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You Asked: Is It Normal That He Kept Pictures of His Ex?

Dear Sugar,

When I broke up with my boyfriend, I was devastated. We were head over heels for each other but things just weren't working out so we ended it. At one point when I was trying to get over him, I threw away all the pictures I had of him and us, all the CDs he made me, and anything that reminded me of him. I've completely moved on and I'm actually married to someone else, but I recently found pictures of my husband's ex-girlfriend in a desk drawer. I know that everyone moves on from past relationships differently, but is it normal that he still has photos of this girl years later? I understand that she was an important person in his life, but why does he need reminders of her now that he's happily married to me? — A Little Annoyed Amber

To see DearSugar's answer

Dear A Little Annoyed Amber,

You're right, everyone moves on from past relationships differently, so while purging all your memories of your ex worked for you, it sounds as though your husband doesn't share the same sentiment. If these pictures make you uncomfortable, bring it to your husband's attention. Ask him why he's holding onto reminders of her, but realize that keeping old memorabilia might not have anything to do with you or your relationship. Sure, it might make you feel vulnerable, but remember that we all have pasts — the good, the bad, and the exes. Open the lines of communication around what you found and how it makes you feel, ask the questions you need answers to, and hopefully you'll be able to keep it all relative. I hope I was of some help.

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Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 7 years
I'm fairly certain my partner has photos of his ex, (he had them before we started dating, I've no idea if he deleted them) and it doesn't bother me. If they exist he doesn't look at them and they're tucked away on a laptop he barely uses. I've also got photos of my exes, but they're tucked away and I don't look at them often. As long as your husband isn't gawking or ogling these old photos on a common basis your fine.
yellowshoe yellowshoe 7 years
I dated a guy for 7 years, and my most recent ex boyfriend stayed over one day (at this point we had been together for almost a year) and went through my entire box of photos while I had to run into work. He was so upset that I still had the pictures, and asked me to get rid of them. I did, and now I regret it. I thought, what's the big deal, they are just pictures, and to be honest, I did have a few too many (I definitely would have been uncomfortable if the situation was reversed, not that I would have been going through his stuff if he had to run into work) and I did have some copies at my mother's house anyway. But, they were my pictures, and some of them were of great times in my life. It wasn't that I kept them to pine over my ex, but, I firmly believe that every experience in my life shapes who I am, and I wish I still had some of them. Also, I kept them in a box with every other photo that I had (I'm bad about albums), so I didn't have them framed and up everywhere in my place... The past is the past, and holding onto a pictures doesn't mean you aren't moving on with your life.
Janine22 Janine22 7 years
oops, that make you think you... need to worry or he is not over them yet.
Janine22 Janine22 7 years
I still have pictures of almost all of my ex's in a drawer. It doesn't mean I am still attached to them or anything, and actually I don't really look at them at all. I don't see what the point would be of throwing them out, unless I actually was still hurt or not over them and needed to 'purge' as someone else said. I can see why it bugs you, but I don't think it means he is still attached to her or anything (unless there are other things occurring that make you think you).
belletrist9 belletrist9 7 years
While we were still dating, I bought my ex and I matching picture frames (the small folding kind) and put two pictures of us in each. After we broke up, I got rid of the frame, but I kept the pictures. I don't have a desk with drawers, so I keep them at the very bottom of one of my letterboxes. I've been dating my current boyfriend for almost two years now, and they're still there. I can't even explain why I don't throw them away, I never go specifically to look at them and I haven't talked to my ex in at least a year, probably. Still, that was part of my life and they were super cute pictures. I even have a small picture of me and my high school prom date sitting on my bookshelf. My boyfriend was totally ok with that when we first met, even before I told him we only went as friends and that my date has since come out of the closet. They're my pictures and they're my memories, and it was way before him. Why should he care? They're just memories. Of course, I also now have a picture of my boyfriend and I on my bookshelf and on my desk at work, as well as a picture of us on our backpacking trip on my whiteboard. =)
LoveSarah LoveSarah 7 years
