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TherapistMaryAnn, Counselor
Category: Relationship
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues
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I found a home made tape of my boyfriend with his ex-wife

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I found a home made sex tape of my boyfriend with his ex-wife while cleaning the closet. Grant it, it is something he made over 10 years ago. I understand it is old and I understand that it is something from his past. Does he really need to keep it around?

My question is this, should I pretend I didn't find it and let it go OR is it something I should talk to him about?

I personally would like for him to get rid of it. I can't take his memory away from him but I don't see a reason why he needs to keep a sex tape of him and his ex-wife if he no longer has any feelings for her and if he has moved on.

Please advise....Thank you
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

Since your boyfriend is no longer in a relationship with his ex and he is now with you, there is no reason to keep the tape he made with her. Keeping it and even watching it would add nothing to your relationship and actually would cause hurt and pain. And keeping it basically tells you that he still finds that relationship important to him, which at this point it should not be. This is not like an old photo or even a letter. This tape is specific to their relationship and involves feelings he should no longer have for his ex.

Talk to him and let him know you accidentally came across this tape. He should have expected you to do so anyway since you live in the same home with him. Ask him to dispose of it, or to allow you to do so. If he gets upset or tries to keep it, then you know that there is an issue you both need to resolve about why he will not let it go. Hopefully, though, he simply forgot about it and will be willing to get rid of it.

I hope this has helped you,
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you so much for your advice. It put me in a weird place and didn't know how to go about this. I feel like I'm invading his privacy but at the same time you're absolutely right, he's no longer in a relationship with her and therefore , there is no reason why he needs to keep that tape laying around.

His background...
He was married for 12 years and when I met him, he clearly was not over her yet. He was still attached to her in many ways because he had been with her for so long and because SHE was the one that cheated on him and left him, he never had the closure he needed to move on. It took a while to get himself back and me nurturing him, I know helped him get over the hump. He has two children with her so she is still in the picture.

I will bring it up the next time we have time alone to discuss this matter.

You're welcome!

It sounds like he might still have some unresolved feelings regarding his ex, especially if she hurt him by cheating. The fact that he is with you helps because he has moved on, but paying attention to those unresolved feelings and working to put them behind him would help. And destroying this tape would be a great first step.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I think you understand where I am coming from and you also understand where he is coming from with the background I gave you.


I got him to donate all his books that he had on divorce and infidelity including books titled how to mend a broken heart and how to win you wife back. It took months because I didn't want to do it for him. I wanted and needed HIM to get rid of it himself because HE wanted to and because HE was ready to.


I still stumble across photographs of her and when I do I don't even tell him about it I just put it in an envelope and tuck it away. I am on good terms with her because I take care of her kids when they are over. Would it be wrong for me to hand her over the envelope of pictures of her that I found without telling him?

That is probably not a good idea to do. The only reason why is that you do not want to test his trust in you. These pictures are his and even though there is no real reason to keep them, they still belong to him. If you gave them away, he might not trust you with other things he owns or he might not share with you how he feels about his ex and moving on. So asking him first would be a good idea. There is nothing wrong with giving them back to his ex if she would want them, but you don't want to undermine your boyfriend's trust by not asking him first.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I see....It becomes a trust issue. Didn't think about that. Thank you Kate!

You're welcome!

My best to you both,

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

If I have another question for you, can I ask you through this chain? I would like to do so so that you have a log of our previous conversation so I don't have to explain again.


I always rate each answer I receive so you get the credit each time.


Do you get more credits for each new question? If so, I don't mind opening another question each time for you but if you can get the same credit on an open question, I would rather contract you back through this conversation. Which is better for you?

It is fine if you ask through this thread, no problem.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.
His ex wife cheated on him a few times and she left him 4yrs ago after being confronted. Sounded like she was over the marriage years before she finally decided to leave him. He tried so hard to get her back but she was long gone. I know he is still not 100% recovered from this traumatic experience he had to go through alone and that it's going to take a long time for him to heal completely.

