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You Asked: Is He Over His Ex?

Dear Sugar,

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

To see DearSugar's answer,


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!


Join The Conversation
missgabriella missgabriella 6 years
please do not edit. Lots of scams here and there, I thought only prayers could bring my man back but it didnt work,then I tried begging, it also didnt work, I even tried spells myself, it didnt work,until I saw something about a female spell caster, I tried her, maybe because she was a female like me ,so she would feel my pain.. Anyways, she had no site, nothing to show, but I just followed my heart and thanks to God that I did that because,IT WORKED. ALL SHE HAD WAS A EMAIL ADDRESS priestessmiriam @ gmail. . com..then later a phone number…all I can say is, the spell worked,my man came back…I am happyLots of scams here and there, I thought only prayers could bring my man back but it didnt work,then I tried begging, it also didnt work, I even tried spells myself, it didnt work,until I saw something about a female spell caster, I tried her, maybe because she was a female like me ,so she would feel my pain.. Anyways, she had no site, nothing to show, but I just followed my heart and thanks to God that I did that because,IT WORKED. ALL SHE HAD WAS A EMAIL ADDRESS priestessmiriam @ gmail. . com..then later a phone number…all I can say is, the spell worked,my man came back…I am happy
okmom23 okmom23 9 years
I have kept my old ex's pic's, and really understand why he would do the same. I would tell myself, pick your battles, and that usually puts everything in perspective!
GeeksDreamGirl GeeksDreamGirl 9 years
I totally agree - this is not a big thing to him. You're making it into a big thing because you're insecure about the relationship. He's with you, he wants to marry you. What more do you want?
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
My issue would not be that he still has the pictures but that he lied to me about it. I don't think he needs to get rid of the pictures but he should be able to tell you that he put them away somewhere for safe keeping but he didn't throw them away. That would be my issue if I were you. I'd tell him that too. Just because she's his ex doesn't mean that he's ever going to be over her or what she did to him. It's a lot harder to get over someone who cheated on you than it is to get over someone you broke up with. Cut him some slack and sit down and have a serious discussion about your insecurities. He can reassure you he only wants you and everything should be fine after that. It's hard to think about his past for you I'm sure but he does have one and that is not going to change whether he has pictures to remember it by or not.
saranightly saranightly 9 years
I would never throw away pictures of my ex, and would never ask a new boyfriend to do the same. I just don't want to see them! He can hide them away somewhere where I can pretend they don't exsist.
bransugar79 bransugar79 9 years
Wow I feel for you. I know it's never good to feel insecure about a relationship. From what you said it doesn't really seem like there is anything to worry about right now. I think this woman broke your boyfriends heart and it doesn't seem like he is ineterested in letting that happen again. As far as the pictures go I think he wanted to make things easier for you and he is maybe not able to get rid of them just yet. Maybe he'll always keep them because they remind him of some good times in his life. Don't worry unless he is having a lot of unecessary contact with her, or if you notice him being distant with you or dishinest about whate he's doing.
JustSomeChick JustSomeChick 9 years
Like others, similar situation. My boyfriend was with his ex-wife for 13 years, married for 7. They have 2 kids (which might make the situation different). She had a long-standing (and still continuing) affair with a married co-worker, and they split. He has pictures of her in his home, and I am sure other things. The way I see it, she was a HUGE part of his life, and she and the memories of her won't just disappear. I know he doesn't want to be with her, but he still feels pain from the way the situation ended. It doesn't mean he cares any less for me. I just have to have faith in him and trust his feelings for me, and that he would tell me if they changed. Love is about trust. You need to have faith in him and understand why he holds on to those things.
joesbabygirl joesbabygirl 9 years
I'm in your boyfriends shoes. I'm divorced. I met a wonderful guy whom now I live with and plan to marry one day. He had a lot of insecurities at first. The one thing you must remember is your boyfriend was married. When you get married you plan your whole life together...and then your spouse cheats on you..(this is what happened to me) That's not something that is gotten over or forgotten easily. My boyfriend gave me time to get over it. He even lending me his shoulder to cry on when my ex was giving me trouble. In time my boyfriend is the reason I threw all my pictures away...not because he asked me to or had a fit because I had them..because he didn't. He gave me time to heal. His love and support is what made me want to through all of the paper memories away. Just remember that. And please do this for your man. I'm sure it was hard on my boyfriend to be so supportive over my broken heart from another man....But we are unbelievably close now. It just takes time and patience!
