Keeping Past Keepsakes: Should You Hold On To Gifts And Pictures From Previous Relationships?

6 comments
November 7, 2012 ‐ By Cecily Michelle

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Breakups can be hard. After you’ve grown to love and cherish someone, separating makes you feel like the world is caving in. You often find yourself wondering where they are and who they’re with, all while missing them like crazy. So much so that even when you move on, you long for the one that stole your heart before. But does that give you the right to hold onto gifts that you’ve received from the past? Is it disrespectful to keep photos, rings and cards from your ex when you’ve started a relationship with someone new?

Well, for many of you, this is a no-brainer—when they go, everything they gave goes with them. But for me, I say it all depends on the circumstances surrounding your new relationship. If you’re just dating, nothing serious, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with keeping an old photo any time you want to sit back and relish the good old days with your ex-boo. But if you’re in a serious, committed relationship, then let’s just say that your new partner determines whether or not you can or should keep gifts from your ex(es).

If he—or she—doesn’t’ have a problem with seeing you spraying on the perfume that was given to you last Christmas, wearing the sweater that your last man of two years bought for you, or staring at funny pictures you and your ex took at that office Halloween party, then hey, do you (you still shouldn’t’ flaunt things in his face, like leaving framed photos posted on your wall or around your house in general). But if you’re with someone who catches fits at the mere mention of your last man’s name, then maybe you need to invest in a few cardboard boxes and trash bags—in other words, everything needs to go. Lets’s face it, the real reason that you would want to keep an old gift from an old flame in the first place is because it means something to you. Especially if the gift is something small like a cute poem he wrote or a teddy bear he won for you at the local fare (it’s a lot more understandable when the gift is an expensive or usable one, like a coat, TV or a new car).

Let’s switch things up and examine it from a woman’s point of view. How would you feel knowing that in your man’s nightstand drawer sits a pile of letters from the woman who preceded you? Would you be comfortable with that or would you lose sleep knowing that she still owns a piece of him? Whether it’s you or him, the idea of someone else having a hold on the one you’re with is a hard thing to digest.

I recently found myself in this situation. While chilling at my boyfriend’s one afternoon, I glanced at his dresser full of old birthday and Christmas cards and observed one that caught my attention. As I read the mushy gushy text and peeped the signature, I caught the shakes. I was pissed. When I approached him about it, his response was, “It’s just a card.” And as I slowly ripped it to pieces, I replied, “If it’s just a card, then you shouldn’t have a problem getting rid of it.” I knew he was angry, but I was even more pissed knowing that he had the audacity to have it on display.

When we discussed it later, he argued that it wasn’t a matter of him holding onto her, but rather him appreciating something that was given to him out of respect of the giver. Hmm, somewhat understandable. But I still wasn’t feeling it. So I expressed my opinion, he apologized and we moved on. Case closed. But for someone else, they might have been cool with him keeping the card, carrying the same mentality—it’s just an old card, nothing big. Again, it all depends on the two people in the relationship because everyone is different. However, if your partner expresses issues with memorabilia from past relationships, why not get rid of it? If it’s the past, why can’t it be put in the past? Now when you refuse, or sneak and keep it, then the disrespect comes into play.

Give us your feedback MN readers. How do you feel about this matter? Please, do share.

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  • candi

    Really? Are you really trying to secure happiness ….

  • Old Head

    She wrong for ripping the card. Allow the brotha to choose if he wants to get rid of it. He had a life before you and will have a life after you.

  • Mia

    I recently had to do this with my late husband’s things. I’m a young widow (Hubby/bff died 3 years ago) I held onto everything and only recently began tossing and giving away items as I continue to forge ahead in my new life. I could feel his presence and I know he’s proud that I’ve begun to let go and move on. The only thing I will keep is his office bag, which contains everything he had in it before he died and a teddy bear he used to tease me with. Hopefully my future partner will understand.

  • DeepThinker

    I think it depends on the type of gifts and how the person feels about the gift. If the gift was a nice piece of jewelry or clothing and you are wearing it because you like it, not because you are still attached, then keep it. I think something like a love letter, pictures and things belonging to an ex would be more of a problem to a new bf/gf.

  • Plumbline

    Each new person in the relationship would have to agree to mutually hold onto things from there previous relationships……..it would have to be a 2 way street etc……..but I don’t think it is healthy………you want your new persons whole heart, and visa versa……

    ……..2 Corinthians 5:17………
    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

  • afroveda

    I still have some old pajama pants from an ex. I didn’t keep them because I’m still attached to him. I have them because I like the pants. Of course they can be replaced but that’s not necessary. Like the writer said, this topic has a lot of gray areas and will depend on each circumstance.

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