My boyfriend was married to his ex wife for over 12 yrs. She had a 4 yr old daughter, Jessica, from her previous marriage when she met him. When they got together and married, he raised Jessica as his own till she was about 15yrs old. (That's the age Jessica was when her mom left him and took all the kids with her.) He also had 2 kids with his ex. His son is now 7 yrs old and his daughter is 12yrs old. Jessica is about 20yrs old now.

Now, whenever he sees Jessica, which is hardly ever, she avoids him and won't even make eye contact with him. She doesn't call to wish him a Happy birthday, Merry Christmas, not even a Happy Fathers day call or text. If he had that special father daughter bond with her, which he wants to believe he did, I know she would act differently. She would keep in touch with him if she had a special place for him in her heart. It's so sad but she obviously wants NOTHING to do with him. I feel sorry for him but at the same time, I think that if she doesn't want to have anything to do with him, even though he says he raised her as his own and loves her like his own, that he needs to let go of her. She has her real father whom she keeps in contact with . I understand he is attached to her because he was the one who lived with her throughout her childhood, but reality is, she's someone else's daughter. The only connection she had with him is her mom, his ex wife. Now that the ex is no longer in the picture, I think it's time he put Jessica away in his memory bank along with his ex wife.

He keeps photos of Jessica around the house, which I'm uncomfortable with. I would prefer to have him put it all away along with the memories of his ex wife. It's it wrong for me to think this? I guess I'm extra sensitive about his ex because of the fact that he has not yet put her behind him 100%.

We were cleaning out the house today and I had at one point left to run some errands and when I came back & walked into his 11 yr old daughter's room, he had hung up a huge 11 by 14 framed photo of him and Jessica when she was about 5yrs old. He probably found it cleaning up. It's cute and all but I just find it really odd how he's hanging on so hard to something that will never be. He's the one that tells me how Jessica won't acknowledge him and how she avoids him. He's hanging on too much to his past. I guess I'm wondering if he's hanging on to old memories with Jessica BECAUSE he's trying to hold on to his ex wife, because that was the good times he had with his ex? Or is he hanging on to Jessica because he truly loves her like his own?

I would understand his action if they had that special father daughter relationship and she came to visit us and have dinner with us every once in a while but there is none of that whatsoever. I've only met her 3 times in the last 2 yrs because she came to pick his kids up for her mom. I don't know her at all so it's like having a strangers pictures scattered around my house. Would it be wrong for me to ask him to take it down?
Hello, it's nice to hear from you!

It would not be wrong to ask him to take the pictures down because of how they make you feel. He seems to be using these photos to deal with his loss and that might make him upset if he has to take them down, but it is ok to ask. You might want to allow him one photo just for his desk or own area of his dresser, for now until he deals with his feelings.

It sounds like your boyfriend is stuck in mourning over his loss. He was betrayed by his ex then he also lost the relationship he had with her daughter. I agree, it is not his daughter. But if he raised her, he was her dad for that time. And that can create a bond.

Because he has this bond, he may feel very hurt she has ignored him. And that on top of the betrayal of his ex is keeping this wound wide open.

You may want to talk to him about seeing a therapist to work through his grief. It is not unusual for people who suffer losses, especially several at once, to become stuck in grief and not be able to work through it. And he seems to be expressing his grief through these photos and his inability to move on. It may require a professional to help him.

You can also help him by learning more about grief. Here is a resource to help you:


May I please request that if you find the service I provided helpful at all that you rate me with three or above? Your rating is the only way I am reimbursed for my answer. Thank you so much!
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Even though you have verified to me that he is hanging on to his past and not letting go, because he DID in fact raise this girl as his own daughter, I feel as though I'm being selfish in askng him to put away all the pictures of her. Because there are people who adopt and though not related by blood, are still able to love and care for the child as their own.

I guess I'm confused as to wether he really cares for her for HER or if he is still trying to care for her in attempt to try and verify this fact to his ex wife that even though she's no longer around, that he still cares for Jessica?

