Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Letters from his ex

(66 Posts)
Lettersfromher Tue 29-Jan-13 11:35:11

Ok, so I've named changed for this as I feel a bit stupid, but I'm a regular.

I suppose I'm lucky in the sense that although DP and I are both in our early thirties he doesn't have that much emotional baggage - before we got together 2 years ago he said he'd only been in love once before, and that was 10 years ago with a girl he met while travelling in NZ - they were only together for 3 weeks before his visa expired and he had to return to the UK. The intention was he'd wait for her and they'd make it work when she returned home the following year, but after a few months of writing and emailing she met someone else and broke his heart. He says in retrospect that he built the relationship up in his mind to be something much more than it was, but it haunted him for years and he never found anyone who he felt lived up to her so never gave his heart to anyone else he was dating...until he met me.

They're friends on Facebook and I've never felt threatened by her - I don't consider her to be anything special to look at, plus she's married now with a baby, living in another country and on the rare occasion they message each other (happy birthday, etc) it's always innocuous.

Anyway, he's just moved into my house and is in process of unpacking his stuff. This morning I walk into the study and there, right in the middle of the floor is a bundle of letters (no envelopes, out in the open), sent by her from NZ during the time they were having a long distance "relationship." So yeah - I read them. Really explicit sexual fantasies about what she wanted him to do to her, how crazy she was about him, etc.

Obviously this made me feel a bit weird - I know everyone has a past, but in my opinion that's where it should remain - not in the middle of my study floor, where I am trying to work!! I'm not childish or insecure enough to destroy the letters, but to be honest I don't really want them in my home! DP is messy and scatty - I don't think he had left the letters there intentionally for me to find, although I think he would feel his privacy had been invaded if I'd read them all the same....

...I've put the letters back on the floor where I found them and I'm not going to say anything about them, but I was just wondering...how would you feel if you so openly came across love letters from his ex? I think I have one or two from exes, but they're up in the loft and I'd never dream of leaving them anywhere my DP could see them and potentially be made to feel weird about them. Am I being unreasonable to hope that he will put them in the loft too if he decides to keep them, and not amongst our day to day belongings?

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Thu 31-Jan-13 18:01:22

If they were left out in plain view for more than a day I would've wondered if they were meant to be read. I might have said something like, "Try not to get them muddled with old newspapers you chuck out for recycling". I don't look at his private correspondence (Downton Abbey-esque!) or check his mobile.

I got rid of photos before meeting DH and hung onto a few letters and cards after we began dating out of what - nostalgia, something ego-boosting to cling to if he and I split up? Memories of my youth? One day I thought, suppose I got hit by a bus and DH or DCs had to clear out my stuff?! I got rid.

BIWI Thu 31-Jan-13 15:33:38

Nope. It's in the past. It's none of your business.

Badgerwife Thu 31-Jan-13 15:30:34

venusandmars If I look at them ever it's not to dwell on them, but more as reminders of my own life and journey, and to reminisce about who I was and have become.

^^ THIS I have kept pretty much every letter I have ever received since I was a child, some are mementos from old flames, and I also kept extensive diaries in my teens and twenties (not so much now anymore, for some strange reason). I very rarely look at any of it and have no emotional attachment to them other than as part of who I was and where I've been but have never wanted to get rid either because in a way they feel like breadcrumbs from the past, like venusandmars said.

I would be mortified if DP read any of the diaries mostly because they don't paint me in a very good light; I used them as one would use a toilet to be sick, except with emotional stuff. Very therapeutic, but not a very good read after the event!

I think it's unfortunate that your DP left the letters on the floor for you to find, unless he is completely unfazed that you should stumble upon them. If he didn't want you to read them then he should have been more careful. I totally understand that you might be uncomfortable with the sexual stuff, but on the other hand, I don't think you can demand to not have them in your home. Personally I would mention to him that you found them on the floor, didn't know what they were until you read a bit and ask if he wouldn't mind keeping them somewhere less visible, like a locked cupboard or the loft. It might have been his intention anyway. It needn't become an issue at all.

Tuliprosa Thu 31-Jan-13 15:22:18

BIWI - if someone hurts my DP, I think I'm quite entitled to be less than complimentary about them!

BIWI Thu 31-Jan-13 15:19:54

I can't believe people who would openly read someone else's private letters. Even if they were from the past/a previous relationship.

Nor can I believe that you think someone should throw these away. Even if their relationship is now totally dead, it was (presumably) an important part of their lives.

Most of us have some kind of a past, with other emotional baggage, and it belongs to us and us alone - our current partners have no right to snoop into it, and they certainly don't have the right to have any of that mocked by someone who wasn't privy to it in the first place.

FergusSingsTheBlues Thu 31-Jan-13 15:06:16

You had no business reading their PRIVATE letters....

