“Why is my ex keeping my stuff?” Is there anything more frustrating than when you’re trying to move on from someone but they keep a hold on you?
You and your ex broke up a long time ago but he’s still holding onto your things. You want your stuff back and your ex seems to want to keep it for as long as possible.
This seems like something that must have a deeper meaning to it. He wouldn’t keep these things if he didn’t want them, would he?
I mean, if he keeps things that you gave him for special occasions, then it’s okay. Gifts aren’t even debatable because you gave them to him on his birthdays or your anniversaries. Those were meant for him.
But what’s with all those things that are yours? You may have left them at his place by accident and now you want them back.
Your personal belongings aren’t things that he should keep for so long so it’s making you overthink it all. Even if they have sentimental value to him, it’s not really something that he has a right to.
I asked myself one too many times why my ex was keeping my stuff too but the answer is never too simple. However, luckily for you, we’ve got you covered.
We gathered together some of the possible reasons why he’s still keeping your stuff, as well as ways to get it back if you decide to ask him. Your belongings will be back in your possession soon enough.
Why is my ex keeping my stuff?
Before we get into how you can get your things back, you may want to consider the actual reason why he’s keeping them in the first place. Once you do this, you’ll be able to understand his side of the story and maybe you won’t even be able to ask for your things back once you get into his head.
His reason could be stupid but also valid, so you should try and be rational when asking yourself why your ex is keeping your stuff.
1. They have sentimental value to him
There are so many people in this world who simply like to keep the things their exes gave them because they have a special meaning to them. Those items are the belongings of someone they once loved dearly.
Even if you’re going through a no-contact period, your stuff is still meaningful to him. Why would your ex-boyfriend give you them back when every one of those things reminds him of better times?
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ask for them back. It just means that he doesn’t really have a hidden agenda for them; it’s that he can’t get himself to return everything.
If he gives those things back to you, he won’t have those reminders of your relationship other than in his own memories. Sometimes, that’s just not enough.
2. He hasn’t moved on
When you’re wondering, “Why is my ex keeping my stuff?” you should consider that he hasn’t moved on yet. Some people like to hold onto things from their past relationships because it keeps them sane.
After a break-up, everything goes to pot and everything you thought you knew has to be rethought. You have to go back to your single life and you need to understand that there’s nothing as heartbreaking as taking the last steps of separation. In this case, that includes giving your stuff back.
This doesn’t mean that your ex wants you back but rather that he wants you to give him time. Giving you your things back could also mean that he has to see you face to face and he’s not ready for that yet and giving you your things back through a mutual friend isn’t as intimate as it could be if he does it himself.
Your ex may be keeping your belongings until the time that he feels comfortable enough to stand in front of you and not feel like he’s breaking into pieces.
3. He wants you back
Were you the one to break up your relationship? Were you the one who didn’t see any potential in your union so you thought of leaving before he was ready to let you go?
Well, then don’t be surprised that your ex is keeping your stuff because in my experience, that’s completely normal. He wants you back and he can’t figure out what else to do. He knows that you’ll go and get your belongings at some point and he’ll make his move then.
If he really wants you back then he’ll do anything to get you to pick up your things. It’s his only way to make sure that you’ll give him a chance to explain himself. If you’re ghosting him, however, then you’re not going to send him a message to do this.
4. It’s a manipulation tactic
It was difficult to get my ex to give me my stuff after I asked him why he was keeping it for so long. He said that I had to know why he was doing so.
That’s such a stupid way to put it but back then, I didn’t understand what he was saying. The first time I understood it was when I was lying in my bed at night overthinking everything.
I understood there and then that he was using my own things to manipulate me. He lay claim to me and the best way to do that was to remind me that he still had some of the things that were once mine and it made me think of him all the time.
When I broke up with him, I didn’t think he would let me go that easily but he held on just to manipulate me. Even with a new girl in the picture, he didn’t want to give my things back to me. Your ex could be doing the same thing and you’re not even aware of it.
