To the esteemed Dr. NerdLove:
Should I get rid of a treasured memento of a past romantic (and currently platonic) relationship before pursuing a new one?
I’ve only been in one serious relationship. It started as an online, long-distance relationship shortly after high school. After a couple years, she moved in with me. While we had our ups and downs, of course, I think it was mostly a pretty solid and healthy relationship overall. Of course, we were young; we were therefore experiencing a whirlwind of change both within ourselves, and outside of ourselves.
To summarize, we’ll fast-forward a decade or so: ultimately, she leaves me and moves back home. I was not fulfilling her needs, which hurt a lot because I felt like she was fulfilling mine well; I did not want her to leave. We tried some couples therapy, but I think it was “too little, too late.” While I did not want her to leave, I respected her decision and assisted her in getting back home safely. So while the breakup was certainly not mutual, I still feel like it was relatively amicable; we wanted to stay friends.
So we agreed to go silent for a few months. We started talking again at the new year (she left in September of 2014); however, it quickly became apparent that I was not ready for friendship yet, although she had moved on. So we agreed to go silent again. In late 2018, I entered therapy. After some time, my therapist suggested I contact her again; I did so in early 2019, and we have been doing well as friends since then.
While we were still together romantically, she gave me an item that she hand-crafted from scratch. I still have this item, and it reminds me of the good times that we shared. While I am not generally a sentimental person, this particular item has strong sentimental value for me.
However, I have recently considered that I might start dating – for the first time, at age thirty-five. That’s likely to come with a whole host of complications on its own, and I’m definitely nervous about it.
But this brings me back to my question: should I get rid of the item that my ex crafted for me? Or, perhaps more accurately: would it be a disservice to a new relationship for me to continue holding on to it? Is it an indication that I’m not fully “over” my ex?
Were the situation reversed, I think I would feel uneasy about it. But I’m also still quite insecure (working on that before I wade into the dating pool), so I’m not sure how a “healthy” person would feel about it.
What are your thoughts?
Old, Alone, and Still Confused