How to Stop Getting Jealous When Your Boyfriend Brings Up His Past

boyfriend past

My friend Emily Rosen is the CEO of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. She is also one hell of a poet and storyteller. I was blown away when I read this post of hers on Facebook and asked for her permission to print it here.

In her own eloquent words, Emily advocates for the concept of being accepting, trusting, confident and gracious, instead of leading with fear and insecurity – specifically when you’re dating a man who shares stories of women in his past.

I used to think
that other people loving him
took something away from me
I wanted to be the only one
and I resented all his memories

Years ago on a trip to Hawaii
we met a naked man
who sold jewelry
from the back of his pickup truck
I bought two pieces
but one was too big
so he invited us back to his home
so his wife could fix it

While we waited
they served us raw bread made of seeds,
green tea and fresh herbs
and the man took out a photo album

“Can I show you my loves?”
he asked,
to which we agreed readily

He opened the book
and began to turn the pages
It was filled with pictures
of beautiful women
of all colors, shapes and sizes

And he began to speak…

“This is Tanya,
Oh Tanya, she always knew how to stop time,
when I was with her
I knew everything was always okay
Sara, now Sara was amazing,
a dancer, the way she moved her body,
took my breath away
Laura, she stole my heart,
I never met a girl so smart and kind,
we would laugh together for hours on end”

He kept going
page after page
after page after page
story after story

The smile on his face
was of a man in ecstasy

But I felt incredibly

His wife was there
and he was sharing about women
from before?

From everything I had ever learned
this was a no no
a big no no

Aren’t we supposed to act
like the person we are with
is the only one ever

But I watched his wife’s face
and she was lit up and smiling
seeing him in so much bliss

So I began to ask questions…

They had been together 11 years now
living in this remote part of Hawaii
with very little outside contact
They spent their days making art and love
and seemed happier than most anyone
I had ever met

After an hour,
I garnered up the courage
to ask her…

How she feels about him
being with all these women
and sharing their pictures

She laughed without hesitation
and smiled at me knowingly,
“Well, he loves women,”
she said,
“so I am glad he has had so many”

I got misty eyed
this is not how I would feel
this is not how I did feel

The part about saying goodbye
to a relationship
that grasps often at my heart
is my fear of being forgotten
And that fear is bigger
with those who have been with many
because then I am just literally
one of many
more easily forgotten in the crowd of love
the odds are definitively against me
or so I imagine

I have always struggled socially
and with intimacy
so the people who are close,
really close
are few and far between

So, many of the men
I’ve been with
or been close to
have had many more relationships than me
and definitely many more lovers

So I’ve always felt
easily replaceable
easily forgotten

At this point in my life
I had kissed
as many men as I have fingers
and here he was showing me
a book of women
he had loved,
I didn’t even know that many people

So I asked her…
if she had as many boyfriends
to which she said,
“Oh no, not at all”

She explained,
I grew up in Sweden
and didn’t really understand my sexuality
until I was in my late 30s

I was afraid of men
and avoided intimacy

“Till I met him,”
she said
pointing at the man
still looking at his pictures happily

“Oh,” I said
amazed at her strength

I would just be so incredibly insecure
I thought to myself
I would never be with someone
who had dated so many

She put her hand on my shoulder
and as if she could hear
what I was thinking
and said,

“There will only ever be one me
and one you
We don’t have to worry about competing
we have already won everything,
you are you, uniquely you”

Tears filled my eyes
and I asked to use the bathroom

I remember looking in the mirror
carefully wiping the tears from the corners
so as not to ruin my mascara
and thinking to myself…
it’s true
I cannot argue
there is only ever one of anyone
but what if I am not
a good enough one…

We left
and that night
we drank tequila, and told stories

I asked my boyfriend at the time
to tell me
about the love before me

At first it was hard
I felt my stomach in my throat
and my heart was pumping rapidly

But soon
we were both smiling
and yes, sometimes crying

It was so incredibly healing
to hear about what helped shape
the man I was so in love with that day

Envy can poison everything

We are taught to compare
and compete endlessly

We are taught that love is limited
and someone having something
takes it away from us
It keeps us trying to control
the uncontrollable
It keeps us focused
on small and insignificant things
that drain our life energy
And it keeps us separate
and disconnected
even when in relationship

We keep secrets
for fear of punishment
or scarier yet
for fear of being seen

But I see a different possibility
and it’s one I’ve been fortunate enough
to live

Where we let go
of what we have been told
and design relationships
that reflect our values

Where we own our humanity
and yes, how scary jealousy can feel

Relationships where we choose
to share what’s true

Because being true
is more important
than keeping anyone
or anything

when we aren’t being true
We might lose
the very most important thing

That was Emily Rosen, ladies and gentlemen. And while I don’t have a photo album of my exes that I foist upon my wife, Emily could well be talking about me. I am an honest, loyal, blissfully married man – who happens to have a lot of dating and relationship stories that helped to make me who I am today. Instead of having to bury those memories due  of my wife’s insecurities, I’m free to share them as I see fit – without any fear of backlash. My wife doesn’t act this way because she’s doormat; rather, she listens to me because she’s confident  enough to know that those are fleeting women of my distant PAST, while my wife is the only woman in my PRESENT and FUTURE.

Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated. Feel free to share this poem and follow Emily on Facebook and Instagram.

Join our conversation (53 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 1

    Thanks for sharing this story. My favorite part was:

    She laughed without hesitationand smiled at me knowingly,“Well, he loves women,”she said,“so I am glad he has had so many”

    All of my experiences with women up to this point have made who I will be in my next relationship. What has it made me? A better man.

  2. 2

    This must be the most touching story I’ve read in a long time ,it makes me want to get in touch with my past somewhat.

    I know I’ve not being kind to some exes,and wished I had handled things differently. This level of maturity by this wife is a striking reminder that we need to look deep within us and find ourselves.

    Jealously,comparisons, and insecurities are relationship killers. Thank you Evan,the day you stop   teaching,many women will never make it ,thank you so much.

  3. 3

    This makes me think back to recent posts and comments about one person being right or wrong about this or that and after reading this post, it makes all of that bickering seems so childish, like everyone is defending themselves against the world and trying to prove the other person to be wrong or evil.   You’re wrong and I’m right….   maybe we’re not as wrong as other people think we are.   Maybe you’re not as wrong as I thought…. Try tolerance and understanding, why don’t we?

    Thanks for sharing.   Happy Thanksgiving.

  4. 4

    Thank you so much for sharing this lovely story.

    That “claw” in the stomach when a guy starts talking about an ex has always been an issue for me. Although, in my experience, it’s mostly been disparaging remarks, but even those bring on the “claw.”

    My favourite part: “There will only ever be one me  and one you.  We don’t have to worry about competing  we have already won everything,  you are you, uniquely you”

    Good advice for all parts of a relationship, not just talking about an ex.  I’m going to put it on the bathroom mirror.

    1. 4.1

      You put it so well, it can feel like a claw, when someone shares a story about an ex with you. This post struck a chord. The writer is at a level of emotional maturity, which i have not yet reached.

      The claw has lessened over time. As i got older i learnt to differentiate between stories about exes they were obviously not over or who were put onto a lofty pedestal no current girlfriend could compare to and exes who, while dearly loved, have been left firmly in the past. The former is a fluoresecent red flag, while the latter is encouraging. At least he is not calling his ex girlfriends crazy and bitchy.

    2. 4.2

      I’d rather my partner say loving things about past relationships instead of disparaging remarks. If we don’t work out, I’d prefer that he look fondly on our time together rather than angrily venting about me to someone else.

  5. 5

    What is everyone’s opinion on a deceased girlfriend/boyfriend, fiance’, or spouse?

    If a person you started seriously dating had a picture out in the open of their deceased love, would you be excepting or would it make you feel uncomfortable?

    Would it matter if the picture was in the bedroom verse the living room?


    1. 5.1

      You know Adrian, I am always really curious what your own answers to your questions would be. You ask so many of them, and sometimes I think you seek to hear from everyone else as if that will tell you what you ought to be thinking. But you and your opinions have a value as well.


      How would you feel about someone you’re dating having a picture of their deceased past partner? Would it make a difference if it was in the bedroom vs living room to you?

    2. 5.2

      I would be concerned (not jealous) about this situation and I’d surmise that this person has not fully processed the loss and has not moved on, and as such is unfit to be in a relationship. I’ve lost my first husband and I don’t keep photos of him on display – i don’t need to build a shrine to remember him. Such behavior would be completely unhealthy, and this has nothing to do with jealousy.

      1. 5.2.1

        Fully agree with Sparkling Emerald on this one. @Stacy2, your previous comments here indicate that your divorce from your first husband was quite acrimonious. There’s a big difference between that and losing a loved one to death. It’s also possible to move on and yet have fond memories of someone, and even remember them through tasteful monuments. Human beings aren’t like animals, we don’t, in fact can’t, just live in the now. To force yourself to do so is what’s unhealthy.

        1. Stacy2

          I divorced my 2nd husband, but my first husband passed away. I think I know what I am talking about.

      2. 5.2.2

        Oh, my bad. I didn’t know that, and I’m sorry for your loss. And if that’s how you dealt with the grieving process, and if it worked for you, that’s great.

        I myself, however, would not begrudge someone a photo of a spouse who passed away, and I wouldn’t necessarily interpret it as an inability to move forward. There are often more toxic signs that someone is stuck in the past.

      3. 5.2.3

        I have a wall of family pictures.   As time goes on, modem” ghosts” are on that wall.   Both of my grandmother’s have passed, but I didn’t remove their photos.   My mom passed,   I didn’t take her photos or family photos with her in them down.   I even have a picture of one of my aunts who passed away as a young child, whom I’ve never met obviously, as she passed ling before I was even born.


        What do you think of parents who keep photos and momentos of their children who have tragically passed ?   Are they unfit to parent children who remain ?   Are they unfit to have more children ?


        What do you think of various public monuments to fallen heroes ?


        If it’s OK to keep pictures of a deceased child, friend or sibling, if it’s OK to build public monuments to fallen heroes, if it’s OK to spend thousands on a casket to hold the corpse, and build a monument atop in some churchyard, then why is it so unhealthy to keep a framed photo of he person with whom you loved and created a family with ?


