There are the gifts—from birthdays, holidays, or those random “just because” days. That t-shirt of theirs you like to sleep in. The toiletries they kept at your place for nights they stayed over. Photos—both physical and on your phone. There’s a paper trail; a collection of love letters, ticket stubs from the concerts you went to, birthday cards. We amass a great deal of stuff over the course of a relationship. But what happens when it ends? How do you declutter after a breakup?
Before I go further, though, thanks so much to Bee for having me here! I’m Katie, but you might know me as the dating b. I write a lifestyle and relationship blog called The Dating B*tch. Don’t let the name fool you, though! My main focus is on helping people improve all aspects of their relationships—including the one they have with themselves.
After a breakup, your relationship with yourself can take a major hit. It’s important to take care of your physical and emotional wellbeing. Part of that self-care can come in the form of decluttering. So, today, I’m sharing my advice on decluttering after a breakup.
Related Read: 7 Ways to Deal with a Breakup
Why You Should Declutter After a Breakup
Even if you’re not a minimalist, it’s a good idea to do a little decluttering sesh if you’re going through a breakup. Here are 3 reasons why a post-breakup cleanse is so important:
1. It Gives You a Sense of Control
Breakups can really leave people feeling anxious and uncertain. Unless you were the one who ended the relationship, you probably didn’t want to break up. It was completely out of your control. That’s a hard thing to deal with. We like to be in control of our own lives and futures, especially when it comes to love and romance. But, if someone ends a relationship you wanted to stay in, that decision was out of your hands. Being broken up with is a passive activity.
The act of decluttering on the other hand, is active. So, by doing a little post-breakup cleaning, you’re putting yourself back in the driver’s seat of your life.
2. It’s Empowering & Proactive
Taking an active approach to your own healing journey can help you feel more empowered. When you go through a breakup, it’s normal to want to stay in bed and wallow. You know you need to work on “self-care” and “healing” and “moving forward,” but heartbreak can make anyone a procrastinator. While you may not be ready to start an exercise routine or get back into the dating field, you can probably do a little decluttering. Doing that will help you feel more productive which can help you heal faster.
3. It Can Help Your Mental Health
Your physical space is strongly tied to your mental and emotional health. If you have a lot of clutter, you tend to feel more disorganized. By getting rid of some of your relationship clutter, and possibly doing some light cleaning while you’re at it, it will help you feel happier and less anxious.
Steps for Decluttering After a Breakup
When you hear the phrase “post-breakup decluttering,” I bet you’ve got an image of burning everything your ex ever gave you. But that’s not how you should approach it. Here’s what to do instead:
1. Get Rid of the Paper Trail
I’m not talking about the love letters or the sentimental ticket stubs you kept. Rather, the electronic paper trail. The hundreds of text messages and photos you’ve got saved on your phone. Now, I totally understand wanting to hold on to the pictures; they’re a part of your life and history, and one day you may want to look at them again. So, for that, go ahead and send them to your Google Drive. But you need to delete the texting chain and all the pictures on your phone. What you don’t need is a way of re-examining everything to see if you can determine what went wrong, which is what you’ll want to do if you can re-read all their old texts.
2. Sort Through the “Stuff”
For me, clearing out my phone was always the hardest part. The next part is way easier. Sort through all the physical stuff. In one pile, you can put their things; their toothbrush, deodorant, the extra clothes they left at your place. Anything that was strictly theirs. Next, the sentimental stuff; letters, the t-shirt you sleep in, the framed photos, the keepsakes from dates or vacations. And finally, the gifts they’ve gotten you.
3. Toss What You Don’t Need
This is going to be subjective, and if there’s nothing you feel you can actually throw away, don’t worry. You don’t have to. But if there’s anything you can get rid of (think, their spare toothbrush that they probably won’t want back), this is where you throw it out.
4. Box Up the Rest
Everything else can be boxed up. If there’s anything you ex will want or need back, put that together in a separate box. Eventually, you’ll need to return it to them, but for now, just pack it up. The rest of the stuff, the gifts and sentimental items, should also be packed up. Again, you don’t need to physically get rid of everything, but you do need to put it where you won’t see it on a daily basis.
5. Celebrate Yourself
Whether you did a lot of cleaning and organizing or just threw a few things together in an afternoon, it’s not easy to declutter after a breakup. It’s a symbolic act of moving forward so take a minute to celebrate yourself for taking that first step.
Thanks again to Bee for letting me write this guest post! For more on dating, relationships, and personal growth, check out my blog at www.datingbitch.com.