On a practical level, the ultimate breakup woe is almost definitely all the crap your ex leaves behind. Whether or not you initiated the split, these items can become emotional landmines, and stumbling upon them can throw you back into the post-breakup despair you've been working so hard to overcome.
Former marketing consultant and entrepreneur Annabel Acton recognized this issue and created a solution when she founded the online store Never Liked It Anyway, where scorned lovers can buy and sell items left over from relationships past. It's sort of like eBay for your ex's stuff.
On the site, you can find everything from a vintage Chanel bag to an electronic Chewbacca mask to engagement rings, all of which come with a description of the item, an explanation for why it's for sale, and the seller's "bounce back plan" (meaning: what they're doing to help get over the breakup). Even if you don't plan on buying or selling anything, reading through these listings can feel oddly cathartic, especially if you're in the post-breakup phase yourself.
Some sellers say they're selling items simply because their ex was "the worst " or "extremely unsupportive." One woman selling a YSL black wool scarf writes, "It was a last-minute gift from his horrible mother. She probably re-gifted this." As for the person selling that Chewbacca mask? "He loved this mask, and he definitely shouldn't have left it at my house." You get the picture.
We spoke with Acton about how to survive a breakup and her new book of breakup advice, inspired by the users and stories on her site. Check out our conversation with her below.
Interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What motivated you to start the website?
"I had a breakup, obviously ( laughs). I was meant to go to London to have Christmas with his family, but we broke up. I had these plane tickets to London that I obviously didn’t want to use anymore so I was like, 'Ugh, what am I going to do with these?' Then, I was like, 'Actually, I have all this stuff that I don’t want anymore, like jewelry he bought me and artwork we had together that I wouldn’t want to look at without him.' I just started thinking, 'Wouldn’t it be great if there was a place where you could upload all your breakup baggage, and then make some cash to buy things that are actually going to make you feel good?'
"Once I had the idea, I started looking at what was out there in the breakup space. When you look at online dating, it’s so saturated. But no one talks about breakups, even though we’re breaking up as much as we’re dating. There was nothing that felt modern or empowering. It just felt like breakups were stuck in the past."
A lot of people use it legitimately to sell items, but a lot of people just use it as a place to tell their story.
How did you plan out the book?" There were two ways the book was going to go: One was going to be a 'best of' from the site and it’d be a coffee table book. Then, the more I thought about it, the more I actually wanted to create a really fun guide to help people get over a breakup. And that’s the format of the book. It challenges [you] to try to get out of the funk [of a breakup] — spend a day museum-ing, sign up for a race, those sorts of things.
"I have a bit of a theory: With a breakup, you talk a lot. You talk about it with your friends. You talk about it with your family. But the minute you switch into action mode, that’s when things start to change. So, the book is really trying to encourage people to go out and do things."
What's the best piece of breakup advice you’ve ever gotten?
"Imagine being you in three months’ time, because you know you’re going to be killing it and you’re going to be back on your game. This is just a temporary thing. And another one is to enlist your friends. Ask them for help. That’s what they’re there for. You’d do the same for them, so it’s way better than going it alone."
What's your favorite movie that positively depicts a breakup?
"I thought How To Be Single was actually really fun. It didn’t make single life out to be the worst thing in the world. It actually made it out to be quite positive and fun — not something you should be afraid of or try to race through as quickly as possible."
And finally, what’s the weirdest thing currently on the website?
"A bottle of ketchup. It’s been on there for a while, because obviously no one’s going to buy it ( laughs). This girl hated ketchup her whole life, and when her partner left her, she was like, 'I’m selling it. I’m getting rid of it. I’ve always wanted it out of the house.' So she's selling a half-used bottle of ketchup for a dollar and throwing in a full one for free.
"That’s what I love about the platform. A lot of people use it legitimately to sell items, but a lot of people just use it as a place to tell their story. That’s why people sell items they know no one’s going to buy — it just gives them a chance to be heard."
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