Should you return a high-value gift after a relationship ends?



DJ Maphorisa was arrested for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, DJ Thuli Phongolo, in May.

While the assault case is still ongoing, it is rumoured that the Amapiano pioneer has taken back the cars he bought her.

This has sparked a debate on social media about gifting while in a relationship. Some say that in happier times, those lavished with expensive gifts need to ensure they protect themselves from this. For example, making sure that a car or house is in their name.

We asked Relationship expert Paula Quinsee about the reason people take things back when they break up, and she says giving and receiving gifts can hold significant meaning and express love, appreciation, and thoughtfulness.

“Gifts from our lovers or partners help to communicate our emotions, strengthen bonds, and create lasting memories. From simple to grand gestures, giving gifts is a beautiful language of connection, joy, gratitude, and appreciation for each other.”

But what happens to the gifts when the relationship ends, particularly on a bad note? Do they remain with the receiver, or are they “returned to sender?”

“When going through a breakup, one experiences a roller coaster of emotions which can be fuelled by wanting to lash out and express our pain by unintentionally (sometimes maliciously) inflicting pain on the other person. One of the ways is taking back gifts received during the relationship.”

Paula says this behaviour can be a form of revenge, manipulation, and control. The person may be hoping that if they take the gift away (especially if it is a high-value item), the other party will give in to keep the gift because of their dependency on it, e.g. a car.

Even though some people may find their reasons for wanting the gifts back justified, Paula says, “The better thing to do in this situation is to look inwards as to the underlying source that is driving this behaviour and if it’s really about the gift itself or is it something more, and that’s where the work needs to be done.”

“If the ring receiver broke the engagement, then the ring should be returned. In cases where the breakup is of mutual consent, it can be discussed amicably between the separating couple as to who will take the ring. The same can apply to high-value items such as cars, houses etc. and whether there is any contractual agreement in place that determines the outcome in the event of a breakup.”

As for something small like a pair of slides? Paula says under normal circumstances, it is best to let go and instead work on getting closure on the relationship and moving on in life. “Taking back gifts is only going to be a reminder of what once was and doesn’t really serve any real purpose to either party other than cause ill feelings, which can prolong the healing process.”

Would you ask for gifts you bought your partner back when you break up? Let us know in the comment section…

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