He still in passing will tell his ex wife to tell Jessica he said hello or to tell Jessica that he loves her etc... I think if he had all these feelings for Jessica, he should tell her himself. He has her number, so he should text her. Not tell his ex wife to tell her.

What are your thoughts? Do you think she is truly and genuinely in his thoughts or is this just another way of him hanging on to his past?
It sounds like he does still care for Jessica. But whether that is because he is upset about what his ex did to him or he truly does care for Jessica as a daughter is very hard to tell without asking him directly. His actions say he cares for Jessica but you are right, he should contact her directly and not through his ex. He may be fearful of rejection if he does, which might be one reason he doesn't reach out.

It is not wrong to ask him to deal with this issue. He is in a relationship with you now and should not expect you to continue allowing him to contact his ex or otherwise keep her in his life. That is too much to ask. He needs to address this with a professional so he can move on and you can stop dealing with his past.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Happy New Year!!! I hope your holiday season was great!

Another dilemma arose today. My boyfriend and I were cleaning out our bedroom and from under the bed, was a Safe box with collectibles of his ex wife, pictures of her, and nude photos of her as well.

I asked him if we could go through it together to put aside the family pictures or the kids to keep, put aside solo pictures of her to give back to her, and to trash any nude photos of her that were in there.

He told me he wanted to go through the photos himself. He did not want me to see a part of his past because he doesn't want t to ruin the relationship we have with these photos.

If it were up to me, I would prefer he just didn't even open the box and just throw it away without going through it. He has enough family photos to pass onto his kids. He doesn't need to revisit the solo pictures of her let alone revisit the nude photos of her.

What is your thought? I told him he can go through it alone but now am having second thoughts about it.


Happy New Year to you too!

While it is understandable that he doesn't want to upset you by going through the photos with you, he cannot just dictate how he wants to handle the situation without at least trying to find a compromise with you on how to handle it. He is now in a relationship with you and anything pertaining to his ex should now include your input. The one key thing to remember is that he chose to keep these photos when he could have just as easily thrown them out at the end of his relationship with his ex. Instead, he kept them and risked you finding them. That means that he is at least obligated to include your thoughts about getting rid of them.

You may want to try to talk to him about your discomfort with him going through these photos alone. Tell him what you feel and ask that he try to reach some compromise with you. Either throwing them out unseen or maybe he goes through them but with you in the room. That does not necessarily mean you looking at them (that would be hard to deal with), but if you are in the room, you can at least have a presence and feel you are not being pushed out by a bunch of nude photos of his ex.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

My good friend went through what he had gone through with his ex wife, a traumatic experience where he never had a chance to close the final chapter in their relationship because of the way it ended, with the ex wife cheating and leaving for good with no good cause but "I'm done".


He tells me to let my boyfriend go through the photos and relive them so that he can once and for all get over his past. Kind of like reading through the final chapter of a book. He thinks it will be therapeutic for him and hopefully help my boyfriend find the closure he needs?


I agree but also find it hard to swallow that he will be looking through nude photos of his ex. I understand they are only pictures of his past, not something he "did". He's pretty soft hearted so he will most likely cry looking through his treasure box he kept. I think he had totally forgotten about it because the top was so dusty, it had not been opened in ages. I don't know if he will get the full effect of therapy he needs if I am in the room waiting for him to go through it?


What should I do? I do trust him. She's not in the picture since she has long moved on before him. My concern is his mental health. Do you think it is safe for him to look through it alone after what he had gone through? I know he was on meds for depression for a bit to help him get through her leaving and her taking the kids with her. From what I can see, he never had the closure he needed and as hard as it is for me to say, this treasure box might be the key? Am I sounding crazy?

Letting your boyfriend go through the photos on his own can work if he is ready to move on. But if he still has conflicting feelings or is still hurt by what he went through, it could bring up a lot of feelings that are hard to cope with. Ultimately, that could affect your relationship.

And if he goes through the box and it triggers his feelings, he could end up with emotions he doesn't know what to do with. Or it could continue his depression over his loss because it is bringing up what he went through with his ex.