I'm not going to throw away or burn or delete or whatever else to my memories. I love pictures, and I still have pictures of my exes on my computer, I really don't see what the big deal is. You are happily married, I would only be worried if he was hanging out with her all the time and you found pictures she sent him in his email or something. But harmless pictures from ages ago? Well, I don't really think there is a threat there.
momma-tikita momma-tikita 7 years
hubby threw them out...im cuban...and very jealous! So my answer is obvious! ;)
Muirnea Muirnea 7 years
GScott: "hope pining away over then is all that he would do...but yeh..." LOL LOL LOL. :-P :) I really think this is a very personal thing and every couple has to do what's best for them. I think 0danielle0 had some good advice. I took TONS of pics with my ex, I mean hundreds, we were together about a year. But I deleted most of them and just kept some favorite memory ones on my computer with all my other random pics. The only thing I personally might be worried about in your situation is that he had them in the desk drawer. Like 0danilelle0 said, if they are randomly laying in a pile of tons of pictures or something, then it's not a big deal, people like to keep memories, like everyone else on here has said. But, if they were by themselves in a desk drawer b/c he likes to pull them out and look at them or something, then I would be worried. All you can do is talk to him, tell him how you feel and see how he reacts.
Smilesp Smilesp 7 years
I've never thrown away any pictures of anyone...exes, old friends, whoever. It's always nice to be able to look back and remember. I have a box full of letters and cards from exes too...I don't ever really look at them but I wouldn't get rid of them. They're special to me but not in a way that should threaten a new boyfriend.
glitterandgold glitterandgold 7 years
i made my bf throw away all of his. and i hate my memories so i threw away mine. we made a fire-burning night out of it. it was awesome!!!! everyone is different honey. i hate my ex and i dont want to think about it so thus the burning of pics. i do have other pics with other guys that i dont mind!
Le-Luxe Le-Luxe 7 years
A similar thing happened to me, I found a framed picture of his ex sitting on a shelf. I didn't know what to do with it, but it was kinda upsetting. I was wondering why he would feel the need to still even have it. But yes, looking back I still have pictures of MY Ex, and i would like to keep them for my own memories and nothing else.
plus_2_kid plus_2_kid 7 years
That nothing!! When my husband got divorced from his first wife, he (we) somehow ended up with their WEDDING ALBUMS!! I love going through them and teasing him about her big hair or how miserable I think he secretly looks. It's one thing to keep photos - often an ex is a part of a larger group of friends from a time we all remember fondly. I would only worry if: 1) You catch him looking at them secretly after you have had a big fight with him 2) They are framed on the wall 3) When you look at them he comment on how hot YOU would look in that dress/with the hairstyle/on that beach etc. etc. 4) he has one of those photos as wallpaper for his computer and/or phone (wasn't that a post a few months back?)
cptnruthless cptnruthless 7 years
I agree with you about purging pictures from exes, because they're exes for a reason! However I've kept pictures of my high school boyfriend, who I still think of fondly as a friend. I would never get rid of those memories, because we had a blast together, although I'm way happier with my current boyfriend. My boyfriend DID ask why I kept them (and why my mom still had our prom picture up!), but once he realized that it was years ago and had nothing to worry about, he dropped the subject. Just have a chat with your man - it's probably just a harmless picture!
oohsexypenguin oohsexypenguin 7 years
I don't have any pics of my ex. We just never took any. When I was helping my fiance move about a year into our relationship, we stumbled upon some pictures of him with girls he'd either been with, took to prom, or had crushes on at some point. I was curious (and, admittedly, a bit jealous), but he snatched them up and threw them all away. Unless your husband has done other things to earn your suspicion, I wouldn't make a big deal out of it. If you want you could bring it up casually - "Hey honey, the other day I was looking for something in your desk and came across a photo of your ex." Chances are he'll probably end up getting rid of it himself.
cheekyredhead cheekyredhead 7 years