        1. SparklingEmerald

          The above comment was addressed to Stacy.   Also, my auto correct made some weird ” corrections”

        2. Emily, the original

          Sparkling Emerald,

          What do you think of parents who keep photos and momentos of their children who have tragically passed ?  

          I don’t think you can compare the relationship you have with a spouse to that of a parent or other family member. They’re completely different. For one thing, you choose the spouse.

          Having a posted picture or two of a deceased spouse (particularly if you had children with the person, and the pics include the children) is fine. Maybe even a pic of a divorced spouse. Again, if the pics involved the children you shared.

          But I had a friend who had several pictures hanging up in her home of her first husband. Several included the children they had, but she also had their wedding picture posted. That, to me, was strange. They’d divorced decades ago. He’d moved on and remarried. Do you think he had pics of her in his home? (She did not have one posted pic of her second husband, who she also divorced. We had to dig through her piles of old pics to find even one of him. She had thrown most of them away.) To me, that symbolized that she never got over the first husband and hated the second.


        3. SparklingEmerald

          Hi Emily

          The original question from Adrian was “How would you feel about someone you’re dating having a picture of their deceased past partner? Would it make a difference if it was in the bedroom vs living room to you?”   Not a question about several pictures or a shrine.   I would probably not like it in the bedroom, as I would feel like a ghost was watching us be intimate, however, I don’t know how I would address that.   A picture in the living room ?   I would probably compliment the picture in some way, such as “(Late wife’s name)   is very lovely, she has beautiful eyes” or some such thing.

          Yes, parent/child relationships are different from spousal relationships, but since the former sprang from the latter, I think that is even MORE reason to keep a photo of the deceased parent of you child, or even a family photo.   Not just for yourself, but as a comfort to the children.   How would you feel as a child, if your mother passed, and your father threw out or shoved all the pictures of your mother in the attic as soon as he started dating again ?   If the children are grown, pictures and momentos of Mom (or Dad) can be distributed among the children.   I still have a faux fur coat from my late mother.   When I wear it, I feel like her arms are wrapped around me.   I found the mother’s necklace we gave her for mother’s day in an old box of stuff, and I will wear that on my wedding day next year, for my “something old”.   Is that an “unhealthy” inability to let go ?

          All that being said, everyone handles grief and loss differently.   Quiet frankly, I am tired of all the amateur pschyces appointing themselves as the arbiter of “proper grieving”     An actor friend of mine lost her husband of over 20 years, and was devastated.   His body was barely cold before people started telling her she needed to get over it. To this day she thanks me for listening to her mourning without judgement, only comfort.    A co-worker lost a baby to crib death, again, less than a month after the memorial service, a snotty co-worker declared that she had to “get over it”.   I wanted to slap that tongue stud, right out of her heartless, mean mouth (but I didn’t of course)

          If you (you in general) can’t date a widower who hasn’t tossed aside all memories of his late wife, then don’t.   But please stop all this projectile projecting that someone who doesn’t grieve or remember their deceased loved one, in the same manner as you would, or in the manner you deem proper, that they must be “unhealthy”

          We all handle grief, loss, trauma, etc. in our own way.   As a friend or lover, instead of judging, blaming or shaming, just BE THERE for someone who is experiencing this.   Emotions suppressed do not go away, they re-surface in other odd ways.   Being the friend (or lover) who listens and comforts without judgement can speed the healing process.

        4. Emily, the original

          Sparkling Emerald,

          How would you feel as a child, if your mother passed, and your father threw out or shoved all the pictures of your mother in the attic as soon as he started dating again ?

          Well, you wouldn’t have known this … but that’s exactly what my father did. Or, rather, he started dating very soon after my mother passed away and allowed my stepmother to scrub clean most of her memories. He jammed all my mother’s stuff in a box in the attic. I have the box now. I don’t think he has ONE photo of my mother, and they were happily married. My stepmother died five years ago, but 2 months after her death, he was on match. com. Who knows what his new wife has done with her things. I have stayed out of that drama.

          So I am not one for moving on without grieving. I am baffled by how quickly some people do that. But of course there can be grieving too much. I thought it was sad to see the wedding picture my friend put up in her home of a man she married and divorced four decades ago.

        5. Stacy2

          I think you’re mixing together a lot of different things here, and I am not sure what specifically you’d like me to comment on. I think it is everybody’s business what they keep in their homes, but it is my business to decide whether I want to be involved in their situation, ok?

          There’s a time and place for everything. We don’t have monuments to fallen heroes in our bedrooms, these are erected in places where we go on appropriate dates to pay our respects and remember. They’re not that dissimilar from headstones we have for   our loved ones. We have them in cemeteries, not in our homes, and we go to visit on certain dates that are significant to us, and then return to our normal lives. We do not stare at them day in and day out. Same with the grieving process, we experience it, and we move on. This is what i believe.

