Q: Hey Meredith,
My sister and I have been debating/bemoaning the etiquette around breaking up on Facebook and were hoping that you could answer a question for us. We are two college-aged ladies experiencing some complications specifically on the subject of tagged pictures. See, her boyfriend and the guy I've been dating for a month are both reluctant to remove their cuddly, kissy, coupley Facebook pictures with ex-girlfriends. Both men rationalize that they are trying to maintain casual friendships with these exes, and do not want to take the hurtful action of removing or untagging the pictures.
My sister and I lean toward thinking that this is a bunch of malarkey. My sister fears that her boyfriend still cherishes feelings for his ex. I don't feel similarly threatened by my guy's ex-lady, but I just feel awkward that his profile contains dozens of public photos of him with her! She's in most of the pictures tagged of him, and about half his profile pics. If we were to get more serious, I don't think I'd be comfortable with those photos staying up.
Female friends have even commented on the pictures to me (like today via text: "wow tell him to slim down on the ex-GF pics jeez! out of control!"). I'm slightly embarrassed by being in this position. I can't relate to my guy's reasoning since I'm not friends with any of my exes, but personally I always take down coupley pictures once a relationship has ended. (I've also noticed that many of my guy friends keep pictures of their ex-girlfriends on their profiles. Is this related to gender?)
Help! What do you think we should tell our guys? Is there a standard of etiquette around this issue?
– Take A Picture Down, It'll Last Longer?
A: If the picture is on his profile, he should take it down, TAPDILL. If it's tagged on someone else's, he’s allowed to de-tag himself. Your feelings should be more important than his ex's. And if he's worried about offending anyone, he should slim down his entire gallery of photos so that he's just keeping the bare minimum.
Really, I've never understood the whole I’m-putting-everything-on-Facebook thing. I know I'm an old lady in my 30s, but it's about respect and privacy, two things that never go out of style.
You're right. He's wrong. And your sister is right, too. You can't start dating new people and expect them to smile at your Facebook profile if it's basically a scrapbook of your dating history.
Tell you guy he should take down the pics -- so he doesn't seem like a jerk. And if he doesn't agree, forward him your friend's text. He’s obviously worried what people think of him. He should know how this looks.
And maybe tell him that he doesn't have to replace those pictures with 100 photos of you. Make some memories in real life. Not everything has to be part of the display.
Readers? College readers? Can you shed light on this? Should people leave these pics up? Is it offensive to take them down? Am I right to think that a Facebook profile shouldn't have a bunch of couple photos? How should the LW (and her sister) handle this one? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.