I keep a picture of a troll I married for a brief moment in my life. It is a reminder of my one really significant mistake I have made. Thank goodness we didn't reproduce. This man told me everything a woman wants to hear, cleaned out my savings, put me in debt, and emotionally hurt my kids. I will never forgive myself for allowing this to happen. Sometimes people keep photos as reminders of mistakes they have made that they do not want to forget. They are the bookmark in our lives that reminds us that we must move forward and not stand looking back and beating ourselves up over the past. I guess it is the equivalent to putting a picture of the fattest person on earth on the front of your refrigerator..."I'm not going back there" sort of heads up. Rather than see it as something which you may resent, perhaps you should see it as a lesson he learned and your relationship is better for it. Don't assume he is holding something precious in that photo. Approach him if you must and be honest about your feelings, but be open to hear that it may be nothing you suspect. Ask him if your relationship is better because of what he learned from that relationship...which is far more important than the photo.
psterling psterling 7 years
Unless you have other cause for concern, I'd let it go. I still keep letters/ pictures from my ex, even though I'm happily married. its just a fun reminder of when I was young.
zabrow zabrow 7 years
when i was growing up, my mom & dad had a couple pictures of their high school sweethearts & i thought it was fun to check out the pictures & think about what might have been if they'd ended up with their first loves instead of each other. they didn't keep trunks full of memorabilia, just one or two pictures & they both seemed to be fine with it. whenever i break up with someone, i usually go through & throw away/delete most of the pictures of them, but i keep one or two just to remember them & look back later. not because i miss them, but because they were part of my life at one point. if your husband had stacks & stacks of pictures of this girl, i'd say you could be kind of upset, but if it's just a few, i'd let it pass. there are going to be so many more worthwhile things to argue about in life, it's not worth it to waste your time & energy getting upset over something like this.
nm1188 nm1188 7 years
I don't know... I would have a problem with my husband still keeping pictures of his ex. :/
GScott86 GScott86 7 years
^LoL, hope pining away over then is all that he would do...but yeh...they're just pictures really. I still have some pictures of chicks I liked. I don't have any feelings of them whatsoever, and my gf are still friends with her exes on myspace...and they're in her top 16 or w/e, but doesn't matter. I love her, I know she loves me. And we're not doin stuff on the side so it's all good.
bluestar bluestar 7 years
I guess I'm weird. My ex had all these pictures of his exes in a box and I couldn't wait to see them! LOL, I wanted to see what he looked like and what the girls looked like, just curious about his life before I was in it. It's not like he was locked in the bathroom, pining away over a picture every night. They're just pictures!
karlotta karlotta 7 years
> Unless he kept the picture under his pillow or walked around with it in his pants all day I wouldn't bug him about it. LOL SundayGreen!
karlotta karlotta 7 years
I have a TRUNKFUL of love letters and pictures of my exes. They were part of my history, part of what made me who I am today, and I cared about them. I'd be incredibly upset if my BF asked me to chuck them! Except the trunk is in our living room right now, and serves as a side table. Do I ever look at them? Yes. Do I ever get lovin' feelings back for my exes? Nope. I wouldn't worry about it :)
cherry-peel cherry-peel 7 years
I've been wondering this as well, so I'm glad someone asked! I did the same thing, I threw away all the pictures, cd's and everything of a serious boyfriend I had for a year (the highschool boyfriends I kept all the stuff, just because it's funny and I feel no real attachment to them). I still have some on my online photo accounts, and I'm kind of glad, because I agree that you shouldn't have to throw away parts of your life, I had a lot of good memories with this guy and I can appreciate that. Although, I'm married and I would be pretty upset if I found pictures of my husband's ex in his desk drawer...that doesn't seem right. I would definitely talk to him about it and I'm guessing it is probably a misunderstanding.
lawchick lawchick 7 years
I feel like every couple deals with this differently, and that's ok. I have a box of ex-boyfriend stuff at my mom's house. My husband saw it and was obviously bothered. at the time, I had no intention of throwing it out. but recently I saw a picture of my husband and his high school girlfriend and it made me a little sad, even though I didn't even know him then and they haven't talked in a decade! so, I'm throwing out the ex box next time I go to mom's. I'm just suddenly...over it. Not over HIM -- I've been over him for a long time -- I just don't need or want the material reminders (photos, letters) anymore. I think it's OK to feel weird/sad about this, but at the same time it's not that big of a deal. Have a good talk with you husband about it.
looseseal looseseal 7 years
I have plenty of old junk in my desk drawers. If I ever clean them out I'll probably find a lot of stuff I forgot about. I'm also one of those people who never throw photos away, no matter how useless and pointless the photos are ;)
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