What sort of set do you mean? Is there a reason why you need to break up the set in particular?
The only example I can think of is with china...we were given a complete set as an engagement present; the plates we still use...but the casserole dish, the jugs and some teacups and saucers we never use but I am loathe to get rid of them.
That's along the same lines as what I was thinking. I have a set of casual dinnerware that has two different types of bowls. One type bowl is sufficient, but I'm having a hard time letting go of the bowls we really don't need.
But more generally I have a hard time getting rid of things that I don't use when they are part of a set of things that came together. The part of me that likes order says those things belong together. If I get rid of one I have to get rid of all of them together.
Yes. Sometimes I have trouble tossing something from a set even if it's broken. This is especially true of things like china, so I have a couple of very chipped teacups in our cabinets right now...I know they're not useful, but if I tossed them, I'd only have x number, when I should have y number, ykwim?
I've been working on getting past this and I have made progress. I've tossed all the broken china and crystal from the sets we have that belonged to my dh's family. The fact that there were so many chipped and broken pieces among that stuff made me feel better when I realized I'm not the only one with this fixation. It was easier to start by breaking up sets that weren't originally mine.
For the rest, I've begun to think about what a set really is. A set is a group of items that belong together because there is something that they have in common, typically use. But making sets is subjective. The sets of things for sale in shops have all been put together by someone who had a particular idea about what belonged together (and that idea was very likely motivated by the need to market and sell stuff.) But that person's idea of what belonged in a set might not apply to my needs/situation. I've decided that I don't have to agree with other people's ideas of what a set should be, and that I can make my own sets that may be smaller. I remind myself of this whenever I come across something I don't need but is part of a set and I find that it helps.
I have a small set of art books that I think about breaking up. Only a couple of the volumes are related to periods and places I have a strong interest in. However, art books are still cool just to look at and these don't take up much room. Talked myself out of it again.
I have a 4-place setting of china that an ex boyfriend gave me for Christmas many years ago. I rarely use the china and thought about getting rid of it but my dh and daughter don't want me to. It includes teacups and saucers which I've only used once or twice. There are also two lovely serving dishes I have never used even once. It's only because I never bring food to the table, I always keep it warm on the stove. To me there's nothing worse than food looking lovely in beautiful serving dishes on the table but then when you want a second helping it's cold. For the most part, I could keep the dinner plates and the smaller salad/dessert plates which is all I've ever used anyway.
I think my dh and dd don't even remember that I have the serving dishes since I've never brought them out. I could take them to Goodwill and they'd never know. That way they can't talk me into keeping them!
There are also two lovely serving dishes I have never used even once. It's only because I never bring food to the table, I always keep it warm on the stove. To me there's nothing worse than food looking lovely in beautiful serving dishes on the table but then when you want a second helping it's cold.
Exactly...that is what I find and although I love the look of antique china tureens, platters, etc...I don't find them practical in our family, particularly as we rarely all sit down to eat at the same time anyway. Teenagers who have busy schedules and a husband who works late (at home but still working in his office) so they all eat when they get around to it!