To be there, or not to be there?
June 17, 2014 9:19 AM   Subscribe

Ex wants to pick up room full of stuff this Saturday. I don't want to be there. Is that cool?

In Feb I asked my partner of nine years to move out. In March he moved out. Today he called asking to come by Saturday to pick up his remaining room full of stuff. This is about to turn my normal day into a sad mess.

I don't think he will rob me. Is it OK not be there? Will I be missing some big opportunity for closure? Is this cowardly? Is this normal?
posted by Classic Diner to Human Relations (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
um, it's totally normal. when my LTR partner came to pick up his stuff last year or whatever, i left all of it in the hallway of my (safe!) apartment building, texted him to come over, and went out for a couple hours. when i came back, it was gone. easy peasy. we didn't end on bad terms or anything, but i just didn't want to deal with the emotions of it.

if you don't think you can handle it, it's not cowardly. it's taking care of yourself.
posted by kerning at 9:21 AM on June 17, 2014 [7 favorites]

No! You don't have to be there. If you trust him, just let him come and do. Go out and do what you'd normally do.

Closure is bullshit anyway. You'll always have issues and feelings and there's nothing anyone is going to say to make it hurt less.

It will be easier for both of you.

If there's someone you both trust, have that person on hand to help him, and to keep an eye on your things.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:21 AM on June 17, 2014 [9 favorites]

It's okay not to be there. Closure comes on your own terms and it is something you provide yourself, not something that he can give to you. You do whatever you need to do.
posted by PercussivePaul at 9:22 AM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Totally, utterly, one hundred percent normal for you not to be there.
posted by Etrigan at 9:23 AM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is totally normal. Despite popular opinion, closure rarely comes from meeting with an ex. It comes from time and moving on.
posted by lunasol at 9:25 AM on June 17, 2014 [10 favorites]

Absolutely. It's not cowardly. It's normal.
posted by hootenatty at 9:25 AM on June 17, 2014

Totally normal. Personally, I'd have a friend come over to be there when the dude takes his stuff. S/he can read a book, and then you can send them out to dinner to thank them.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:34 AM on June 17, 2014 [20 favorites]

It's fine to go, unless you feel you need to be there to sort books etc from yours. Go sit in a dark movie theatre, or find a spot of sunlight in a park, or a quiet corner of a bar.

And it's OK to err on the side of warmth and kindness. Depending on the relationship, it might feel right to leave a note that you'll be back that evening and put some water bottles or individual juice for him in the fridge.

Kindness helps closure.

On preview: I like Admiral Haddock's idea as well.
posted by mochapickle at 9:38 AM on June 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

You'll want to have a friend or someone there, just in case.

I was at work when an ex came over to collect her things - like you, I was pretty sure she wouldn't rob me. And I was right - instead, I came home to a dead cat. Of course, she didn't know anything about it, must have been an accident, blah blah.

She's the only person I have blocked on all social media - and that was 23 years ago.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:39 AM on June 17, 2014 [12 favorites]

I'm about to be in your ex's shoes in the near future. FWIW I am hoping my SO won't want to be there. I know that I'm going to be a sobbing mess and I'm not sure how he will be. I think it would be too hard for both of us to deal with. So I think it's normal to not want to be there, and I don't think it's cowardly. I think you would be doing both of you a kindness. Look after yourself.
posted by outoftime at 9:43 AM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's 100% fine to not want to be there, but you absolutely need someone there that you trust, and you need to be very explicit to them that your ex is only to take stuff in this room, only. From your DTMF question, your ex sounds not very financially stable - so he might take things that are valuable. Breakups make people do crazy things. Too many of my friends had things go missing when exes moved out without someone else there. And all of these exes seemed like reasonable people beforehand. Sometimes things like blenders or stereos, that you paid for, but they used often, was theirs in their mind.

If you can't find someone, I would lock all of the doors of all of the rooms except for the one room with his stuff, and put anything you care about in non-lockable rooms into lockable ones. Then, I would email your ex and say, all of your stuff is in xxxx room, only. Maybe take photos of your house's rooms beforehand. Maybe think about staying in one of the rooms yourself, with the door closed, just in case. And give him a window of time to come - not all Saturday.

I know, this sounds paranoid. But the last thing you need is to lose stuff on top of being sad.
posted by umwhat at 9:52 AM on June 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Wow. My feeling here is different than most responders.

I think you owe it to your former partner of 9 years to not avoid him. I think not being there is cold and disrespectful. I know it will be hard, sometimes things are hard. Avoiding them isn't always the best tack. Have a friend or two there to help keep things civil. Be polite. Offer him a cup of coffee. Ask how the job search is going.

You can offer this man who you once shared a life with a bare minimum of courtesy.
posted by amaire at 10:16 AM on June 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

Recently divorced here, and I'd avoid face-to-face. I think a bare minimum of courtesy equates to letting the pickup be as uneventful as possible, no note, no friend reading a book, no nothing.

