What to say the last day of a break up when returning stuff?
August 4, 2010 7:47 AM   Subscribe

How to behave and what to say when returning stuff to an ex after a break up?

The person I dated for a year has broken up with me today. Said that he's got strong feelings for the ex and needs to sort out that relationship. First I tryed to make up and then I agreed but still saw me crying for a moment which I regret.
I said I don't want to keep a friendship relationship as I need to rid off of my feelings first. We agreed to see each other tomorrow to return the stuff we have from eachother.

Eventhough I said at first it could be posted ,but he insisted to see me tomorrow and return it in person, he said I am a beautiful person and he didn't want me out of his life but I repeated I won't be around, he said again he wanted to see me the last day to return it.

Please how I react this last day, what do I say at the last moment when he leaves? what do I talk about tomorrow when seeing eachother?

I am deeeply terribly hurt and eventhough I feel relieved somehow after a month of being phased out.

What words can I use to say good bye when returning the stuff tomorrow ? and make him realize what he has lost forever?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (44 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Be business like.
Any drama or grand-standing can be misconstrued.
posted by Flood at 7:51 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bring people with you. You don't need to say anything to him about it. Just give him his stuff, get yours, and be done with it.
posted by theichibun at 7:51 AM on August 4, 2010 [12 favorites]


Do not try to win him back. It won't work.

What you should do is make sure you have a friend or family member with you when he comes to exchange things. This will help both of you to keep your emotions in check.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:51 AM on August 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


When I'm in a position like this, I find it helps to visualize what I want to think of the interaction months (or years) down the line. Right now you're likely a jumble of emotions which you'll be sorting out for the next while. That's good and normal. My gut tendency would be to do or say something so the person remembers me, or "realizes what she has lost forever".

The best way to do this, in my experience, is to be mature and to keep it brief and cordial. You'll think better of yourself for doing this, and it'll be more effective at conveying a good impression that flowery or dramatic speeches. Or so I think.
posted by iftheaccidentwill at 7:52 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think you can make him "realize what he has lost forever." I think that's pain speaking to you, and if you expect something to come out of a conversation that happens while he's returning your possessions, you're just setting yourself up to be hurt further.

I'd keep it as cordial and business-like as possible. "Thank you for returning my things, here are yours. I hope you are well and continue to be so." That's all that's necessary.
posted by xingcat at 7:52 AM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


DO NOT see each other. Have a third party do the tradeoff. You will save yourself endless heartbreak, IMO.
posted by dbiedny at 7:53 AM on August 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


Yeah: keep it low and with as few tears, recriminations, and speeches as can be mustered: "Here's your stuff." Too many people want a Grand Farewell Scene. They aren't particularly good for anyone.
posted by LucretiusJones at 7:53 AM on August 4, 2010


When my ex and I broke up, he came to pick up/drop-off some stuff and it was pretty much normal. I made some nervous jokes, we hugged and the end. After a few month, we started talking again and became pals (I moved out of state, but I mean pals via email).

In a prior relationship, we just mailed the stuff because I didn't feel like dealing with any of that crap.

Anyway, keep in mind he already expressed his desire to end the relationship - so no guilt trips, begging, etc. That goes for the other way around.

Keep it simple and short. It's much better that way.
posted by KogeLiz at 7:54 AM on August 4, 2010


what do I say at the last moment when he leaves? what do I talk about tomorrow when seeing eachother?

You talk about as little as possible, and you make the exchange of stuff go as quickly as possible. Limit conversation to the mechanics of actually exchanging things (e.g. if there's a car to load/unload).

What words can I use to say good bye when returning the stuff tomorrow ? and make him realize what he has lost forever?

"Goodbye."

Sorry, but there's nothing you can say or do that will magically turn him around, make him realize the error of his ways, and crumble in despair. And any attempts to do so will just make you feel worse because you'll never get that reaction you want so much. It's just how it is.

Really, the best you can do is to keep it together and be clinical (polite, forthright, but reserved - NOT ice-queen-bitch). Every time an ex did something crazy and dramatic during this time, it made me extremely relieved to be out of the relationship. Every time she was matter-of-fact about it, I had doubts and regrets.

The best revenge is a life well-lived.
posted by swngnmonk at 7:55 AM on August 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


If he tries anything say this: "I know you have enough respect for me to be considerate of my feelings in this matter." Memorize that. Keep saying it every time he tries to convince you to be "friends." There is no reason for him not to respect you.

