Travel Photos with Exes and What to Do With Them

I’ve had a few serious relationships in my search to find my “Mr. Right. I think you should live for today, not yesterday or tomorrow (today is a gift, that’s why they call it the present!), so I’ve taken trips with these exes…when they were not exes, of course. This left me with a recent home-cleaning predicament and question of sorts that I hope helps you too. Hence, this post of “Travel Photos with Exes and What to Do with Them.” Because hey, I can’t be the only one who’s had this dilemma, right?

My partner, Dan, and I moved in together recently, which caused a necessary winter cleaning and inventory of what’s contained in our 1,000 square foot apartment. Downsizing included the task of going through boxes of old photos. The day-to-day of being a small business owner is a priority over condensing belongings you have stored on bookshelves when you run your own business. There simply isn’t time to do that unless you explicitly create it. In a pipe dream, perhaps, I ideally have a home that looks like any of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills humble abodes in styling and lack of any clutter (10,000 sq. ft. houses will get you that, I guess). Yet the reality is far different. The truth is I don’t want to upsize my space – just downsize the “stuff” and keep it as tidy as possible. (It’s an ongoing process, isn’t it?)

This man below is a keeper and I truly always see us together. Whether finding street art as far as the Old City in Chiang Mai, Thailand or as close as exploring the beaches of North Carolina, we’ve built wonderful memories that continuously keep me looking forward to our next adventure.

The Proverbial Rip in Travel Photos with Exes and what to do with old photo by Sometimes Home travel website. Image of street art in the Old City of Chiang Mai. The Proverbial Rip in Travel Photos with Exes and what to do with old photo by Sometimes Home travel website. Image on Carolina Beach.

I had my first serious boyfriend at 15 years old. My high school sweetheart and I were together off and on (mostly on) for seven years. We had photos together going to high school events, college formals, and some memorable trips. Same thing with a college boyfriend…and again with several serious boyfriends over the years into my thirties. They’re all great memories I’ve had with {mostly} wonderful people.

I stared at three boxes of loose photos, thumbing through them contemplating what place they had in my current life. They contained images of people I hadn’t thought of or spoken to in years – a combination of all sorts of events and people in my life, not just exes. Would throwing away the images erase the memories?

I tossed them.

I decided it didn’t matter if the memory was erased or if the photo was in the trash because it’s a past experience with someone no longer in my life. I thanked the person in that photo – both whatever former version of myself was in the image and my ex – for contributing to making me who I am today and bid it farewell. If I’m making this seem like it was a simple task it was not; it is incredibly hard for me because I’m a photographer who whole-heartedly values a photograph. But I value the current person I am, the current man in my life and what we have, and the well being of my mental “wellness” and our future way more. (And in part thank you to the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which, unbeknownst to me when I listened to the audio version on a car ride last year, would prepare me for this task.)

The Proverbial Rip in Travel Photos with Exes and what to do with old photo by Sometimes Home travel website.

A true sign of the times in my life has been going through folders of digital images on my computer for blog posts for Sometimes Home. I’ll browse the photos of places I’ve visited completely forgetting  an ex was with me and, puzzled, exclaim, “Oh crap….” when I come across an image of the two of us. I’ve gotten into the habit of promptly deleting them. I’m not erasing this person from the trip or rewriting history – I’m simply deleting the photos of us, together, for reasons mentioned above.

My tip?

Always take photos of the place and sites you visit – without any people in it (or without anyone you know in the photo aside from bystanders and tourists), then with you solo and then, sure, take one of you together if you wish. Because live for the PRESENT. If in the future it becomes just a part of the past come back to this and re-evaluate. I encourage you to put a “proverbial rip” in those travel photos with your exes and keep that train moving forward.

Do you keep photos with exes…or toss ’em?

Travel Photos with Exes + What to Do With Them by Sometimes Home travel website.

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10 Comments

  1. April 27, 2017 / 8:17 am

    Great and creative post Mikkel! I love your approach. While I don’t have any physical photos of traveling with exes, I definitely have a lot of digital ones. Especially when “memories” come up on Facebook. I have great memories with those people but that’s exactly what they are, memories, in the past, and I don’t need to be seeing them pop up from time to time. You’ve got me thinking about what to do with my digital stores now, and I think you’re right, it’s probably best to delete!

  2. May 1, 2017 / 4:21 pm

    Interesting post. It’s always good to acknowledge that people appear in your life for a reason at particular times. If you had the opportunity to travel together, you were lucky – what you learnt from both the travel and the relationship shouldn’t be forgotten/ignored as it’s part of what makes you who you are today 🙂

    • May 2, 2017 / 2:40 am

      I completely agree! Every person we’re with is a learning experience and helps make us who we will be today/tomorrow. 🙂

  3. May 1, 2017 / 5:26 pm

    Yeah, its definitely weird looking back on pictures with your ex on trips you’ve taken before. It’s definitely a good idea to have pictures of ‘iconic’ shots without them (or indeed either of you) in it should you want to bin them; however, I try to acknowledge that I was with a person I’m no longer in love with, and face the fact they were part of the travel experience and my overall life so far, even if they are no longer. That’s what helps me move on, I guess.

    • May 2, 2017 / 2:39 am

      I completely understand where you’re coming from – I agree, they are a part of what made you who you are! 🙂

  4. May 2, 2017 / 3:50 pm

    Great post! My exes are truly long gone – I’ve been with my husband for almost 20 years now, but I do have a box of old photos that I’ve yet to go through and toss. At this point, I ask myself, will my kids want to clean up this mess someday? The answer is no, so I have to make time to do it myself.

    • May 2, 2017 / 7:00 pm

      EXCELLENT point! I hope the post was good motivation!

  5. May 2, 2017 / 7:40 pm

    I would keep always keep them. Unless if it was a really bad break up.

  6. May 5, 2017 / 2:29 am

    This is such a good idea. The good news for me is that I never printed out photos of exes so they all get the digital deletion 🙂

    • May 5, 2017 / 1:34 pm

      Thanks, Jaime! Haha once upon a time digital wasn’t a thing so I had a lot of printed pictures from high school! But yes, a lot are still digital. I still delete those…I don’t need them now, that’s for sure! (Happy almost birthday!)

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