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To Gift Your Ex Or Not?

To Gift Your Ex Or Not?

To Gift Your Ex Or Not?

Advice on Giving Gifts to Your Exes

Advice Seeker :
Dear April Masini,

I always exchange gifts with an ex with whom I've remained great friends over the years. It's usually something small and I don't consider it a big deal, but my new boyfriend has a huge problem with it. I've told him that this is basically the equivalent of my exchanging gifts with my girlfriends, but he disagrees. Who's right? Do I have to stop giving gifts to my ex? I don't want to jeopardize my relationship!

Gone but Not Forgotten 


April Masini's Advice :

Dear Gone but Not Forgotten,

In a word, he's probably right, and you should probably stop. But you aren't too specific about what your situation with your ex was, how long you were dating, etc. So I'm going to run through the list of all potential issues -- you'll notice that in most cases, gift-giving between you and the ex really isn't something I'd recommend.

Giving and getting a giftfrom the ex depends on a couple of things:

  • If you are married, you should not be getting gifts or giving gifts from an ex boyfriend or girlfriend. Furthermore, if you are single, you should not be giving gifts to your ex boyfriend or girlfriend who is now married to someone else. Move on with your life.
  • If you are single, you really shouldn’t give or get things from an ex boyfriend or girlfriend whether or not they are married or single. Again, move on. Why waste time on someone you’ve already decided is not Mr. or Ms. right? It’s absolutely not cruel to not give them a gift, in fact, it’s kind because you’re sending them a clear message.
  • If the ex is your ex-spouse, there are very few situations in which you should give or get a gift from your ex if you are both single. Move on. Allow the other person to move on.
  • If you and your ex spouse have children in common, then there are definitely situations in which giving a gift is appropriate. The best way to do this is to put your energy and money into helping your children buy a gift for their other parent who is your ex. The ex will appreciate and will know that you took the kids shopping, augmented their allowance money budget and helped them wrap and pick out a card. This is a gift in itself.
  • A gift from you and your kids to your ex is also acceptable as long as it is not personal or gives the wrong impression. Lingerie is a BAD idea. Even a flannel nightgown is no good. Stick to plants, flowers, books, candy, sports equipment and candles or candy dishes.
  • If you and your ex share children and are on friendly terms you may give or receive a gift that, again, does not give the wrong idea. Keep it impersonal. No perfume. No clothing. No diaries or mix CDs. A gift certificate to a book store, cooking or kitchen supplies or food are all good gifts.
  • If you and your ex share children and one of you has remarried you MUST give the gift to both your ex and their new partner from you. No gifts from you to the ex, and excluding the new partner. No way.

Things get sticky with exes and the holidays. Check out my tips for navigating the holidays after a divorce.