Opinion | Should you delete photos of your ex from social media? (2023)

Opinion | Should you delete photos of your ex from social media? (1)

Opinion | Should you delete photos of your ex from social media? (2)


Experts advise taking a break from social media after a breakup, before deleting anything.

We all know becoming “Instagram official” is a watershed moment for new couples, and sharing images of a relationship is part of the perks of social media, but what happens when the relationship comes to an end? Should you wipe your socials clean of ghosts of exes past? Or should you let the photos be a reflection of your history?

(Video) Why You Should Delete Your Ex Off Social Media

After calling things off with her boyfriend last year, Sarah Bartnicka, 25, decided to keep the pictures of their couplehood up on her Instagram grid. Her ex, however, immediately deleted every trace of her from his. Though she wished he didn’t remove a year of his life and memories from his profile, she understands that he came from a place of hurt and did what was best for him. “It’s unfair to hold people to the same standard as you when it comes to managing your social media after a breakup. I am respectful of other people’s decisions,” Bartnicka said.

Though they’re no longer together it’s important for her to still honour their past and, now that time has passed, they have been able to maintain a friendship, so she’s happy to have him up on her feed. Removing images of them together feels inauthentic to her. “To go in after the fact and pretend things didn’t happen, that’s a little more confusing to me,” Bartnicka said. She says that Instagram feeds are curated to tell a story and her story includes her past. She looks back at those memories fondly and they’re deep enough in her feed that she doesn’t think it would discourage a new romantic interest.

She understands that not all breakups are the same, so whether she’d keep images of exes up would be situational.

“Whether or not you remove or archive photos has a lot to do with the reasons for the breakup, whether or not it was mutual, and the nature of your photos,” says breakup coach and dating strategist Natalia Juarez.

Before you go on a deleting rampage, she suggests pumping the brakes and taking a step back. “After a big breakup, I strongly urge people to take a one- to three-week break from social media, especially if they were on the receiving end,” Juarez said. She says you may be consumed with all sorts of difficult emotions so you don’t want to make any reactive decisions. Once you’re in a bit of a better headspace, she suggests considering archiving over deleting pictures of you and your ex. “This two-step process will offer you a bit more time to heal and think clearly about how you want to manage your online relationship history and who knows? Maybe you’ll get back together! Although if that’s why you’re holding on to them, maybe we should talk,” Juarez said.

The archive option on Instagram allows you to remove images from your feed so no one else can see them, but it doesn’t delete them entirely, allowing you to place them back on your feed in the same place they were, with a simple click.

“If you feel like having photos with your ex on your social media hinders your opportunity to attract new suitors, then it may be worth archiving to appear more single,” says Sara Koonar, president of Platform Media & Management, an influencer talent management company in Toronto. She says that before you make any decisions, be mindful of the message your profile is sending others. “Taking down photos may signal to your followers that the breakup was a messy one. Showing that you have nothing to be ashamed of, and honouring those memories, demonstrates that there is no animosity,” Koonar said. “If your feed was full of photos together and you don’t want it to look like an homage to a person you no longer are, then that’s another reason to maybe clean it up a bit and just keep the best moments.”

Social media is a place for you to control your own narrative on who you are and how you want people to view you, but it’s also a hub for people to get intel on you and your past relationships. A little digging here and there (a.k.a. “creeping”) through recent tags can offer those curious a rough timeline of your past relationships. Koonar says simply untagging your ex could be a good way to stop people from digging deeper and trying to put pieces together about your relationship timeline. “You can also alter the caption to make it more inconspicuous. However, if you are fearful that people are deep-diving your social media, consider how much sharing is too much,” Koonar says. “Also, if you have followers that feel like they know you, having them stalking your ex, telling you where they are and what they are up to will be harmful to your ability to move on. In these cases, it may be better to archive or delete all together,” Koonar said.

“Many people don’t see the harm in having photos of their exes on their social media and feel the same about their partners history,” Juarez said. “However, far more people (in my experience) struggle with their partner’s romantic history on display on their social media due to their attachment style, trust issues and other insecurities.”

(Video) Should You Delete Your Ex's Photos From Your Social Media?

If you’re curious about a partner’s history, or feel uncomfortable in any way by what’s displayed on their profile, have a healthy conversation. And if you have photos of an ex up on your socials and your new partner asks about them, Juarez suggests you explain what having those photos means to you, sharing that it’s a part of your history and that it doesn’t mean you are holding onto feelings. Then she suggests asking your partner how it makes them feel and what meaning they’re giving those photos. “In many cases, issues like this can be worked out with openness, respect and compassion,” Juarez said. “Given how much social media has infiltrated our lives, these are the sorts of conversations we need to get comfortable having.”

If you started dating someone who’s ready to go Instagram official and you’d rather keep your relationship private, communicate. “I think it is a great conversation to have so you can understand each other’s boundaries and what may become an issue. Communicating what your expectations are is a really healthy way to build a strong relationship. Most people don’t want to make their partners feel uncomfortable and will be accommodating,” Koonar said.

Editor’s note – Mar. 23, 2021: A photo accompanying this article was removed.

Jen Kirsch is a Toronto-based writer and a freelance contributor for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @jen_kirsch



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(Video) Why You Should Delete Your Ex's Pictures Off Of Social Media


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