He has done the right thing, rather than cheat, but he must also respect your need for space and healing time. If you calmly and rationally present yourself, he will understand.

If not, a restraining order served upon him at his place of work will do the trick quite nicely.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:56 AM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Simply have someone with you when the great exchange happens, hug him goodbye and wish him well. Then afterwards you and your friend go get something to eat or ice cream or something.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:04 AM on August 4, 2010


You are putting the cart before the horse. You agreed to do something that you aren't ready to do, precisely because you don't know how to handle it. That's OK! If you do not feel comfortable making this exchange: DON'T.

"I know I said that we could meet to exchange our things, but I have changed my mind. I'll be sending ____ by to deliver your things and to collect mine. I'm sure you understand."
posted by greekphilosophy at 8:04 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thank you for the answers so far.

Which wording /prashes in English to say at the last moment? , English is not my first language but he's English. He's coming to my place tomorrow to return the stuff and I don't want to send a text or call to change it.

Should I smile? and make him think I am ok when saying good bye?

I haven't got any one stay with me as someone suggested. Also if I don't see him to return the staff , I don't have his address to return it and I don't want to ask as he never wanted to take me to his place or giving me his adress details for known reasons , also If i keep his stuff would make me ill, or knowing his got my stuff and he would consider it to returned one day s to keep me waiting as he's done would make me even suffer more.

What do I do?
posted by zulo at 8:06 AM on August 4, 2010


Stop worrying so much about finding the right words or making him think you're ok. Who cares what he thinks right now? Focus on healing yourself and doing whatever it is that makes you feel better. If you don't want to see him you don't have to see him. The hand-off could happen later if you want it to.

Honestly, my only words to him would probably be along the lines of "Here's your shit, asshole," although I recognize that that's neither mature or helpful. But still.
posted by tetralix at 8:11 AM on August 4, 2010


Eventhough I said at first it could be posted ,but he insisted to see me tomorrow and return it in person, he said I am a beautiful person and he didn't want me out of his life but I repeated I won't be around, he said again he wanted to see me the last day to return it.

This is what one calls "emotional manipulation." He wants to make sure you still care about him, and maybe throw in a couple of choice words that will keep you dangling on his hook in case things don't work out with his ex. If he really had your feelings in mind, he would understand that seeing him is incredibly painful for you and the best route would be to avoid seeing one another while getting his stuff. Quite possible he's thinking of getting break-up sex in the process (break-up sex is great but horrible for the heart).

Tell him you're leaving it outside your door at the appointed time, and leave your place for a couple of hours until he comes and gets it. He hurt you, and it is not your responsibility to feed his ego.
posted by schroedinger at 8:15 AM on August 4, 2010 [13 favorites]


Thanks , Note: he doesn't want to have sex, we went to a concert outside of town last night and he refused to have sex with me at the hotel he had booked. Then on the way back on the train he broke up with me.
posted by zulo at 8:20 AM on August 4, 2010


What words can I use to ... make him realize what he has lost forever?

Do not try to do this.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:20 AM on August 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


If you want to look like you are fine when you are not, you can only pretend.

Act. Imagine you are a non-nervous woman receiving something from the mailman. Pretend you are somebody else. I use that every time I have to do something I am nervous about.

Also, if he insists that he wants to be friends, be firm. He may be doing it to feel like he's easing up your pain/his possible guilt, but this has to be nothing to you. Be firm, cold-ish but well mannered. Make sure he knows you mean business. No staying over, no cups of tea, no little chats.

Guy: Hi, here's your stuff.
Girl : Thanks, here is yours.
Guy: Are you OK? (or something similar)
Girl: Yeah. I'am actually busy right now. I am [cooking/about to take a bath/doing homework/anything that does not give him a chance to stay with you]. Thanks for bringing the stuff.
Guy: I really want to stay friends...
Girl: I know you are a good person, so please be good to me and give me space. I cannot be your friend right now. Good bye.

Close door
Go to the fridge
Grab a cup of Cherry Garcia.
posted by Tarumba at 8:21 AM on August 4, 2010 [15 favorites]


Also, do consider simply ignoring his request to see eachother, and mail the blasted stuff anyway.

