Axe the ex?
March 29, 2009 9:14 AM   Subscribe

What to do with pictures of exes?

I have three ex-boyfriends. The first has since become a good friend, and we dated before the advent of the digital camera. The few pictures that I have of us I keep in an old album that I rarely look at. The second proved to be an ass and was also around before the advent of digital cameras (or at least before the widespread distribution and affordability of digital cameras), and we are not only NOT friends, but we ignore each other completely. I have a bazillion pictures of the two of us before things went south. Should I just pitch them? Some are decent memories of a fun trip or a nice evening with friends. Do I just get rid of them? And as for ex #3, a relationship that ended a few months ago, I have lots of digital pictures of the two of us, but although it was an amicable break-up, we are definitely NOT together anymore. Do I put them in the "Ex" file? Leave them where they are, just kind of in random folders in My Pictures? Delete them? I have very fond memories of this man, and would hate to just delete him, but we're over and out and haven't quite made our way into the friendship zone.

What have YOU done with photographs, digital and otherwise, of you with an ex?
posted by cachondeo45 to Human Relations (34 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Ask if they want them, assuming you can have a conversation that won't go crazy. Other than that, I'd donate them to an elementary school art class as collage materials. If you want to make sure you two don't end up next to each other you could cut them apart before donating.
posted by theichibun at 9:20 AM on March 29, 2009

If you toss the pictures of boyfriend #2 (the ass) you're not going to miss them. So toss them. The others... do what you want.

(ps... you're kinda overthinking this.)
posted by wfrgms at 9:20 AM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

I keep them in place where I dont see them everyday but once in a while I stumble upon them and reminisce a little of what was and where I am be truthful I think is ok to keep them....Is ok to remember that period of your life and frankly after a while of you not seeing a person you kinda forget their faces....It is ok to see those ghosts again from time to time as least to have them as proof that yes you were there, yes you probably fought that battle, and here is a person that left you those scars (or mended your heart or whatever)
posted by The1andonly at 9:21 AM on March 29, 2009 [4 favorites]

Printed pictures and tangible mementos go in a tote bag in the back of my closet that I stumble upon maybe once a year. It has stuff going back to teenage boyfriends - some times when I happen upon the bag I'll look at it, sometimes I won't. Just depends on my mood.

Digital pictures are in a folder labeled with a random word (so others wouldn't ever look, including current boyfriends) in my photos. I set it where they don't come up with my photo software.

It is nice to have memories around but not prominent. Even the ex's I don't talk to anymore, with time that has passed, I like looking back.
posted by quodlibet at 9:22 AM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm a big believer in NOT getting rid of pictures of other keepsakes from relationships that have ended. Put them in a box if you don't want to come across them but don't trash them. FYI, I'm not a "keeper" of other things. I'm actually quite comfortable getting rid of stuff I don't use or need. But the flotsam and jetsam of past relationships and the lessons learned therein is important stuff in my mind.
posted by dchrssyr at 9:26 AM on March 29, 2009 [5 favorites]

I keep such pictures in a photo album which resides in one of my (many) storage boxes in my closet. Kept more really as a reminder of what not to do in the future, and out of sight.
posted by strixus at 9:27 AM on March 29, 2009

Good lord don't throw them out. Put them away, deep in a box or deep in a file store somewhere. You will look at them in ten years and laugh, feel a bit wistful, and be glad you have your history with you still. Don't put a password on the digital files, you'll forget it.
posted by Nelson at 9:36 AM on March 29, 2009

Don't throw away memories.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:47 AM on March 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

I threw out all of my love notes from boys (check yes or no) when I hit the 9th grade. Huge regrets. Stash them in a basement/attic, don't get rid of them. They aren't like a gifted statuette or something that is fragile and space wasting.

Plus one of our exes could end up being famous, and you won't make half as much selling your story to the tabloids without pictures.
posted by Acer_saccharum at 9:52 AM on March 29, 2009

Ditto: a box under two other boxes in my closet.
posted by salvia at 9:57 AM on March 29, 2009

I'd just leave them where they are.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:59 AM on March 29, 2009

Put them in a box and look at them in a year. Repeat until you know what you want to do with them.
posted by Space Kitty at 10:17 AM on March 29, 2009

Brandon Blatcher has it: Don't throw away memories. Leave them in a shoebox in the closet or something, but they've still got value to them, even if that dickbag is in them. I still have all the old pictures of my exes, if anything so I can look back and realized how much I've changed.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:18 AM on March 29, 2009

Before Photoshop: Scissors. Cut out what you don't want. Leave what you do.
After Photoshop: Crop.
posted by watercarrier at 10:18 AM on March 29, 2009

If you get rid of 'em, they're never coming back. So if you're not sure, keep 'em.
posted by box at 10:25 AM on March 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

It's perfectly fine to get rid of crappy memories. It makes room for more good ones.

I keep a single photo of the exes that I'm never going to see again. I keep all of the photos with the exes I'm still friends with.
posted by Ookseer at 10:36 AM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Personally I'd get rid of them. I wouldn't see what possible reason I'd have to keep them.
posted by aleahey at 10:58 AM on March 29, 2009 [3 favorites]

I would give a whole bunch of money to see a photo of the guy who could have been my dad...or the guy who, had he stayed around, I wouldn't exist because of. (My mom wrote him a Dear John letter when she met my dad, "John" was in Vietnam. I could tell you a whole big story about it, but I won't.)

Anyway. Unfortunately for my curiosity, the only John photo my mom still has is her prom photo...and his face is scratched out with a pen. (Like he did something wrong! Of course, I'm sure I don't know the whole story.)

Honestly, I'm just really really curious about who this guy was, since my mom left him for my dad, a big 'ol silly goofy guy (they're still together almost 40 years later).

