Box of Broken Dreams


Dear Dharma,

Last night my boyfriend found my “box of broken dreams” at the back of my closet… all my old teenage love letters, diaries, wild photos from drunken nights out with college boyfriends, special concert tickets… Memories I cherish and want to remember.

He was hurt, and asked me to get rid of it.  He accused me of holding on to the past, which I guess I am in a sense… But how do I convince him it doesn’t mean anything? He’s the one I want to have a future with, not my ghosts of boyfriends past.

Stuck in the Past?

Dear Stuck,

So there’s a difference between “holding on to the past” and having a past, right?

Dharma is amazed and annoyed by the amount of people there are out there that forbid their partners from having a past.  It’s like the slate is supposed to be wiped clean the moment they meet, and everything that happened prior ceases to exist.  Such a disrespectful notion.  Like you were nothing before them.

Your question of how to convince him that this box doesn’t mean anything is actually a bit bogus, you know that, right?  Because if it didn’t mean anything, you wouldn’t be writing in…

The fact is this box does mean something.  It just doesn’t mean what he thinks it does.  So how do you convince him of that?  Well, if he was confident of his position in your life, I don’t think you would have to.  He’d get the following…

He would get that the experiences and people in your life that came before him have shaped and molded you into the person you are now.  You wouldn’t be you without the happenings in that box!

I’d get it if you had pictures of your former beaus up on the mantle.  I’d get it if every other sentence started with, “This one time? When I was with Bob?  Ahh, it was so great.”

Yet that isn’t the case here.  You’ve got a box of precious memories tucked neatly away, and he’s decided to make that his business.  The fact that he’s threatened by such a thing makes me sad and angry in equal measures.

I wouldn’t do it…

If someone asked me to get rid of my “box of broken dreams” (what a great term), there’d simply be no way.  I’m sorry, but that’s my life in there and it’s not for anyone else to diminish or invalidate that.  To be so entitled to think otherwise is beyond me.

It leaves me to wonder if there is something else going on to trigger this type of reaction, but unfortunately that’s something only you can answer.  Bottom line… keep the box if you want to.  You can’t replace what’s in there.



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  • Anon says:

    I agree with Dharma. I still keep my emails and letters and have fond memories of my past loves… I don’t think any of it should be swept under the rug or diminished. If my boyfriend was jealous, I’d maybe share some of the memories with him and laugh together so he would be comfortable and brush it aside. Maybe also see a counselor…

    • Dharma says:

      I’m hoping you’re right, that he would be interested in hearing some of the stories and memories – my concern, though, is that anyone who would even suggest tossing the box doesn’t put much stock in nostalgia… but it’s worth a try, right?

      Thanks for the comment!

Whether you agree with Dharma or think she missed the mark on this one, leave a Comment!

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