It is a funny feeling to know that someone's been in your house going through your stuff, for sure, and it provided enormous closure to change the locks after she was through getting her things, but, yeah, I trusted her and strongly preferred to not be there. Hell, even for legal document back-and-forth I told her when I'd be coming by, and was relieved when she was absent, even when I was just putting something in her mailbox.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:23 AM on June 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

A long time ago, I went to go pick up my stuff after a break-up knowing my ex would be there. It was one of the single most unpleasant experiences I've ever had, relationship-wise. If I could go back in time and tell young me "just let her keep your stupid comic books," I absolutely would. I know the situation is inverted here, but there is nothing particularly worthwhile about being there at the same time as your ex.

I'd suggest a friend or relative being there making sure your ex doesn't swipe anything, but I'm the sort of person who locks the window to the fire escape when I leave the house so YMMV.
posted by griphus at 10:25 AM on June 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

Definitely have a friend be there. You just never know. Like others have said, it isn't just theft you need to worry about. Destruction of property, tampering with things (dipping your toothbrush in the toilet, etc), need to be considered as well.

Also, if you aren't there and you don't have anyone in your place, how is he going to get in? Just say matter of factly that saturday is fine and that friend X will be there to let him in.

(If, however, he still has keys to your place you really need to get your locks rekeyed.)
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:48 AM on June 17, 2014 [5 favorites]

you really need to get your locks rekeyed.

A great point. When my last relationship ended, I was in a doorman building and I still had the management company rekey my locks (which was dirt cheap, since they had one of the handymen do it). But as a general data point, when I moved into my current apartment, I paid $100 or so (max $150) to have two locks rekeyed. Worth every penny.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:32 AM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I went through this too, and I am sorry. So, a few thoughts here:

1. If you want closure and a friendly relationship in the future, you definitely do not want to be there. First, the anger about a breakup is strongest around the time of the breakup, and frankly this one is still underway. Secondly, few things get angry people fighting faster than splitting the stuff (or even discussing splitting the stuff.)

2. Angry people do angry things. I'd not mention this to him, but I'd take an advance video of things as they are, with audio commentary by you on what is yours and what is his. I'd also consider moving things you are especially fond of somewhere else, like a friend's place, after you do the video, so they aren't available to be picked up by your ex. Also, for date of his pickup, most definitely I'd have a friend there to keep an eye on things -- friend can explain they are there to help out in case ex needs help moving.

3. Change the locks as soon as move out is over.

4. Consider something civilized in a few months like meeting for drinks or coffee to catch up.
posted by bearwife at 11:48 AM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've been through this twice, once on each side--getting my stuff from my ex's place, him getting stuff from mine. Neither time were both parties in the apartment.

The first time, this was absolutely the right choice. Emotions were still extremely high and there was a lot of instability, I had my family with me, and it was no time at all for closure (at the same time, there was zero potential for me vandalizing the place or harming our pets or anything, and he knew that 100%.)

The second time it just didn't work out schedule-wise, and I had to be at work. This one I honestly regret. Our breakup was sad but not angry, prompted mostly by being long-distance. And as it turns out he stayed moved-away and I have never seen him again, which sucks. It left the end of the relationship unresolved in a weird way; one day I came home from work, and all evidence of him was just gone. Although, at the time, I did think it helped me keep my resolve.*

It's normal to not be there; it's absolutely normal to not WANT to be there. If you think seeing him will derail your healing process in a big way, absolutely don't be there. But while closure comes from within, sometimes it's harder to get there when a part of your life has literally just vanished, while you weren't looking. If nobody is angry, and nobody is likely to try and beg for a do-over, it might be worth it to stay there and face the hard few minutes.

*If I had had to watch him say goodbye to the cat, whom he adored and who adored him, it would have absolutely shattered my heart and I would have begged him to stay, just to keep from actually dying of grief. (God, just thinking about it even now I am starting to cry.)
posted by like_a_friend at 3:24 PM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you don't want to be there, you do not have to be there. Ego te absolvo.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:07 PM on June 17, 2014

If there's any concern at all that some of your things might go missing, have a friend be there to meet him. Alternatively, box his stuff up and drop it off to him or have it sent out. Completely normal to not be there, it just prolongs the agony and achieves nothing.
posted by Jubey at 5:47 PM on June 17, 2014

Totally normal; totally understandable. When my ex moved out she came to pick her stuff up in several instalments and there was no way I could have stood to be around when it happened. There's also no way she would have wanted me around; this was an emotional thing for both of us.

It's good that you think you can trust your ex not to steal, but beware of the "But that was mine! It totally was! Don't you remember? You gave it to me on that holiday when..." syndrome. It's very real, and I lost a few treasured books and other items because of that.

And when it's done, change the lock. Seriously.
posted by Decani at 1:21 AM on June 18, 2014

Well, it is over. Thanks for your input. I wasn't there, I'm glad I wasn't there. The brief report from my friend who was there indicated he has a lot of anger and hurt. It is still a little weird and raw for me. Thanks again Mefites, you are the best.
posted by Classic Diner at 6:49 AM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

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