Stow them away with all your other photos. If you feel you must toss them, keep at least one.
posted by AlisonM at 11:20 AM on March 29, 2009

I keep at least some of the ex pics. And I've had a lot of exes. My husband tends to say "You went out with HIM?" if he runs across one of them, and we have a good laugh.
posted by lleachie at 11:28 AM on March 29, 2009

I would toss the pictures of boyfriend 2. even if they themselves are pictures of good times, in a few second you will be reminded of your experiences with him
posted by happydude123 at 12:10 PM on March 29, 2009

I changed the tag on the pictures of my boyfriend on Flickr from "boyfriend" to "ex-boyfriend" and I have a new person in the "boyfriend" tag space. I love batch procedures. I kept my photos and sometimes look at them in an "oh yeah remember" way. I have kept many fewer photos of the jerks than the non-jerks but I'm sad for the few times I have no photos at all of someone.
posted by jessamyn at 12:54 PM on March 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

Take the digital pics and burn them to a disk and then 'box' them with the other boxes. Delete them off of current use computers.
posted by kch at 1:18 PM on March 29, 2009

Keep them! Shoebox in the back of the closet. It's a part of your life, even if one guy was an ass. Look back on them once in a while when you stumble across them. Maybe your kids would be curious to see them. Even future boyfriends. I had a boyfriend who I showed all pictures to and vice versa, because we didn't care and were curious about each other's lives, including exes. Is that weird? Oh well.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 2:13 PM on March 29, 2009

I'm with aleahey: get rid of them. The memories are in your mind, not on disposable pieces of papers. Unless the person was really special to you in some meaningful way, why hang onto old pictures? Make room for your new memories and experiences.

Although I dread such tasks, clearing out old mental and physical clutter always makes me feel rejuvenated after I'm done ... like a really great workout.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 3:33 PM on March 29, 2009

A box in the back of the garage.
posted by Danf at 4:23 PM on March 29, 2009

Post to /b/.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:43 PM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Definitely keep them somewhere, just not prominently. You might also want to scan the ones that are not digital and then save the files. That way, you could crop the ex out of any pictures you dig except for their presence. If you do this, I would suggest still keeping the originals, in case you do want to stroll down memory lane someday.
posted by katemcd at 5:10 PM on March 29, 2009

I keep all this stuff. Photo prints don't really take up all that much space, just a shoe box - keeping stuff in albums makes it seem much larger, so I don't do that.

All of my digital stuff is sorted into years, and then subfolders - either an event name, if they were sorted at the time, or a date if it happened later.

Those old photos aren't just exes, they're me & my exes. And they're my friends with my exes. And they're real things I've done.

The deleting, discarding, whatever... It just feels like, I don't know, a petulant, bitter thing. If, some time down the track, you regret keeping them, you can still throw them away. But if at that point you regret throwing them away? You're shit out of luck.
posted by The Monkey at 6:28 PM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just pack them up and put them away. And then don't think about them anymore.
posted by chunking express at 6:30 PM on March 29, 2009

If it's a photo of good times or something that you'd otherwise remember, I'd just scan it in and toss the tangible print. If you have the neg, store it away in an archival box located in the coolest place in your house. Knowing the chemical processes, they'll probably fade at some point anyway. You can always reprint the image (via the film or digital neg) when you please.

I'd bin the other stuff that doesn't really represent anything more than an image of the ex. Yes, you may have learned lessons from the twit. But is it really necessary to keep around his image for the sake of remembering? You can always refer back to your digital "Ex File" when the urge to walk down Memory Lane strikes.
posted by arishaun at 7:28 PM on March 29, 2009

Do you want to see that face again? I dated a guy for six yrs and was engaged to him for one. It ended like a soap opera and not a good one at that. Like Passions or something too bad to show on network tv. I got rid of a bunch of shit that reminded me of him. Just have a very few pics and they're prom and important times, not just random shots. And they are packed deep away. I didn't chunk stuff right away but I knew a few years later when I still didn't want to be reminded of him, it was ok to get rid of it. It's really up to you.
posted by CwgrlUp at 7:31 PM on March 29, 2009

Never throw anything like this out. Here are a few reasons to keep these pictures, off the top of my head:

1. Look at them 10 years later and see how you've changed.
2. Maybe they'll come in handy for your ex's scrapbook project, or something else.
3. Maybe some day you'll be friends again, even with the guy who was an ass. People can change.
4. Compare awful exes with a future SO. Can be fun!
5. Look at the background in the pictures and where you used to hang out.
6. They really don't take up THAT much space.

Keep em!
posted by hpliferaft at 9:50 PM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

I pretty much agree with what arishaun said. Memories are memories, even if they included your ex. You still want to remember the trip to the snowfields (or Texas, or Mexico or whatever) even if the ex is in them, so I'd say hang on to them, and just chuck (or give back the ex) photos that are clearly just you and him, not an "event" as such.

I think it's summed up well by this comment by "The Monkey":
Those old photos aren't just exes, they're me & my exes. And they're my friends with my exes. And they're real things I've done.

Keep 'em!
posted by ranglin at 5:13 AM on March 30, 2009

I keep them. On the one hand, some of them are photos of people who made my life miserable, or people I despise. On the other hand, that's my past, and how can I learn from my mistakes if I try not to remember them?

Photos of my current boyfriend are framed and prominently displayed, or posted on Flickr, or whatever. Photos of exes can be deleted from Flickr, but they're still in my iPhoto or in my old print photo albums, in their proper chronological order. I delete the special albums for them in iPhoto since I don't want to be idly glancing through photos of exes exclusively, but the photos are still there if I want to look back to a particular period in my life, rather than looking at a particular person.
posted by booknerd at 11:39 AM on March 30, 2009

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