten rid of all that stuff, along with other gifts I received as well – stuffed animals, mix tapes, clothing, etc – along with pictures, notes, cards and letters. My mother, the most sentimental person on planet Earth, would probably tsk-tsk me if she knew (which she does now because she reads all of my blogs – sorry Mom).

And I know just how our argument would go too: she would say I shouldn’t throw it away because what if I want to show my children someday – an argument she somehow finds valid for saving everything from childhood. One day she found me tossing old drawings I had made when I was like, three, and she nearly screamed. I said, “Mom, it’s a line and a circle that you wrote ‘puppy’ under. I think we can spare it if it means I don’t have to lug fourteen boxes labeled ‘Emily’s Special Box’ to my 500 square-foot apartment.”

I am not completely devoid of sentiment. I still have the first flower my boyfriend ever gave me, sappy cards and notes from him, clothing and other things he has bought for me. But it’s all from my current boyfriend, not the exes. Once the ex is out the door, all the stuff goes with him. I don’t particularly want to be reminded of a relationship that didn’t work out, especially if I am the one who got dumped.  I prefer the old method of denial that the relationship ever happened. Somehow that seems to help me with the pain.

My older sister would probably disagree with me. She’s somewhat of a masochist when it comes to past relationships. Instead of trying to forget about everything when she experiences a breakup (like me) she instead chooses to immerse herself in her misery by pouring over old photos, letters and gifts. She tortures herself over it. The only conclusion I have come to about why she does this is that she is trying to find some hint or clue that will lead her to the exact reason for the breakup.

Keeping things from your past relationships is totally a personal decision, and no one should force you to throw those things away. Just because someone keeps something from an ex doesn’t mean they are still in love with them, or that they want them back, or that they are even thinking about them.

Perhaps you are still friends with your ex, or you had a mutual, calm breakup. Maybe you have children with your ex and then my mother’s “you will want to show your kids someday” reason is completely valid. And maybe you just like to keep stuff that makes your memories a little brighter.

Whatever the reason, just remember that the reason for keeping it around is yours, and yours alone, and don’t let anyone else tell you different.


About the author

Emily Campbell

Emily Little (nee Campbell) was a perpetually single girl who recently met and married her Mr. Right. Her blog, Dating Emily, has been a two-year diary of her adventures in relationships. Her life of bar-hopping and casual dating has turned into one of dog-walking, craft-making and budgeting for eventual home ownership. But just because she can make a mean casserole doesn't mean her adventures are over. As she prepares to become a first-time homeowner and eventually, a mom, she is discovering that the adventure may just be beginning. Contact the author.
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