So, What Are We Doing With The Pictures And Mementos After A Relationship Ends?

When it comes to breakups, nothing is easy. One of the most complicated parts of handling heartbreak is deciding what to do with all of your stuff. What do you do with the gifts your ex bought you? What about photos, love letters? If you tuned into season 10 of "Vanderpump Rules," you witnessed Katie Maloney and Tom Schwartz tackle this very issue.


At the time, they were recently separated and living in the same house. In one memorable moment, Schwartz asks Maloney what they are supposed to do with all the photos of them scattered throughout the home. Maloney replies that they should simply hold onto what they want until they no longer want it. Oh, if it was actually that easy. If Schwartz's reaction is any indication, getting rid of your relationship mementos is pretty painful.

Below, we dive into what's OK to keep and what isn't. Once you've figured that out, what do you do with the stuff? Don't worry — we've got that covered too.

Is it worth it?

At the end of a relationship, you'll have more than just emotional baggage; depending on how long you dated, you'll be left with a lot of stuff. Relationship mementos range from sentimental items like love letters to practical gifts like a cozy sweater. Purging the things that remind you of your ex is often the first step in moving on. However, you may want to avoid getting rid of everything, to be sure what you should get rid of and what is OK to keep.


First things first, figure out what's useful. Your favorite blender or some stylish jewelry given to you by your ex may not hold the best memories but also be super practical. If you still use it, keep it! It might feel odd wearing earrings from your ex, but the more you wear them, the less connected with the past they will be. You'll start to make new memories and associate them with new things. Soon enough, they won't be the earrings your ex bought you; they'll be those you wore on your first date with your new boo.

Things like love letters, cards, or little drawings from your ex will not serve you in the future. While these items make the most sense to get rid of, they are often the most difficult. Keep your eye on the future and not the past, and ask yourself what will actually serve you going forward and what will drag you down — and take it from there.


Know when to let go

There will undoubtedly be things you want to hold onto at the end of a relationship, but you should be prepared to let most of them go. The trick to discerning what to trash and what to keep is organizing with intention. Remember, your home is where you spend most of your time, so the energy you cultivate in it will influence every part of your life. Don't be afraid to remove things that might impede your happiness and success. "The goal isn't to be vindictive. The goal is to remove any reminders of someone who no longer serves your happiest life," mental health expert Kryss Shane told Mind Body Green.


It might be too painful to throw away mementos immediately after a breakup, but eventually, it needs to happen. If months have passed and you're still hung up on your ex, it's time for an overhaul. The best way to start the healing process is to remove anything sentimental keeping you from moving on.

"The actual process and ritual of cleaning and removing your ex's belongings from your space can be cathartic," sex therapist Jesse Kahn told the outlet. No matter how difficult it feels, remember that the less space you hold for the past, the more space you'll have in the future.

Thoughtful storage

You may be the sort of person who keeps relationship mementos and moves on with your life. Or, you may have things from your past relationship, like an engagement ring or wedding photos, that you don't want but want to save for someone else. If you are determined to hold fast to sentimental items after a breakup, figuring out where and how to store them is paramount to healing. To fully move on, you can't have pictures with your ex or love letters hanging around your home. If you share a child, for example, family photos are an obvious exception.


If you need to hold onto certain things but still want a fresh start, your answer is storage. This could be a shoebox full of letters and pictures in the back of your closet, or a drawer in a random side table. Alternatively, it may be worth investing in a safety deposit box or a storage unit for more precious items, like an engagement ring or other fine jewelry.

At the end of the day, it comes down to whatever makes sense for your situation and your budget. The idea is to organize what you must keep and get it out of sight and mind so you can fully move on with your life and embrace your future happiness.

Pay it forward

It doesn't matter if your relationship ended on great or terrible terms — chances are you're still left with material things that hold memories. After some time has passed and you've assessed what you want to keep and what you want to get rid of, it's time to figure out what to do with the stuff you don't want.


As for the more practical items, like clothes or furniture, you've got some options. You can always try and sell your used clothes (or clothes that your ex left) on Poshmark or Depop, and list your old furniture on Facebook marketplace. If your clothes aren't the kind anyone would bother buying, or your furniture isn't getting any hits, find a local organization to donate them to, such as Goodwill or somewhere that recycles textiles.

Talk with your ex about sentimental things like photos, love letters, or little drawings. Those items don't mean anything to anyone other than the two of you, so double-check before tossing them out. If you've gone through your things and assessed that hanging onto those photos isn't doing you any good, reach out to your ex and see if they'd be interested. If not (or if you aren't on good terms), it's straight to the trash. Remember, the sooner you get rid of the physical reminders of those memories, the sooner you can move on and make new ones.