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Taking Pictures Down

September 22nd, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Well, damn. I suppose if I’m writing about it, it’s a big deal, right?

I mean, they’re just pictures of my ex and I back when we were together. They’d been lying in my profile pics album, pushed way to the back, beyond all the Obama pics I used to post when he was seeking election. They were getting old and not about to go back to profile pic status anytime soon, so I took them down. No big deal, right?

No big deal. But maybe, a move worth thinking (and thus writing) about.


If a picture is worth a thousand words, taking a picture down is worth a few hundred more. For a couple of years I kept those pictures of us in my profile pic album without a second thought. They were just there.

When it became this thing is when other women I dated in the months and years after asked me a question or two about them. Questions like, “Why are they still up?” And I  always thought it a silly question, one of those questions that forced me to think about something I wasn’t thinking about. Then the woman would theorize I kept the pictures up because I still wasn’t quite over my ex, and again I thought it to be nonsense. Even if I were to take down the pictures, what would it mean to the woman asking me about them? As far as I was concerned, the only reason I would take them down is because this girl who I was just dating, not even in a relationship with, was asking me to do so. Go ahead and color me stubborn, but I couldn’t cater to such a trivial need. If a couple of pictures with a girl I dated a couple of years ago was a real issue, I knew the girl wasn’t for me.

But then I thought about pictures I saw in my past. I thought about the girl who I was dating years ago, who at the time had a couple of pictures with her most recent ex sprinkled throughout her apartment. She asked me in the early stages if I had a problem with the pictures and if I wanted her to take them down. I told her I would much rather her take them down when she feels she’s ready. We continued dating for a couple of weeks before I went home for the holidays for three weeks. During that time, we stayed in touch, talked everyday, grew closer. So close, by the time I came back from my holiday trip, I noticed the pictures with her ex were all taken down. Months later, the new pictures she put up were of me and her.

I also remember the pictures of my former family, the one with my sister, my mom, my Pop, and I. When I left for school, and in my visits home for a couple years after, those were the pictures I always saw, even though we all weren’t together anymore; even though for years it had been, just my mom, my sister and I. Then, my mom met the man she would eventually marry, but before they did, he moved into our house. And together, they made it their home. My room became his office. My sister got her own place and her room became a guest room. It’s now to the point where the house I see when I go home, looks nothing like the house I grew up in. But the most palpable change I notice is the pictures of my former family are gone, replaced by new pictures of my mother happily married, my sister’s own family and me, just chilling in a cap and gown I earned when I graduated from college. I loved the old pictures of my former family, but I must say, the pictures of my new family in our new lives are pictures I wouldn’t want to replace with anything else in the world.

When I took down the pictures of my ex and I, I thought about these times; the times when pictures were subliminal statements about something deeper going on. I still believe I was over my ex long before I made the decision to take pictures of us down, and I can’t help but feel there may have been something in my inaction to do so after all these years. But if I could never figure out why I kept those pictures up, I certainly know why I took the pictures down…because the woman in those pictures now has a new family and she’s with a new man, and if she didn’t even recognize who the girl was in those pictures with me, I certainly wouldn’t be surprised. Everything’s different to the point where the pictures no longer add up to the reality that exists right now, and that’s not just true for her, that’s true for me as well.

When I looked closely at the pictures I took down, I wasn’t even looking at my ex-girlfriend. I was looking at myself. And no, it wasn’t narcissism.  I was trying to figure out who I was back then compared to who I am now. I thought about it, looked at the pics for a few more seconds, and with ease, let those pictures go. For so long I kept them up and everyone thought I would take them down when I was over the girl who is in them, but as it turns out, I took them down because I’m over the guy who is in them.

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  • Kae-Toya

    Deep………………..never really looked at it like that

  • Kristin

    Loved the Blog! Very deep.. Most woman, not all… would’ve taken them down the min. they got serious with a new man, or when the relationship was over. However, I have grown to understand that men are a totally different species and it sometimes takes you guys some time to process “stuff” like this! Great Post!

  • http://sinnamonnights.blogspot.com/ Sinnamon

    I still have fb pics of me and my ex in a few of my albums. I don’t know. I kinda just like the pictures. It was a part of my life that I don’t want to erase even though he and I aren’t together anymore. It still happened. It still was a part of my life that helped shaped me into me. I will get rid of them when I’m good and ready. But for now, it’s hard for me to say he never mattered. Because he did. Good post!

  • http://tiny.cc/sui0f Jas

    So, I agree with this post. I agree. Yet, i have not taken down the pictures of my ex…he was my 1st love; hard to let them go…not him but the moments we shared together…the jasmin who i was when i was with him. I have grown so much since then but when my current ‘boyfriend’ asked me to take the pictures down I told him ‘those pictures are apart of my past as much as you are apart of my future…’ taking the pictures down would not change anything for me. Its my past, I haven’t erased the pictures of old girlfriends who I haven’t spoke to…

    But jozen this was a great post that everyone can relate too.