After reading schroedinger's post, I have to add it is very possible he just wants to go for an egoboost and see you pining over him. It may not be concious, but it is a possibility. He broke up with you for his ex. He cannot set the terms of the separation.

About him not realizing what he has lost forever, that is not your business. Your business is to be happy on your own, without depending on other people's adoration/love/etc. This realization is part of growing up.
posted by Tarumba at 8:27 AM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'd vote for posting it or leaving it outside the door. Why is he insisting on doing this in person? Everyone who has ever been through a breakup will tell you the less you see of him the better. In six months or a year if you still want to be friends that's great but for right now you need space and time to heal. Seeing him in person will just make this worse. It is hard to see right now, but this will get better. Good luck.
posted by bananafish at 8:28 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Before he comes: put all his stuff in bags/boxes by the door.

When he comes: he will knock.
You take a deep breath and freeze your face.
No smiles, no tears.
You open the door.

You say, "Hi, I have your things ready."
You point to the boxes/bags.
You say, "Thank you for bringing my things."
If he has things in his hands/by the door, you say, "Put them down over there."
You wait for him to take his things.

If he asks you how you are, you say "I am okay."
You don't ask him how he is. You don't ask any questions.
Answer any questions very simply and do not give room for explanations.

Do not offer to touch him, and if he reaches towards you, step back and say "I think it is best if we do not touch."

If he tries to make any conversation, you repeat, "Thank you for bringing my things, but it is time for you to go."

Be polite. Be firm. Be strong.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:33 AM on August 4, 2010 [10 favorites]


I would leave everything of his outside with a note for him to leave your things.

Don't be home.

Now there's no stress about the interaction.
posted by dzaz at 8:44 AM on August 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


I am confused. You do not have his address yet he has some of your stuff? Is there anything he has of yours you actually need (not want) back? He has never taken you to his place? I am sure there is a good reason for all that, but it is odd and outside my realm of possibilities.

Have all his stuff ready and in a box. When he rings, do not invite him inside. Hand him his stuff and wish him good luck in his life. If it is true, I would also tell him you will miss him. Then say good bye with a hug. Step back inside and close the door literally and figuratively on that part of your life.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:59 AM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I know you are a good person, so please be good to me and give me space. I cannot be your friend right now. Good bye.

I cannot even count the number of times that I wish I'd had the balls to say this to an ex who wanted to remain friends. This is the best advice in this thread, IMO.
posted by brand-gnu at 9:37 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


--Chances are he was cheating on you, or he is cheating on someone else with you
--He got too guilty to keep it up, or he felt bad for misleading you about his intentions
--Now that he's broken up with you, he will not feel as guilty or as uncomfortable with the lopsidedness of the relationship, so he will be more motivated to have sex with you
--He is trouble. Avoid him.

--If you can't avoid him, leave your house. Close the door. Meet him outside of your house. Don't let him in your house. Once you exchange your things, go right back into your house.

There is nothing you can say. He isn't respecting your desire to not see him because it's more important to him that you don't find out where he lives. Let me repeat that. He would rather hurt you than tell you where he lives.

No matter what you say or do, you are ten times the person that this guy is and he is lucky that you ever even glanced at him.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:41 AM on August 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


Also, even if you use the above scripts - which you should because they are final and assertive and exactly what you need to deal with this situation to protect yourself and your feelings - he may try to sneak past their finality.

"Can we just talk?"
"Can I just come in for a minute?"
"I just want to make sure you're ok..."
"Can I call you?"

The only answer you need to have to these attempts is, "I've already said everything that I have to say. Please respect that."
posted by greekphilosophy at 9:50 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't try anything dramatic. It will NOT work out the way you see it in your head.

Don't see this guy. You owe him nothing (except maybe his stuff.) You need a clean break.

I would arrange to have a friend do the exchange. Don't use your home or his.
posted by cross_impact at 9:51 AM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't have his address to return it and I don't want to ask as he never wanted to take me to his place or giving me his adress details for known reasons

wait, you dated a guy for an entire YEAR and he never once took you to his place or gave you the address? chances are pretty good this guy is probably married and was cheating on his spouse with you. even if he's not, he's pretty shady—you told him you didn't want to see him after he dumped you and he's not respecting your decision and forcing the issue. gross!

leave his things outside your door in a box with his name on it and a note for him to just leave your things there, to mail them to you, or leave them with a neighbor. just don't see this guy ever again! ifds,sn9 has it:

There is nothing you can say. He isn't respecting your desire to not see him because it's more important to him that you don't find out where he lives. Let me repeat that. He would rather hurt you than tell you where he lives.
posted by lia at 9:52 AM on August 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


No matter what you say or do, you are ten times the person that this guy is and he is lucky that you ever even glanced at him.

