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.