Breakups are rarely easy. It’s even more difficult when personal or shared items need to be returned after the relationship has ended. Personal Space sought out one of the top relationship experts and former Tough Love host, Steve Ward, to divulge exactly how to have those awkward conversations with an ex.
Steve is the CEO of Master Matchmakers, which is a high-end personal matchmaking service that has been coaching and connecting eligible singles for more than two decades. The company has clients in all 50 states and guarantees matches for all of them. They also provide a personal coach, so that each client has the opportunity and support necessary for success in love. For those who don’t have a personal coach to consult with, Steve offered his best advice, so you can finally get your stuff back!
Personal Space: What is the best way to ask your ex to return your things if the relationship ended badly?
Steve Ward: There’s a protocol depending upon how the relationship ended. If the relationship ended very poorly, my recommendation is to use a trusted proxy, like a mutual friend. This is a third party who you both respect and can therefore be an arbitrator. The last thing your ex wants to do is make themselves look bad to someone who they care about.
Is there a different way to handle it if the relationship ended amicably?
SW: If the relationship ended well, and you have something that belongs to them, it’s always best to offer to return their item, before asking them to return yours. If you are the one who is making the ask, always volunteer to simplify it. If you are concerned with them making a scene, meet them in public place.
What if it’s a one-night stand, are there different rules for that?
SW: The most important thing is, what will it make the person think? A lot of times if a woman left something at a guy’s place, he will think she did it on purpose, so she has a reason to come back. In the event that it wasn't intentional, give them a way to make it very easy for them to return it to you, so they don't have to go out of their way.
What about if an engagement ends, is it expected to return the ring?
SW: If a woman were to break up with a guy for her own reasons, and not due to a mistake or anything that he did, the ethical thing to do is to return the ring. If a woman caught him cheating, or he ended it, you don't have to give back the ring.
If a couple gets a dog together during the relationship, who gets to keep it if they break up?
SW: I always recommend putting things in writing, and having some sort of contingency plan if the relationship doesn't work out. In the event you didn't do that, you want to make an offering of fairness. The best thing to do is to suggest a preferred outcome. Tell them how you think it would be most fair and give the opportunity for them to counter offer.
For more of Steve Ward’s advice, you can reach out to Master Matchmakers, or follow him on Instagram @stevenbward.
Got an ex? Yeah, we all do. Bravo’s Personal Space is diving into everything there is to discuss about breakups, from the ones that got away to ghosting to what the hell you should do with an ex on social media with Ex-Files Week. It’s all leading up to our new series A Night With My Ex, which explores what happens when former couples reunite…for one night only. Check back each day for exclusive interviews, personal stories, and don’t forget to catch the premiere on Tuesday, July 18 at 10/9c.
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