Letting go of a relationship that's over can be really hard. Sometimes, taking the final plunge and erasing the digital memories can feel downright impossible. Since so much of relationships is documented on your phone through texts, pictures, and social media posts, it's easy to fall through memory lane whenever you're feeling heartsick. To avoid this trap, should you delete texts from your ex? As with so many things, the situation isn't black or white. According to Dr. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, context is what matters most when deciding whether or not you should delete text exchanges with someone you're no longer dating.
"Context is everything when it comes to deleting text conversations with an ex," Dr. Klapow tells Elite Daily. "In general, the answer is yes — they are no longer a part of your life, but there are so many caveats to this." On one hand, getting over an ex is much harder when you have constant access to triggering memories. However, shouldn't it also be possible to keep some positive relationship mementos that you might want to look back on someday?
Klapow says that if you're not in another relationship, then keeping old texts from an ex isn't a big deal. "If you are keeping them for sentimental purposes and you are not in a relationship with anyone else, then it is your choice," confirms Klapow. "However, if you move on to another relationship, keeping this part of your past in your present, on your phone, is 100 percent not appropriate."
According to Klapow, the same is true of texts that include sexual or overtly romantic content. If you're single and keeping them for personal enjoyment, the choice is yours, but once there's another person in your life, then keeping this type of content on your phone might not be the best idea. "If you choose to keep old text messages or photos, print them out, keep a hard copy, and put them away in a box," suggests Dr. Klapow. "Then, delete them. If you are in a new relationship, there's nothing more disrespectful than having old love letters right at your fingertips."
When it comes to sexy pics from an ex, consider thinking about why you want to keep these files on hand. But remember: Keeping an ex's naked photos for potential future revenge isn't OK, and probably not something you'd be OK with if the situation were reversed. Don't hesitate to hit delete if there's any lingering resentment.
In the end, there's nothing wrong with keeping mementos from a meaningful relationship, especially if going cold-turkey and pretending like they never existed isn't your style. That said, there are ways to keep memories without having easy access to them all the time. "Keeping your digital memories on your device means they are not stored in the past, they are very much in the present," explains Dr. Klapow. "We all have letters and communications from our past, but we don’t carry that 'box' around with us in our present. It is not fair to the new person in your life and it prevents you from moving forward."
Even though removing the memories of an ex from your phone can be a really painful step, it's one that might need to happen eventually. If keeping some memories is important to you, then consider storing them in a box in your parent's attic or at the back of your closet. This way, the memories can be healthily accessed once you're in a less fragile state and won't get in the way of you moving on. And if you feel like simply deleting them is the right thing to do, then trust your gut.