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The Stuff I Regret Giving to My Ex

Books, cats, herpes... stop giving shit to people! Keep it for yourself!
Daisy Jones
London, GB
Screenshot from 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'

I knew I'd regret it before I even suggested it. An original NSYNC tour T-shirt from 1999, baby pink text on the back, the material thin and worn down with age. My favourite item of clothing. And yet here I was, handing it over to my then-girlfriend with the words, "No, no, I want you to have it. I literally never wear it anyway ha ha, and I think it would look so good on you." It did look good on her. It looked good on everybody. Especially me.


"Aw, thanks," she replied, in the sort of tone you might use if someone had offered you a Starburst. This was an item that had been hanging on my body since I found it in a charity shop in the mid-2000s. I'd wiped tears off my face with that shirt; it had encased me while I slept; I'd worn it in the grass at 6AM at festivals and it had a cigarette burn on the right hand shoulder. Handing it over felt like saying: here, have me, have all these parts of me. Obviously we broke up – I never saw it again.

But we do things like that, don't we? Objects are just objects, and there's a uniquely warm feeling in passing them onto the people you love, because you’re basically giving them something that has brought you enjoyment in the hope it will do the same for them. But also: people move in and out of our lives all the time. We can’t just go around handing out our favourite shit to the next person who makes our oxytocin levels rise, but whose phone name will be replaced by a line of snake emojis three months into the future.

With that in mind, I spoke to some people about the stuff they regret giving to an ex.

James, 25

We met at art school. We were both studying sculpture. He was always pushing me to create, create, create, which was a really great way to be at that time, so I'm thankful for that. Anyway, I remember making this really weird black sculpture once – it was essentially a cast of my own arms, bent into animalistic shapes. In my young romantic mind, I thought giving it to him would be like giving him a part of myself, both my physical body and the energy it took to make it. I later found out he was cheating on me with multiple people. But that sculpture is one of my favourite things I’ve ever made and I would have loved to have kept it for myself!

Rebecca, 24

Harness photo via Sh! / Amazon

I miss my vegan leather strap-on harness. It was less that I gave it to her, and more that she kept it, and used it on someone else while we were still together. I basically opened up her drawer one day because there was some string and shit hanging out of it. And my harness was in there with a massive dildo that she’d never used with me. The dildo in question was one she'd had with an ex before me that I didn’t want to use because I thought it was weird. There are so many layers to this, babe, I can’t even…


Portia, 20

My first girlfriend has an Armani shirt that was given to me by my godmother, who's since died. It's literally just a denim shirt, it’s not even that deep, but I’ve got a sentimental attachment to it. When we broke up I asked for it back, and she said she’d post it, but she never did. Every time she goes out in Leeds I know she purposefully wears it in case she sees me. Once, I tried to fight her for it because I was very drunk and angry – I was like, "Oi! Give me my fuckin' T-shirt, you cunt!" and tried to, like, physically remove it from her – not my finest moment. The other day, I saw a picture on Instagram of her current girlfriend wearing it.

Charli, 27

Does an STI count? I know it’s not an object, but I do regret giving it to him. I hooked up with someone I met in a club when me and my ex were going through a very rough patch, but didn’t realise said person had herpes. The whole thing was dumb of me, but I was going on self-destruct mode as a coping mechanism. The STI thing was like the final nail in the coffin of our crumbling relationship. I know he views me as a toxic person, and maybe I am, but I do wish things had ended in a normal, healthy way. I wish no one had herpes.

Liz, 25

Kitten photo via Kisspng

For my ex's 33rd birthday, I threw him a surprise party and bought him a PS4. I was in his good books, so the next day was like, "Can I get a kitten?" We found a kitten that needed to be homed ASAP, so got her. Although we lived together with this kitten, I always felt like she was mine, and whatever happened between me and my ex, I'd take her. Anyway, the relationship soured and I began sleeping in the spare room with her. She then developed this rare immune disease where she became paralysed from the waist down, and required so much attention, which kind of kept me and my ex together even longer. We were doing physio for her, hand-making cat food, etc…


A few months later, we broke up and he took it really badly, which made me feel so guilty. His dad sent me this super long email, and at the end he was like, "Please leave the cat, he needs her." So I just said yeah. He’s since blocked me on Instagram, so I can’t see any photos of her, but it’s probably for the best because I proper miss her.

Luke, 25

I gave my ex-partner this very special ice-blue see-through vinyl of Rhythim Is Rhythim's "Strings Of Life". It was in very good shape, still in the picture sleeve. I can't even remember why I gave it to them, I think it was on impulse. It's an iconic single; I love that song and I haven't been able to find it since, but like… you can't really ask for something like that back, especially not three years later. I'd sound like a real twat.

Grace, 26

When I was 20, a friend who I love very much gave me that book The Collected Fanzines by Harmony Korine. It has a lot of his personal poetry in it and just meant a lot, because Gummo and Kids are my two favourite films. It was something I’d flick through and read a lot, for inspo. I lent it to my ex when we were good and she just never returned it, even though I asked sooo many times. It got to the point where I didn’t even want to talk to her anymore. Weird thing is, I’ve never replaced it. Even though I could.