  • me

    i am on the fence with this. it sounds great for your situation but not an overall rule to live by. it appears to me that if pics of the ex are up that is a huge red flag. also the fact of keeping them up is a message to the new women you may date that you are not concerned with her feelings b/c even though it bothers her you are not going to change.

  • http://thehautechocolateblog.blogspot.com Courtney

    This was almost inspirational for me. I’m going through a really tough break up right now and every day is a struggle. He was my first love and first everything really and we were together for 9 years. I took any pics of myself and the ex down from Facebook and my computer as soon as we broke up and I realized there was no coming back, but I know there are those non-digital photos tucked in an album somewhere that I will have to see again some day. I only hope that when that day comes I can look at those as a new woman, and that I will see that all of the pain I’m going through right now really did help me to become that new person…I can only hope.

  • http://www.levelheadedchick.blogspot.com/ Level Headed Chick

    Great post Jozen, and great way of processing the situation. My ex from way back when and I had a few fights of pictures from previous relationships. He was guilty as well as I. It was the same

  • http://twitter.com/freeyourheart freeyourheart

    i feel you so much on this post. taking the pics down doesn’t represent you being over the situation at all. i had pics of my ex on my fb page, too, and i just looked at the sadness in my eyes in those pics, and had to immediately take it down. that girl is no more, so it was time.

  • Starita34

    I was so sad when I first started reading that you took the pics of her down…but by the end, after the story of your mother’s home’s evolution, the fact that the people in that picture don’t even exist anymore…well you made me reconsider. Either way, pic there or not, I can see valid reasons. But I love just the fact that you put so much thought into it.

    I have to stop reading you, you set my expectations a lil too high. Average Joe is not this pensive methinks. Nawwwww, not gonna stop reading you :-) Lovely post today Jozen.

  • Michelle

    I think there’s a pretty big question here – did you delete the pictures forever, or did you just take them off the web? I think keeping them up on the web is a bigger deal than you say. That’s more of a display for others – a way of showing off how you used to be. If you have a hesitancy for doing that, there may be some feeling of not wanting to let go. Now, saying that, I don’t think you should delete your pictures forever. I think everyone should keep solid memories of his/her past. I always picture myself at 60 taking a look through old pictures and reminiscing of times with friends and ex-boyfriends. Pictures are one of the best ways to remember your life.

  • Akilah Garnett

    Very DEEP….

    I absolutely feel what you are saying. Most women do believe that if u hold on to momentos of the past you still hold a connection to that time n person. We all have a history whether it be pics of past loves or old t-shirts. They’re memories, something to hold on to because they belong to us. Our experiences from the past make who we are today. Just because u take some pictures down now doesn’t mean the memory is erased from your brain. If only that was possible lol :-)

    very DEEP… it hit home

  • Jess

    Love this post J!

  • http://dareesinsights.wordpress.com Daree

    Wow! Loved the last line. I never thought about it that way. Very introspective. I’ll admit I have a few old pics (in my safe!) that I’m not ready to let go of (yet). Agree with Sinnamon about some people in the past mattering even if they’re no longer with us. Each of the men I’ve loved have very much contributed to who I am today.

  • http://womanofcolor.wordpress.com brownivyx

    Lovely post. Quite reflective and self-aware. Everyone is on their own time table I suppose, when it comes to letting go of the past, even if it’s a past version of themselves which, arguably, is what most people are *really* holding onto when they can’t quite let go of an old lover. Anyway, I feel a bit inspired to read of your own personal progress, as this is a journey I’ve been working on for a time.

  • http://streetztalk.net Streetz

    Good sh*t Jozen. Never looked at it like that before. THen again I’m a Scorpio so.. once we’re done we’re THRU! All that ish comes down! lol

  • Bunny

    Very touchy subject I always thought. I think profile pics and albums differ. Profile pics are the ones that publicize you and your significant other, whereas an album is a little more of a blend of friends family and your other; like chapters of your life, almost? I think taking down prof. pics is a yes, but albums with a few pics from years ago, think isn’t a big deal. [i hope that made sense].
    I would take the pictures down in my house, because I would want the same courtesy. I don’t wanna walk in and blam there’s you and the girl you were engaged to. I think months into the relationship and we are going through old albums and there are a few pictures here and there.. meh. I can deal.

  • http://sincerelyxo.wordpress.com Alexis

    Wow! Nice ending. This post goes to show that you’re still growing and learning. Much appreciated.