Sporky Sporky 9 years
I wouldn't worry too much about it, as the other posters said above, everyone has a past and guys are very different emotionally about it. I'm sure he loves you, don't make things rough by making a big issue out of the photos. I would have been mad if he'd lied to me too, but cut him a little slack on this one.
ella1978 ella1978 9 years
I am also in a very eerily similar situation. My BF of 2.5 years was married when he was younger. They were together for about a total of 1.5-2 years. She cheated, they got a divorce. My BF still has his wedding album. It doesn't bother me. I sort of think of it to be on par with me having my prom pictures, or pics of me and my exes. Yes, they are ex's for a reason. But the pictures have sentimental value. It's not necessarily the person I am remembering, but the time. I don't think my BF knows that I know about the photos, but I've never asked. It's his past, and I know that he harbors NO feelings for his ex, but it was part of his life. I wouldn't overly concern yourself with it. He's with you now for a reason.
karlotta karlotta 9 years
and forgive him for lying, he was doing it because he knew you'd be hurt, not because he's getting up at night to longingly stare at the pictures and jerk off to them.
karlotta karlotta 9 years
He's over her. I have a trunk ( A TRUNK) full of pictures and letters from my exes. You just don't throw away souvenirs from past loves - they existed, and they're a part of you. I don't love any of them anymore, and I never even look at those pictures, but it would be hard for me to throw them out, they are my past, and what has made me. It's funny because when my BF and I moved in together for good 2 months ago and opened all our boxes, he had a HUUUUUGE frame inside a plastic bag, and I was like "oh, what is that, are we going to put it up on the wall?" - turns out it was a picture of his ex. Part of me was like "why in god's name is he keeping a freaking POSTER of his ex?" - but then I realized I'd do the same. He put the frame in storage, and I put my trunk in my office. We all have a past, and most of us like to keep mementos. It means nothing. Certainly not that he's still into her. Rest easy, girl, and let him keep his box!
Janine22 Janine22 9 years
I can understand why the picture thing would be upsetting to you. But I wondering if there are other things going on that make you think that he is still in love with her? I don't think that you can conclude this to be true just because he still has pictures of her. Are there other ways that he shows you he is unable to let go of the past??? Are you basing your whole opinion of this just on some pics? Yes, he shouldn't haven't lied to you, but he just did it because he didn't want to hurt you. Some part of him may still care about her, he was married to her after all. But obviously he made the choice to leave her, and he also made the choice to be with you. If he still wanted to be with her, he would have tried to works things out and stayed with her. But he didn't.
sparklestar sparklestar 9 years
I just moved in with my boyfriend and found pictures of his ex (who he was with 3.5 yrs) who he broke up with 2 years ago. I asked a male friend for advice about this (mostly because I was going WHY does he still have these WHY WHY WHY) and he said that he probably didn't know what to do with the pictures. Once a relationship ends guys don't see things like that as important. As long as it wasn't underneath his pillow or something and he's crying over it every night then you don't need to worry. If he has assured you that the pictures were nothing to worry about then you don't need to worry... I still have pictures of two ex's who still mean a lot to me. It doesn't mean I am not head over heels for my boyfriend, it just means I can't erase memories of events that have happened with other people.
xoxoxx xoxoxx 9 years
Betty is RIGHT on point. I still have texts on my phone from my ex [from well over a year ago, and my one year anniversary with my current is quickly approaching], and Beau asked me why this was, and...I had no answer. I'll always love and care for the ex, despite the bullshit he put me through. I'm not in love with him, though - I'm in love with Beau. And YOUR guy is in love with you. Trust me, he's over her.
sisterrain sisterrain 9 years
