As a museum dedicated to failed relationships opens in LA, we asked our readers what items they’ve kept that remind them of past relationships
It's funny, somehow, how an object can assume a meaning completely independently of what it actually represents. Take, for instance, the people who collect macabre souvenirs of celebrities. Owning Jim Morrison's chewing gum or Bob Marley's napkin makes them feel closer to their idols. Or the bereaved parents who preserve their dead children’s bedrooms in aspic. Objects can comfort; can make you feel closer to someone you once loved or cared about; and can make you feel closer to the dead. There’s an almost magical, talisman-like quality to the way that things can assume a meaning depending on who they once belonged to or what they used to represent.
It’s sometimes said that a break-up can feel like a bereavement. After all, cutting someone you once loved out of your life is incredibly painful. And sometimes the sense of loss is so palpable that being surrounded by things that remind you of your ex can feel unbearable. Which is why many people embark on drastic lifestyle changes after messy breakups – switching all their furniture around, shaving their heads (you may regret that), even moving house when things get too much.
Yesterday we reported that a Museum of Broken Relationships will be opening in LA in May, filled with things donated by couples who’ve broken up. After seeing how the article touched a nerve, we put out a call for submissions from our readers, asking them what they’d donate to the museum given a chance. Their responses ranged from the heartbreaking to the hilarious to the deranged. Here are our favourites.
THE RELATIONSHIP WITH ITS OWN PHOTO SERIES
“Marina is a series of photographs about how relationships break but memories and emotions fade away. The medium format analogue photos were taken in 2010, at the beginning of a relationship. Once the relationship ended in 2013, the type C prints were submerged in milk with granola (my ex’s favourite food) over three days. After careful washing, the resulting images were scanned for online publication.” Facundo Pérez Taboada
THE RELATIONSHIP WHERE THEY FUCKED ALL THE TIME
“I would donate a short film compilation of all our sex tapes. Just to show a visual interpretation of how love turns to dislike. Back to love and then hate and only back to love again. The dysfunction is sometimes apparent in our sexual moods.” Vanessa Iloenyosi
THE RELATIONSHIP WITH EIGHT INCHES OF… ROPE
“I'd donate my eight-inch piece of rope. We travelled across the world with it; he said never go anywhere without rope…” Himali Soin
THE RELATIONSHIP WHERE SHE WAS CELIBATE
My first serious girlfriend knitted me a green and black afghan for our second year anniversary. I was always so moved and kind of embarrassed that she would make something so labour intensive for me. It took her a long time. She was Christian and celibate. She finally broke up with me by moving to Australia when she realised I wouldn’t marry her. I was going out of my mind but didn’t have the balls to do it myself. I was, like 21, I had no excuse really. This afghan was on my bed for years, until I moved in with my current girlfriend. Not sure how to get rid of it now.” Liam Sanagan
THE RELATIONSHIP WHERE THEY GOT DRUNK ALL THE TIME
“I would donate a succession of empty and broken bottles of whiskey and dog-ends of roll-ups as my ex (German) girlfriend and I only ever got drunk and smoked cigarettes. At the time and in the months proceeding the relationship, I was convinced that in spite of the severe language barrier and the juvenile nature of our relationship it was something poignant and very real but life has since shown me the reality of that situation and how it really meant nothing and in meaning nothing, meant something.” Sam Ashley McIntyre*
Editor's note: Sam provided a photo of a Germanic-looking girl pissing in an alleyway to accompany his response, which we’ve declined to use because everyone gets caught short sometimes
THE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE STRANGELY POETIC COLOURING BOOK
“A Japanese-themed colouring book. With some pages coloured in (what was), some pages left unfinished (what wasn’t) and the majority left blank (what could’ve been).” Valeska Cana
THE RELATIONSHIP WHERE WE’RE KIND OF LOST FOR WORDS
“I have scattered memorabilia of broken, failed relationships all around my home. I would send the rosary he gave me, we had matching ones. He said he would pray for me every night. I would send the sweater he picked out for me. I wore it the night he betrayed my trust. I would send the letters my best-friends wrote me over the years. That’s all I have left of them. If I could, I would send the memories, bags of tears, and recordings of my laughter. I would send all of these things, because with them here it is so hard to heal.” Olyvia
THE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE JOINT THEY NEVER SMOKED
“Here’s the joint we never smoked, because he never arrived that night.” Kat Hanula
THE RELATIONSHIP WHERE IT ALL WENT REALLY BADLY HORRIBLY WRONG
“I would donate pieces of my ex’s bumper from her car that I totalled. I fucked that relationship up really, really badly. I ended up sleeping with her best friend and then totalling her car an hour later. This was two years ago when I was 16, and since we've broken up she’s gotten into heroin and it’s just not good. I hate to see that lifestyle from someone I used to care about so much. Here are some pictures, thanks for listening.” Sid Dickson