          But what purpose does a photo on permanent display in one’s home really serve? Why is it there? Every time you glance at it, which would be daily, it would invoke a memory of the deceased person. Is this really a healthy way to go through life? I know that I can go for weeks and weeks without a single thought of my late husband – he was my first big love and I will always miss him dearly but he’s not here, and I am not going to live in the past by allocating all this mental bandwidth to it. I want to be in the present, thinking about people who are here, present with me. And, of course I would never tell anyone how to grieve or how long to grieve for, but that is just exactly the point: i don’t want to get involved with a person who’s still grieving. They could be a real pain to be around, and a lot of people will just cling to their loss and refuse to move on for various reasons. Life is hard enough. This is all i am saying.

          And no, I wouldn’t (and i don’t) have walls of photos of deceased relatives, which of course I have a few. I like to surround myself with positive things, art, etc. But YMMV.

        6. Emily, the original


          i don’t want to get involved with a person who’s still grieving.

          I don’t know if I would characterize his behavior as “still grieving,” but I work with a man who’s in his mid-50s who brings up the woman who was his big love. They were engaged and she cheated on him and dumped him. I don’t think he wants to get back together with her (he’s now married), but the demise of that relationship definitely did a number on him, though I would doubt his wife is aware of the extent of it. He still talks about it as the best sex of his life, the one time he was completely satisfied with a woman and not noticing others. (I don’t mean to imply he’s a cheater. He’s not, but he of course looks and flirts.) Anyway, does all this matter 30 years later? I don’t know. Sometimes, someone can still be mentally hung up on someone else and not talk about her, not have pictures hanging up of her in his home, so you would never know.

        7. SparklingEmerald


          The original question was about ONE picture of deceased loved one.   OK, I get it that you judge anyone who keeps ANY pictures of a deceased spouse as “still grieving”.   I don’t agree with that judgement, but if you feel threatened by a photograph, it is perfectly your right to not get involved with a man who fondly remembers his late wife/mother of his children, and did not toss her pictures in the trash, shove them in the attic or give them to his children.


          You asked “But what purpose does a photo on permanent display in one’s home really serve?”   I ask, what harm does it do ?   If you are threatened by such a picture (just one, not talking about a shrine) then don’t date someone if one picture threatens you.


          You also said “And no, I wouldn’t (and i don’t) have walls of photos of deceased relatives, which of course I have a few. I like to surround myself with positive things, art, etc. But YMMV..

          I said I have a wall (not walls as you misconstrued) of photos and over time, it has become populated with “ghosts”.   In case you couldn’t read the meaning into it, all those pictures were of living people when they went up on the wall, but over time, people passed away.   Those pictures didn’t suddenly become “negative” because those people passed, and I didn’t feel the need to take pictures off the wall when someone died.   And what about group photos ?   If one person in a family group photo dies, in your view of “healthy” what is the correct thing to do ?   Remove the entire picture, or put a red circle with a slash over the deceased ?

          Also, I don’t know why you are assuming that keeping the pictures up after someone has passed is somehow not positive. Some of the pictures of my grandparents are beautiful old style sepia vignettes, in frames that I carefully picked with loving care for each photo.   Why would it be “unhealthy” to keep such a beautiful photo of a beautiful person on display ?   I would find it negative to go around tearing pictures down whenever someone died.

          I like to surround myself with positive things too, and I consider fond memories and beautifully framed photographs to be positive.   I think the fact that you consider such things “negative” and “unhealthy” says more about you.   In fact, I consider the old style of photography to be a form of art in and of itself.

          I’ve lost my first husband and I don’t keep photos of him on display — i don’t need to build a shrine to remember him.

          Sorry for your loss.   The original question tho’ was about a single photo, not a shrine.


      4. 5.2.4

        I would have to agree with all of Stacy2’s comments in this particular thread.

        I have no issues with a man having his memorie’s neither am I jealous of my current man”s past.Just today I asked he proposed to the girl who became his fiance 3 years ago before he met me…no biggie…but I feel very secure because I know my value in myself and my value to him…however, seeing go through photo of other women that he keeps and watching his eyes filled with lust and ecstasy is imo very disrespectful….while I accept that I was not his one and only, there are also such a thing as healthy boundaries and this is not it.

    3. 5.3

      Adrian – I have compassion for anyone who has lost a loved one.   If I were involved with a widower who loved the memories of his late wife, I would feel honored that he would choose me to be part if his life after that loss.   I have a friend who is widowed and she is involved with a widower.   They swap fond memories with each other of their deceased spouses.   She even post tributes to his late wife on her FB page.   She thinks his late wife must have been very special to have been loved by her fiance.

      Unless a man kept comparing me to his deceased wife in a negative way (Jane used to cook meatloaf like this,   why don’t you,     Jane would never wear something like that, etc) I would not feel threatened by a ghost, if I was being well loved by significant other.

      My fiance swaps stories about our exes (and we’re divorced, not widowed).   Of course, I don’t have pictures of my ex displayed around the house, not even family pics with our son.

      To me, being jealous of a deceased loved one is really petty.   Do siblings get upset, if one of their siblings passed, and their parents keep pictures of the deceased child around ?   I would hope not.

      I would much rather be with a widowed man and hear fond stories of his late wife, than to be with a man, who still shared bitter stories of a “crazy ex”.


