My phone keeps showing me photos of my exes and I wish it would let go

My phone has a neat little trick it likes to do where it shows me photos from the same day in years past.

Alexander Brown
Alexander Brown

It’s a wonderful feature that reminds me of holidays with family, cakes I’ve made, or nights out with friends.

However, it also makes sure to show me photos from the happy times with every relationship that didn’t work out.

The beach in the Algarve where I was sick, the candlelit dinner in Milan, the walk around Alexandra Palace when it felt like it could be something.

Every memory I have let fade like a Back to the Future picture rises once more to and with it waves of what if?

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These are pictures long deleted, but just because I’ve let go doesn’t mean my Google drive that backs it all up has.

Each morning I’m greeted with a “on this day” notification, and get to play Russian Roulette wondering if it’s going to be a seafront or a smiling ex who broke my heart.

The easy fix would be to turn it off, ignoring the feature and making sure to spare myself running a gauntlet of exes when I open my phone.

But to do so would mean walking away from the happy memories that do linger, the sunsets in my new flat, that first dinner after lockdown, my grandma blowing out candles on her birthday.

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I’m not saying I need to Eternal Sunshine myself, removing all memory, but I’d rather retain the memories of the end than be reminded of the moments we were happy.

Discussing this with a friend they explained they keep pictures of their ex on Instagram despite using descriptions of him I simply cannot put in a family newspaper.

Now I have never posted pictures of my other halves on social media because firstly I think it’s a bit cringe, and secondly it just seems to be tempting fate.

As a single man, my approach has been going very well, thanks for asking.

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I argued it was surely better to delete them, rather than being confronted with his face every time she opens Instagram.

She argued that was like “deleting history”, and those memories were part of who she was, and maybe she’s right.

I grew up as part of the Facebook generation who uploaded pictures of literally everything.

To be extremely online is to overshare but also present a version of yourself that you are comfortable being public.

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And while I don’t have to post them, not documenting those moments could be missing out on photos I will later cherish just to avoid being hurt.

Not to live in the moment of relationships and life because you’re worrying about what comes after them seems not just unhealthy, but deeply unromantic.

I have deleted my Facebook, but I don’t think I’ll turn the feature off, or stop sharing and documenting my life.

So I will keep taking photos, knowing the immediate joys far outlast the irritating reminders.

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While they’re not going on social media, they are and will remain a part of me.