Sunday, January 26, 2014

Keeping Facebook Photos of Your Ex -- Just Documenting the Past or Harming Your Future?

Once upon a time, divorcees could just throw photo albums in the trash or rip photos into a million satisfying pieces.

Now, thanks to digital pictures and social media, the pictures of you and your ex will exist forever and ever and ever. As I get back into dating, I think about my relationship's footprint on Facebook. (By the way, I have a strict "no Facebook friending" rule with dating. You don't get to be my Facebook friend until... I'm not sure when. I haven't gotten there yet.)

...so am I a jerk if I don't delete pictures?
When I joined Facebook in 2007, Max and I already lived together. I never had to question what my relationship status should be. For five years, I shared photos of my life, which obviously meant tons of photos of Max – our first Christmas tree together, our pet hamster, the many weddings we attended (and we traveled everywhere for weddings, from Seattle to Munich), the day he proposed, wedding photos, baby pictures of our first (now just my) nephew, the day we closed on our condo. All of those wonderful moments were captured and shared with the Facebook world.


So what happens to all of those Facebook photos when the curtain drops on your relationship or marriage?


Here’s how I see it. Much as I do have a love/hate relationship with Facebook (why can’t I quit you?!), Facebook does show my personal history since 2007. Max was a huge part of my life during most of my time of Facebook. It just seems silly and false to delete pictures of us. (And, by the way, Max and I are still Facebook friends.)

When I was in Cancun for a girlfriends trip, my friend Dee, who’s engaged, debated this Facebook photo topic with me. 

Over cocktails and nachos at breakfast, Dee asked what if I start dating someone and I am actually willing to friend him on Facebook and all that, and then Boyfriend sees literally hundreds of photos from years ago of Max and me. How would that make Boyfriend feel?

“It shouldn’t really make him feel like anything. I was married. Now I’m not,” I said, always the practical one. “I mean, it’s not like I’m taking down pictures of friends who I lost touch with – they’re also part of my personal history. Boyfriend should be secure enough in our relationship today that photos from the past shouldn’t matter.”

Dee came back with a tough scenario. It's getting more serious with Boyfriend. Maybe now you've started friending each other's Facebook friends. What if Boyfriend now asks me to take down photos of Max and me?

My knee-jerk response is no, because that’s dumb. Digital photos from years ago are just documenting my past. What’s the big deal?

That said, I’ve never had feelings for someone who was once married. How would it make me feel to see photos of Boyfriend looking blissfully happy with a woman who is not me? I’m not the jealous type so I’d like to think I could shrug it off.

But, as Dee said, “As someone who used to date a divorced guy, it’s hard to know that the guy you love already promised someone else forever. And then, thanks to Facebook, you can torture yourself and look at those photos of your guy on his wedding day with some other woman.”

I started to answer when Dee cut me off.

“And don’t even tell me that you wouldn’t look at your guy’s wedding photos. You totally would.”

No arguments there. Of course I would look!

Again, Dee, good points for this newly divorced woman who’s trying to date.


What did you do about social media photos of you and your ex after your breakup?

21 comments:

  1. I personally deleted mine because it was too painful to see us happy together after he walked out on me for another woman and all the lies in between.

    But since your marriage ended on good terms I see your point on it.

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  2. I guess I'd just wait and see...maybe he wouldn't have a problem at all with it, and it'd be okay. Or maybe it's time to print and save the photos in a photo album (if that's not done already and you want them), and let your friends know 'new year, new photos.' :) That being said, my hubby has pictures of every girl he ever dated since high school, maybe even before that, lol, in our family albums, and I could care less. :) Thank you for linking to Super Sunday Sync!

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  3. Not going to lie, sometimes I've looked at old pictures of us looking so happy and I too have felt the sting of tears in my eyes.
    If I were in your position, I probably would've done the same thing.