This is his way of ensuring you think of him when he’s not around. Even if he has a new partner and it seems like he’s moved on with his life, he has to do something to torture you and this is exactly that.
5. You were in a long-distance relationship
Can you blame him for not giving your things back if he lives in a completely different state or country? Your ex’s stuff is probably still lying around your house right now too.
You don’t have a way to meet up at the moment so you can’t take his things back to him. He has to keep your stuff because he doesn’t know how to get it back to you.
Would you take a chance to ask him to pack those things up and send them your way? Or would you like to see him and get them for yourself?
You shouldn’t ask yourself, “Why is my ex keeping my stuff?” when it’s out of his hands. The poor man probably wants his belongings back just as badly as you do yours.
6. He keeps them as trophies
After your ex left, you were heartbroken. He kept your broken heart and your pleas to get back together as trophies but he also kept your physical belongings as trophies too.
It’s not just his way of getting you to think of him but also a way to boost his own ego. He keeps your things because he wants to have reminders of your time together but it also keeps him thinking that his ex-girlfriend is still not over him. It’s like a reward for breaking up with you and moving on without you.
The best way you can know if he’s keeping them as trophies is if he posts pictures on social media with your things somewhere in the background. That’s his way of telling you that he owns a part of you.
The truth here is that he may never want to give you your things back, no matter how much you try to convince him to do so.
7. He simply forgot that he still has those things
How long has it been since you broke up? What are the chances that he simply forgot to give you your things back?
It could definitely happen, especially if your ex was always a little bit forgetful. You still care about your stuff but he obviously doesn’t know that it’s been at his place for this long.
Your things could be in plain sight and he wouldn’t know or remember that they were yours. I know that you may not think that something like this is possible but I can assure you that it is.
He’s just focusing on other things and it doesn’t bother him that your things are scattered around his place. Even if he’s in a new relationship, he couldn’t care less about your stuff.
8. You’ve kept his things too
Can you really ask yourself, “Why is my ex keeping my stuff?” if you still have his? He probably doesn’t want to risk giving your things back just for you to keep his for a while longer.
He wants a clean break that’ll show you that things are really over and you can definitely get this over with if you agree to meet up and exchange your stuff. But if you think that you can keep his belongings while expecting him to give you yours back, then you’re mistaken.
He’s probably waiting for you to give his things back so he can do the same because he doesn’t feel the need to do anything else. It’s a power play, obviously, but it could also show you that maybe you’ve been the problem all along.
9. You were living together
One good reason why he’s still holding onto your stuff is that you shared a living space before. In this case, this is just one of the things that’s inevitably going to happen.
You left something of yours at the place you were sharing and now it seems like he’s holding onto it but he’s not actually doing so to spite you.
It could also be that you’re arguing about who bought what and how much you paid for it when you were living together. This happens because people forget where their money was spent.
Alternatively, he could easily hold on to your stuff because he needs it for his own personal use. When you share an apartment with your partner, you buy things together, so you don’t have two of everything.
This isn’t such an easy thing to remember and he may even say you can’t get your things back without actual receipts. He’ll ask you for them or he could deny that you bought any of those things you’re asking for.
This likely only applies to bigger items or clothing, so if you left smaller things like photos of the two of you, he may as well assume that they’re just his.
How can I get my stuff back if my ex is keeping it?
You should be able to get your things back if he’s been keeping them for a little too long. There’s no reason for him to keep them if you made sure you communicated with him that you need them back.
However, there are a few ways that you can get your stuff back without creating too much fuss about it. This part of the article can help get you through this tough time much more easily so that you won’t lose your mind completely.
1. Simply remind him
What are the chances that he just forgot or that he thought that all those things were gifts? There’s a possibility that you’ll get your stuff back just by asking him to give it back to you and there’s no reason for you to not try this.
You can text him saying that you want everything back, telling him that you’d like to know what’s taking him so long. You can even make plans to go and get your belongings right away. Tell him that you’ll be at his place when he’s home to get them.