      1. 5.3.1

        I am in a relationship with someone whose wife passed away 7 years ago its been less than a year since we have started dating   and in the early days i was very much threatened by a ghost when he would speak fondly of her   reading your post was very refreshing

        1. SparklingEmerald

          Hi Belinda – Thanks for your response.   If you found it helpful, I am glad.   You are in a good position to be with a man who remembers his last relationship fondly.   Some active listening without judgement can really help cement your relationship and endear you to him.   For example, if he tells you a funny story about her, you could respond with something like “It sounds like she had a real sense of humor” (or something appropriate to what he shared with you)

      2. 5.3.2


        You & Emily are both right, IMHO. I knew an older lady that had been married for over 30 years to her current husband, but constantly talked about her first husband (deceased) that she was married to for less than 10 years. I felt sorry for the current husband. I wouldn’t worry much about pictures, but I wouldn’t want to be with someone stuck in the past, either.

        I also know a family that lost a son when he was a teenager over 25 years ago, and they kept his room as a shrine. In their case, I think it was because the mom just couldn’t get rid of his things because it was too emotional for her.

      3. 5.3.3

        If I were involved with a widower who loved the memories of his late wife, I would feel honored that he would choose me to be part if his life after that loss.  

        This comment in particular strikes me as really odd. You can take it from a re-married widow, there’s absolutely nothing specifically honorable about being a second spouse. Life happens. Death happens. There’s a tendency to idealize the ones we lost, but most of the time it’s just a coping mechanism. Most likely, a widower’s late spouse was just a normal human being, flawed like the rest of us, loved by many for sure, perfect? Hardly. You don’t have some big shoes to fill just because wife/husband #1 has passed away. You should be valuable on your own just as you are, not in comparison to.

      4. 5.3.4

        Hi SparkingEmerald,

        I think you solved it (for me at least). It all comes back to insecurity; it is not what the man or woman who has the picture of their deceased loved one is doing or not doing; it is how secure you are in your relationship and in their love for you.

        As you said, having pictures of long past loved family members doesn’t even make a new partner blink; they know you have it for sentimentality NOT because you spend every waking day longing for that dead family member or because you have not excepted their death.

        But throw in the fact that the picture is of a deceased person who you had sex with and whom you had sexual attraction for, then all that acceptance  goes out the window. An insecure person invents many negative reasons why you still have that picture… disregarding the picture right next to it of your deceased grandmother. (o_O)

        I also feel I should add that a person who is not close to their family or who is just emotionally closed off, will see it as weird that you have pictures of deceased friends, family, or spouses.

        For example my family always hugs and says I love you when we part, and I remember once a girlfriend seeing and hearing all this thought it was weird because I only lived 20 minutes away not in different city or state; she was not use to seeing a genuinely close family. I would just notice the amazement in her eyes with our planned family dinners, family vacations or just how we got together to hang out weekly as close friend do. A person like that would not understand you can be emotionally healthy but keeping pictures of past loved ones.

        I remember once when my deceased ex and I were chatting, laughing, and hugging on each other like school kids in the back of a charity event while waiting for it to start. Later (not lie) at least a dozen different couples approached us saying we much be a new couple (we had been together for 7 years at the time) because of how we interacted and smiled at each other; they said that our “new love”would fade in about a year. Some people truly can not believe that a couple can be so close and I would not be surprise if people like that thought that wanting to keep a picture of someone who meant so much to you was weird or a sign that you have not let go.

        Remember people do not judge others by what is true, they judge others by their own personal experiences and what is going on in their lives at the time.

        1. GoWiththeFlow


          “Remember people do not judge others by what is true, they judge others by their own personal experiences and what is going on in their lives at the time.”

          So true!   If you try to adjust every little thing in your life so that no one is ever uncomfortable, you wind up pleasing everyone but yourself.   If it makes you happy to have a photo out of your late girlfriend, then do it. If some woman wants to overthink it and weave negative stories in her head of what it all means, that’s her problem.

  6. 6

    A lesson on confidence and self esteem is needed before this can be done. Many of us suffer from esteem issues and have to manage that first.

  7. 7

    I feel this poem so hard. I really share a similar outlook. And honestly I’ve always felt even more special knowing that my partner has had a history with other women and is with me now, has chosen me now. It’s so much more flattering than if I was his only experience. It feels like a real decision he made to be with me. And the fact that he isn’t bitter about his exes, and doesn’t call them “crazy” etc, and tells me cool stories makes me feel safer with him as well. (for the record I too tell stories of exes – all of mine are lovely, I really lucked out)


    1. 7.1

      Hi Callie,

      As always thanks for the positive advice. (^_^)

      Though to address your concerns, my motivation for asking certain questions vary; sometimes I (as a straight man) want to understand how women see things not how Evan our straight male dating coach who talks to women says, “this is how women see things.” It is a fail-safe to keep me from forming my own “truths” on how and why women do what they do.

      However also sometimes I have an opinion on an issue but I am unsure because I have no real world or first hand experience, so hearing the various views and arguments of different women help me rationalize my views or reshape my views on subjects.

