I have been with the man that I plan to marry for a little over a year now. He is a great guy, but something recently happened that I just can't seem to get over. He was married previously, and things ended badly with his wife — she cheated on him. She has been unkind to me, and in the beginning I had to overcome insecurities that he might still be in love with her.
Six months into our relationship I came across some pictures of his ex in a photo album that now contains pictures of me and him. Obviously, I knew he had pictures of her, but something about sharing a photo album made me uncomfortable. I decided to tell him how I felt, and the next day he told me that he threw the pictures away. Yesterday as he was moving some of his things into my home I noticed a box of pictures. Out of curiosity, I began to look through them, and came across the pictures of his ex that he had supposedly thrown away.
I confronted him about it, and though initially defensive, he did eventually apologize. He claims that he doesn't know why he never threw them away. He has assured me that he wants to spend the rest of his life with me and that nothing could change that. I know he loves me, but I don't know how to get over the feeling that he isn't over his ex. Why would he hold onto those pictures? Why would he lie to me? Am I overreacting?
— Picture Phobic Pia
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Dear Picture Phobic Pia,
Due to his difficult divorce, it sounds like your relationship has been plagued with insecurity from the get-go. Even if you both love each other, insecurity can easily haunt a relationship and destroy a happy couple. You really have to put these issues to rest before you can consider making a lifelong commitment.
You won't be able to let any of this go if you don't start recognizing that your boyfriend did have a very serious relationship with another woman prior to meeting you and that history can't just be erased. It doesn't mean that he's still in love with his ex or that he doesn't love you, but the reality is that he probably does harbor some feelings towards her, both good and bad. With time those feelings are sure to lessen, but for now, don't let them play a role in your relationship or make you question what you know to be true.
That said I think it's important to always trust your gut. If issues with his ex continue, and you're starting to feel the familiar twinge of concern about his intentions towards you (or her), it's time to lay down the law. He absolutely cannot have both of you, so don't be afraid to tell him so. Love is an amazing thing, but relationships come and go, so take care of yourself first and foremost. Good luck!