Here's the Thing: Your Boyfriend's Facebook is Fine

A BIG CUTIE PIE:

I have been with my current boyfriend for almost 4 months now, and things are great. The only thing that bothers me is that he still has photos with his ex on his Facebook. They dated for 3 years, lived together and even had a dog together- so obviously there’s a lot of history there. They’re still on very good terms (so much so that we watched the last 3 episodes of Game of Thrones with her). Is it dumb for me to want him to take the photos down, even though I know he doesn’t have feelings for her anymore? Or should I just pretend to be ok with it until maybe one day he takes them down by his own accord? 

Possibly one of his Facebook photos? Jk it’s a stock image.

SOPHIA:

No, it’s not dumb. Feelings aren’t dumb. They’re inconvenient at times, and often unhealthy or unhelpful, but they aren’t dumb. They usually come from somewhere, and figuring out where is half of your job in this case. The other half of your job? Working to get over this. I’m sorry. I know that’s not what you want to hear. However, in a year or so when you and your boyfriend are still madly in love, I would bet a good amount of money that you’re going to remember these photos and be like ???? why did I even CARE????? holy shit what??

Because having photos of an ex is not a red flag or even a flag at all. Hell, now that I think about it, having photos of your ex with whom you lived with and owned a dog with is probably a green flag. He seems like he cared about that relationship while he was in it (GREAT SIGN). And he wasn’t reluctant to share that (GREAT SIGN). And by your own admission he no longer has feelings for this person (GREAT SIGN).

I don’t say this to dismiss that you feel insecure, only to remind you that just because you feel a certain way does not mean that that feeling has a basis in what’s actually happening. It’s like how when I face rejection, my little brat of a brain often tells me it has something to do with my body— that is not a random feeling, it’s tied in with years and years of being overweight and dealing with eating disorders. It didn’t come from nowhere, per se, but my weight has NOTHING to do with not getting hired for a job earlier this year.

You’re going to have to get to the bottom of why it is that you feel so threatened by old Facebook photos, because that feeling almost never exists in a vacuum. No one is usually upset SOLELY by old Facebook photos. (Because there’s nothing wrong with them on their own; it would be like being insecure that he had up photos of a dog he used to own). I think what you really need to untangle is whether you’re insecure about the pictures because of how you feel he treats her, how you feel he treats you, or if it’s an outside appearances kind of thing.

Are you worried about how it “looks” that he has photos of an ex up? (I promise it DOES NOT look weird; all of the rest of us don’t give a shit and know how hard it is to delete photos off of Facebook. Plus who cares? We all know they dated. It’s not a secret). Is it that you feel he was closer to her than to you? Well, that’s probably true. They were together three years to your guys’ four months; that’s normal and healthy. Should you two stay together for another 3 years, you two will be similarly close (BUT IT’S NOT A COMPETITION AND THE TWO RELATIONSHIPS ARE DIFFERENT!) Is it that he’s not posting about you, and you like when your partners show you off on social media? Talk to him about it. Maybe he’s not there yet with you. Again, four months versus three years is different, and that’s good. OR is it that you’re worried about their relationship currently? In general, again, it’s a green flag that this dude still has such a good relationship with his ex. If you meditate on why you’re upset about the old pics and this is what you come up with, you’re going to have to have a real painful, honest conversation with yourself where you answer the question, “Do I think anything sexual/romantic is happening right now between them?” If the answer is yes, you should not be dating this dude. If the answer is no, you’re going to have to find a way forward that probably involves a bit of grace on your end. You don’t have to love her, but she is your partner’s friend.

You’re never going to be the only woman in your boyfriends life, nor should you want to be. Ideally, you encourage and support his current friendships with other women and honor and acknowledge past relationships as well. They made him who he is, the man who is currently dating you BECAUSE HE WANTS TO BE DATING YOU. I promise no one has put as much thought into those photos being up as you. Not her, not any random people, and certainly not your boyfriend.

Bringing these photos up is much, much, much more likely to create an issue between you and the cutie pie you’re dating than it is to assuage your feelings of insecurity. It will almost certainly backfire since, again, he hasn’t done anything wrong, and if you ask him to take down innocent, normal photos of his ex, you set up a dynamic of distrust, even if that’s not at all your intent. Instead, work backwards, figure out what you’re worried about, and ask him to help you address that.

One last thing: this man is never going to take these photos down of his own volition because they are not up as a sign of his love or devotion or feelings towards his ex, a token of their time together that he will dramatically delete in a weird rom com montage once he’s finally over her and ready to commit to you; that’s not what’s happening!!!! The photos will stay up forever simply because he doesn’t think about them at all.