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Should You Keep Pictures of Your Ex Boyfriend, Girlfriend or Spouse

The vast majority of people have ex relationships. It is these ex relationships that can, and often do, make our next relationships better. Relationships are about learning and we all start our journey of companionship with the reality that the future will bring many more ‘frogs to kiss.’ Naturally, and especially today – in a day and age where cameras are attached to every cell phone, pictures are ever lingering reminders of our past. And since our past so often includes people we loved, or people we were in relationships with – chances are you (and your partner) have some pictures of your ex lying around. Emotionally mature partners have to be acceptant of the fact that you come with a past, right? And that past may or may not include pictures.

Is this okay? Should you keep pictures of your ex in scrapbooks, on your phone or in your computer? Or is it an expectation that the past relationship is dead, and that all reminders of your ex should be erased with it?

The answer is not a simple one. A British study showed that the majority of the people polled in a survey conducted admitted to consciously keeping pictures of their ex. Sure, they might not be displaying them on the mantle, but they have them nonetheless. After all, this person was part of your history – and is part of who you are today. Women, being the sentimental type tend to hold onto pictures of their ex and of past relationships to serve as reminders of their past. Men, on the other hand according to the survey may hold on to pictures of their ex because they aren’t quite over the relationship.

The tricky thing is that many people who have pictures of their ex, go to extra efforts to hide them from their current partner. If this is the case, then there may be some deceit going on, and it may be an indicator that while the relationship is over, it may not be completely over in your partners past. At some point, every person expects to run into a picture of his or her new partner with a past lover. If this happens accidentally, and doesn’t seem to be laced with an intricate web of lies, then you or your partner should be able to let it go. After all, jealousy is an ugly emotion that can potentially ruin any new relationship you have, and if it’s over a stupid picture – it might not be worth the upset. However, if you come across a collection of pictures that seem to be intently hidden yet accessible, you have reason to wonder where your partner stands emotionally.

Additionally, if you have a new boy/girl friend, then keeping pictures of you and your ex lying around the house, or in your wallet – is not an acceptable form of behavior under any circumstances. While you can keep the pictures, they should be boxed up and out of the every day view of your current mate.

The situation of old pictures can be tricky when you have been married to someone and then divorced. If you have kids together, then multiply this problem tenfold. Chances are that there will be many pictures of you and your ex, along with your kids creating a picture trail that can follow you around everywhere you go. You shouldn’t just expect your children to put away family pictures that contain you and your ex, nor ask that every family member who attended your wedding hide the pictures from a new lover. Hopefully, your new partner understands this. The longer you are with someone, the more extensive the history (especially when children are involved), the more pictures of you and your ex your new beau is bound to find.

If you do purposely keep pictures of your ex around, you probably need to figure out why you do it. Is it because you are still emotionally attached to that person? Is it because you still have more than platonic feelings, and like to be reminded of the times you had with that person? Do you keep the pictures around to try and make your new partner jealous? Are you hiding the pictures from your current lover? If any of these scenarios ring true, then you should feel guilty about the pictures and should expect some backlash from your current partner and may need to reassess your readiness to move on to a new relationship.

Additionally, if the person you are dating now seems to have a great deal of resentment or jealousy toward your ex spouse, or makes demands that you destroy any evidence of your past relationship – this may be a warning sign that your new love is tad controlling and jealous. As stated earlier, emotionally mature, healthy adults should realize that you have a past that involves other people. If they cannot handle this fact, or become excessively angry – you should see this as a red flag about their compatibility with you.

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As anyone with an Instagram knows, there’s no greater challenge than coming up with the perfect caption. You want it to be funny but sincere. Clever but not too try-hard. Cute but effortless. And ultimately, you want to give off a cool vibe that makes people click “Like” and secretly envy and/or fall in love with you.

But while all captions can be hard to come up with, can we agree that couples pictures honestly create the biggest stressor of them all?

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Whether it be an anniversary post with your long-term partner, a “hi-meet-my-new-significant-other” pic, or just a casual “aren’t we cute” thirst trap, it can feel legit impossible to come up with nonbasic captions.

