The things you kept when the relationship ended

Rebecca Sparrow still has the scrunchie she bought at a shop where her ex-boyfriend’s mum worked.


Anyone who’s suffered a fractured heart from a love affair gone rogue knows that reversing the car over your ex’s favourite Counting Crows CD does little to ease the pain. Long term anyway.

The problem, of course, is that their fingerprints are all over your life and remain there – hovering – long after your lover has left for good.  There’s the doona cover you bought together that Saturday after brunch with his sister . The jar of parmesan-stuffed olives in the fridge you often shared on Sunday nights while you watched Homeland.  The cherry-coloured scarf you wore when you met.  The Anne Rice novel you were convinced to read. All souvenirs that strangle your heart because of the memories they leak like tears.

So when you think about it, the Museum of Broken Relationships in Croatia is providing a much needed community service.  A home to those legacies of love; the shrapnel left behind when love packs up and moves on.

Click through to the museum’s website to view some more of their enthralling exhibitions. You won’t be able to stop clicking. 

According to the Museum’s website:

Whatever the motivation for donating personal belongings – be it sheer exhibitionism, therapeutic relief, or simple curiosity – people embraced the idea of exhibiting their love legacy as a sort of a ritual, a solemn ceremony.  Our societies oblige us with our marriages, funerals, and even graduation farewells, but deny us any formal recognition of the demise of a relationship, despite its strong emotional effect.


So true.  We are a society that celebrates and ritualises the happy, the joyous, the successes. But the sour moments – the tragedies – well, you’re on your own, kid.

I can sit here and think of half a dozen items from past love affairs I could donate. Items I’ve kept because … actually, God knows why. Because they’re the souvenirs of my romantic life?  I don’t even know.

– There’s a scrunchie I bought in 1991 from a shop where an ex boyfriend’s mother worked and where we met for our first date.

– A book of poetry gifted to me during an office romance that went sour.

– Mixed tapes.

– A recipe book.

– An ex boyfriend’s t-shirt that I continued to wear long after we split.

– Handwritten letters penned before home email accounts stole the spotlight.

So would I donate them if  I could?  Maybe. But really, most us have curated our own personal ‘doomed relationship museum’ … full of those reminders to love gone wrong. And I think that’s because for many people – well me at least – there’s something about having the these items tucked away in shoeboxes and desk drawers that allows me to time travel when I stumble upon them.  For better or worse, they are my history. Chapters in my story.   Sometimes seeing that mixed tape and listening to it rather than, you know, setting fire to it,  reminds me of how far I’ve come. What I’ll no longer tolerate.  Or what I’ve survived.

What items from past relationships do you have?  What do you wish you could get rid of?


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