So Your Boyfriend Still Has Photos of Him and His Ex on Facebook -- Deal With It

Categories: Advice, Technology

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I've been dating a guy for a little more than a month now, and he still has quite a few pictures on his Facebook profile of his last girlfriend, like cuddly, coupley pictures. I'd estimate that about half of his profile pictures include her, and dozens more that he's simply tagged in. Frankly, they make me uncomfortable. But can I ask him to un-tag himself or delete the pics from his own profile? A few friends have mentioned that it might hurt the ex's feelings to be removed from his digital life, but I don't really buy that. They are trying to be friends now. It's been about 10 months since they broke up. What's the etiquette here?

~Ex Hex

I have this box in the far reaches of my closet. In it are love notes and mementos from past relationships dating all the way back to high school, as well as a Bananagrams game, which has no sentimental value, but which fit perfectly in there so I kept it. If a new partner came along and told me to get rid of my little love memento box, I would probably laugh in their face. I would also laugh if anyone felt threatened by the totally fetching Facebook photo of me and my high school boyfriend, who I recently realized looks like a budding Mitt Romney.

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Plaid to the bone
That said, I'm torn on your dilemma. On the one hand, you'd never ask a dude you were dating to destroy print photos of his ex-girlfriend, right? Because that's like royal-wedding-hat-crazy. Yet, asking that same dude to delete photos from his past because you find their existence upsetting is somehow okay, expected even, in our Everything Is Googleable age. The crux of this, to me, boils down to insecurity. To put it bluntly, if you're upset by the fact that your boyfriend had a life before he met you, then that's on you to deal with. Exes will continue to exist, despite our ardent desires that they no longer, and we have to accept that sometimes they existed around people who had cell phone cameras. As a friend put it, "I think they're a phase in your life like any other. You wouldn't delete all the pics of the time you lived in a particular city just because it didn't work out. I say leave 'em."

As Facebook continues to suck up more and more of our social worlds, we're also going to have to suck up the fact that once private information is now public, including scrapbooks of our love lives. You seem to be mainly objecting to the sheer quantity of ex photos, as in, you want to be the more prominent one in your dude's digital life. And I get that. But it's symptomatic of a larger issue of trust that you need to work out with your bf offline. Some might argue that ex photos are an indication that he/she is not over that person, which I'm sure is true in some cases, but again, removing a picture isn't magically going to change that.

On the other hand, I do think it's reasonable to ask your boyfriend to remove the pics that are obviously coupley, especially ones where they are kissing or cuddling. Because it's tacky. But pics of them just, like, looking at a camera and smiling? Those are up to him to leave or remove.

Another friend put it this way: "The day you break it off? No. All the pics? No. But careful and timely pruning can't hurt. It's hard enough telling the new person that you really are over the old one, and not be freaked out without them having a constant reminder visible to them anytime."

I'm also partial to this advice from another friend, "You should murder your ex if you start a new relationship. It's totally unfair to the new person in your life if you're allowing an ex to walk around alive."

Social-media mistress Anna Pulley likes to give advice about how to play well with others on the internets. If you have a question about etiquette involving technology, shoot her a question at AskAnnaSF@gmail.com. 

Follow us on Twitter: @annapulley and @ExhibitionistSF or Facebook


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3 comments
Killthebuddha
Killthebuddha

I have a similar issue...I've been dating this guy for 10 months now...we even live together and actually talk about our future together and such. But I feel very awkward knowing (and seeing) that he has many "couply, kissy" pictures of him and his ex(s) still on his facebook profile. Am I being unreasonable if I were to request that he at least un-tag himself from those particular photos? I don't want to do something if it would be considered unreasonable, and yes, I know that this partly arises from my own insecurities....But, I liken this sort of situation to dating (or living with, or marrying, etc) someone who keeps pictures of him/herself and his/her ex's on display around his/her (or your shared) home.

I mean, I would un-tag myself from such photos on principle - I would think it was in poor taste to leave pictures of myself kissing another man on my profile while in a serious, long-term relationship with someone.

Please, feedback would be very helpful....

Thank you.

Camila
Camila

I have a similar situation. My current boyfriend has many facebook pictures (profile pictures, but he never has put a profile with me) , blog pictures and pinterest pictures in which the ex-girlfriend appears. At the beginning, I didn't take it seriously but I saw a pinterest album under the label "love matters" and he has pictures of them together. (It hurt me, because now I'm his girlfriend). Apart from that, I don't know why he gave me the addreess to see his pinterest thing, if he has still pictures of her under the love label thing.        

He has said to me that he loves me but all of this makes me think if he really got over her. I know that they are still friends, facebook friends, blog friends, skype friends and they actually talk using Skype while with me he only texts me. He uses a lot facebook and only has post on my facebook a couple of times and only puts "like", but he writes to everyone except me. I'm sorry If I'm posting this here, but I have bottled up this for a while and now, I feel really sad and not loved by him.

 

I'm sorry again :S

Beadbible
Beadbible

You look adorable in your innocence! On the other hand, I hope you never marry a Mitt Romney look alike. That would be just too wierd.

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