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nir17's avatar

What do you do with the reminders (things) from your past relationships?

Asked by nir17 (371points) March 7th, 2011

With one long term relationship, we remained friends and I never bothered to put away the various cheesy gifts and reminders. Even now, they make me smile when I go home to my old room and see them.

With the most current breakup, I took it much harder. As a dramatic gesture, my most recent ex mailed me a huge box with all of the things that reminded me of him only a few days after the breakup. I added to the box and sent it home. (I’m away at school) When I came home for spring break, I was once again confronted with it and couldn’t decide what to do. Do I shove the box in the attic until the day when the contents no longer make me sad? Do I just throw it away? I don’t think we’ll ever get back together, but for some reason the idea of just throwing away things that were once so meaningful really tears me up. Do you think that keeping it signifies some subconscious desire for ‘us’ to someday get back together?

What have you done? Does the seriousness of the relationship and the conditions of the breakup make a difference in your decision?

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20 Answers

JmacOroni's avatar

Not really. I don’t do anything. In fact, I’ve been with my husband for 7 years, and I still wear a pair of pants to bed that belong to my ex boyfriend. They don’t remind me of him. There is no sentimental value, they are just comfortable. I suppose if it were something significant or meaningful, I would throw it away. It might bring you closure.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Box it, label it, put it away in your parent’s attic or basement, and deal with it when they move or decide to houseclean.

blueiiznh's avatar

I am in agreement with @JmacOroni
If you are keeping something out of sentiment and hope for future, it is better to rid yourelf of it in a sort of grieving fahion. It does help put closure to it. Then you will also not be confronted with the odd emotions when you find it year later in the attic or when someone else find it and asks about it.
Think of it this way, they are items that have no physical value to you and only are emotional. Even out of the odd chance you get back together, they might be a reminder of negative things.
If it makes you feel better you can have a viking funeral with the item, but i suspect based on your note, you are not there.
Sorry to hear about this, but it really is best to come to closure with them.

wordWarrior's avatar

Much of it, I have either burned or thrown away. Sometimes i regret doing this, but i hated how much I missed them, so I had to rid my environment of these objects influence.

nir17's avatar

How about pictures? Delete them from my computer and throw out the ones in my picture album? Or just leave them there… I don’t want to erase him from my life forever, because he was and is still an amazing person who helped me through really difficult times. For now, I’ve just avoided them as much as possible.

blueiiznh's avatar

Won’t they only be a reminder and bring you sadness?

wordWarrior's avatar

Regrettably i still have pictures on my external hard drive that i have hidden away from obvious locations. much of the old (physical) photos are in attic storage where i generally don’t look at them, but as the years passed i can look at them occasionally and say, “we had a great time then, it was fun while it lasted” and move on, and not feel the longing desire to be near them, i go through the old pictures and i delete them a few at a time. only going to ultimately keep only a few to serve as a reminder

Kardamom's avatar

I have 2 boxes with the “contents” of a past relationship and a current relationship, with things that are important to me. For both boxes, I just stuck/stick things in there and rarely open the box to look at the things. The past relationship box hasn’t been opened in about 15 years and was actually put in another box of “things to save” in the attic. I don’t need to look at those things and I have 0 desire or thought that we would ever get back together. But the time that we did have was intense, important and meaninful to me. The fact that the box sits undisturbed is comforting to me. Maybe my heirs will find intrigue and interest in the box, or maybe they won’t. Doesn’t matter, I’m keeping it, even if I never open it again. My current box, gets filled with various things: little drawings, tickets, notes etc. I rarely look at those things either, the box just gets filled. Who knows what will happen, but the things that I put in there are meaninful to me. That’s the only thing that matters. No one else, including him, know that the box exists.

I had another relationship that ended so poorly and so painfully, that everything associated with him got dumped, shredded or burned. It took almost everything out of me to dispose of the stuff, and I actually kept it for many years, but ultimately, disposing of the “bad vibes” helped. It just depends upon the relationship you had with the person as to whether keeping the stuff is comforting or agonizing. But whether you keep it or not, keep it hidden away, and keep your hands and eyes off of it. Let your decendents decide whether it’s worthy of a book or whether it’s a pile of crap.

Don’t let your boxes of past relationships sit out so that your current SO can see it or have to deal with it. That’s not nice and is actually kind of cruel.

twothecat's avatar

I would throw it away. Keeping things that have bad memories attached to them prevents new things with good energy from entering your life. Make room for the new!!

twothecat's avatar

If you must, keep ONE favorite picture of him, but only if you must.