If he is still feeling this strongly about his ex and their break up, it could mean he needs therapy. Sometimes after a break up, particularly when a person was cheated on or hurt badly, it triggers something deeper that occurred before the relationship even started. In that case, he really could be mourning something in his past that was only triggered by the break up and really has nothing to do with his ex.

But in the meanwhile, there needs to be some compromise between you that you both feel comfortable with. You have spent a good portion of time dealing with your boyfriend's ex and their relationship. That is unfair to you. So making sure you both agree on how to handle this is important. And if you don't feel ok leaving him alone with the photos, then you shouldn't. The ultimate question really is- why does he need to see them at all? That is one question you both should talk about.


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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Can you recommend a therapist that we can both see about this? In Long Beach, CA?

I don't know any in your area from personal experience. However, I can let you know what to look for and provide a list of therapist you can choose from. You may also want to check with your medical insurance as well as your doctor for recommendations. Your doctor especially will be more familiar with good therapists in your area.

Here is what to look for when searching for a good therapist including definitions of degrees and differences between providers:

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor that specializes in mental health. Although they primarily prescribe mental health medications, some do therapy as well. A psychologist is someone with a PhD (doctorate) in Psychology. They focus on therapy and are not able to prescribe drugs. For the type of therapy you are looking for, a psychologist or a Master's level therapist are better choices for you.

You can find a good therapist in many ways. But the key to which therapist you choose is finding one that fits your needs. For example, a therapist that works out for one person may not work out for you. A therapist needs to not only be a good personality fit, but also provide the type of therapy you are seeking. So talking to a few therapists over the phone or in person can help you screen which one provides what you need.

Here are ways to increase the chances you find someone that is best suited to help you:

Ask your doctor as I mentioned before. Doctors often come across people who need therapy so may be familiar with ones in your area.

Screen therapists on line. Here is a site that helps: It also helps to be familiar with the credentials of therapists. Anyone who is a Master's level and above (PhD) is required. Experience also is needed, especially in the area you are concerned about like couples counseling. Here is a list of therapist's credentials:

For therapists in your area, here is a resource that can help:

Contact local universities and colleges. Many of them have psychology programs and can recommend a therapist based on what you need.

Let me know if I can help any further,

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

He was so adamant about going through it himself, I said ok last night. But that he only keep the family photos, he throw away the nude photos, and he give back solo photos of her so she can decide if she wantsto pass it on to her kids.


He tucked it away somewhere and I don't know where he hid it. The safe box had no lock on it so I assume he wanted to make sure I didn't peek in there. He thinks I saw way more than I needed to when I opened It and looked through it last night.


Now after reading your reply, I don't think he should go through it just yet without some therapy. How do I ask him to not go through it when I already told him he could last night?

You can let him know that you had some time to think about it and you still do not feel comfortable with him looking through the photos on his own just yet until you have had time to talk more about this situation.

Also, he seems to be hiding the photos, which is not a good sign. That indicates that he might feel this is about him only and not you. And it also undermines trust between you if he is keeping that part of his life in the home you share but excluding you from being involved when it comes out in the open. In that case, it is ok to point those things out (in a gentle way) and tell him that you need to, for the sake of your relationship, take this in another direction. You do have a right to have a say so, especially since this issue has been affecting your relationship for a while now.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I wrote him a pretty long email about how I felt and though he did not understand why it was so important to me that he get rid of it right away, he respected my feelings and wishes and he went through them ths afternoon in the dining room while I was close to him in the kitchen. I did not watch him look through those photos but I was present and that mad me feel comfortable knowing I was right there. Just now, we shredded the nude photos together and got rid of it for good:-)

Thank you so Much for your advice. I am so glad that I spoke up like you told me to and voice my opinion on this matter instead of letting it sit in my head.

I truly respect your advice. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart!!!!!
That is wonderful! I am so glad it worked out, and especially that he listened to you. It makes a huge difference in a relationship when your partner hears you and takes action.

And thank you for your kind words. They mean a lot.