      And sometimes I simply don’t have a stance on an issue and therefore enjoy reading the arguments and evidence of both sides to help me reach an understanding and conclusion. Because to be honest about 90% of the negative things I hear stated about men and women on here I have never experienced-it’s all new to me.

      …      …    …

      My opinion on this subject… you are not going to like the answer (>_<)

      I have heard various women disagree on the subject; both sides giving very convincing (though emotional) arguments for and against keeping pictures of deceased spouses. So I don’t know.

      As I have stated before, about 8 months ago I got promoted and therefore moved to a new state, so I no longer have the benefit of asking female co-workers, or   my friend’s wives or girlfriends relationship related questions from a woman’s point of view.

      I would feel awkward asking a new office acquaintance about many of the subjects we discuss here on EMK’s blog because they don’t know me well enough to distinguish my simple gender related curiosity from my personal views about dating and women.

      Here I can seek to understand for example guys like Chance’s point of view simply for the purpose of understanding why men such as him feel the way they do and how did it happen-even though I disagree with some of his views on women. At work with a woman I don’t know repeating some of his comments would get me a female answer but it would also get me labeled in a negative light.

  8. 8
    Emily, the original

    “There will only ever be one me  and one you.  We don’t have to worry about competing  we have already won everything,  you are you, uniquely you”

    While this is true, and your connection with each person is special, it isn’t the same. There are people you date who will really make a dent in your subconscious. You look back at that relationship and it was very important. And then there are people with whom you spent time you can barely remember. When the relationship ended you were hurt, but once got some time away and some perspective, the relationship wasn’t all that impactful compared to others.

  9. 9



    This post seems alright if you are someone who is with a wonderful partner who loves you, but you just can’t seem to get over your preoccupation with that partner’s exes.   I don’t know if I agree with it for others.   Mine was a lying cheating scumbag.   This poem just seems so on the surface in a way.   If the guy is talking about his exes in a way that makes you feel less, or all of the time, this would not ever apply.   In the poem, the couple was on a deserted island, it seemed, does this matter in the context?, It should.   Being bitter about an ex and having the balls to say they were not a good match and this person doesn’t have pictures and a book about that ex is different.   A book of exes that the partner pours over, very different than regarding memories.

  10. 10

    On the subject of the original poem, I have to call BS. I will be the firs to not make a big deal out of the existence of the ex-es, but there are degrees to everything. My ex-husband kept photos of one of his exes on his computer and I can’t say that it bothered me. They were nude pictures and I sort of saw them as porn (which again i would not have a problem with) and I myself would never pose for anything like that so why not let him look at the old ones in his private moments? Whatever. I didn’t care one bit.

    However, keeping an album of past loves and going through that in front of your current partner? Different ballgame alltogether. May be some women can claim to be oh so evolved   (ughm)  that they’re not bothered in the least by their partner salivating over   an album of his ex-es, but personally i am not one of them. And any guy who thinks his album of ex-es is more important than my feelings can take it and spend some quality time with those pictures and his right hand, without me.

    I also find this to be male hypocrisy at its finest. Funny how this guy just happened to end up with a woman who herself had very few sexual partners. Hmm.. How would he feel if she had an album of dick picks, pulled it out and started reminiscing about how each of them made her feel? Would dating coaches for men be advising him to just “stop being jealous”?


    1. 10.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Yes. The non-hypocritical ones like me would absolutely tell him to get over his own insecurities.

      1. 10.1.1

        I am sure you would, Evan, the better question I guess is how many would listen? Or as you so frequently (and correctly) like to put it, is this an effective way to conduct one’s relationship?

        All these attacks on people who display any sort of insecurity are really getting old, and really annoying to tell the truth. We all have them, it is not realistic to expect to have a partner who just walks around radiating freaking confidence and is oh soooo secure that no matter what you say or do they’re just so freaking secure that they’re unfazed   and they just smile and pat you on the shoulder. Porn? Best friends with an ex? Have an album of dick pics/tit pic to salivate over? Gawking at other women/men? No problem dear! Because I am so evolved and so well adjusted, and secure (unlike all those other lesser human beings) that none of this bothers me one bit. Nope. Carry on and let me draw you a babble bath.

        I think in reality this ^^ has happened about ZERO times and most of these “secure” people are simply swallowing their hurt feelings and pretending to be “cool” to preserve their relationships. Added bonus: they get to look down on the rest of us.

        Personally, I think the more effective way to conduct a relationship is to exhibit an appropriate level of tact and discretion, understand that we’re all human and have normal human emotional responses – which includes yes, oh horror, jealousy. May be, it is better to leave past where it belongs – in the past, and not test the limits of your partner’s tolerance for such things when there’s really no need for it. There’s nothing wrong with it, nothing at all.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          Effective: secure, confident and accepting.

          Ineffective: insecure, mistrustful, overly sensitive to perceived slights.

          You can go on and on about your right to be insecure. As a secure person, I held out for a secure woman who doesn’t perpetually make me apologize for my past, my thoughts or my words.

          I far prefer it to the alternative of walking on eggshells in fear of triggering some insecurity that has nothing to do with me.

