Goodbye for Good
How to let go of your ex, and his stuff. The sooner you let go of his boxers, the sooner you will let go of him.
By Jennifer Drapkin published September 23, 2005 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016
Your boyfriend breaks up with you, leaving you with a broken heart and a drawer full of boxers. You find his socks under your bed and his shaving kit in the bathroom.
What should you do with his things? The instinct is to hold onto them. But here's the truth: The sooner you let go of his stuff, the sooner you will let go of him.
According to a study from the University of Arizona, the less contact you have with your ex, the faster you'll heal. To help you get there, let's look at a few ways to dispose of his stuff and dispose of him.
Burning your ex's things would be a little extreme. (Yes, we know about all the toxic fumes he releases into the air when he breathes. And yes, he never said don't douse my clothes with lighter fluid and ignite them with a tiki torch.)
Though it's a time-honored tradition dating back at least to the fireplace scene in Jane Austin's Emma, we can't advocate using your ex's clothes as kindling. Just know that it's normal to be furious.
The same University of Arizona study found that after a breakup, as time passes, we feel more angry and less sad. Still, you should find safer ways to vent your anger.
A better solution may be philanthropy. You may feel as though nothing good will come out of the relationship, but donating his personal items to charity and helping other people will lift you. It's called the helper's high; the more you can get outside of yourself and reach out to others, the more meaningful and satisfying life can be. Anyway, making a trip to the local Salvation Army is humane, legal and a tax write-off.
Then again, you might just want to mail his things to him. This option is so sensible it hurts. In fact, putting a former lover's possessions into a box and taping it shut feels a lot like nailing down a coffin.
You'll cry all the way to the post office. But really, there's no greater satisfaction than knowing that you behaved like an adult. Chances are he'll be a little taken aback by your civility, and he'll have a bad day.
The important thing: Move on and start over with a life uncluttered by your ex. It's time to make room for another man's boxers.