  • Truth

    I keep the exs pics up on fb to remember the good times but around the house the pics are gone. I never look at fb pics anyway. Looking back at pics I can remember that the girl I was then isnt the girl I am now and thank God! Good Post!

  • Melissa

    Great, insightful read yet again.

    My deepest respect for my ex-boyfriend goes around this whole subject of “Taking pictures down.” It was a time when we first started dating and he came to my parents house. My siblings and I had pictures up with our significant others (in my case, my previous significant other) on top of the fireplace mantel. Of course the pictures were noticeable when you first walk into my parents house and I almost forgot there were there. When my boyfriend (at the time) saw the picture, he picked up the frame, took a minute to look at it then set it down. I immediately went up to him to explain why I hadn’t taken down the pictures just yet. He looked at me calmly to listen to what I had to say then just replied, “Take them down when you’re ready. Don’t take them down because you feel like you have to or you have bitter feelings towards them. I want you to look at the pictures and be able to say “Wow, those were some good (past) times.” then take them down with ease.” I will never forget what he said that day. Maybe that’s also why, even at the end things didn’t work out, we still remain to be good friends today.

    Thought I should share my own experience too. Thanks again for the great read!

    – Melissa

  • AmberLi

    And you know what? That’s what it’s all about. Being ready to let go of the “you” in the pictures. When you take the time to post a pic it means something. You liked where you were at in your life, you liked how you felt, you liked how they made you feel and now when taking them down you can finally say, I may not be “there” anymore but where I am and where I’m going is pretty ok.

  • http://www.girlsarethenewboys.blogspot.com doowaditty

    i’m really glad u wrote this. shed some light on a sub. i was dating this one guy and he still had pics of his ex around. ok i lie, it was one pic of them two. and it was turned down. but they had been broken up for sometime so i figured he might not be over her. or i wasn’t special enough to make him completely put the pic away. of course, he could’ve just been lazy too. i never mentioned anything though because who was i to tell a man what to do in his own house esp when we weren’t even bf/gf. needless to say the pic is gone now, and i don’t even care why.

  • scout

    to me, it sounds like you kept them up out of some sense of loyalty and finally took them down because your ex had more than moved on, she’d started a family w/ someone. And now you’re forgiving yourself for whatever transpired between yall, and moving on. But what do I know? *shrug

  • Violet

    Yay!

  • Akilah Garnett

    Do pictures hold that much power? Really?

  • citygirl22

    Personally, I don’t consider pictures to be a big deal– they’re really just snapshots of memories, and FB albums end up being huge repositories for old memories. The fact that it’s a public display, or that you choose to keep certain pictures, does not mean you haven’t moved on.

    I’ve never asked a significant other to remove pictures of an ex. Not even from his home. As far as I’m concerned, it’s his right to keep it; therefore, doing so does not show any disrespect.

    I am glad, Jozen, that you removed the pictures after careful consideration of your own feelings on them, and not because someone else selfishly requested their removal.

  • Eddietothemax

    Like I said man, some truly amazing writing is coming from those fingers of yours.

    “For so long I kept them up and everyone thought I would take them down when I was over the girl who is in them, but as it turns out, I took them down because I’m over the guy who is in them.”

    I cant say it any better… I’ve done the same when looking over old photos… I reflect on who I am today and who I was at that moment in time. I’m going to quote a response someone left on one of your old post because i do honestly believe people do come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.

    “Bravo…what a touching and brilliant journey into the depths of your thoughts about someone who obviously is monumental in your life. Sometimes monuments are meant to be viewed, visited in memory every now and then…but they remain just that..cemented and stationary in one’s past. Revere the monument, but some moments in life are mere visits…” – Sabrina Thompson

  • http://myspace.com/KatherineEWebb KitKatCuty84

    The only pics of an ex I have are pics with my first love. My father took them when my parents visited for Parent’s Weekend in college and it was a big deal for them to finally meet. My parents were supportive and even sent the pics of the two of us in a frame for me to keep.

    Unfortunately, we broke up shortly after, before I even got to give him his copy, or his birthday present, bought weeks in advance. After the breakup the picture and everything I have from him (minus the jewelry, which is shoved in the bottom of my jewelry box) was in a shoebox. Then I moved and that shoebox got taped up.

    For over a year, it stayed taped up, never reopened, until I had one of those masochistic nights where I feel like torturing myself with happy love memories and wondering why there haven’t been any recently. But when I opened it, the smell was gone. And I barely recognized him (since I seem to be the only person alive who doesn’t have deep friendships with exes). I was completely over him, and now they were just keepsakes of an old relationship instead of a little time machine to get me back in the moment.

    He’s still the only boyfriend who has a shoebox like that, though…Wonder what THAT means, lol.

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  • http://mycrownglory.blogspot.com/ Charlene

    Great post. I can definitely relate.