My husband has a shoebox of such momentoes, ive never been tempted to pry. And i know he would never pry into my diaries, for example. I did get a bit miffed once coming across photos etc and asked him to bin them or put them away in his shoebox... No idea what he did....and i dont care. Im the one he married and began a family with. Think its normal to feel bit insecure coming across these things accidentally.

Tuliprosa Thu 31-Jan-13 14:55:42

Xales, she cared for him so much that she was screwing someone else on the other side of the world while sending DP these boak-inducing letters, yet she kept him hanging on for months before admitting she was being unfaithful!!

It wasn't even the content of the fantasy that was tame, it was the prosaic stlye in which she wrote it, so whether or not the internet is full of "sexually explicit shit" I feel has little to do with it. DP himself is a writer and in truth I was genuinely surprised that he would have been beguiled by someone who couldn't write for toffee...

Xales Thu 31-Jan-13 14:36:41

I think you are being rather nasty and insulting.

These letters are from 10 years ago 8 years before he met you.

He and this woman cared for each other. His past has helped to shape him into the man he is today, presumably one who you love. 10 years ago the world was not as rife with internet available sexually explicit shit as it is now and many people did not access it as much.

Dismissing her letters to him as Mills & Boon-esque fantasy tripe, ie: "you're wearing your button-down shirt exposing your tanned, toned chest" and yawning over it is rude.

Tuliprosa Thu 31-Jan-13 13:39:09

Muesli - talk about double standards from your DH!

I have a work colleague who is having an affair. Despite the fact HE is the one cheating on his wife, he got insanely jealous when he found out that the women he was having an affair with still had photographs and letters from an old flame.

I don't believe that just because your DH has a history of infidelity he is automatically untrustworthy - I know several people who've cheated in unhappy relationships, but have been faithful once they met the right person. Does ring alarm bells that he's not as upfront as you as you are with him though...

Seenenoughtoknow Thu 31-Jan-13 13:11:12

Meusli - that would really annoy me because he expects you to behave in one way whilst he behaves in another. I feel that anyone who has cheated in one marriage has a character flaw that could resurface if unhappiness creeps in to a future marriage (these people look for comfort outside of the marriage before trying to fix the problem) so my stance would be that because of his cheating history, he should keep no secrets from you, as any he does keep are a step in a direction AWAY from your union. You have every right to be pissed off, and if it were me, I would admit to snooping and call him on it.

musicismylife Thu 31-Jan-13 13:02:22

When my ex moved into my house, he brought a whole load of photographs with different exes on, which he accidently wanted me to see...

He also had some 'love' letters which were sprayed with some very odd-smelling cat piss perfume, saying things like 'we will get thru this togever hun' and then a 'smell here' arrow which pointed to where she had presumably sprayed the 'perfume'. Extremely childish IMO, which is exactly what he turned out to be (amongst other things).

I didn't feel threatened.

Ever.

Mueslimorning Thu 31-Jan-13 12:13:29

Have been reading this thread with interest, as so many opinions out there, what is your take on my case: dh had affair during first marriage, we met ow by chance and he introduced her to me and we shook hands before I knew who she really was. I was livid afterwards, felt irrationally that she was going to screw him behind my back too now. She is a lot younger than us and v pretty angry. Anyhow, dh and I are together over 3 yrs and when we moved in together to new place I got rid of old letters etc and now I've found letters from this woman to him from the year of their affair. He kept them, but is really jealous when some old flame of mine makes himself known, email, letter etc. the difference is I'm totally up front about these things and feel a need to be honest. He doesn't. Why? (I say found, but was actually snooping as he keeps all his stuff, bank receipts etc in locked filing cabinet. My things are there for him to see any time. Just got a bit fed up and curious. Now sorry I did) sad

venusandmars Thu 31-Jan-13 11:25:32

For me (and we all have our own take on these things) I find most of the ceremonial ripping up, shredding, or setting alight of old letters to feel a little unreal. I am the person I am because of all the range of experiences that I've had in my life, and trying to get rid of the shreds of evidence of that would seem a bit weird to me. Ok so one ex-boyfriend send me soppy cards and a big teddy bear, another introduced me to Japanese food (which I love), another taught me a hobby that is really important to me. They all have the same kind of relevance for me - part of my past but also part of who I am today. I have a big box of cards collected from over the years, including ones from exes, friends, and my children. If I look at them ever it's not to dwell on them, but more as reminders of my own life and journey, and to reminisce about who I was and have become.

I think that reading the detail of anyone else's sexual fantasies would make me feel a bit 'weird' tbh, whether it was my parents, my dh, my dcs, or my best friend. I just don't think I'd go there.

CalamityKate Thu 31-Jan-13 09:58:52

Yes I've read it thanks. Including the bit where the OP says it makes her feel a bit weird. I'm assuming that she didn't mean weird in a good way. Therefore I don't feel my use of the word "uncomfortable" was too wide of the mark.