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  4. I'm on your side with this to some extent. I've been with my wife for 18 years or so now, but I still have print pictures of me with a couple of girlfriends from my high school and college days. They're a fun reminder of my previous life. I could see how hundreds of pictures would be a bit much for a new boyfriend to have to deal with though, especially if you're not posting a bunch of the new guy. I've never been the jealous type, so I may be the wrong person to ask...

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  5. I did what Michelle did - I made those photos/albums Private (but I left the innocuous ones that didn't spur feelings out of me when I see them). I haven't gone through his Facebook photos but I'm under the impression that my boyfriend either deleted/untagged or made private the photos of his ex-wife [they're not on good terms]. My ex-husband hurt me rather deeply with his affair and the cowardly way in which he asked for a divorce so I feel pretty justified in untagging/removing any photos of us/him from my Facebook but I did it to protect me and not to protect any future boyfriend or spouse. The ex and I are not friends on Facebook but I no longer have him blocked at least. I don't pursue looking at his profile or photos and I pay attention to what I allow to be seen by public and friends-of-friends.

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  6. yeah…that's tempting. i'm generally a 'saver', so i'd be hard pressed to give 'em up. but i'd make 'em private.

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  7. What would the point be to keeping them if they're private? (Not being a smartass, it's a serious question!)

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  8. Don @ HowYouCanFindLoveJanuary 27, 2014 at 9:43 PM

    I've always gone back and forth about this too, generally siding with you - it happened so why do I have to delete it? I finally decided to delete pictures of just and me and my ex, but I do have a few left that are group shots. I figured it was a happy medium.

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  9. I'm still single so it's not super relevant for me yet, but who knows when that might change. It's good for me to think about this stuff so I can be sensitive instead of overly practical -- which can be interpreted as insensitive.

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  10. I don't really see the point of private. Isn't the point of Facebook to share stuff with your chosen friends? You are not the first person to suggest that so I must be missing something with this concept!

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  11. Maybe I'll end up dating someone with your way of thinking and this can all be a moot point. :)

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  12. Yes, given the nature of your break up, I can definitely understand not wanting to hold on to the photos. It's a weird world trying to strike a balance with social media and memories.

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  13. Ugh there are literally hundreds of photos of Max and me... I would practically have to cancel Facebook and start over! I guess it would be more realistic to either delete or make private albums like our wedding photos and honeymoon.

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  14. Like others here, I made them private. I don't know what it was, something heartbreaking about making those memories disappear forever. 15 months on from separating from my husband I still can't bring myself to look at my Wedding photos, we looked so happy, so many broken dreams!

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  15. I accidentally came across a photo of Max and my brother at my brother's wedding. Brought tears to my eyes. I remember I used to think of that photo as being one of my two favorite men.

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  16. I am glad that you are holding up so well under all of this. It takes a strong woman/ person to do that. You are a great example to all of us.

    http://www.catalystfamilylawyers.com.au

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  17. Thank you for your kind words!

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  18. The only reason for making them private now, is so that future dates/boyfriends don't see them, and then in time, I would remove them completely. I would probably copy them into a file on my computer though, just because it was such a large part of your life. But hey, that's just what I would do :)

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  19. I guess I won't really know what's the right thing until I have that boyfriend. But yeah, there's no way I'd get rid of the photos entirely!

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  20. Oh boy...more things to worry about! More complicated when you have children and now a new grandchild. I haven't even changed my status yet. I'm such a chicken! I Recently moved to a new (old actually) house. When I packed up the Christmas stuff, wedding and family photos - I managed to not look at them. I marked the boxes "personal" so I'd be able to deal with them when I'm ready. Am I in denial? Whatever it is, it's working. LOL Like you, I started a blog to write through the process. http://www.restoringmylifeandhouse.blogspot.com I think best with a pen in my hand...or in this case...computer in my lap. LOL Karen

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  21. You'll do everything in your own time, when you're good and ready!
    I hope blogging helps you as much as it's helped me. Thanks for reading!

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