You’ve probably lost a few things to exes in the “custody battle”. That haphazard division of possessions in the wake of a breakup is never smooth unless you’re dating someone who’s obsessive-compulsive, in which case perhaps it’s for the best that the relationship ended.
I, personally, still think about a muffin tin and a Jay-Z CD that I lost to exes. Petty? Maybe. But is it so wrong to want your stuff back? No.
YOU’VE BEEN ON THREE DATES OR FEWER
Maybe you lent him a favorite documentary DVD of yours that you thought he’d enjoy, back when things seemed promising. But the fact of the matter is, you’re not interested in seeing him again, and you’ve already told him as much.
Avoid agreeing to another date just so you can take rightful possession of your loot. In fact, try not to see him in person at all. Instead, send him a cute, honest e-mail that goes something like, “This is one of those awkward e-mails, but would you mind sending me that DVD that I lent you? I’ll totally grab it from the front desk of your apartment building if that’s easier.” From there, he might just tell you he’ll drop it in the mail, but if he wants to meet up, make sure it’s in a neutral location, like the reception area of his or your office building. Done and done.
YOU DATED FOR A FEW MONTHS, BUT THE BREAKUP WAS MUTUAL
He was a fine person, but the spark just wasn’t there. He didn’t behave like a jerk — you just accidentally left your favorite hoodie at his place.
Woman up. Call him on the phone and tell him that you know it’s a little crazy, but you loved that threadbare hoodie, and would he mind if you stopped by to grab it? Keep the conversation light so he doesn’t think you’re planning to show up at his door in a trench coat wearing nothing underneath. The exchange will be a little uncomfortable, but once you swing by, take it back, and peel out of there immediately like you’re being chased by rabid dogs, you’ll feel better about standing up for yourself.
YOU DATED FOR A WHILE, AND HE BROKE UP WITH YOU
Suffice it to say, you cried when it was over. You loved him, or were about to love him, and when he dropped the bomb that it wasn’t working out, you were devastated. And maybe he was a total insensitive a-hole on top of that. Even if he wasn’t, there’s only one way to deal with this:
Cut your losses. Unless the item in question is a family heirloom, don’t even try to get your stuff back. Seeing him again is simply a bad idea. Maybe you’re even holding onto the hope that if he sees you again — even just to return your things — he’ll change his mind. I can almost guarantee that’s not how it’s going to play out. Since you’re going through a breakup, treat yourself to a similar object, except better: If it was your prized Back to the Future trilogy DVD set, purchase the new 25-year anniversary Blu-ray edition. If it was a cashmere sweater, get thee to the outlet mall and scoop up a cuter version in your favorite color.
YOU DATED FOR YEARS, BUT IT’S BEYOND OVER NOW
If you were in a long-term relationship, this is where the dividing of objects gets complicated: You might not even notice you didn’t get a favorite object back until a few weeks later, because there was just so darn much of your stuff that you hauled back home. Plus, you’re having a hard enough time adjusting to being single again without haggling with your ex over a few books.
Depending on the level of pain that the breakup inflicted on both of you, wait for a month (or longer, if needed), and then e-mail or call him. Hopefully the entire incident will have lessened in size in your minds, and you can be adults about the transaction of goods. It’s okay to stop by his place, or have him come over to yours. Avoid upping the drama quotient by having your friends go over in your place. Just wait until you’re ready and treat him and the situation with dignity and respect.