        2. Stacy2

          So you routinely advise women to not hold out for that 1% of alpha top earners with the PhD, but you would advise to hold out for that 0.1% of men who are so well-adjusted as to not be bothered by me keeping old boyfriends’ dick pics? How are these two different?

          And there’s a huge difference between being respectful of your partner’s feelings and “walking on eggshells”. I don’t want to walk on eggshells either, but not parading my past sexual experiences in front of the current partner hardly qualifies as such.

        3. CaliforniaGirl


          you know, I’ve noticed that there were men in my life who made me jealous and insecure and who didn’t.   I prefer the latter, of course.   And it’s not that those men who didn’t make me jealous were less attractive or didn’t talk about their exes or didn’t look at other women, no, but somehow the way they did it, didn’t make me feel bad.   My last boyfriend made me a nervous wreck with all his numerous exes, all his detailed stories that I didn’t really want to hear and his gawking at other women with “Wow, look at her!” and “What a nice ass!”.   I was pretty secure and confident before I met him but he just ruined me. Never again I will date a man who will make me feel insecure and miserable. I had a boyfriend before who was very social and had million female friends and I don’t remember ever being jealous, somehow he always made me feel good and loved and important.

        4. SS



          Yeah, how it is done is important.

    2. 10.2

      I’d have to mostly disagree on this one. Now, none of my ex’s were really picture people. But the picture people I do know seem to like them because it reminds them of how they felt at the time. It might remind them of the feeling of being in love without all the negatives that surely were present in the relationship (after all, it ended, so how great could it have been?).

      For example, I remember I used to have a picture of one of my ex’s, who happened to a be a lying, cheating rat. But when I looked at the old picture of him from before all that happened, I just remembered how beautiful it was to fall in love for the first time. My feelings were all about that time of my life, what I experienced. It had very little to do with him.

      I do think that it matters if the mate in question has made it clear that this person is no longer part of their life. If a   boyfriend talked to me about a relationship he’d had in the past, that would feel like he was sharing his life with me. If he went without me to spend time with an ex, that would not feel like the past or like he was sharing with me; it would feel like he was getting his needs met outside the relationship. For me, that’s a huge distinction.

    3. 10.3

      Stacy2 said,

      “How would he feel if she had an album of dick picks, pulled it out and started reminiscing about how each of them made her feel?”

      Do women keep albums of dick pics? I thought men were the pervs 😃.Would a woman pull out her album of dick pics and brag about them to her new boyfriend going over each faceless dick, and reminiscing where she was when she first saw them? Not likely. Dick pics and photos of me and my ex-gf in Hawaii in 2005 are not comparable.

  11. 11


    EVERYTHING you said. I wish I could thumb you up a million times.

  12. 12
    Evan Marc Katz

    Who in the hell brought up the idea of an album of dick pics? This is a straw man argument designed to hyperbolize the negative consequences of being a cool girlfriend – as if you’re some sort of doormat. My wife is not a doormat. My married clients are not doormats. Please take your judgmental black and white thinking elsewhere and let us happy  couples enjoy our relationships. You may continue to rail against men like me and the gentleman in the poem. I will continue to advocate for women accepting good men who treat them well as they are, instead of trying to mold them to never trigger your insecurities. There are no safe spaces in life – unless you marry yourself.

  13. 13

    Who in the hell brought up the idea of an album of dick pics?

    Exactly my thought. No one in their right mind would keep an album of ‘dick’ pics. That was likely a euphemism for pics of exes.

    Jealousy never leads to anything good. It falls on a spectrum, with psychotic women and wife beaters on the far end, and generally insecure individuals on the other who don’t know to express or deal with their insecurities (and different shades in the middle). The comment above, which asserted that even confident, easy going  people are secretly   insecure inside, is simply  the  manifestation of the type of defense mechanisms such insecure individuals display in order to cope and justify their own dysfunctional thought processes: project your insecurities and lack of self-confidence onto everyone and anyone, claim that all people are secretly irrational (in order to try and transform irrational behavior into something rational), and then attempt to ex-post rationalize your dysfunctional behavior by generalizing based on past experiences : “My 2nd ex-husband took advantage of my easy-going nature, thus all men should be treated as trash,” etc, blah, blah, blah.

    In the end, the insecurities such individuals display  are  rooted in  one thing, namely, the terrible realization that they have  horrible personalities, are not much fun to be around, and  that at any moment  the person they’re with will discover that virtually anyone else they talk to has something better to offer.

  14. 14

    Ok Evan, to go back to the original:

    “The smile on his face
    was of a man in ecstasy”

    … as he was looking at some pictures.

    So, my question (without any hyperboles to avoid being accused of using a straw man argument) is this. If I kept an album of pictures of my former lovers looking at which would make me “smile in ecstasy” in front of my current boyfriends, what % of men do you think would be totally cool with it? In my humble experience, this number would approximate zero.

    1. 14.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      You illustrate my point. Your experience is finite. I just posted a poem about a woman who was fine with it written by a woman who was challenged by it and chose to grow. You don’t have to grow. You can just keep complaining to me that this is unfair and unrealistic. Doesn’t change our respective realities.

      1. 14.1.1

        I am not sure what your point is, really.