That’s why we’ve come up with a list of captions to choose from for any situation and level of seriousness to take the stress out of your choice. Read on and feel free to take full credit for these brilliant ideas:

If the only reason you’re posting is because your grid is super dry lately…

You went on a scroll spree and realized you haven’t posted in weeks. It happens. So you do a quick dive into your camera roll, create a fun edit on an old pic or two, and need to think of something to say because, honestly, you’re literally just posting for the quick, Like-induced dopamine hit. Unless your relationship is serious, keep things super casual and just call attention to the throwback element.

    • “Wishing I were [describe what’s going on in the picture] with [@handle] instead of pretending to check my emails rn”
    • “Spotted”
    • “Someone invent a time machine so we can go back to [describe the place/situation], plz”
    • “Not me posting old pictures to avoid my to-do list”
    • “Hey, you’re just scrolling. And this is crazy. But here’s an oldie of me and [name], so Like it maybe”

If you went on a trip together…

After a literal year of not going anywhere due to COVID-19, you deserve to spam the feed with all your cute, couple-y vacation pics. Whether you’re official or casual, the key here is to use a mixture of humor and honesty for a caption that says, I am very aware this picture makes you jealous, but no hard feelings, right?

  • “Vaxxed & neither of us wanted to pay for a wax ✌️”
  • “You and me go together like salt and sea”
  • “Glad [name] can handle my baggage and need for the beach”
  • “So happy I invited [name] along! It wouldn’t be a vacation without a 24/7 photographer”
  • “Guess where [name] and I are? Winner gets to Like this picture and buy us a drink [drop Venmo handle]”

If you’re not official but it’s a super-cute pic and you really want to post it…

Okay, I’m just going to tell it like it is here: You have a very high chance of descending into Creepy Town, USA, with this post, so we have to make sure this caption is flawless before you go ahead and post this puppy. The key here is to play it as cool as humanly possible with a totally neutral caption that in no way, shape, or form implies you’re in a relationship with the person. Try something like:

  • “[emojis describing what you did, e.g., beers if you were drinking or disco dancer if you were dancing]”
  • “Thought I looked cute, probs won’t delete later”
  • “Great day [describe what you were doing]”
  • “Do I look fantastic here or what?”
  • “Peep the [funny thing going on in the background]”

If you’re not official but they just so happen to be in your group pic…

Ugh, you took a super-cute group pic but they just so happen to be standing next to you in it. You really want to post it, but you also don’t want to make it seem like you’re trying to post a pic with them in it (although, let’s be real, you lowkey are). The key with this caption is to really focus on the group or the event you guys were all at:

  • “Good times with good friends”
  • “So much fun celebrating [write what you were celebrating here]!”
  • “[insert inside joke from the day here]”
  • “Are we not the best-looking group of people you’ve ever seen in your entire life?”
  • “Clique game strong”

If this is your first pic since becoming official…

Wahoo! Time to piss off your exes across the globe by letting them all know you are officially off the market. I like to think of this picture as an engagement announcement with, like, way lower stakes. Go with something like this:

  • “[insert any sort of heart emoji here]”
  • “I guess I’ll keep [them] a while”
  • “Don’t hate hanging out with [them]”
  • “Wait, did you guys hear I got a [boyfriend/girlfriend]?”

If it’s your Special Someone’s birthday…

You’re allowed to get a little mushy here—it’s their birthday! They deserve to get a little extra loving from you. If you want to write a long, heartfelt essay, you can totally do that. Or you can convey your love in a more simple way with one of these:

  • “HBD to maybe the best human to ever grace this Earth”
  • “Happy birthday to my favorite human! ILY”
  • “Happy birthday, [name]! Thank you for [whatever they do that makes your life better]. Don’t know what I’d do without you. xo”
  • “Happy birthday to the most [adjective that describes them and relates to the pic you chose] [boyfriend/girlfriend] in the world! I’m the luckiest person on the planet to get to be with you”

