Mementos From Former Significant Others


I am seeking your thoughts on what to do with momentos from significant others. Sometimes, I will save a special item, but usually the time comes when I am ready to part with stuff that past boyfriends have given to me. Some of my friends joke that I am quite “detached” because if a relationship ended on a bad note, I delete their emails and take down their pictures right away! I don`t like to create drama or wallow in a pity party, which is why I “clean house” when I feel ready.

But I have a small box of stuff containing letters and momentos from someone I dated. We parted ways about a year and a half ago. I thought I felt ready to get rid of the letters but when I started to sort through them, I started to cry. We parted for a good reason (to make a long story short, me being Catholic and him not wanting to marry in the RCC or raise the kids Catholic).

I read a prayer book called Sacred Space and it had a few sentences, related to a different topic, that made me think of this person. The lines were “In the measure that my heart is in past treasures, I am fossilized and dead, for life is only in the present. So to each of these past treasures, I say goodbye, explaining that, grateful though I am that it came into my life, it must move out, or my heart will never learn to love the present.”

I have one special gift from him that I will save forever. It is a decorative box. I ordered a rosary that I will place in that box, to remind me to pray for his conversion, and for the conversion of friends and family. (Not that I need a reminder…)

But as of the rest of the stuff, I am torn… I have moved on and for a long time accepted that our relationship is not meant to be. We do not keep in touch (at my request–I thought it was best for both of us). And I know it would bother me if someone I was seriously dating was hanging on to momentos from his previous girlfriends.

So for those of you single folks out there, when did you ditch your stuff from previous significant others? I know a lot of my married friends did not do this until they got engaged! One friend, just ships boxes to her parents house. She likes saving the items because she says if she has kids, when they have broken hearts, she will pull out the box to remind them that she had more than one “love” before she met her husband.

Did you just throw stuff in the trash? Or have a ritual and burn it? Or just bid it sayonara down the trash shoot?

I would welcome your thoughts. Part of me is tempted to save it, but part of me feels like I should just “rip the bandaid off” and get rid of it now.

Please say a prayer for my old friend. I still pray that one day he will “come home” to the Catholic Church. But i know regardless, our relationship was over a long time ago, and there won`t be future contact.





Hi Maria. I will also pray that your former SO is called to conversion. I’m sorry that you are suffering so.

My break-ups run the gamut from “let’s just part friends” to a much more unpleasant farewell, and the resulting disposal of those mementos followed suit. I’ve run them over with a car, burned them in a fiery pile, thrown them in the river (ahem, I was a bit of a drama queen) but there are some that I still have, and I’ve been married for 5 years. It just depends on the relationship, on the person, on the breakup, but if it reminds me of a good time in my life and a good person that I wish to remember, I’ve kept it. Oh, or if it featured diamonds or other precious stones, that too got kept (for the most part


Hahahaha–this made me laugh!! Dont get me wrong, I wasnt very charitable when it came to disposing of the stuff from the first guy to break my heart. The guy listed in my first post was the second, and hopefully last, guy to have that distinction. I still feel very sad about the reason we broke up, but I have no regret, because it was very mutual. I realized my faith was too important, and I never regretted the decision to part ways. I just regretted he wasn`t Catholic!! hahaha.

So I have moved on. I know I should keep one or too things and pitch the rest. Especially since there were no diamonds or precious stones! I realized, it is easier to get rid of stuff when you are still mad, and harder after the “acceptance phase.” hahaha.

Congratulations on being married for five years. I am still searching, and it goes me hope to know others have been down a similar road of weeding out the bad ones!




It depends on what the item is and how you feel about the former S.O. I don’t see anything wrong with holding onto impersonal items such as books, CDs, etc. unless they had a special meaning for the two of you as a couple, “our song” or he wrote something romantic inside the cover, or whatever. Then they need to go. Burn the letters and delete the emails/IM’s. Same goes for photos, unless it’s a large group or a milestone in your life such as your prom picture. The past is past, and needs to stay there. Once you are engaged, it’s time to unload any leftover trinkets from your exes – give them to friends, sell them on eBay, or donate them to charity (that’s what I did). But if your ex gave you something valuable such as a piece of real jewelry that you didn’t feel compelled to return when you broke up, you might want to hold onto it and pass it along to your daughter some day. Put it away in the closet, or better yet at your parents’ house; don’t wear it. After all, we wouldn’t want our bf’s/dh’s hanging onto souvenirs from their old girlfriends, so we should show them the same courtesy.


