Should You Keep Pictures of Your Ex Boyfriend, Girlfriend or Spouse

The vast majority of people have ex relationships. It is these ex relationships that can, and often do, make our next relationships better. Relationships are about learning and we all start our journey of companionship with the reality that the future will bring many more ‘frogs to kiss.’ Naturally, and especially today – in a day and age where cameras are attached to every cell phone, pictures are ever lingering reminders of our past. And since our past so often includes people we loved, or people we were in relationships with – chances are you (and your partner) have some pictures of your ex lying around. Emotionally mature partners have to be acceptant of the fact that you come with a past, right? And that past may or may not include pictures.

Is this okay? Should you keep pictures of your ex in scrapbooks, on your phone or in your computer? Or is it an expectation that the past relationship is dead, and that all reminders of your ex should be erased with it?

The answer is not a simple one. A British study showed that the majority of the people polled in a survey conducted admitted to consciously keeping pictures of their ex. Sure, they might not be displaying them on the mantle, but they have them nonetheless. After all, this person was part of your history – and is part of who you are today. Women, being the sentimental type tend to hold onto pictures of their ex and of past relationships to serve as reminders of their past. Men, on the other hand according to the survey may hold on to pictures of their ex because they aren’t quite over the relationship.

The tricky thing is that many people who have pictures of their ex, go to extra efforts to hide them from their current partner. If this is the case, then there may be some deceit going on, and it may be an indicator that while the relationship is over, it may not be completely over in your partners past. At some point, every person expects to run into a picture of his or her new partner with a past lover. If this happens accidentally, and doesn’t seem to be laced with an intricate web of lies, then you or your partner should be able to let it go. After all, jealousy is an ugly emotion that can potentially ruin any new relationship you have, and if it’s over a stupid picture – it might not be worth the upset. However, if you come across a collection of pictures that seem to be intently hidden yet accessible, you have reason to wonder where your partner stands emotionally.

Additionally, if you have a new boy/girl friend, then keeping pictures of you and your ex lying around the house, or in your wallet – is not an acceptable form of behavior under any circumstances. While you can keep the pictures, they should be boxed up and out of the every day view of your current mate.

The situation of old pictures can be tricky when you have been married to someone and then divorced. If you have kids together, then multiply this problem tenfold. Chances are that there will be many pictures of you and your ex, along with your kids creating a picture trail that can follow you around everywhere you go. You shouldn’t just expect your children to put away family pictures that contain you and your ex, nor ask that every family member who attended your wedding hide the pictures from a new lover. Hopefully, your new partner understands this. The longer you are with someone, the more extensive the history (especially when children are involved), the more pictures of you and your ex your new beau is bound to find.

If you do purposely keep pictures of your ex around, you probably need to figure out why you do it. Is it because you are still emotionally attached to that person? Is it because you still have more than platonic feelings, and like to be reminded of the times you had with that person? Do you keep the pictures around to try and make your new partner jealous? Are you hiding the pictures from your current lover? If any of these scenarios ring true, then you should feel guilty about the pictures and should expect some backlash from your current partner and may need to reassess your readiness to move on to a new relationship.

Additionally, if the person you are dating now seems to have a great deal of resentment or jealousy toward your ex spouse, or makes demands that you destroy any evidence of your past relationship – this may be a warning sign that your new love is tad controlling and jealous. As stated earlier, emotionally mature, healthy adults should realize that you have a past that involves other people. If they cannot handle this fact, or become excessively angry – you should see this as a red flag about their compatibility with you.



19 Responses

  1. Damm I feel so stupid I went to my ex boyfriend smiley a.k.a ismael house today after all the shit he did to me like being with other girls and him backing them up not having mine after all that I go to his house to tell him that I’m pregnant from him and I asked him one of these days were going to have to talk I’m having a baby by what’s wrong with u .he looks back and runs back inside where some dumb you no what was waiting for him

  2. I just want to make it short and hope that you can help me because I seriously don’t know what to do …
    I found pictures of my partners ex on the computer that we share. She had hid them inside a lot of other picture files, they are sorted with names and dates … and the thing is that I respect privacy but I have failed myself and don’t know if I should admit that I violated the privacy we share in that computer or should I just forget it . Please help me…

  3. My boyfriend has files amount files of him and all of his ex’s … Including their nudes. My first thought was “maybe he didn’t realize he still had them.” I waited a couple months after I found them to bring it up. He said that he is over them and I can delete them or he will delete them later… Now it is 7 months later, I already deleted the nudes and he had flipped out at me for invading his privacy. Okay, understandable but with all the excuses he has made until this point has got me wondering. One of his ex’s keeps in touch with him and I actually really like her but what I don’t like is that he has hundreds of photos with him kissing her, holding her , and touching her. They’ve been broken up for years and she still checks up on him. I kept my composure when he and her had a nearly 2 hour conversation over the phone while I was there and he had the nerve to say “Sarah was the best” and then said except for you … it really hurt and now I am In fact getting jealous , insecure, and rethinking the relationship. He always compares me to her. And I don’t know what to do. Every time I ask if he’s over her he obviously says yes but I know he’s not judging by his actions. This hurts.

    1. I don’t get it Lu, why would you even stick around with a guy like that?
      Just move on to better people. There are millions upon millions of other human beings.