Yeah, you dated for a year and you don't even know where he lives? There is something very wrong with that. This guy sounds like a jerk.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:52 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Get a friend to pick it up. There's no reason to see him, especially if you're feeling vulnerable.
posted by anniecat at 9:53 AM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you have a mutual friend, that would be a great person to bring along with you, if only to buffer any possible scene.
Keep your chin up, and keep your shoulders back. You'd be amazed how much confidence that can inspire.
Be businesslike, but not unfriendly.
He should not go in to your new place, and you should not go into his (if this is at all possible-- it might not be). Likewise, any hugging or anything like that is not a very good idea.
Stay cool. You can get through it. Best of luck.
posted by Gilbert at 10:05 AM on August 4, 2010


Definitely have a friend with you when the exchange happens, for three reasons: you'll have a reason to keep the conversation short, he'll be less inclined to try and win you back if there's someone else listening, and immediately afterwards you'll have someone to talk to if anything awkward does happen.

In situations like this, it's very easy to go into it thinking you won't fall for any tricks, but then the other person says something that appeals to your emotions and you're back in the drama before your mind has time to process it. Forewarned is forearmed: keep in mind that he will be trying to get you to want him back, and listen to everything he says through that filter. Visualize him as a door-to-door salesman, selling himself instead of knives or vacuums, and remember that you're not interested in the product and he's not offering a good deal.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:08 AM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Should I smile? and make him think I am ok when saying good bye?

I haven't got any one stay with me as someone suggested. Also if I don't see him to return the staff , I don't have his address to return it and I don't want to ask as he never wanted to take me to his place or giving me his adress details for known reasons , also If i keep his stuff would make me ill, or knowing his got my stuff and he would consider it to returned one day s to keep me waiting as he's done would make me even suffer more.

What do I do?


You can't make him think anything, dear heart. Don't worry about what he thinks anymore. You need to grieve. Feel bad, its okay, you're supposed to do that. The faster you get to feeling sad and grieving, the faster you will move on.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:10 AM on August 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Stand up for yourself: you don't want to see him, so don't see him. Have a friend do the exchange. Don't see your ex until you choose to. You can't make him realize what he's losing by showing up and fake-smiling. You can't make him respect you by choosing the right thing to say. But you can act in a way that lines up with your sense of dignity and self-worth. Make your choice in this situation for your own sake, not for his.
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:16 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I disagree strongly with this whole meeting-to-return-stuff thing you're thinking of doing. This is a bad idea. Don't do it. Call a friend and have them meet him instead.

If you can't figure out what to tell him to express all the things you're feeling, it probably means there isn't anything you can tell him that would express those things. And if your first instinct was to try to not see him, but he's pressured you into seeing him and talking to him, that's a pretty sure sign that you shouldn't see him.

He only wants to talk to you because he feels guilty for breaking up with you, and he wants to leave it in a way that makes him feel less guilty. And that's all right for him – I mean, it's good that he wants to leave it in a good way. But that means that the only reason you have for meeting him is to make him feel better. And at this point, you should be focusing on yourself, and on dealing with how you feel about this; you shouldn't have the burden of dealing with his feelings right now.

I understand that you can't deal with the hassle that getting his address, posting it, etc, will involve. That's all right; that's where you are right now, and there's nothing wrong with that.

You need a friend to help you. Call a good friend that you can trust and tell them you really need them to do this favor of returning his stuff to him and getting your stuff back.

I know all of this is very painful. What you need to do right now is take care of yourself. That means avoiding unnecessary situations that might be very painful. That's something you have to get used to doing, because you're used to being in a relationship and sharing burdens like that; it can seem a little selfish to do this kind of thing. But it's a good kind of selfish. It's what you need and what you deserve. Meeting up with him to exchange stuff is totally unnecessary and unfair to you; don't put yourself through that.
posted by koeselitz at 10:36 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also: if you feel you need him out of your life right now to deal with it, you're allowed to push him out of your life. It is not his decision. I know that it's probably very hard to talk with him and make him understand that you need him out of your life right now, but the good thing is: you don't have to. You aren't required to talk to him about it at all. And if you find it difficult to convince him, you are allowed to stop trying.
posted by koeselitz at 10:42 AM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


What words can I use to say good bye when returning the stuff tomorrow ? and make him realize what he has lost forever?