I went through a very similar situation also (in fact, I'm still going through it). My husband of a year had his divorce finalized from his ex-wife a few months before we met. They had been together for 6 years, married for 2 or 3 years. She cheated on him, he left. It didn't bother me a whole lot until we were married and moving our stuff in together, and I realized that all of his stuff - plates, candle holders, towels, frames, pots and pans, etc, were wedding gifts he had gotten from his wedding to her. I know he has albums and albums of pictures with her still in them. There was one of our wedding pictures in the same frame that held a wedding picture of them (I found the picture of them, still inside the frame, turned backwards against the backing). We made engraved wine glasses as wedding favors, and when we were moving, I found that he had made the exact same thing for his wedding with her. He claims none of it matters because it's just stuff, and doesn't seem to understand how much it bothers me. So I don't want to discourage you, by any means, and I'm not at all sorry that I married him, but the issue might not go away immediately. I am still dealing with insecurities and questions and I don't know if they'll ever fully go away. When I try to bring it up with him, he gets very upset, doesn't want to talk about it, accuses me of not trusting him, and essentially hides in a ball until I drop it. I still wonder if he wishes she never cheated on him, so they could still be together, or what would happen if he were to come across her now - would they hit it off again? So, I don't have any advice or wisdom, but I think this topic deserves more attention and discussion than it seems to get.
eastcoastgirl eastcoastgirl 9 years
This is a part of him and his past you are his future,we all have a past including you.I am sure you don't want to get rid of all your pictures they represent a place you were but it doesn't neccessarily mean it is where you want to be now.
Berlin Berlin 9 years
You've been with him for a year and are planning to marry him? Geez lets see how long that one lasts. You obviously don't know that much about him still and if it's rocky from only 6 months, you may want to see how this will affect you in the long term. You can't keep coming down on him for a life that he had before you. People keep photos as a way of coping. It's just a picture, who cares?! Let him know that instead of making an ultimatum and having him throw it out and just forget about this person that he shared a supposed lifelong commitment with, talk to him about it and let him know you're not some petty, childish girlfriend that will get upset if he even thinks of another woman. Let him know he doesn't have to hide it and that you will be open to talking about it so that he doesn't have to feel so divided. Be with him a few more years before you've decided he's "the one." And let the ex go. Take into consideration both of your ages, how long he was with her, what his relationship meant to him, and how long it's been since the divorce, how long it was until you two started dating and how long you knew him before that. Don't make him turn his back completely on a life that he once had. It isn't healthy and will only lead to division and resentment in your relationship. Be supportive!
jillerin457 jillerin457 9 years
The two possibilities are not mutually exclusive. He may truly want to spend the rest of his life with you, but also still not be over his ex. Guys compartmentalize in ways most women can't really understand, myself included. Like Dear said, he can't have you both anyway, so it's probably best to accept that time will most likely lessen his ties to her, and strengthen them to you.
Bettyesque Bettyesque 9 years
PS He lied because he didnt want to hurt you, men sometimes fail to realize that the truth is always best. But I am sure he your feelings in mind when saying he threw them out.
Bettyesque Bettyesque 9 years
Hmmm .. I went through the same exact thing and I MEAN THE EXACT SAME THING :rotfl: The ex wife, the cheating and the pictures around the house. We moved in together about a year ago. and it was same the thing in the beginning. I would find things laying around and I felt like my heart was going to fall out of my chest. I got the same reply as you did. Shortly after that everything was gone. You have to remember guys dont read into things like we do and what we think is MAJOR is often not. Try and remember that he is with you now and you are building a future together. The past is right where it belongs .. in the past. I agree with the advice above in part. There will be insecurities but its up to you to build the type of trust where none of this matters. Ill repeat it .. the PAST IS in the PAST. As far as pictures ... My ex spent 9 years with his wife before she had an affair. She was major part of his life and that will never change. I accept that but still it has nothing to do with our relationship and nothing can break our bond. Love is an amazing thing, but relationships are not easy. I dont think you are overreacting but dont let it get to you, to the point of ruining the relationship. Women often do not understand the insecurity and mistrust can also ruin a relationship .. be confident in yourself and secure in your relationship. Hope this was helpful. Bettyesque
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