ARE you all for burning keepsakes from your exes, like Rachel, Monica and Phoebe famously did in sitcom Friends?
Jo Hemmings, a behavioural psychologist, says: “If you have been badly hurt and every item you associate with your ex is a trigger, having a clearout of everything related to them can be quite cleansing.
We talk to two women who have dealt with break-ups in different ways, to find out if you should trash your ex’s stuff to start the healing processCredit: Shutterstock
“But before you act in a fit of pique, remember that once something is gone, it’s gone – and you won’t have an opportunity to look back on memorabilia when you eventually start to heal. Alternatively, it’s not healthy to hold on to every item that has anything to do with your ex – keeping pants and toothbrushes in a shoebox, for instance.
“This is, perhaps, a sign of harbouring unrequited hopes of reuniting.
“My advice would be to put things like cards, photos or small gifts your ex has given you somewhere you can’t access easily.
“When you heal, you may have some nice memories to look back on and maybe even smile about.”
If you are for burning keepsakes from your exes, like Rachel, Monica and Phoebe famously did, Jo Hemmings says ‘remember that once something is gone, it’s gone’
Writer Katie Glass says ‘the only sensible option when you break up with someone is to burn everything’
WHEN I end it, I end it. I get rid of everything. Who are these insane women – reportedly one in ten of us – stockpiling photos, love letters and old Valentine’s cards from their ex?
Why are they holding on to every bit of tat? Are they absolutely mad? In my opinion, the only sensible option when you break up with someone is to burn everything.
In the military, this is referred to as a scorched-earth policy. The aim is to destroy anything that might be useful to the enemy trying to hit back. In this case, the enemy is your ex.
When I end a relationship, I delete every photograph of my ex from my phone, block their number, their email, and disconnect from their family and friends on social media.
The last thing I want is that two months later, scrolling Instagram, I might see a picture of my ex with his new girlfriend. Digital deletions are just the beginning. I clear my house of any trace. Before the dust has settled on our last row I’ll be vacuuming my flat and throwing their belongings in the bin – their socks, toothbrush, crappy menthol shower gel. I pile up the bad books and pointless kitchen implements to give to Oxfam.
(Perhaps dating men who love juicers and self-help literature is where I’m going wrong.)
Katie adds ‘When I am busy slash-and-burning, I have no time for sentiment – I don’t keep a single thing’Credit: Getty Images – Getty
When I am busy slash-and-burning, I have no time for sentiment – I don’t keep a single thing. One ex repeatedly broke my heart. When it was finally over, I gathered every bit of junk he had given me – every note, card and drawing (he was an artist) – crammed it all into a box and left it on his doorstep.
When I left my fiancé, I offered him back the engagement ring. My anger dictates how destructive I am. With my last ex, his Tony Robinson books were the only things that made it out of the house. I took the Polaroids of us on holiday with the dog out to the balcony and set fire to them.
It felt good watching the flames . . . less good when the girl from the flat downstairs came up to complain. My methods may be extreme but they are cathartic. Nothing feels so good after a break-up as washing that man right out of your hair, cleaning him out of your flat and erasing him from your life.
I’d find any other option too upsetting. Perhaps it says something about how passionately I fall in love – and out of it – that when it is over, I can’t bear a single reminder of what we have lost.
My approach might sound uncompromising – or badass – but actually it reveals what a baby I am. Because if now I saw one old Valentine’s my ex sent me, I would burst into tears. I find reminders painful.
Still, after my last break-up there was one thing I kept that had too much sentimental value to lose: His Netflix log-in.
Sex and Relationships Editor Georgette says ‘in the corner of my room under my bed lies a black box covered in dust’ which looks like a ‘serial killer’s trophy box’Credit: Olivia West Commissioned by the Sun
NESTLED in the corner of my room under my bed lies a black box covered in dust. Inside there’s a dead rose, some jewellery, a teddy bear, a cigarette butt, train and bus tickets, items of clothing, dozens of handwritten letters, cards and hundreds of photos.
At first glance, it looks a lot like a serial killer’s trophy box. It is actually keepsakes from exes.
As I flick through the eclectic contents, I feel a tad like the stalker Joe Goldberg from hit Netflix series You. I wonder what was going through my head when I decided to keep some of these items.
But then I remember secretly picking up my first love’s cigarette butt after he tossed it while chatting me up – and I smile as happy memories come flooding back.
I was 14 and at a caravan park in Norfolk when I had my first holiday romance. His name was Luke. I kept everything from those hot two weeks in July: A boiled sweet he’d half-eaten and spat out before we got on the dodgems together; the teddy bear he won for me at the fairground; the silly photo-booth pics we took with our pocket money.
After our holiday, we continued to write to one another for a whole year. After Luke, I carried on collecting souvenirs from my exes. I can chart my life through my memory box, from my early teens through my twenties into my thirties. Of course, not all the memories are happy.
Georgette’s black box is in fact a memory box with keepsakes from exes, she says ‘these keepsakes are part of my story – the good and the bad’Credit: Alamy
Some of the items mean revisiting sad times when things didn’t work out. Some people find it easier to erase any memory of their lover when they break up. But I couldn’t.
I even have a bracelet my cheating ex from uni bought me. I occasionally wear it. It is pretty and brings back memories of my carefree uni days, not just of our break-up.
Another time I kept a blue tie from a guy I was seeing but my box was getting too full so I reluctantly took it to a charity shop. But after parting with it, I instantly regretted it and ended up buying it back. After that, I vowed never to part with anything else.
Last year, my boyfriend had a bit of a shock when we moved into our new flat. As we sat unpacking together, he stumbled across my memory box. “What the hell are these?” he asked, pulling out a pair of Next boxers. “Are these mine?”
It was a pair his nan bought him I’d discreetly stolen for my stash. “At least they’re yours!” I laughed, grabbing them. He couldn’t understand my box.
He has no photos, love letters or keepsakes from exes. He thinks it’s weird that I do.
But as I explained to him, these keepsakes are part of my story – the good and the bad.
So my memory box is staying, no matter what.
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