Take care,
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.
One more thing. He said he was going to give his ex the shredded nude pictures to let her know that he does not have those anymore in his possession and to prove to her that he had shredded it and got rid of it.

I told him it is probably best to just let it be and not even bother with it and that out of respect to her, not to rub it in her face that he was looking at her nude photos (even though it was to shred it) and that she probably hasn't even really thought about it anyway. To let by gones be by gones and to simply just give back the photos of her that she might want back.

He really wants to give it to her. What is your take on this? Is it harmless action? I have an inkling that it is more of an in your face final gesture to her more than an amicable out of respect gesture. And if my feelng is correct, I don't think there is any need for that type of behavior. Could this be his parting gift to her?
You are right in this situation. Why he would want to give his ex the shredded photos is a good question. A desire to show his ex these shredded photos can be one of two things:

He wants to make contact with her because he is still in pain over their relationship. He might want her to see that he really is a nice guy and that he was willing to take care of her (by getting rid of the photos as an example), even if she eventually showed she was not interested in him. In other words, he wants her to feel good about him and possibly regret what she did.

He wants to show her that he could have hurt her by making the photos public in some way (to mutual friends, family, etc). That might indicate that he is angry for what she did to him and he wants revenge in some way through showing he had power over her but chose to be the better person and not hurt her.

And he may not even be aware he is experiencing these feelings. He might cover it up by saying he thinks it is the "right thing" to do.

Either way, he still seems attached to this relationship and may be struggling to let it go because of his pain. If possible, he should shift his focus from what happened in the past with this relationship to how to heal from it and move on. It is not easy and takes a lot of effort, but once he decides to make the choice to move on in his mind, his feelings will follow.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I think you nailed it in all the reasons you listed above except for the contact part. he keeps in contact with her on a weekly basis because of the kids.


Yes, he was really hurt by this past relationship but is slowly peeling himself away. I knew it wasn't going to be a quick recovery, also because of his kind hearted and soft personality. There is not one bad bone in this man's body! There was a lot of pain and lots of struggle to let it go too.


Knowing all this, is it best for him to let him do what he wants to do and give her the shredded photos? Psychologically, is it something that will help him let go by doing this?

Not really. Even though he does have to have contact with her because of the kids, he doesn't need to have anything more than that. To take their relationship back to when they were together and to introduce that through something as intimate as nude photos is probably not a good idea. What he really needs to do is to ask himself why he wants to make this type of contact and what he hopes to get out of it. If it is healing, he is headed in the wrong direction. He needs less contact with her, and especially contact that does not involve anything that intimate and emotional. He needs to focus on the kids and their needs so he can heal rather than how he can make an emotional connect to her. More contact of any nature is only going to hurt him not heal him.

Plus he needs to consider how she might react. If she reacts badly, that could make things a lot worse rather than help him heal. And even if she reacts well, that could keep him from moving on towards healing. It should not matter to him either way if he truly wants to move on. There has to be a boundary set here and so far, he is not willing to set it maybe because of the pain he is in. It could be that he feels if he maintains some kind of contact, he won't have to face that it is truly over.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

He prepared that envelope per my request. I had asked him to keep family photos for his kids, give back to her any solo photos of her, and to get rid of the nude photos out of that safe box. He has photos he's going to give back to her the next time he sees her when he picks up the kids.


1) Should he just mail the envelope and text her informing her he's sending the photos instead of personally handing it to her?


2) Should I ask him to not put the shredded photos in the envelope?


3) Since the envelope is out in the dining area openly, should I just shake out the shredded photos and get rid of it without telling him?


How do I approach this?


It is probably best that he just mail the envelope and send her an email or text saying he sent it. He can keep it very simple and stick to the facts only. That helps with any emotional issues that might occur.

Given what we talked about last post, it is probably better he not send the shredded nude photos. There is no real reason to do so and he could actually make things worse by doing that.

You might not want to take the photos out without telling him. That would create dishonesty between you if he finds out and that is not going to help the situation. The best thing to do is to let him know your concerns and ask that he doesn't include them in the envelope but instead just throws them out or burns them.

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