When a relationship ends, tensions run high; the first thing many of us do to satisfy our anger and sadness is to toss or burn the photos, letters, and other mementos our partners have given us. This act of aggression won’t solve anything, and, in fact, will only serve to hurt you more later. Quell the temptation to pitch your ex-relationships’ physical reminders with these five reasons to hold onto them.
1. Throwing the mementos out won’t get back at them
If you think tossing out the visible remnants of your relationship is somehow “getting back” at your ex for whatever he or she did, you’re wrong. Plus, if you’re angry enough to go to those lengths, it’s safe to assume that you’re the one scorned while your partner may be eager to move on. If that’s the case, it’s doubtful that they care what you do with those possessions. So, you’re not affecting them but rather hurting yourself in the long run by destroying the evidence. Before you do what can’t be undone, stop, think about this decision and find something more productive to do. If you need the mementos out of your sight stat, find a box, tape it up and put it away until you’re ready to reminisce.
2. The negative feelings you have right now won’t last forever
Breakups suck. They hurt; leave us depressed, lonely and insecure; and maybe even feeling like damaged goods. But like other painful situations in life, this too will pass — eventually — and once the skies clear again for you, you may reflect fondly on the relationship. When you do, you’ll be glad you have the reminders that once upon a time you had a good thing, and though it didn’t work out, you were able to successfully move on and make peace with the fact that everything happens for a reason.
3. You may reconcile one day
Real talk: It’s hard to find someone to whom you’re attracted who will put up with your bullshit — for me it is, at least — so when I find that person, I’m committed to the relationship and making it work. Everybody argues, and sometimes it’s easy to call it quits to hurt your partner’s feelings when that’s not what you really mean. You might even “break up” a few times along the way — something most us have experienced with at least one relationship. But if you know deep down that there’s a chance of reconciliation, concentrate on that (and the work you’ll both need to put in to make a go of it again) instead of being destructive.
4. You’ll regret it if they die
My first relationship with a guy didn’t last long — about six months when I was a sophomore in college — but it was the first time I fell in love and experienced gay love in return. We dated long-distance for the entirety of the relationship, and to keep in touch in a world where email was becoming commonplace, we sent letters and cards to each other regularly. When we broke up, it crushed me — mostly because it was my fault — but that didn’t stop me from throwing out everything he ever sent or gave me. He’s dead now, and there are few things I wouldn’t give to have those letters.
5. That relationship is part of your story — embrace it
I see my relationships as sort of like getting a tattoo: While there’s no physical representation of that experience on my body, the relationship still leaves an indelible mark. I have many tattoos, and I haven’t always been happy with the result. So I held onto that state of mind for a long time, particularly in my 20s, but as I age, I realize that I have to accept the things I can’t change — despite that I’m an absolute control freak. I recognize now that these “mistakes” on my body and, similarly, in my personal life are all part of my story, my learning experience, and all of it informs the future decisions I make, so I (hopefully) don’t make the same mistakes again.
Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. He spends his time writing from the beach with his dog Jaxon. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyrox.