Odd question on relationship (mostly for ladies)


I’m not so dumb as to have a photograph of me an my ex hanging up in my place.


I have this painting. My ex aunt-in-law, who is a well respected painter who’s works sell for goodly sums, made this for my ex and I and somehow, I ended up with it. It’s a nice painting. It is a city scene (NYC) and in it are myself with my arm around my ex. We are walking away from the viewer. You wouldn’t know it was us unless you knew it was us. We’re not very prominent.

So, ladies, if by some bizarre set of circumstances you were my lover and you came to me place, how would you feel about it?

I see many problems.

If I tell my new woman, right away about it, she can view it as I’m hanging on to my past.

If I don’t tell her till much later, she may feel I was being dishonest about it.

(basically, I’m one of those people who always think of the worst case senario)

I don’t want to sell the painting. I don’t want to give it to my ex. I don’t want to screw up any (sadly only theoretical) future relationship.
What’s your opinion?

I would understand wanting to keep a nice work of art by a relative; I think what would be make or break for me would be where you’re displaying it. In the place of honour over the mantle or in a different obvious place would be less cool to me than if you had it someplace less showy. Frankly, I don’t really want to look at your ex’s ass every time I sit down on your couch.

If you ever have a long term girlfriend, she is eventually going to ask you about it, and you could just be vague about it (“it’s a painting my aunt did for me”) if you think there is absolutely no chance the girlfriend will find out from someone else, I suppose. But if you were my boyfriend and I found out about that, I think I’d be pretty upset. From a third person perspective I can understand that it’s possible for you to like the painting without having nostalgic feelings about your ex, but as your hypothetical girlfriend, having that hanging around would probably bother me. I wouldn’t ask you to get rid of it, I think, unless we ever moved in together. Then I would definitely not want that painting displayed in our house.

But that’s just me.

Never tell her it’s you if you want to keep the new relationship. Or take it to the office. Or the garage.

Why would you want to look at a reminder of you and your ex every day? I assume you parted amicably, but displaying the painting seems a bit much. I think you should put it away for safe keeping.

If I were your ‘new’ girlfriend (strictly hypothetical) I think it really wouldn’t bother me either way. You say the figures aren’t very prominent and that nobody would know who it was if they hadn’t been told. So no big deal. It’s a painting by a pretty good artist, who has some life connection to you, which means you probably would have good reason to keep, with or without the girlfriend connection. I mean, if you had a good framed photograph of your ex still displayed on your mantle or something like that, I’d wonder what was up, but it’s a piece of art that you like and that you have other reasons to keep. Besides, is any woman you date likely to find out who those not very prominent figures are, before she decides if she wants to keep dating you?

My son’s first high school girlfriend was a fairly good artist, who gave him a couple of paintings. He still has them, and I think one of them might be hanging in his house, which he shares with his wife. Do people really get rid of everything that might remind them of an ex when they start dating someone else? I still had lingerie from my first marriage when I got married the second time, including one really weird outfit that was a Christmas gift. Second husband thought that one was kind of funny.

I would think it would depend on the girl. I’m so not a jealous person and if you told me straight out, I wouldn’t care a bit. If you didn’t tell me and I found out later that it was your ex I might wonder why you kept it from me, but I can’t imagine getting jealous about such a thing.

Your behavior and conversation would definitely decide my response. If you are clearly in every way over her, then it’s just a part of the past that made you, well, you. And that’s something I’d respect if I respect you.

If your overall aspect is clinging to the past or if you are bitter or defensive about the relationship, then I’d advise you to get rid of it.

The art is just the beginning of the disucssion, I guess is my point.

No big whoop, I have never assumed that anybody I got into a relationship with was a virgin with nobody before me. It isn’t like you have a wedding picture on the mantle over the fireplace or your ex in one of those cheesy nude paintings of women like Scatman Carruthers had in The Shining or something. I see it as a nice piece of art, with a sentimental past.

It is important not to confuse the finger pointing at the moon, with the moon. If you have a problem letting go of the past, or if someone unjustly thinks that you have, the painting may become a symbol of that; but getting rid of the painting will not solve the problem. Getting rid of a painting you otherwise like in order to avoid a theoretical future problem strikes me as a bit of a problem; hanging it prominently despite the fact that it has never been hung prominently before might indicate a different one.

The Dutch have an expression which translates roughly to “Just be normal, that’s quite strange enough” which seems to me to apply here. Do what you want with the painting irrespective of any theoretical future reaction by someone you don’t even know yet, and if it becomes a problem at some future date you can deal with it then. “Let me show you my painting of me and my ex” is unlikely to make in into the pickup line hall of fame, but assuming you can avoid that approach it seems to me unlikely that it will ever come up beyond saying that you knew the artist once upon a time (or still do, whichever is the case).

Besides, if anybody throws a fit about it, then at least you know what you are dealing with.

Meh - I think anyone who’s reached adulthood has a past - and it would not bother me, provided you were definitely over her. I think it would be unrealistic and wasteful if all objects given/received/bought during previous relationships were required to be disposed of when they end.

To lessen the impact I’d emphasise the reason you’ve kept it - was a painting done for you by a well known painter and that’s me there - oh yeah, she’s an old girlfriend. But back to the artist…

Maybe I’m thinking of it more from the perspective of an art lover than a girlfriend, but I’d think it much more peculiar if you were to get rid of a lovely and potentially valuable painting just because your ex was in it.

Nah, because as a girlfriend, I’m still good with the painting. I’m not under the impression that people spring full blown to life the moment I meet them. I’ve never understood the whole “must burn everything I associate with this person!” mindset anyway.

On a tangential (and amusing to me) note probably owing to insufficient caffeination, did ya ever notice how you never go over to someone’s house to find that their television is gone, and when you ask they say “Oh, my ex bought me that television. I couldn’t bear to look at it.”

Maybe I’m weird (OK, I know I’m weird, but never thought I was weird about this), but I wouldn’t have a problem with that picture at all. I wouldn’t have problems with you having pics with the ex either, or pics of her mixed with other pictures in an album; I would have problems with you having a shrine to the ex.

Heck, if the ex was the ex-spouse and you didn’t have any wedding pictures I’d want to know why.

Another vote for you weren’t born yesterday and I know it. Your past is part of what makes you you and thus a person I theoretically want to date.

Shrines are bad. Prominent photos of the ex, bad. But a painting which means something to you and has you and the ex in it in a nonprominent way? Sounds pretty harmless to me.

When should you say “hey, that’s me and my ex?” When new girl looks at the painting and says “Hey, cool painting, what’s the story?” Or when you move in together and she wants to decorate your joint place with her stuff which classes with your nice painting.

Well, your having the painting wouldn’t really bother me, as long as I knew you were over the ex, but I’d probably request that it be hung somewhere where I didn’t see it very often.

(I did the same thing with the pictures of my husband’s ex and a couple of nice presents she gave to him, including a cute stuffed animal. I don’t mind his keeping them, but I don’t want to see them. Fortunately he doesn’t care when I stuff the animal at the bottom of the pile of the cute stuffed animals he’s given ME. Just for the record, though, my mother-in-law was horrified when she found out (shortly after we were married) that he still had that stuffed animal, and told him he had to throw it out immediately. But we didn’t.)

I would be jealous, but only because I would love to own an original piece of art with a great story like that!

I don’t think it is a big deal at all. A cool painting with a cool story.

(It would be a different matter if you waxed poetic about your ex when you told me about it. That might be a bit off-putting.)

Wow. My response seems to be the odd one here. FWIW I’ve seen this scenario from several sides. I’ve kept a lot of photos and other mementos from my (ex)-marriage, including a fine art object that was made for us as a wedding gift by one of our groomsmen. The object has sentimental value because of its subject, which was something significant to us as a couple, and because it was a handmade gift. For a while after we separated and then divorced, I displayed the object. Later on I decided that it had too much sentimental value (now bittersweet) and I decided to keep it but not display it. My ex-husband and I are still friends, and I’ve been to his house about once a year since our divorce. He still displays art that we collected together during vacations while we were married. His choice seems unusual to me, but it’s never occurred to me to ask him to take it down.

My ex-boyfriend (after the divorce) had a painting, an abstract self-portrait, which was made by his ex-wife. I understood why he wanted to display it, and I never complained about it, but I know that if it were me, I would not want that to be a part of my life every day.

So, I think people can differ on their response to a personal or sentimental artwork. There’s no right answer on this. Do what feels right to you.

Maybe you could get your aunt to paint her out of the picture?

You get to keep the painting, it loses all it’s baggage and everyone is happy. Any future mates need never know it was ever otherwise.

I sometimes do photo work for friends, and you’d be surprised how often it’s removing the x from an otherwise lovely family photo. No biggy, once it’s done, no one’s the wiser.

Just to clarify, does ‘ex aunt-in-law’ mean that this is the aunt of your ex? That’s would affect my answer. If yes then I’d ask you the details of how you ended up with it, and I could imagine some answers where yes, I’d think it was strange that you had it up on your wall.

Sorry if I missed something here…

I wouldn’t make a show of telling her it’s a painting with your ex in it, because then she might feel like it’s a bigger issue to you than it really is. If she comments about the painting, you should definitely answer honestly to any questions she asks. But if you bring it to her attention, while she otherwise might not have cared, now it’s more likely to stick in her mind or raise a red flag for her.

So, my advice is, let her bring it up, answer whatever questions she might have, but don’t make an issue out of something she may never even notice.

Personally, if it were me, and I found that my boyfriend had a painting like yours, whether it was on the first date, or 2 years in, I don’t know that I’d be that bothered by it. Now, if you were still talking to said ex on a regular basis, that might change my opinion.