how to get your stuff back from your ex

to get your stuff back, i would start with an informal approach. then, if that fails, escalate to a formal approach.

here’s how that looks.

start informal

just communicate what you want, calmly and clearly.

it’s best you avoid confrontation.

so don’t speak about what went wrong or who did what to who.

you want your stuff back, that’s all.

how to ask?

start with the least friction channel of communication. for example:

  • text message
  • a dm on social media
  • email

whatever avoids a live interaction. whatever avoids a public display. and whichever channel your ex will see first.

what to say?

state what you want, and either 1) where they can drop your stuff or 2) ask for a pick-up appointment.

don’t over think it.

“hey, i am looking to get my stuff back —pink floyd album, red jumper, 1984 book. let me know when it’s convenient to call round and collect. happy to grab and run.”

if you think your ex will not want to see you, then consider asking them to drop your stuff in a secure location.

for example:

“put it in a box and leave it hidden behind the bins this friday afternoon. i’ll collect. thanks.”

or, you can get a friend or family member to collect on your behalf.

for example:

“i’ll send my brother to collect so it’s not so awkward.”

you get the idea.

after you send your message, wait a few days.

a week, tops.

if no reply, try a different medium (different social media platform, email account, etc.)

if still no reply, either make a phone call or involve a friend or 3rd party.

if you make a phone call:

if your ex won’t reply to a text, they might have blocked you.

or they might just be acting up…

either way, a phone call likely won’t get answered. but it’s worth a punt.

if you call, just say roughly the same thing as you said in your message.

you don’t even need to mention that you sent messages (or ask why they didn’t reply.)

it is better to just say what you want.

don’t bother going over history…

this is just a logistical matter.

if you involve a friend or 3rd party:

if your ex is ignoring you, it’s smart to just remove ~you~ from the equation and ask a friend to step in for you.

(i say “friend” but it could be family or a work colleague, etc.)

just ask your 3rd party to text or call your ex and state that they’ve been assigned the task of collecting your possessions.

“hey there. i’m bob, friend of steve. i’ve been instructed to collect his belongings from you at a time and day that is convenient.”

again, nothing complex.

now, if the above fails because your ex won’t play ball? then you have to escalate things. that means getting formal or even taking legal action (so you stay inside the law.)

going formal (inc. legal)

if your ex ignores you or refuses to return your stuff, it’s time to get serious.

(we start with the informal because it is the most kind and amicable approach. but if it fails then we must get formal —with the eventual option of taking legal action.)

for the formal approach, i would write a letter that itemises your possessions, along with their estimated value.

in this same letter, i would state clearly that your ex has no legal right to keep these items.

i would then write something like, “unless you return what is not yours, or you send money as payment to ~make~ them yours, legal action will be taken against you.”

i would end the letter by outlining how and when the return or payment can be made.

then send the letter by recorded mail.

(i guess you could send this in an email instead, but it wouldn’t be as effective.)

anyway. this approach will have more impact than any informal, “hey, can i have my stuff back” approach.

if your ex refuses to return your stuff?

ultimately, you either let it go or commit to legal action.

if you’re curious, the legal approach involves:

  • gathering evidence that supports you ownership of items (receipts, photographs, maybe testimony from someone…)
  • documenting your efforts to retrieve your belongings
  • going the small claims court route (where you can sue your ex for the value of your stuff, or ask the court for a replevin order, which asks for the return of your property)
  • alternatively you might obtain a court order (which authorises law enforcement to assist you in retrieving your belongings)

final words:

the primary goal is to get your stuff back.

it’s not to win an argument or make your ex feel bad.

so keep things civil.

and of course, if you have any of your ex’s belongings, it is obviously only right that you return them. i suggest you send their stuff back first so you set an example.

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About the author: i’m a relationship coach specialising in breakup recovery. i’ve been doing this for 12+ years helping thousands worldwide. i created the Breakup Dojo, a popular program with over 1,000 members. i’ve authored several in-demand breakup recovery products, drawing from my deep fascination with psychology. i also publish the “ex-communication” newsletter that’s packed with actionable advice to over 10,000 subscribers worldwide.