Thanks for the breakup, here's your parting gift!
February 17, 2017 3:12 PM   Subscribe

What to do with a custom-made gift for the ex that arrives in the mail 1 month after a breakup?

Background: We (me- early 40s F, him- late 40s M) broke up a month ago after 18 months of an exclusive relationship. I thought things were wonderful. Sure, we had some communication hiccups, but it felt minor. I thought we were very much in love and he was vocal about his love, this being the best relationship he’d ever been in, etc. One month ago, I brought up the future in pretty nebulous terms. He freaked out, unrolled a laundry list of criticisms about me and the relationship, said he didn’t want to have to take anyone else into consideration when he made big decisions, cried, said he was sorry and left. I reached out a few times during the first week of the breakup. He responded back, kindly but distantly. I wrote one final, heartfelt letter expressing my love and my desire to talk and see if we could work things out. He did not respond. OK.

Today: It has been 1 month since the breakup, and about 3 weeks since I sent that last letter. I’ve been very sad, but trying to keep busy and move on.

The question: Several months ago, I ordered a custom gift for him from an artisan in the town I was visiting. Yesterday, It arrived in the mail. It is extremely customized and is for one of his hobbies. What should I do with it?

Giving it to him seems awful, like I’m trying to win him back. Especially because one of his reasons for the breakup was that our relationship took time away from the very hobby that this gift was for. So, even though this was ordered back when things were “great” it still feels like manipulation. Like, “Look, I don’t have a problem with this hobby! I got you this thing to use with your hobby! I love your hobby!” Ugh.

it is so custom, that no one else would be interested in using it. It’s like a paining of your childhood home, or bespoke clothing. And even if someone could use it, I don’t know anyone else who does this hobby, and his name is on it, etc.

Throwing it away seems like such a waste. It was expensive ($300) and is so beautifully made.

What should I do with it? I can’t keep it in my house, I have already burst into tears when opening the package.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I would return it to the artist, with a kind note about the quality, and letting them know that the intended recipient has refused to accept it for personal reasons. The artist doesn't need to know more than that, and they may be able to repurpose it.

I know that it will represent a small financial loss, but having it hanging around will be too painful a reminder of your other loss. Sending it back will allow you to move on, when you are ready to, sooner.
posted by vignettist at 3:21 PM on February 17, 2017 [35 favorites]


This happened to me after I broke up with someone several years ago. I gave him the gift. It was no more awkward than any other part of breaking up.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 3:24 PM on February 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


(Just include a note explaining the circumstances, so it doesn't look like you're trying to win him back. I did that and it worked.)
posted by schroedingersgirl at 3:25 PM on February 17, 2017 [11 favorites]


Do you have a mutual friend who could give it to the ex so that it doesn't seem so win-him-back manipulative?

It seems silly for this custom-made gift to go to waste (and I admit that I personally like the idea that it will make the dude feel a little bad about the whole thing, and if you do as well, you're only human.)
posted by vunder at 3:25 PM on February 17, 2017 [4 favorites]


Can you give it to him anonymously? Or drop it off wherever he is staying, with a note?
posted by basalganglia at 3:26 PM on February 17, 2017


Give it to a friend to hold. When you no longer want him back send him a note with the gift, wish him the best, and say don't contact you.
posted by ReluctantViking at 3:27 PM on February 17, 2017 [14 favorites]


Donate it to some local group oriented around that hobby, would be my advice-- they can probably use it even with a name on it and it makes for a good story. It would be different if you had communication with this guy, but since you don't I would just let it go now.
posted by frumiousb at 3:28 PM on February 17, 2017 [12 favorites]


Don't waste a beautiful, custom piece that was made especially for him.

If you want, wait a little bit. Put it in the back of your closet and let yourself forget about it for awhile. Things are still pretty fresh.

When I broke up with my partner of 9 years, he created a stunning and detailed art piece about me, and our relationship - an elaborate maze with quotes and drawings and references. Maybe 6 months or a year later - after we had taken some time apart, after we had each healed some - he gave it to me. He was sweet and sad and honest about it - that it was a thing that was made for me and he didn't know what else to do with it. He told me I could throw it out if I wanted. To this day, it is one of my most treasured possessions. It was a beautiful thing made just for me, about me, by someone who loved me.

You've already made the choice that you don't want to be manipulative, which I think you can easily do by being candid about your intentions. But you can still give it to him. An achingly personal gift is a lovely thing, even under sad circumstances.
posted by red_rabbit at 3:40 PM on February 17, 2017 [39 favorites]


The money you sepent on this thing is gone, and this thing is causing you to burst into tears. Shitcan it.
posted by Rob Rockets at 3:43 PM on February 17, 2017 [5 favorites]


This guy sounds like a piece of work.
Time for a funeral pyre or donation. Don't give it to him. You're not any less the bigger person for not doing so.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 4:11 PM on February 17, 2017 [10 favorites]


Could you possibly sell it on eBay to some other enthusiast of the same hobby? You might not get the whole $300 back, but maybe it wouldn't be a total loss then? If not, then I second the idea of donating it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:19 PM on February 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


I vote for selling it to someone who does the hobby or otherwise donating it if possible. If it is super super "only him ever" specific, either shitcan or pass on to someone else to give to him.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:24 PM on February 17, 2017


This happened to me. The gift was slightly less custom, but it was the same amount of expensive and similarly useless for anyone but its intended recipient. I ended up writing an (overly-detailed and personal, in retrospect) email to the maker asking if there was any way to work out a refund. They kindly let me exchange the gift for something else that I was able to give to a friend.