I repeat, I think that the OPs feelings should be more important than keeping a few love letters.

kittybiscuits Thu 31-Jan-13 02:18:11

cron that's remarkably restrained of you. Are you ill or something?

OP I would ignore the nonsense post.

Sounds like you reached a way forward smile

ChippingInLovesMN Thu 31-Jan-13 00:14:37

CalamityKate - you can't imagine why someone would think or feel differently to you? Try reading the thread, it's full of information smile

CalamityKate Thu 31-Jan-13 00:08:41

Personally I've always found that a ceremonial burning of all cards/letters etc is the best way of moving on from a relationship, achieving closure and avoiding mawkish wallowing.

I can't imagine why he'd want to keep them. If it makes you uncomfortable, tell him. Keeping letters from an ex versus keeping you happy? It should be no contest.

Lettersfromher Wed 30-Jan-13 23:49:27

Cronullsanw - can't help wondering how much of this post you've actually read?

Probably not the part where I said I never had and never would snoop through his phone / emails / bag etc or look at anything squirreled away, because I have zero reason to doubt his trustworthiness?

My question was how other people felt about keeping things from the past and people have taken their time to share their viewpoints. No one else felt the need to be quite so judgmental and abusive towards a complete stranger as you though.

Jeez...

And who can say how I would act if I had a row with DP, because neither of us are the type to lash out at each other unlike some people so it's never escalated to that stage in the entire two years of our relationship.

MyHeadWasInTheSandNowNot Wed 30-Jan-13 23:45:23

prying control freak? Which thread were you reading Cron??

OP most people would have done the same smile I certainly would, without a doubt. I wouldn't care if he kept them though, I have a ton of shite from my past and wouldn't get rid of it for anyone - who knows, it might be them adding to the heap one day grin

cronullansw Wed 30-Jan-13 23:33:06

And when you are putting the stuff in the loft, you can read them again, and maybe this time edit out the bits you don't like, think are too tame, or too explicit, but make a copy of them first, so that when you have a row with him, you can bring it up and accuse him of being untrustworthy......

Jeez...........

You shouldn't have read them, they are nothing to do with you. You SHOULD tell him you've read them tho, cos then if I were him I'd be packing my stuff up again and heading out, not wanting to live with a prying control freak.

Junebugjr Wed 30-Jan-13 11:37:31

I would have a good read an all OP, even at the sex bits grin. I'm a nosy bastard though.
DP has a few things from his longterm ex I think, cards proclaiming eternal love. More embarrassing for her really, as we're quite friendly so she must know I've seen stuff when dp and i moved in together.
Make him put them up the attic and think no more of it smile

Lettersfromher Wed 30-Jan-13 11:12:16

So this morning I go to look at the stuff he's left out for me to put in the loft. It contains a crate with what looks like a million and one birthday cards in it, plus various letters, including the letters from her. I also spot two envelopes which must contain more letters from her as her name and address is on the back, but because they were amongst his actual stuff and not out on my floor I haven't read them - they probably just contain more Mills & Boon-esque fantasy tripe, ie: "you're wearing your button-down shirt exposing your tanned, toned chest" (yawn) anyway!

However, also clearly visible amongst the stuff to go in the loft are 4 identical passport photos of another ex - someone he was with for a few months two years before he met me - who in his words was "a horrible person" who cheated on him with not one but two men (at once!) treated him more like a counsellor than a boyfriend, used to humiliate him in front of his friends and who he had to block from Facebook after he finally broke up with her because she was incessantly sending him abuse!

And in a way, finding these photos made me feel better - he has absolutely no attachment to this ex, which tells me he's not really kept any of this stuff for sentimental reasons, but because he is a disorgansied hoarder!

I've shoved the whole lot in the loft and I'm going to forget about it.

midastouch Wed 30-Jan-13 00:18:21

If im honest i would have read them as well, probably regretted it but still! you didnt go through his stuff so i think you had every right to. I would see what he does with them, hopefully he is intending onn shredding them!

BadLad Wed 30-Jan-13 00:11:24

I have some photos of my ex's and some e-mails still in the inbox.

No sense in getting rid. Some day they might add my biographer for the few photo pages he/she will need, and they might give some insight into my character if The Good BadLad is written posthumously.

I almost never look at them, however.

AnyFucker Tue 29-Jan-13 23:10:25

There is a box of photos and letters that were from DH's ex in his wardrobe, under a pile of other half-forgotten stuff (his last serious relationship before me)

I know they are there. I can say hand on heart, I haven't read them. The kids have sifted through the pics a couple of times over the years and said "ooo, dad is this your old gf?"

I don't need to scrutinise them because I knew her.

It doesn't bother me, but then we have been together for yonks.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now