This post is to help you decide whether you should remove all photos of your ex boyfriend/lover/partner from your social media account. While you could probably make an argument for all social media platforms, I’m focusing specifically on Instagram here. Because of the way it’s set up, Instagram constantly resurfaces old photos. So you’re being exposed to photos of you and your ex in Hawaii even during a harmless scroll back. You don’t need that.
You may have an inkling you should part with all those digital reminders of your past relationship. But perhaps you haven’t quite been able to pull the plug (or hit the three dots, as it were). Vacillate no more; here is a helpful guide – seven clear signs that you should edit your Instagram account right now:
1. You’re worried it will affect your grid
Hey, I get it. I really, really do. You’ve got a good thing happening on Instagram and you don’t want to let a small thing like the end of a relationship mess with your impeccable aesthetics. If you delete that photo of her at the mini golf range then you’re going to be too selfie heavy. And you’re all about that #balance.
Sorry to say, though, that maintaining a perfect profile is not a good enough reason to keep photos of your ex on social media. If you want them out of your life (and grid) then don’t let something superficial stand in the way of your closure and fresh start. DELETE!
If it makes you feel better, now that you’re no longer dating, you’re got a lot more time to put towards all those activities you thought about doing but never actually did. Read that stack of books on evolution. Attend that Thai cooking class. Join an ultimate Frisbee team! Needless to say, your grid is going to be full of all your new pursuits and happiness-having. Those photos of your ex would have drowned in your sea of fabulousness anyway.
2. You’re still friends with your ex and don’t want to offend them
When you’ve been on the other side of this whole conversation, seeing yourself obliterated from someone’s cyber memory of you can be pretty painful. But if you really are a true friend then: Firstly, you’re not getting swept up in digital actions because you know that your phone calls and catch ups are much more indicative of your friendship. Furthermore, you want your ex to succeed in their new relationship. Even if that means you can no longer scroll back to that one shot where you both managed to smile and not blink.
With that in mind, if you’re worried about offending your ex-boyfriend-now-friend, send them an honest text before you begin the erasure: “Thought I’d give you a heads up that I’ve just gone through and done a little editing/deleting on my profile. I still value our good times together and didn’t want you to find out by accident. See you this Saturday at yoga!”
3. You don’t believe in re-writing/erasing the past
Let’s not get too over-dramatic. We’re not talking about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind here – just a gentle editing of your profiles so that everyone isn’t constantly reminded how important Mr. Hot-But-Emotionally-Unavailable was to you just a mere few months back.
If you had photos of your ex framed in your living room, would you keep them on your walls for your new partner to stare at every time they came over? So they can ruminate about all your past happy times and wonder why you aren’t still together (maybe it’s only a matter of time before they get back together! After all, his face is still plastered everywhere.). Don’t trigger a paranoid stream of thought. Avoid all the suffering; simply remove the darn photos.
People want to feel special. You’re not expected to pretend that your partner is the first person you’ve ever held hands with, but you don’t need to constantly remind them that they’re not (“I’ve held hands many times before!” your old photo screams, as photos do). You’re with the person you want to be with. Ensure your partner knows you feel this way by not keeping videos of your ex in your Insta Highlights.
4. Your new partner really wants you to delete photos of your ex
Yeah, you’re independent, your run your own life and no one is the boss of you. Duh.
But part of being in a healthy, respectful relationship is listening to the concerns of your partner and then weighing up whether they are ridiculous (“You always make a mess of the toothpaste”) or reasonable (“It makes me uncomfortable, like you might not be over Bob.”) If you find their concern to be reasonable, then you should honour their feelings by removing all remnants of Bob from your profile.
5. Your new partner might be bothered
I had it pointed out to me that many a person might not make it explicitly obvious that they are bothered by such photos. They may never mention your digital history but that doesn’t mean they don’t clock it and care. For the sake of the fact that your new partner might be bothered by these images, why not delete?
6. Every time you look at your past selves together, it fills you with sadness
How are you meant to live your best life if you’re constantly dwelling in the past? You can’t. They’ve gotta go. Sure, there’s a decided pleasure in wallowing but it’s not helpful in the long run. Plus Season 2 of the OA is out. You really don’t have the time to be reminiscing. As Marie Kondo basically said, it’s not serving you, then you shouldn’t keep it. So hit those three dots and delete!
7. You don’t think anyone will notice them
As a little refresher in the way Instagram functions, most images are shared with hashtags, which means when people search for those specific hashtags, they find your photo. And probably like it. And probably don’t comment on it because #passiveparticipant.
The point is, people will notice that photo you uploaded two summers back, at the start of your love story, just like they can smell a fake tan before they enter the room. People are observant. It is our way.
Even without hashtags, there’s a chance people will explore your account and happen upon that photo. But most importantly, you will notice the photos. You already know they exist. Getridofthem.
Of course, if none of the above statements are true – why delete at all? Maybe you’re on good terms with your ex, maybe your new partner couldn’t care less about your old photos, maybe you’re capable of looking back on those memories without feeling sudden jolts of anger, hurt or despair.
I’ll be honest, my account was flooded with photos of old flames. More than I’d even realized. By writing this, I realised there was no good reason to keep any of those old photos. Like the modern equivalent of a bonfire cleanse, a mass deletion can be liberating.