Elon Musk and Grimes were a match made on Mars, but here on Earth, I guess that just wasn’t enough: On Friday, Musk confirmed to Page Six that their relationship has gone bust—or, rather, that the two are “semi-separated,” whatever that means. This is sad for the reasons it’s sad when anyone breaks up, but it’s also sad specifically because the Musk and Grimes pairing was one of the most consistently entertaining and bizarre news stories of the past few years. As their relationship played out against the backdrop of a chaotic Trump administration and then a pandemic, it was nice to have the occasional distraction they provided. Think of all they gave us in the three short years they were together: That very first red-carpet appearance at the Met Ball. The time rapper Azealia Banks was (allegedly) trapped in their home. A son named X Æ A-12. So many strange tweets. As a tribute to Grusk, let’s revisit their greatest hits.
The origin story
Legend has it that Musk and Grimes met on Twitter when Musk slithered into Grimes’ DMs to bond over an extremely nerdy pun about artificial intelligence she’d once made. This was in 2018, and the two began dating soon after. Page Six broke the news then, too, and in no time they were being photographed together at the Met Ball. As strange as the idea of the two of them was, the sight was even stranger: He looked like a comic book villain at a black-tie wedding and she looked like a vampire at prom.
“break up with elon NOW”
As is appropriate for a couple who met via Twitter, that platform is also where some of the most memorable moments of Musk and Grimes’ relationship played out. Her fans noticed that, upon embarking on her relationship with Musk, she updated her bio to remove the word “anti-imperialist” from it, a prelude to the many times she would spar with fans over Musk’s business dealings and just how sinister they actually were. He never stopped his workers from unionizing, she tweeted soon after they started dating, and sure, he had donated to Republicans, but that was “the price of doing business” in the U.S. In the ultimate lovey-dovey display, at one point, Musk and Grimes had matching anime profile pictures.
They both had a tendency to reply seemingly randomly to their followers, which sometimes got them in trouble and other times resulted in accidental poetry, such as when one Twitter user wrote to Grimes, “break up with elon NOW,” and she responded, simply, “no.”
That confusing cameo from Azealia Banks
It was during these heady first months of their relationship that rapper Azealia Banks made a memorable appearance in their story. In August 2018, Grimes reportedly invited Banks to stay at Musk’s estate, where the two were going to work on music together, but Banks claimed—via a wild series of posts on Instagram Stories, a form she helped pioneer—that instead, she ended up trapped there à la Get Out while Grimes was busy comforting Musk as he dealt with the fallout from one of his ill-advised tweets. Musk and Grimes have disputed this account, but since the breakup was announced, Banks has been taking a victory lap, writing in (of course) an Instagram Story, “Ok girl, can we finally make those darn songs now that apartheid Clyde is out of the way? We were really supposed to eat these bitches up.”
Grimes later told the Wall Street Journal of these early days that she was “simply unprepared” for the level of attention their relationship received. “I just thought I could keep going along in my funny little way, and then you casually respond to someone in a tweet and it’s on Fox News, and you’re like, ‘Ugh,’ you know?”
“It’s a seminal film”
At points, the couple seemed to get the hang of having a relationship in public. There were a few instances when they delighted their fans and amused the rest of us with their exchanges on Twitter and no one got sued that we know of, such as the time in 2019 when he asked whether the movie Space Jam was good and she replied:
X Æ A-Xii
In January 2020, Grimes revealed to the world that she was pregnant with a photo shoot where she was styled like an alien, which was not unusual for her, but an alien with a baby bump, which was new.
Elon tweeted in his erratic way throughout the pregnancy, leading to the classic tweet a few weeks before the baby was born that read, “My gf @Grimezsz is mad at me.”
Not long after, their baby was born, and they revealed his name, if you can call it a name, to the world. (Originally X Æ A-12, the name was slightly altered a few weeks later to X Æ A-Xii to comply with California law.) True to form, the name reveal didn’t come in an official announcement but in Musk’s replies to random Twitter users. That day, Musk also posted a photo of the newborn edited to look like he had face tattoos. Typical new dad stuff! When Grimes tweeted an explanation of the baby’s name several hours later, Musk replied with a small correction.
The beginning of the end
Musk continued to cause drama on Twitter after the baby’s birth, notably when, less than two weeks after little X arrived, he posted to his followers, “Take the red pill.” Grimes’ mother stepped in that time and responded to the tweet, “If your partner went through a challenging pregnancy and childbirth in the last two weeks, and you were over 16 years old, would you be blaring MRA bullshit on Twitter right now?” She deleted it, but before she did, her daughter liked the tweet.
“I love you but please turn off ur phone”
In late July 2020, Musk tweeted, “Pronouns suck,” a statement many interpreted to be transphobic. Before long, Grimes replied to the tweet, “I love you but please turn off ur phone or give me a dall [sic]. I cannot support hate. Please stop this. I know this isn’t your heart.”
Seeing this awkward scene play out in public was somewhat uncanny. Here was one of the richest men in the world tweeting like a teenage boy, and his alt-pop star girlfriend, who gave birth to his baby two months before, asking him to stop in public. She had defended his behavior in the past, but she seemed—I say speculatively—to be at a breaking point.
Goodbye to Grusk
Their relationship still lasted another year and change. They were mostly quiet publicly for the rest of it. One exception came in May 2021, when Musk hosted Saturday Night Live and Grimes appeared in a sketch with him, playing Super Mario character Princess Peach to his Wario.
As recently as the summer, they continued to reply to each other’s jokes and musings about death on Twitter.
I particularly liked when Musk tweeted, “Free Britney,” and Grimes replied, “Thank u.” Finally, they agreed on something! But it must have been too little, too late.
Their last interaction appeared to be when Grimes responded to a photo of a SpaceX launch in mid-August.
As much as I’m going to miss these two knuckleheads, I’m fairly confident Musk will continue to misbehave on Twitter, in ways both entertaining and legitimately destructive, and I’m happy for Grimes that she no longer has to expend energy defending him. Maybe she can add “anti-imperialist” back into her bio now. Or better yet, get off Twitter completely.