Breakups are bad and it doesn’t help if you’ve been together for a while. When most of us might want to just move on, having shared possessions can be a tricky sea to navigate. Here’s my guide on how to divide your stuff after a breakup.

One of the toughest parts about a breakup is sorting your belongings afterward. Why? Because with breakups, especially messy ones, you want to get things done quickly. Dividing possessions take the time that you might prefer to be spent moving on.

I had one relationship where my stuff was left at his house for months after breaking up because of my schedule, and it felt like I couldn’t get closure until I took it back. It seems like a daunting task at first, which is why it’s really useful to break it up into little steps.

List all your items

This sounds tedious but really helps out in the long run. You need to make a list of everything you own together. It will help with dividing the items later on. You can put them into separate categories.

One list should be things you completely own. This is the easiest list to work with because you just take all that stuff, no questions asked. If you paid for it and didn’t give it as a gift or designate it as a shared item, then you shouldn’t feel guilty over taking possession of it post breakup.

Another list will be things you co-own. This could be anything from video games to a car. It will be tricker to divide this stuff because you’ll have to talk through and decide between the two of you who gets to keep up.

The last list should be things that belong to both of you but may not be so important. This should be a separate list because what you do with the items will be different from the items on the previous lists. Some of it you might consider junk that you never wanted, but making a list now saves arguments that could be brought up in the future.

Start with non sentimental

A lot of the time you’ll want to start sorting things of sentimental value first. These mean the most for you and they’re the most important. However you should leave them till last. Sentimental items take the longest and have the chance of making you emotional, thus delaying the whole process.

By starting with non sentimental items you get the pace going and things sorted out a lot faster. Junk items first. Do you want to keep this? Do they want to keep this? Moving on to the next time.

After you should sort of things that are expensive, such as shared car. Expensive items can cause a lot more arguments. Sometimes the best thing to do if you can’t decide who should keep an item is to sell it and split the money. This causes a lot less friction and is probably the most fair way of dealing with things.

Sentimental items go last, photos etc. Sometimes we want to just throw away these items. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do that. But make sure you’re in a stable mental state before embarking on this job, because you might throw something away that you regret later on.

Worst case scenario

There is a very high chance that arguments will arise when you are diving your stuff. Especially when it comes to things such as pets. There’s lots of ways of dealing with it, some easy, some messy.

Consider having a third, non-biased person mediate. In divorces and such a judge can chose which partner should keep a certain item. You don’t have to go to court of course, but it’s an option to bring in a non biased person.

Sell or donate something so neither of you gets it. It sounds harsh but it could be the most fair option available. If it really, really means something to you then plead your case. Even if things don’t work out, at least you tried.

At the end of the day, items can be replaced. It can be hard, because they have a lot of sentimental value. But always remember that life moves on and you’ll definitely fill your life up with more things with equal amounts of importance in the future.