        Just because my experience is finite doesn’t mean that it is wrong or invalid. Your experience is just as finite for that matter.

        If the argument you’re making is that the majority of people are completely secure, we can respectfully agree to disagree.

        I believe that the majority of people in fact have some insecurities, and dismissing everybody who’s insecure about something is just a bad strategy which will lead most women (and men) standing alone. I believe that forming a successful relationship generally requires being mutually sensitive to each other’s insecurities and building each other up, not tearing each other down (not to be confused with walking on eggshells).

        Unless of course you’re willing to hold out for that magically 100% secure person who is also otherwise a suitable partner (aka a unicorn) – which honestly sounds like “let them eat cake” advise. There just simply not enough of those super-men and wonder-women to go around. Most of us mere mortals have to contend with each other’s imperfections in this department.


        1. Evan Marc Katz

          I did not say the majority of people are 100% secure. I said – as a coach – that this is the kind of behavior to aspire to. Name a coach in say, basketball, who accepts the fact that his player can’t shoot free throws. You can’t find one. Coaches exhort you, cajole you, and teach you to improve. Saying that you’re stuck with your insecurities and everyone else’s is a recipe for stagnation. This site is about growth – yes, even for mere mortals like you. Click on the success stories page for examples.

    2. 14.2


      I think I understand where you’re coming from but I wanted to offer a different perspective using myself as an example. I have children with my ex-husband and because of that, we talk pretty regularly. If it weren’t for our children, I wouldn’t talk to him at all.

      I have ZERO feelings for him. There are no wistful what could have been’s or longings for the past. When we separated, I didn’t burn or rip up pictures. I have our wedding photos and vacation photos and family photos and all the other photos you could ever accumulate over a period of time. To throw those away or destroy them in some way, would have been a much bigger statement that I still cared or was devastated in some way. They’re all put up or in albums for my children to look at whenever they want. Awhile back, one of them came across some old family videos and wanted to watch them, so we did. They were good memories. I’m sure I was smiling while watching. It doesn’t change the fact that I have NO desire to make any new memories with him.

      If I ever have another serious relationship, I want that man to understand that… I don’t want to have to explain myself or defend myself over and over. And if the subject comes up or I need to share things about my past or my marriage to my ex, I would hope that I would receive compassion and understanding instead of jealousy. I don’t see how anyone can experience true intimacy with another unless you are willing to talk about your past, including past relationships.

      1. 14.2.1


        See, I think that Stacy’s comments were more toward this man bringing out theses pictures often, and to anyone that wanted or didn’t want to know about all of his exes.   And getting a hard on to them.   There are red flags, they are a lot of times fine, fine lines.   And, maybe people should be understanding of others hesitations with that initially.   If the woman that wrote this letter was married for years, different, VERY different story.   That person was not secure as EK stated in his comments.   That is very different than someone getting to know some one initially.

        On another note of “cool” partners, good for you if you have one.   But, when in another post that “cool” partner advocated for another woman not receiving an engagement ring after she herself had received one, I’m done with that.   Not to bring that up at all.   But, “cool” is subjective obviously.

        The man in this letter had a book of exes.   Hmm.   But they lived on a deserted island or something like that.   If the guy said, hey so and so from the book is coming to town to move five minutes away or he lived in urban town X and 2 of the women from the book lived within a five block radius, I don’t know as though it would same story as this one.

  15. 15

    I’m fascinated by partners’ exes, as the stories provide such an invaluable insight into what makes them tick, why and how they reached the place where they are now. That’s if they really ARE exes and he is not still emotionally attached to them.

    I’m friendly with my ex-husband’s wife. I like her a lot more than I like him, and though I’d never pry, I’m happy to listen when she shares information about him. Apparently when they first met, he used to talk about me all the time, deeply regretted the fact that the marriage hadn’t lasted ect yak and blah; he has also attempted to rekindle our relationship whilst being married to her, telling me that he ‘hadn’t appreciated me’. I gave him short shrift, telling him that he was simply repeating his old pattern of not appreciating what he’d got, and that she was the best thing that had ever happened to him.

    The reality was that I hardly ever saw him when we were together; he behaved as though he just wanted someone in the background while he got on with his hobbies, and would be out every night during the week, with activities which didn’t include me. He lost all interest in sex after the first few months.

    In recent years, I’ve looked a lot at attachment styles… particularly the behaviours of someone with a dismissive avoidant attachment style… it explained everything. So, if I hear the story about the idealised ex, I do raise one eyebrow…

  16. 16

    I think that all of our relationships, are part of what shapes us as people.   So if you are in love with a person, rest assured that something the prior woman or man did in their lives has shaped them.   We often focus on the negative aspects, such as saying people have baggage, but far too often we miss the positive things that people have learned or have become because of being loved by others.      I am not 39, and engaged to a wonderful man.   But I am able to be the loving person that I am because my college and high school boyfriends, were amazing, trustworthy individuals, who taught me it was okay to love and made me feel safe.      That allowed me to give myself to my fiance 100% with no questions.   I can say with the exception of two of the men I have dated (who were quite horrible) that I keep in touch with all of my exes, some more frequently than others, and their spouses and their kids.       My fiance knows them all as well.

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