I have recently divorced. I did go through all of my old “keepsakes” from my ex, and anything that wasn’t usesful for documentation in the nullity case I tore up and put in the recycling bin.

In my heart, that’s just what I wanted to do. I don’t think there is anything wrong with holding on to mementos from previous romances though. If I was ever to have a serious boyfriend or get married again, I wouldn’t mind if he held on to mementos from his past loves. I would just see them as a part of his past, a part of who he is now. It really wouldn’t bother me.


Thanks for everyone`s posts. I deleted his emails and IMs a long time ago. It is the handwritten things and photos that are harder to get rid of. For some reason, part of me feels mean doing it, and I am not sure why.I feel like it says he means nothing. But at the same time, I am a minimalist, and am just ready for it to be gone.

Thanks again for taking the time to post!




I’ve been married 19 years… and I’ve still got a few “memento’s” from my past. They’re in a box in the attic… along with the photo album containing the pictures of these times.

These items are a part of you. The persons responsible for them had an impact on you and your life. They’re a part of your history and a part of what makes you… you.

But like I said, mine are in the attic. Every once in awhile I’ll be rummaging around up there and take a few minutes and reminisce… and there were some good times! The “what ifs” come flooding in, soon to be dismissed by the “what I’ve gots”.

It’s up to you to save or dump these things…but they are good for a laugh (or a cry) in a few decades!


I’m a bit inclined to agree with Jay2. I’ve had some souvenirs from such occasions, though in the one case I can think about (and very well so), it’s handwritten letters from my former girlfriend (who parted with me for religious reasons as the decisive factor, but there were other things), as well as one letter from a friend who was never romantic with me, but did verge on it and was a very nice person - shouldn’t count strictly as a romantic souvenir in any sense, though.

As for souvenirs from my former girlfriend, the situation is still very hazy. I don’t know what to think of the break-up, of her, of the relationship with her. There’s too much confusing data to have automatic, quick certainty, and too little to make a long-thought evaluation. If the letters have to go, they will be burnt. There was a decision not to return anything and it will not be changed - out of respect, however, I will burn them at some point, and not in a trash-like scenery. :wink: As for those unnumerous other items… well. At this moment, if a girl I werely barely getting to know mentioned anything about disposing of those for her, I’d rather deal away with her than with them, as it is. But I guess I still need to finish some healing.


A friend of mine had shared with me a poem that he had written, about a woman that he had cared about before he married his wife. He wrote it after finding out that she had died in a strange accident a few years after he had married, and it lamented that all of her letters and photos were now in the landfill and that he was now left without a trace of someone who had been really special to him. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with holding on to mementos from someone special, and if you parted on good terms and still value them, maybe it is even the right thing to do.


I still keep the pictures of me and my ex because we are friends and some of those pictures were taken before we became a couple. Now, I don’t look at them much anymore (I used to all the time) and most of them are stored away in my memory box. I put them away as a sign to move on but I keep them to remember the first time I experienced romance. We’re still best friends, so I don’t want to put him out of my mind completely. But as we are no longer dating, I’m not going to display pictures of us from when we were.


My Senior year in college my fiance was storing some boxes in my apartment, and as I was going through them I found a box of cards and letters from an ex girlfriend. I asked him if he cared whether I looked at them or not and he didn’t. I was so excited when I found $30.00 cash in one of the cards:)


Ooo this is a tough one. I’ve kept things before. The things from my most recent ex I’m having a very hard time deciding whether or not to keep or get rid of. The one thing I did come up with though is when I go home in a few weeks I’m going to go up to a shrine and place some of the items at the Grotto up there (a lot of people place belongings there). I plan on asking Mary for her blessings on him and myself, that we’ll both be able to find healing and discern the right course of our future. He’s a very spiritual person, and in the months since we’ve broken up, I’ve become more involved in spirituality, so this is something that I think can really only help both of us.


