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Psychology behind Deleting Pictures of an Ex: What It Says about You

deleting pictures of an ex

Deleting pictures of an ex right after a breakup can say a lot about your mental and emotional state. So, let’s unravel what that means.

Whether you immediately go online and start deleting pictures of an ex after a breakup or think about it beforehand, it is a more recent habit. Years ago, you could toss out, or even burn, photos of an ex if things went south. Now you can delete all traces of your former romance with a few clicks.

But, not everyone does this. And some people don’t even consider doing it. Like me for instance.

My last relationship was filled with cute couple photos. I’m sure I annoyed the hell out of my Instagram followers. But, once the relationship ended I didn’t even consider scrolling through my profile to delete all our photos.

First, I didn’t want to erase that experience. It was a part of my life. It taught me something. I don’t look back on those photos and reminisce, but I didn’t feel the need to erase that time in my life from my digital diary.

But, as I said, a lot of people disagree with that. Which one are you?

[Read: How to behave during a breakup and leave with your head held high]

How do you feel about deleting pictures of an ex?

Each and every relationship is different. If you have a dysfunctional relationship and photos of your ex bring up hard memories, it is no wonder you would delete them. But if you and your childhood sweetheart broke up because you went off to college, one day, you may look back on those photos with appreciation rather than pain.

But, in general, what do you think about deleting pictures of an ex? Is it something obvious you do after a breakup? Some people find it as cathartic as returning an ex’s stuff.

Some find it odd that I never deleted photos of my ex. But, others find it immature and petty to take the time to go back and delete all those photos. What do you think?

No matter your current feelings about deleting pictures of an ex, I’m sure each situation is different for you. And none of these things are wrong. [Read: 15 mature ways you can grow up and start living life like an adult]

Psychology behind deleting pictures of an ex

Deleting photos of an ex is your decision. No one should judge you on what you decide to do post-breakup. It is your social media, your relationship. It is your breakup and they are your photos.

Do with them what you wish, whether you remove all traces of that relationship or look back and appreciate it for the things it taught you.

Before we get into what deleting photos of an ex says about you I need you to know that deleting photos doesn’t mean you’re cruel. And keeping them doesn’t mean you are still hung up on your ex.

There is not one thing deleting photos of an ex means. There are numerous possibilities and thoughts that go into that decision. So whether you want to know why you felt eager to delete pictures of your ex or why your ex deleted photos of you or even why you held onto the photos, these are some of the reasons that go into it.

#1 It helps you move on faster. One of the reasons people delete photos of an ex is to remove the physical evidence of the relationship. It is essentially the same as removing them as your phone’s background image and taking down any photos of you two from your shelves or work desk.

You are no longer together so removing those parts of the relationship takes away the reminders. When you log onto social media and don’t see photos of an ex, you aren’t reminded of those times or the ending. It is sort of like a fresh start. [Read: How to forget someone and move on fast]

#2 It sends a message to your friends and family. Although not the healthiest of reasons to delete photos of an ex, it is understandable. When your relationship ends, you want people to know. You don’t want to keep photos of you and your ex hugging and kissing when you are no longer together.

You want people in your life to get the message and don’t want them confused. Delete photos of an ex only if it is what you want to do, not because it’s what you think others want you to do.

#3 You’re seeing someone new or want to. If your ex deleted photos of you, sure, it could mean they are seeing someone new and don’t want that person to see the photos. But, that isn’t always the case.

Sometimes deleting photos of an ex sends a message not just to people you know, but the world in general. If someone you may be potentially interested in scrolls through your photos, you don’t want them to wonder if you’re in a relationship.

#4 You don’t want to be reminded. This is probably the most common reason people delete photos of their exes, even unfriend them online. When a breakup is new and the pain is fresh being constantly reminded what’s lost can inspire anger, sadness, and a plethora of other bad feelings.

By deleting all of that, you remove the temptation to look back at the photos and get upset. You focus your energy on the future, not the past. [Read: The 10 stages of a breakup and how to get through each of them]

#5 You don’t want to seem like you’re still into them. I personally think this is a bit immature. But, if you are worried your ex will think you’re not over them because you keep photos up, deleting them sends the message that you are moving on.

Some people even delete photos of an ex because the ex did it first. It can be a bit embarrassing for your ex to delete all traces of you from their profile but you still have an album of your holiday away posted for everyone to see. That shouldn’t matter, but too many it does.

#6 You don’t want drama. Now, this is a reason you may keep photos of an ex. If you delete them they may reach out to ask why. If your ex isn’t at the same stage as you, deleting photos of them from your page could ignite something in them.

Not only could they reach out, but they may instigate an argument because of it.

#7 You don’t want to hurt their feelings. Even if you don’t think your ex would say anything about you deleting the photos, you probably don’t want to hurt them, especially if you did the breaking up. I totally get that, but at the same time, you have to do what is right for you and your future.

Worrying about your ex’s feelings is no longer your concern. Sure, deleting the photos of your relationship may hurt their feelings, but in the end, it could help push them further along in the moving on process.

#8 You’re not ashamed of your past. For someone with no regrets, they want to keep the photos of an ex up because that relationship is part of their story. Sure, it ended, but it still happened.

For those like me who use social media to digitize our lives, keeping the photos is just part of our life. It happened. Whether it was great or not, keeping it there is part of you. [Read: 20 positive ways to live in the moment]

#9 It’s just how you felt in the moment. Another wildly popular reason people delete photos of an ex is because they felt they should in the moment. We all go back and look at photos with our ex after a breakup. It is part of the process.

Depending on how they make you feel is the root of why you hit the delete button or not. What is best for you is totally fine.

Whether you delete photos or not, the memories will always be in your mind. Even without that digital proof, you cannot delete that part of your life. But deleting them forever can be cathartic if you need it to be.

Some experts say that archiving the photos during the brunt of the breakup and coming back to them when you feel over the hurt is a healthy alternative. It keeps the process private.

[Read: How to find healing and closure after your breakup]

But in the end, the decision about deleting pictures of an ex is up to you. Do what you feel is right. Respect your ex and do what feels right to them.

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Samantha Ann
My name is Samantha Ann. I am 28 years old. It was always my dream to become an advice columnist, so after years of off and online dating and eventually finding...

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