If it’s your anniversary…

The key here is to be mushy without being cliché. You can do a little recap of why you fell in love in the first place, what you did on your first date, etc. Try one of these captions to show how much you love them without making people legit vomit on their phones:

  • “Happy anniversary, [name]! Here’s to [number of years you’ve been together] more years of you putting up with my [insert super-annoying thing you do—like saying you’re not hungry but then eating all their french fries] 🙃”
  • “Can’t believe it’s been [number of years] since [describe your first date/kiss/whatever you’re marking this from]. Love you so much”
  • “HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, [name]! There’s truly nobody I’d rather do life with”
  • “[Number of years] down with my favorite person!”

If you’ve had a lot of date events lately and this is, like, the 500th pic you’re posting with them…

I’ve run into this problem many times, so I get it. Maybe it’s wedding season. Maybe you’re in college and the two of you have just been hitting a lot of frat formals recently. Maybe you guys just happen to keep taking fire pics. Whatever the case, you’re worried about boring your followers with another picture of you and your partner. Here are some captions that’ll spice it up:

  • “Did you miss us?”
  • “Hey! It’s us again!”
  • “Another day, another date event”
  • “I don’t WANT to spam your feed with pics of us, but what am I supposed to do when we look this good?”
  • “Like for me, comment for [partner’s name]”
  • “I mean, who else would I be with?”

If this is your first picture since breaking up and getting back together…

So you hit a little bump in the road? Who hasn’t? Reintroducing an ex to your feed can be awkward, but these captions can help smooth over the transition:

  • “We back!”
  • “Can’t fight a love like ours, I guess”
  • “Your fave real-life Ross + Rachel are back at it”
  • “Yes, we’re back together”
  • “Back in action”
  • “Don’t call it a comeback, we’ve been here for years”
  • “Call us the new Bennifer”

If everyone’s placing bets on when you’re getting engaged…

You guys have gotten super serious (congrats!) and you know people are just waiting for that engagement pic. But, alas, you still don’t have a ring on your finger. Luckily, your predicament makes for some pretty hilarious caption ideas:

  • “Nope, still not engaged”
  • “Calm down, Mom, we’re still not engaged”
  • “No ring, no prob”
  • “Promise the next post will be an engagement pic”
  • “Here’s another pic of [name] and I still not engaged”

If you just got engaged…

First of all, congrats! Happy for you! Here are some caption ideas worthy of announcing this joyous news:

  • “I said yes!”
  • “I said no! JK”
  • “Ah, so excited to spend the rest of my life with you, [name]!”
  • “Today was quite possibly the best day of my life. Love you, [name]!”
  • “Huh, looks like I actually AM marriage material after all (big s/o to all my exes)”

If you just got married…

Listen, I get it. Summarizing the best day of your life in a caption can be hard, but there are some timeless captions you can always count on:

  • “❤️ [date you got married] ❤️”
  • “I officially pulled it off, you guys”
  • “I got to marry the absolute love of my life on [date]. So, yes, I’m officially the happiest person on Earth”
  • “Yeah, our wedding day was fun, but every day’s a party when I’m with you [tag bride/groom]”
  • “Cheers to the first of many wedding pictures I’ll one hundred percent be spamming your feed with”

If you’re expecting...

When it comes to major social media announcements, having a baby is huge. Whether you’re pregnant, your partner’s pregnant, or you’re adopting, this is a certifiable Big Deal and there are plenty of ways to share the news. From funny to loving, here are a few of our faves:

  • “Team No Sleep starting [due date]”
  • “First we had each other, soon we’ll have [babe name or initial], then we’ll have everything”
  • “Poppin’ a different type of bottle in [due date month + year]🍼”
  • “We’re getting promoted to parents! [Last name(s)] party of three coming at you in [due date month + year]”
  • “I guess the condom broke…”

Candice JaliliCandice is a dating expert and the author Just Send The Text, out Feb.

Rachel VarinaRachel is a full-time freelance writer covering everything from the best vibrators to the best TV shows to watch with your family.

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