Aethelwine's avatar

Get rid of it.

I’ve had to deal with the contents of my grandmother’s house after her death and the contents from my mother’s house and her hoarding tendencies. Keeping a bunch of crap you’ll never use is a huge waste of space and time, especially for those that need to deal with the clean up.

Always keep pictures. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially now when a person doesn’t need a 5 lb photo album to store them.

augustlan's avatar

I’ve kept a few things (a few pictures and love letters, mostly). Serious relationships are a part of your life, even when they’re over.

When you’re right in the thick of things, I wouldn’t make any decisions. Just seal up the box and put it away for a while. When you can be less emotional about it, decide on a few things you’d like to keep and get rid of the rest.

tedd's avatar

Erasing your past, is doomed to failure. Delete physical reminders all you want, mental ones are still there… You can’t erase places, you can’t erase memories. And even if you could, you would just set yourself up for the same mistakes.

I once mailed an X a package full of all the things that reminded me of her, as a means of trying to erase her.

Even without those things around to haunt me…. I still think of her often.

Move on from your past if you must…. but never try to forget it.

blueiiznh's avatar

@tedd agreed. Your past is what makes you who you are today. You can’t ignore it, but should find positive in it even if is only the strength to move past it and learn from it. That is a huge win. Of course you think about them from time to time. But physical reminders are very different from mental or emotional drifts.
My experience and opinion is use the emotional and mental memories to guide you to a new place. Do what you want with the thoughts as they come around. The physical things however are a tie that works better for me to have remove the sentiment of it. There are certainly limits. If it the roof on your house it might be a bit far to replace the roof.
However, I know many people who would rather move from the house they shared and start fresh. It really is a personal thing and based on the persons emotions.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I’m excessively sentimental and it’s hard for me to part with pieces of someone who means, or meant, a lot to me. It’s like having a tangible memory.

Anyway, I keep stuff of sentimental value; the photos, gifts, and love notes, especially. It’s never been an issue in new relationships, which is good because I don’t feel like there’s anything wrong with keeping the things I do. Plus, I kinda feel like if you know me, if you know my upbringing, it makes perfect sense why I have so much trouble letting go of things (and people).

Most of the people I’ve dated or been in long-term relationships with, we’ve ended things amicably and/or stayed friends. So, things from them are pieces of what once was, a nod to an incarnation of our relationship that is no more. I also consider them to be pieces of someone that I care(d) a lot about.

Now, I’m not a total hoarder. I will get rid of things as the years pass, if they stop having such a strong sentimental feel to them and/or if it starts to feel silly to hang on to the item. The photos and love notes, though, I probably will have forever.

lemming's avatar

I think you should keep the things. Don’t just throw all that time away and deem it as worthless because the relatioship is over. Have a look in the box, keep the stuff you like, there’s probably some nice stuff in there, and nice memories.
If you make your peace with it, you don’t have to dump everything, but maybe the things which only hold sentimental value, like a flower from your favourite restaurant for example, you should probably dump that stuff.
But if you’re not ready to go through it now, don’t, wait a few months and tackle it then.

Sunny2's avatar

I keep those things as long as they make me smile. If they bother me or mean nothing, I throw them away. A little voice in your head will tell you it’s time to let this and that go. 10 or 20 years from now, look at your collection. You’ll know what to do.

Anemone's avatar

I’d keep the stuff, if there wasn;t too much of it. If there’s a lot, you might want to pare it down a bit. Then put it away for a while and see how you feel. You can always get rid of things later, but you can’t get stuff back that give away.

On the other hand, if yu’re not at all sentimental, I’d say keep one or two things (or nothing!) as keepsakes, maybe keep some practical/useful items, and give the rest away.

nir17's avatar

I got rid of some. Kept some. Ran across a ton of stuff and notes while cleaning out my room. They have now been securely locked in a cardboard box and hidden away in the attic. I unfriended him on facebook. Should keep me pretty clear for a while. Yay for less reminders :)

Thanks for the advice, all.

chewhorse's avatar

I don’t think that at all.. Like you said, how can you just toss out things that meant so much to you once.. You shouldn’t. Most people equate the items to the person but that’s not the case, the real reason revolves around where you were and what you were doing.. that it also leans toward who you were with can in years to come, fade away but the where and what will always stand out in your memories.. One bit of advice though.. Either don’t go into detail to your new love as to why you keep some lame statue or rent yourself a portable building in your second cousins name and keep those do-dads stashed until your so late into your marriage that jealousy would no longer be an issue. That applies to both sexes.

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