There’s no reason for you to be nervous about this. Those are your things and you have the right to go and get them. If he’s ghosting you then there are better ways to get to him but this should be your first option.
If you run into him, you can tell him this face to face. You don’t have to keep a conversation going; just give him a gentle reminder. Ask him right away when you can go and pick your stuff up.
This is not a bad thing to do. You have the full right to it, considering that he’s held onto your things for such a long time.
2. Send your best friend to get your things
Depending on the relationship you currently have with your ex, you could send your best friend to get your things for you. Sometimes, asking yourself “Why is my ex keeping my stuff?” can remind you of everything you went through, so you don’t want to see him.
He can be insulted all he wants but you may not want to see him for your own safety. You don’t have to go through so much anxiety over this so you can delegate this task to someone else. You’ll feel protected and depending on the way he’s acting toward you, it’s probably the best way to show him that you’re choosing yourself over him.
At this point, I believe that your best friend knows where he lives or has his phone number, so they could easily do this little thing for you.
However, if you believe that your ex is dangerous, you should probably wait before you make this proposition. Make sure that your friend doesn’t go through an even more awful situation with your ex.
3. Contact one of his family members
When your ex is ghosting you, it’s no wonder that you’re weirded out about why he’s keeping your stuff. He obviously doesn’t want to have anything to do with you, so what’s his deal?
The best thing you can do when he’s completely unavailable to you or when he doesn’t want to give you your stuff back is to contact his family. Is there a family member of his who would be willing to help you out?
You may have some important things at his house and you have the right to get them back. You probably met his family and got on with at least one of them, so a sister, brother, or cousin should at least be available to help you with this task.
Even if he has a new girlfriend, his family should be able to help you in this situation. Otherwise, they’re just as bad as he is.
4. Show up at his place
If push comes to shove, what else is there to do but show up at his doorstep and demand your things back?
When I was in your situation and my ex was keeping my stuff, I knew that I would somehow get it back. My last option was to show up at his door, so that’s what I did.
He was surprisingly cooperative but that may not always be the case, which is why you may want to take a backup with you – for example, a close male relative or a male friend. In case things escalate into something that you didn’t plan, you shouldn’t be alone with your ex, as it would only add insult to injury.
If he wants you back, then this time, it’s too late.
5. Take your case to a small claims court
What if he doesn’t want to give your things back? Well, then you have an actual problem but one of the ways you can get them back is by involving the law in everything.
If you truly have evidence that those things at his place are yours then you can simply take it to a small claims court. Most of the time, for something like this, you don’t even need a lawyer to represent you. You can easily represent yourself and show evidence that this is a crime against you.
You could press charges but he won’t have to pay any compensation or go behind bars. All he has to do is give you your things back.
This would be the best way to show him that you mean business. If he thinks that you’re just playing, then he has another thing coming. You’re very serious and he shouldn’t underestimate you just because he never took you seriously before.
Do it! Get your personal belongings back!
Advice for when nothing seems to work
There’s a chance that nothing will work. If your ex-boyfriend was an abusive or manipulative narcissist then he’ll think that he has a right to your stuff. He’ll think that there’s no reason for him to give you anything back, so you’ll only seem like a fool who constantly contacts him for no reason.
He’ll then think that his wicked plan is working or worst-case scenario, he’ll cut off contact with you if he thinks that you’re annoying. So when nothing seems to work and you’re still stuck wondering why your ex is keeping your stuff, you should consider something else…
Ask yourself whether it’s really worth it.
Are you going after all of your stuff because there’s value to it or is it just a pride thing? Are you just too proud to give up on your things or do you have some type of sentimental bond to them?
If there’s nothing tying you to those belongings then you may as well let them go. Show him that he doesn’t have any power over you anymore and that you’re fine without them anyway. Otherwise, you’ll spend hours, days, or even longer trying to get back things that have no value or meaning to you.
I mean, just think about it; if you get them back, they’ll only remind you of your ex. Is it really necessary then?