Don't give this thoughtful gift to someone who has behaved so thoughtlessly towards you. He doesn't deserve it. I know it feels bad to trash something that cost so much and feels so special, but it's causing you emotional pain on top of an already difficult situation. Either return it to the maker (in case they can use or resell it), donate/resell it to an organization related to the hobby (if it's something that can be used by another person, customized or no), or just straight-up huck it in the dumpster.
posted by adastra at 4:34 PM on February 17, 2017 [23 favorites]


Chances are that the artist will have some use for it. They could have it as an example of their work that potential customers can look at and poke, maybe dismantle it for parts, practice reworking customizations for ither projects, etc. Write them and say the intended recipient could not accept the gift and ask if they would be open to reimbursing you a part of the price, perhaps cost of materials or hours of labor, whichever you think might be smaller. Even if they say no, all sales are final, reply that you understand and would they like to have the item back anyway since they are the only person you know who might have some use for it.

Basically, see if you can mitigate the financial loss somewhat, but get it out of your home no matter what. Your ex sounds like a flake who doesn't deserve a lovely thoughtful gift and you deserve a home full of only things that bring you pleasant emotions.
posted by Mizu at 7:49 PM on February 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


I think this comes down to your feelings. If -- knowing that you guys are completely over -- you still want him to have it, then I'd give it to him. You're not being manipulative. Hopefully he'll understand your explanation. And if not, who cares!? What's he going to do, break up with you? (Sorry.)

On the other hand, if you're hurt and angry at him and especially this GD hobby to the point that you don't want to do something nice for him, which is what I hear in your question (and what I'd be feeling under these circumstances), then I'd probably give it back to the artist if there's any part that's reusable, or otherwise maybe burn it?

Somewhere in your gut you know what you want to do with this. Breakups are such raw times; it's likely most healing to listen to your gut.
posted by salvia at 9:04 PM on February 17, 2017


I would send it with a note saying that you couldn't think of anything else to do with it. And a copy of the order/invoice so that he can see that it was ordered way before you broke up, which makes it clear it's not some kind of begging him to come back. As long as your note is clear and honest I don't see the problem.
posted by tillsbury at 11:33 PM on February 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


He didn't even give you a proper breakup. I'd return to the artisan (without asking for a refund, just in case they can repurpose it) or burn it.
posted by misskaz at 6:56 AM on February 18, 2017 [3 favorites]


I agree with the advice above to either return it to the artist, who can probably re-use the materials (at a minimum), use it as a sample to showcase the type of work they can do, or give to a group that is into this hobby. (I'd let the artisan find the group--why should you spend your time thinking about this, and bringing up bad associations?) Don't keep it around if it's bothering you, or even give it to a friend to store, if it's causing you hurt. And definitely don't give it to the guy, he doesn't deserve it (or you).

For what it's worth from an internet stranger, you sound like a wonderful person and the fact that you are even thinking about this now, let alone that you went out of your way to find such a great gift for this self-centred, immature idiot, speaks very well of you. This is truly his loss.

Take care and be good to yourself, you deserve it.
posted by rpfields at 7:53 AM on February 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


Just send it to him with a note saying you had ordered it before the breakup. Alternatively text him and ask him what to do with it.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:54 AM on February 18, 2017


I'm so sorry. This guy sounds like a cad. He doesn't deserve the item, but how do YOU truly feel about the idea of him ending up with it? Would sending it along with a note making its origin really clear offer you any sort of closure? Would burning or otherwise destroying it offer closure?

As an indie artisan, I have to disagree with the couple of comments that suggest trying to get any sort of refund from the creator of the item. Please don't ask them to lose money on an expensive custom piece. I know I'd feel guilty about not refunding an order in circumstances like this, but refunding even part of the cost of a highly customized order would be a bit of a financial gut-punch. Maybe this artisan is better off, I don't know, but a lot of us have big hearts and small bank accounts, and we'd feel a lot of obligation in this situation.
posted by QuickedWeen at 9:25 AM on February 18, 2017 [5 favorites]


Please don't give your heartfelt gift to this ex. He doesn't deserve it. Either find some other devotee of this hobby and give it to them, or just leave it at your local thrift shop. Unless it has his social security number and photo inscribed on it, someone else can make use of it, I promise.
posted by 41swans at 10:48 AM on February 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


Take it out of the box it came in. Admire the craftsmanship, the beauty, the cleverness of this gift. Imagine how much he would have enjoyed owning this beautiful item, made just for him, to celebrate the hobby he so loves. Then throw the item into the fire, spit on the ground and curse his name.

Or, you know, just put it out on the curb with the trash. Your call.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 1:42 PM on February 18, 2017 [3 favorites]


Get a friend to list it on eBay. Make the price super low. Possibly he'll see it and bid on it. Or someone who can overlook the personalised aspect will get a useful bargain.
posted by taff at 2:02 AM on February 19, 2017


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