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Elon Musk and Grimes

The couple who both wanted space

Elon Musk and Grimes at the Met Gala, New York, in 2018. Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Tesla founder Elon Musk and his musician girlfriend, Grimes, announced last week that they had “semi-separated” after three years together. I’m rather sad, says Heather Schwedel in Slate. Musk and Grimes were “one of the most consistently entertaining and bizarre news stories of the past few years”.

They met online in 2018. He was a 47-year-old multibillionaire obsessed with space; she was a 30-year-old singer with an alien tattoo on her back and “anti-imperialist” written in her Twitter bio. Musk had been married three times  – twice to the same woman – but was charmed by a joke Grimes made about artificial intelligence in a song. He messaged her on Twitter and soon they were at the Met Gala, arm in arm. Not everyone was thrilled. “Break up with Elon NOW,” raged one Twitter user. The singer simply replied: “No.” The couple were in love and that was that. She removed “anti-imperialist” from her bio and they had a child in 2020 – a boy called X Æ A-Xii.

So what went wrong? Twitter could have played a role. Musk was constantly online, posting controversial tweets. In July 2020 he wrote “Pronouns suck” and was attacked for being anti-trans. Grimes replied: “I love you but please turn off ur phone.” The media attention was, she said, unbearable. “I just thought I could keep going along in my funny little way,” Grimes told The Wall Street Journal. “And then you casually respond to someone in a tweet and it’s on Fox News, and you’re, like, ‘Ugh’, you know?”

It will be a fascinating split, says Danielle Cohen in The Cut, not least because both Musk and Grimes are space-mad. This summer Musk pledged $178m to reach one of Jupiter’s moons, Europa. And Grimes has now announced her own space mission. “I’ll be colonising Europa separately from Elon,” she told Page Six this week. Her plan? To found a “lesbian space commune”.

Elon’s emotional journey

At least Musk is handling this break-up better than he has in the past, says the Popbitch newsletter. When he divorced Talulah Riley (for the second time), he refused to talk about the split or dwell on the relationship with anyone. “He took to simply telling people Talulah had died instead.”