When memories can live forever online, there's bound to be relationship issues, so we enlisted our favorite love doctor, Debby Herbenick, to share some advice. The first question: Is it okay to delete the digital memories of your ex?
A person's public life is a flexible persona-–not life itself. If you want to delete photos, wall posts, Facebook gifts or entire Flickr accounts (assuming they are your own and not your ex's that you've hacked into), that's your prerogative. Often, it's the smart, compassionate thing to do – for yourself and others.
If you want to preserve memories for later, screenshot the wall posts and save any photos you want, placing them into a folder marked with your ex's name. If you're the obsessive type, save the folder to an external hard drive and take it out only when you can view your past from a healthy, distanced-but-appreciative perspective rather than after a bottle of wine, drunk alone, with your dog beside you on a Friday night and "If You Could Read Me Mind" playing on iTunes.
If you don't want your ex to take your profile clean-up the wrong way, let him or her know that you're sensitive to, and appreciative of, the past you had together but that you need to move on.
Cleaning shop also makes room for new relationships. Before Facebook, people never saw 100 pictures of their date with their ex unless they were freaky types who kept such photos framed and plastered all over their house. New partners-– and you, too-–deserve the chance to imagine yourselves together making photos and memories of your own. Just try to not start every story with the relationship version of band camp (i.e., "One time, when my ex and I….").
Read more of Dr. Debby's relationship advice here.
Debby Herbenick, PhD is a Research Scientist and Associate Director of The Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute and author of Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction. She blogs at MySexProfessor.com.