  4. My husband and I have been together almost 10 years. He has always kept mementos from prior relationships. A couple years after we were married I found a box with love letter pictures and other little items from one past relationship. He said it was nothing that I was snooping and jealous and to stay out of his things. He had a past! Well throughout the years I’ve found several spots with several different letters or pictures some pornographic but all the same woman. I found one spot just this morning , same woman all notes and pictures I’ve never seen before. He says again it’s my fault I shouldn’t be snooping in his things. I was looking for money that he knew I was looking for in a spot I know he hides cash. I just wonder since he has apparently an unlimited amount of pictures and letters from this same woman am I wrong that it hurts me or am I really being childish I don’t know what I should do I know if she showed up today my husband would not be with me. And that alone is an awful feeling. What should or can I do for my situation?

  5. My ? Is and does not seemed to be answered here is that I have been in a long term relationship prior to the year of 2016 this is 2019! July 1st would be our 21 years anniversary when his mother past in 2013 nothing was settled until 2016 he had prom pictures left there that he wanted we’ve been together 18 yrs I is this normal that he wants to keep them? And no still not married!!!!

  6. Sometimes pictures dont really mean anything. I had old pictures and chats of a guy I flirted with and they have ruined a good relationship. These pictures were jus in my phone, for nothing and no particular reason, i just didnt delete them. no feelings, no nothing. but they were misinterpreted and we broke up. Coz of pictures. so if u want my advise, just delete all your exes pictures. It might mean a lot to your partner.

    1. Yeah… And then when your partner leaves you, you’ve got rid of a lot of memories for nothing. I like the idea that when I’m older, or old, and tidying up my parents house I’ll see my old photos, sit down with a brew, reminiscing for a few moments and then get on with my life. Is that really so very wrong?

    2. If he demands that you delete the pictures then he has a problem. He’s just insecure.

      1. Perhaps however it is his right as your new bf to request that you indeed delete them. No matter whst label you use jealousy or other terms the guy is right for requesting you delete them. You cannot have your cake and eat it!

  7. This whole article need qualification—MAYBE its ok to have photos of an ex if its during the first few months of a new relationship. but after that you need to ask yourself, “why am I keeping these?”… Because your new partner will, and has every right to ask, and be VERY suspicious of the answer. And after a couple of years, to find out there were “hidden” photos, no way!! Because there is NO VALID REASON to hold onto photos of an ex except that you are still hoping for reconciliation!! This is a serious bad sign. Its deceitful. Its disrespectful! Its a ‘lifeboat’. “Oh I forgot” or “you’re invading my privacy” are just passive-aggressive attempts to deflect the guilt and the responsibility. And kids is a poor excuse–if you have to see each other during custody exchanges–why do need photos? Uh, lifeboat! Life it too short to stay with someone who harbor feelings for an ex. Don’t get mad, just get out.

  8. What do I do with 23 yrs of vacation photos with my husband at the time? He had a mid-life crisis and left 8 yrs old. I haven’t looked at the photos since. There are also photos of friends and family in the same albums. Just cannot figure out how to handle this!

  9. My wife made me destroy all pictures of my ex when we first started dating. She said she had already destroyed all of her pictures of her ex boyfriend and I needed to do the same, so I did it. Many years later I found a picture album my wife made AFTER this happened. In it were a bunch of her old pictures, including pictures of her ex, a few of which were mildly romantic. When I confronted her, she had no memory how or why she made the album and couldn’t explain what she had done. She hadn’t looked at the pictures and had no contact with her ex since before we were married. Then she blew up at me for being upset about this. The truth is, I went into shock when I opened that album and haven’t been able to stop thinking about how she could do this- even though it was many I years ago, before we were married. I’m stuck.

  10. LI’ve been with my bf for 4 years now and he recently was going through the garage and found a bunch of old pictures, and it was fine cause he was showing me them. Well the other day I was going through an old dresser we have in a spare room and I saw the bag of the pictures he was showing me, so I started to look through them not even being snoopy just because I wanted to see pics of him and his family I did not realize I was going to find pictures of an ex gf and them kissing. I guess I’m just upset cause he clearly didn’t show me those before so i feel like he was intentionally hiding them from me and then also because he doesn’t ever take pictures with me we’ve been together 4 years and we only have a handful of pictures together. They just looked so happy and in-love and now I can’t stop thinking about it. I feel broken inside cause I feel like he’s not even as close to being that happy with me.

  11. Hi my name is Luiz
    I have been married for 29 years and them I get divorced
    after couple months divorced I start an relationship with a person I new for a long time, my client but she is a very discreet person and we never talk about married or any other personal issue.
    She is a wonderful person and I get married after 3 months . ( She has been Divorced for 15 years )
    She is a kind the person who everybody loves and me too.
    After we got married we went to Europe was a fantastic time , there is a strong connection between us.
    She still photos from hers 18 years previous married in boxes and the other day I found some photo’s in hers night stand with hers ex husband about half dozen mixed with other family photo’s
    And I ask myself why she keeps this photo’s.
    Once I confronted her and she said there is no sentimental value for her and why she keep this
    Maybe I feel insecure and have to get over it ?
    Thank you

    1. It’s already been 15 years. If she truly has been single before meeting you, I wouldn’t feel threatened by these pictures in her room. Perhaps you can ask her what’s the emotional/sentimental value in them for her? Be curious, not scared. It sounds like you guys love eachother but who am I to know? Best of luck

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