With all due respect to the old guy who sang breaking up is hard to do (sorry, Neil Sedaka), he should've finished that sentence with, "but dividing up your shit is even harder." Yes, for every instance of conscious uncoupling, there is an equal and proportionate number of can I get my stuff back? instances that suck just as much—if not more—than the breakup itself.
Stuff can be easily replaced if you don't want to fight for it. But what about the intangibles—the favorite taco joint, or the music festival you always hit together? Who gets custody of which friends? In the end, there are unavoidable moments or knickknacks that will sneak up and gut punch you when you least expect it. It's Murphy's Law of Failed Relationships: If you think you're fine, the universe will let out a "muah-ah-ah-ah" and rub its palms together to show you that you're not. But for the rest of it? It's actually pretty cut and dry. Here's the breakup breakdown of who gets dibs and why.
The Breakup Breakdown
Who gets the apparel:
From the well-worn wrestling shirt inherited from my high school boyfriend to the impossibly soft running tee—a vestige of a finance bro past—my closet is a veritable graveyard of former flames. And while I'm sure these items were beloved by my exes, the fact still remains: Possession is nine-tenths of the law. If that broken-in hat or cozy sweater is currently in someone else's drawer, kiss it goodbye.
Verdict: It's long gone.
Who gets the collectible items and mutual purchases:
If you're able to track who bought that Licensed to Ill LP for your shared vinyl collection or those framed Irving Penn prints lining your hallway, then custody goes to the actual purchaser. But if you both coughed up the cash for that mid-century modern sofa, then one of you needs to buy the other person out. Launch into some rock, paper, scissors action, or try making a list prioritizing all of the mutual items and take turns giving (or selling) and taking (or buying). Either way, compromise is in your future.
Verdict: Time to barter.
Who gets the friends:
Much different than the other spoils of war, deciding who gets custody of actual humans with whom you had actual connections—and who you will definitely run into again—requires some more delicate choreography. Logic says that friends you had BC (before coupling) will be friends you come away with, but there will always be those friends you made while dating, or even friends of your ex that you became close with, to whom it will be hard to say goodbye. In that case, let them know they can still be in your life even if they're Team Ex, but it's their choice, and that you won't put them in a weird spot by asking about your ex or badmouthing him or her. Even if you don't hang out post-breakup, you'll at least have made a classy exit.
Verdict: It's not your call.
Who gets the pets:
As a dog owner, I can't imagine ceding the source of my four-legged joy to someone else, but as a "parent," I side with whomever can give the pet the most attention. If your ex has the more flexible schedule, letting go is the more humane—albeit soul-crushing—thing to do.
Verdict: Put your pet first.
Who gets the money:
Sorry to say it, but if you loaned your ex a small fortune (or even $50 for gas), even though the respectful and decent thing to do would be for him or her to pull a Lannister and repay their debts, the fact remains that it's very unlikely that will happen. Unless it's enough to warrant legal action—in which case lawyer up, friend—you should consider that outstanding balance the parting price for your sanity. No one wants to be locked in a contentious back-and-forth indefinitely, after all.
Verdict: It's gone.
NO ONE WANTS TO BE LOCKED IN A CONTENTIOUS BACK-AND-FORTH INDEFINITELY.
Who gets the shared events/clubs:
Whether referring to the trivia night you both loved or that concert venue you hit up every summer, this one shouldn't require choosing (unless your bowling league has limited shirts and someone else named Gary). Barring any major blowout, you and your ex should be able to coexist in the same building in a group setting for the sake of enjoying the thing that you both love. Eventually though, whichever of you is more bothered by seeing the other will typically cease attending.
Verdict: Keep doing what you love.
Who gets the engagement ring:
Rings should be returned to the purchaser, no exceptions. It was bought as a symbol of your shared future together, and since the promise of that future is now dunzo, you should return it and let them do with it as they please. If you were actually married, though? The ring stays with the recipient.
Verdict: Give it back.
Who gets the favorite haunts:
If you both can't stand to give up that whisky bar on your block, or that badass poké spot that's still somehow under the radar, then there's no need to give it up—just choose a different time than when you know your ex will be there. Same goes for grocery stores, your gym, and any other businesses in regular rotation. You still may have the occasional awkward run-in, but you'll decrease the likelihood (and your anxiety) by a mile.
Verdict: Adjust your schedule.
Who gets the real estate:
Did the lease last longer than the relationship? Unless you enjoy perpetual torture and couch surfing, you should both vacate as soon as you're able. Split any rent you might get from subletting the space. If you were living in a space that belonged to your ex, or vice versa, take the "last one in is the first one out" approach. And if the property in question involved an actual purchase? Leave that one to the courts.
Verdict: First come, first serve.
From: Esquire US