Just wanted to say: I know how strong the desire can be to make him realize this, or to somehow make him feel appropriately sad and sorry. But trust me, chasing that desire is bound to be frustrating and un-satisfying. I know from experience--it's a recipe for extended heartache.

You cannot control how he feels or how he expresses his feelings. Talk to your friends about how you feel, write (but don't send) a letter to him telling him how angry/hurt you are, go throw yourself into other activities to distract yourself from the pain. But don't fall into the trap of thinking, "If I can just make him see [X,Y, or Z], I'll be satisfied."

Return the stuff quickly. Talk to him if you want to, but realize that your energy is better spent on healing yourself than on trying to affect his feelings.
posted by aka burlap at 10:58 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


seanmpuckett is correct--follow that script. Best if you remain standing throughout, and better if you can set things up so that he never comes in the door. If he does come in, don't shut the door, if that's at all practical.

And no speeches. They just don't do anyone any good. I've had quite a few emotional breakups, and the ones that were done calmly went the best, even if emotions were raging inside.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:14 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm so sorry.

I had been in a relationship for seven years when my boyfriend broke up with me (quite cruelly, I might add). I had the same thoughts as you--maybe if we see each other again, he'll realize he wants me back!--but I somehow had the good sense to tell him that I would leave his things outside his door and he could do the same for me. I put everything in a box and took it over while he was at work, and I made sure I was gone when he came by my house. There was no need to do it face-to-face, there was nothing more to be said. Years later, I am proud that I left that relationship with my dignity intact. He didn't deserve any second chances from me.
posted by lucysparrow at 11:27 AM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you handle this in the most classy way possible, then he may think back and say, "You know, zulonline was pretty awesome. Why am I hanging out with this person now?"

This is one of those situations where words cannot express how you feel. The best way is to say the minimum, be civil, and move on.
posted by reenum at 1:15 PM on August 4, 2010


"What words can I use to say good bye when returning the stuff tomorrow ? and make him realize what he has lost forever?"

Don't do that.

Take some time to think about your real motivation for even thinking about doing that. Clearly, you want him back. That's understandable, but it's a mistake, unless you want to put more time into creating a bigger heartbreak when he phases you out and then leaves you the next time. And the time after that.

What you really need to do is, as reenum and others have said, handle this in the most classy way possible.

If it were me, I'd be friendly when I drop off the stuff, and I'd leave with a simple "Goodbye." Just one word. Goodbye.
posted by 2oh1 at 2:55 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thank you so much for all your answers. I will follow them as each one gave me a real understanding and I will make them my best answer. xxx
posted by zulo at 3:21 PM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


treat him like your priest. be happy to see him, calm, composed, and respectful.

don't say anything more than salutations and answering questions. the quicker you're done and away the easier it will be on you.
posted by phritosan at 4:08 PM on August 4, 2010


I've been through this, just a few days ago.

I tried to quietly drop his stuff at his door and in one of those you-wouldn't-read-about-it coincidences, he opened the door at the same time (to blow his marijuana smoke out so his parents won't smell it and realise their son is a loser - 47 years old, still living with his parents after ruining his 2 marriages by drinking beer and smoking pot all day every day. Lordy, the things you find out after 18 months.).

He insisted on talking, I declined and walked away, he followed begging for a chance to apologise. I turned around and listed all his faults, everything he had done to fuck with me and worse still, my kids. I got angry and loud, and when he told me disdainfully that I was just "playing the victim" I had to walk away before I slapped him.

I regret it. What I wish I had done was quietly and calmly told him that I couldn't trust myself to not rant and rave at him and continued to walk away.

You could say "I'm hurting pretty bad at the moment. I don't want contact with you until the pain recedes, here's your stuff, thanks for my stuff, goodbye".

Be strong and brave and get rid of him as soon as possible. It'll hurt at the time and for some time after but it will get easier, I promise.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:26 PM on August 4, 2010


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