More attention-grabbing than the news that petite power couple Ryan Seacrest and Julianne Hough broke up, and even more startling than the time they dated tallying three years, was the rumor that Seacrest gifted his newly ex-girlfriend with a $3 million departing gift.
The story was that Seacrest gave his house to Hough as a farewell gift when their relationship ended. And although TMZ and “sources” now say that the exchange simply never happened (and as “credible” as TMZ and “sources” usually are, I have to ask why we never seem to see both reporting in on celeb goss as the same time – hmm…), the “absolutely, positively false” story does raise an interesting question for couples on the outs, unhappy partners and those people thinking of Seacrest-Hough-ing it.
Should you give your ex (or nearly ex or just-about-ex or you’re-looking-pretty-ex-y-today-ex) a token of appreciation (or guilt or concession) when you split?
If you need to cut and run, the answer is clearly no. But what if you have been together for a long time? What if you want to end amicably? What if you are wearing something valuable the other person gave you out of love? It might sound absolutely ridiculous at first, but I wonder if there are ever circumstances in which a goodbye gift is in order during a breakup.
During a divorce, this is politely termed “division of assets”. If there has been an engagement, there is plenty of debate about whether a ring-wearer should give the diamond back. And we’ve all been in situations where we jut out a hip and say (if only in our heads), “You’ve had the gift of me for long enough.” Fair enough. Those situations aside, does the emotional weight of saying farewell to a boyfriend or girlfriend or otherwise ever feel like it should include homemade muffins, something scrapbooked, maybe a kitty cat to cuddle, possibly a $3-million mansion?
Is there ever a call for etiquette that kindly speaks, “Hey, there, I loved you and now I don’t” or “Guy/lady on the couch crying/not caring/sexting someone else, let’s call it a day. Oh, and here’s a nice vase from Pier 1 to express my gratitude for seven months together”?
Seriously, would you ever give a partner a present to express your sadness at calling it quits? And perhaps more telling, if a now-ex wrote you a check/sent you something sparkly/delivered a basket of niceties to your office, would you accept it?
I think most people would immediately scoff at the idea of a goodbye gift — I did, and out loud — but I also think most of us might actually nod and contemplate how a gesture — a kind, not-greedy, heartfelt gesture — might change the tone of the end.
Has anyone ever offered you a relationship consolation prize? Were you offended or did it soften the blow?
Would you ever pull a Seacrest-rumor-gift-move when ending it with someone?
And is it ever appropriate to say goodbye with gifts in hand?
I think the answer to all of the above is maybe. Perhaps I would accept or even offer a goodbye gift, and possibly, there are moments and partnerships when a present feels like the right last word.
Here’s the trick of goodbye gifts, in my well-versed-at-breakups opinion: No box of assorted Frango mints or handbag I’ve been eyeing or humongous home in the Hollywood Hills should ever be more valuable then making a choice to walk away from a relationship or a person (or both) who are not a good fit for where I am in my life. That’s the big ticket, even if it takes a lot of sobbing and rebounding and quiet time to get to.
This makes me think that the final maybe in all of these questions about goodbye gifts is whether it’s best to save the money — five bucks or $3 million — and spend on yourself for taking those steps out the door, no matter how hard or easy or way-past time or agonizing or exhilarating or jumping the gun. I think that maybe is a definite yes.
What do you think? Should goodbye gifts be a go?