The apartment was a complete mess, clothes piled up from floor to ceiling, truly a hoarder's paradise. Stacey and Kevin had been dating for about a year and a half, and now shared an apartment. Stacey had a day off, meanwhile Kevin headed off to work. It was late March, and you know what that means...the start of spring. Springtime is such a great season. It represents a new beginning, new life, and turning over a new leaf. What better way to usher in this new beginning than by doing a little spring cleaning, Stacy thought. Needless to say, the deep cleaning she was about to embark upon was much needed!
She got up, and began to sort through the mountains of clothes. Some she kept, washed, and folded; others, she bagged up to donate. Hours later, she made her way through the kitchen and bathroom. She was on a roll. Stacey then decided to thoroughly clean both of their closets. When Stacey reached Kevin's closet, she noticed an unfamiliar black box tucked away behind a stack of Nike shoe boxes. She opened the box, and much to her chagrin, it was filled with old love letters and various small gifts he had received from past love interests.
In true Stacey fashion, she read a few of the notes, which were linked to some of the gifts that were in the box like the engraved fraternity pen and ticket stubs from a concert one lady gifted him with. She grew angrier by the minute, and left the open box on the bed to discuss it with Kevin when he arrived home.
Kevin got home, tired as hell, and Stacey wasted no time. “I found this while cleaning," Stacey stated with both eyebrows raised, waiting on a response.
Kevin thumbed through the items, and said “They're just old letters and gifts from people before you. What's the big deal?"
“I see that, but why do you still have them?" Stacey inquired.
“They meant something once upon a time, and I think it would be disrespectful to throw them away. Besides, they're no different than collecting souvenirs."
“Well, I think it's disrespectful to keep them if you have moved on, but whatever Kevin."
This is an issue that is all too familiar. I've heard of it coming up in various relationships and playing out in different ways, and I've personally dealt with it myself:
Is it okay for people to keep old letters and gifts from past relationships or should they be tossed?
There's no right or wrong stance on this topic; it is entirely left up to your own personal preference. However, in my opinion, holding on to old trinkets from ghosts of girlfriends past, can cause more problems in a present situation than it's worth. Like our friend, Kevin, some may argue that they are merely memories and serve as souvenirs. Really? A souvenir? A shot glass you purchased on your trip to Jamaica is a souvenir. A keychain from Cancun is a souvenir. Customized and personal gifts/letters from people you had intimate relationships with are not souvenirs.
Let's be real, keeping old letters and gifts signifies some part of you not being able to completely let the past go. Even if you want to debate that not being the case or not being true, you're going to have a tough time explaining why you've kept those things, and why you're hiding and protecting them like a Leprechaun with a pot of gold.
I have learned many times over that letting go of the past is key to a healthy relationship, and is crucial to being able to grow with someone. At the end of the day, it is all up to you and your partner to determine what “letting go of the past" encompasses. If collecting old tokens of affection don't bother you, more power to you. That's one less issue in your relationship that you have to deal with.
However, if it does make you uncomfortable and your mate does this, you should sit down and have that conversation to come up with something that will appease you both, and then, of course, let it go.
*Originally posted on CandidlyC
Chelsei (a.k.a Candidly C) is an MBA graduate, writer, and freelance model. You can indulge in more of her work at candidlyc.com where she discusses life, relationships, beauty, and health. Follow her on Instagram: @candidly.c