My boyfriend has pictures of his ex on his phone. That’s toxic, right?
You’re right to feel confused, says our elder. It’s time for him to make up his mind.
Hi! I’ve been in a relationship for a year and a half that feels, I hate to say it, but toxic. Is it normal for a boyfriend to still have pictures of his ex on his phone? Or mementos of his ex? Not out in the open but just in a drawer somewhere. I feel like that’s okay, but when we fight he says he has ‘unwanted thoughts’ about his exes. For example, he will get distant and think about moving on with them for a split second but then he supposedly tells himself he doesn’t want that and then comes back to me, it’s confusing but I feel like it’s a sign that tells me he’s obviously not over them. And as for the pictures, I saw some old ones on his phone down in his camera roll when I thought he told me a long time ago that he got rid of them. I trust him because he always tells me when a girl hits him up on his phone (even his exes hit him up a few times and he blocked them in a heartbeat so for that I trust him) and the only reason for me getting on his phone was to see if they were gone, but of course they weren’t. And he deleted a lot of them from his Snapchat but not in his camera roll so I feel like that was a sneak move. I just can’t tell if it was just an honest mistake of forgetting or if he actually wants them on there. Like for example he has a skateboard in his back seat with his ex’s name on it with a heart that was on there when they were dating and he says he doesn’t pay attention to it and it’s just a back up board but I feel like, come on now, that’s weird right? It’s just a lot of stress for me because I feel like that’s a sign that tells me he’s not over them. Part of me feels like I’m just over thinking but the other part tells me I need to find someone else that wants nothing to do with their exes. I feel like it’s a sign of disrespect that this is still going on. I just don’t want to move on because it’s been a year and a half and it hurts, but at the same time I don’t want this mess to happen anymore.
I think you are confused for a very good reason. You are perceptive, and you perceive that he seems confused. That is not a good sign.
Thank you for writing to EWC. We are a team of elders who offer caring and common sense advice. I am Elder George K and I’ll try to help you deal with this. It is not a pleasant place to be. I have seen and heard of this before. And the response is partly determined by his age. If he is 14 or 15, this is normal and you shouldn’t be surprised. If he is over 20, he is old and mature enough to know what he is doing.
I think he wants to “have his cake and eat it too”. He want you as his girlfriend, but he still is fantasizing about the sex and pleasure he had with the others. And he has proved that you cannot completely trust him. Guys don’t “forget” about photos of old flames. They keep them to remind them of the good times. He is not telling you the truth.
It is time for him to make up his mind. Does he love you? I don’t know. Is that essential for you to keep him? That is up to you.
So my advice is to first make up your mind about what you want in this relationship. Do you want this guy to be your one and only, the love of your life? If so, tell him. And then ask him if he wishes to be that love. If you do not get an unqualified yes, then it is time to move forward. And not with him.
If you just want him as a current boyfriend, then accept him and his behavior as it is and live with it.
If you want him as your one and only, let him know that saying “yes” means being willing to delete all photos and contacts with former girls now and forever. It means a full and voluntary commitment. If he does that, be happy. He is the one!
Whatever the result, you’ll know that you have taken control of your life and your future. Good for you! I wish you courage and luck.
Article #: 475090