I broke up with my first girlfriend (of almost 4 years) a little over 2 years ago for religious differences, and all that goes along with that. It was a long time coming, but was still messy and very painful. Since then, I’ve met, and gotten engaged to, a wonderful lady, and I’m very happy. But it still took me over a year to go through and delete the pictures/e-mails/conversations that needed to go.

All of the gifts I still have, because they were useful items: things like an electric razor, clothing, an apple slicer, a stuffed penguin, etc. Even the pair of socks that she made me I still keep, because they’re warm fuzzy socks. However, the letters and valentines and whatnot are boxed up in my mother’s basement, and I don’t plan on pulling them out anytime soon. I can’t bring myself to throw them out, and I feel torn about it. Right now, she’s really just a pitiable, pathetic creature (in literal terms of pathos). And I feel that it would be needlessly hurtful if I just threw them out or burned them, because it would be like obliterating the relationship entirely; I know that it would wound her deeply. I’m still not really sure if I should be keeping them, but I do, nonetheless.

Sam, the Neon Orange Knight


I just gave mine away and threw others away. I don’t have one single thing of them other than a faded memory.


Sounds like it is time to get rid of them! As a parent, I can say it’s NOT a good idea to hang onto every momento that comes your way. Your house will soon be filled to the rafters with scribbled love notes from your dc and other artifacts! LOL I would say that if you have limited storage space, get rid of the old boyfriend stuff. No, you aren’t saying he means nothing, you are just saying that that part of your life is over.


I think the mementos thing was easy for me because I didn’t have a lot to begin with. Most of my pictures are on my computer so I could easily get rid of copies I have (as a way to store space) and just keep the photos on my computer or burned on a CD. The ones that weren’t were our professional prom pictures. He never gave me any gifts and I only gave him some books for his birthday and a little souvenir from when I traveled to Europe. What he does with those is his choice. I’m just glad our relationship was innocent and that our intentions throughout were pure. After those first hard days, it’s relatively easy to stay friends. Especially when you’ve got a thousand mile distance between you both.


Only have one ex-boyfriend, and since the breakup wasn’t exactly pretty, I deleted all his e-mails and threw away all the letters and pictures. I had a couple nice pieces of jewelry from him which I passed on to my little sisters.

Your case is a little different–ya’ll broke up the way breakups are supposed to be–with manners! If you are still single, and still feel some sentimentality for his letters and pictures, I see nothing wrong with hanging onto them. When you are in a new relationship, take out everything again and re-evaluate…


I really appreciate everyone`s replies. I still feel really torn. I think part of what bothers me is I feel bad just throwing the letters in the trash or shredding them. I might hold on to them for a litle while longer and then just get rid of it all at once without sorting through it.

I still care about the person, and always will, but I know my memory of him is all that is left, and he is probably not even the same person I remember him as. Since I know our decision to break up was the right one, I have always known it was the right decision. I would have regretted it forever if I had agreed to not marry in the Church, or had comprised my ability to raise future children Catholic. I just hope God will send me a nice Catholic man one of these days! It is so hard to find a practicing Catholic! But all things in due time. I know I have only become a better Catholic in recent years, so hopefully my future husband is going through the same process.

Thank you again for everyone who took the time to reply, and for those who said a prayer for my friend.




I don’t think you’ll be better off from just trashing those letters. Letters are meant to be burnt. And I don’t mean on a heap of trash, either. A nice, clean flame. Unless you want to keep them. Some people do.


Get rid of all letters and photos. You need to look towards the future, not the past. Think of it from your future husband’s perspective. The one who God has chosen for you. Would he want you to hold onto those things? No way! Would you want him to hold on to pictures (including some sexually seductive ones) of his past girlfriends? Would you want him holding onto and cherishing letters from an ex-girlfriend? Love your neighbor as yourself. Get rid of them. It is NOT being mean. It is being loving to your future husband. Holding onto them would be mean, mean to the one who God has chosen for you.

Now, as far as non-personal items that may have been gifts from an ex are concerned, I would say, if they have some retail value, you should sell them, and maybe make a little on the deal, provided you don’t extort or rip anyone off.

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