Sex + Dating

True Stories of Strange Relationship Mementos People Just Can't Throw Away

museum of broken relationships
Museum of Broken Relationships, Zagreb, Croatia | paul prescott/Shutterstock
Museum of Broken Relationships, Zagreb, Croatia | paul prescott/Shutterstock

Sometimes the emotional baggage of past relationships simply isn't enough. For some insane reason, many people also hang on to the physical evidence, from teddy bears and postcards to ticket stubs and old T-shirts. There's even a museum that takes these strange mementos and puts them on display for all to see.

Most of us don't donate our strange treasures to the archives of a museum; instead opting to keep them tucked away at the back of a closet or bottom of a drawer. And some of these trophies of people we bedded are truly bizarre, with histories to match. Below are true stories of the sometimes sentimental, always odd items that people have taken, saved, or lost.

Keeping things brief

"A friend of mine kept a pair of boxers from every guy she ever slept with. When she announced her engagement, her maid of honor quite thoughtfully stole all of the boxers and made her a quilt out of the skivvies from her former suitors. This gift was presented to her the evening of her bachelorette party. I'm not so sure how her husband felt about this present, even though a pair of his boxers were the center square." -- Tamara

Hanging on to his million-dollar smile

"This guy I slept with once had just come back from the dentist and had been given a clay molding of his teeth. It was just sitting on his nightstand and I don't know why, but I needed to have it. It was just so, I don't know, cool, plus I knew I'd never see him again so he couldn't confront me about taking it. I still have it on a shelf at my house." -- Kat

Music to his ears... and her lips

"I inherited this really beat-up old guitar from my dad that I used to take over to my high school sweetheart's house to play for her. One day we discovered that if you held up a particular brand of Scotch tape and kissed it, it would make an imprint of your lips. So we kissed the tape and stuck it to the back of the guitar. Years later her lip marks are still on the back of my guitar, and whenever I play it I think of her." -- Matthew

Unusual hauntings of the ex variety

"My ex-boyfriend bought me a statue of an orthodox icon, the one corresponding to what would be my saint name. After we broke up I wanted to get rid of it, but it felt strange or wrong -- like it would be bad luck to give it away or throw it out. So I kept it." -- Liz

"One time my husband showed me a love letter from an ex-girlfriend, in which she revealed that she had painstakingly saved and 'preserved' the condom from their first sexual encounter." -- Lisa

"She didn't understand why I didn't want to use the sex toy that an ex had purchased for her, and had previously enjoyed with her." -- Dave   

Former flames who can't let go

"I had this really cool retro 1960s stand-up ashtray from an old movie theater I bought at a secondhand store. When my ex and I broke up he really wanted it, and made this big scene about how I had broken his heart. I'm not sure how keeping my ashtray would mend that, but I let him take it anyway." -- Steph

"I used to wear this small silver heart-shaped locket. It had nothing inside it and for some reason it really bothered my ex that it was empty. When he told me that he had something to keep in my locket I naturally assumed it would be a photo or a lock of his hair, unfortunately, I was wrong. He was rather adamant that I let him put his 'seed' into the locket so he'd always be there. I still have the locket -- thankfully, it remains free of his DNA." -- Leslie

Missing that face

"We went on one almost-date to Burger King, and during our meal she asked if she could borrow my student ID cards. Several years later, she ran into my girlfriend and showed her the old beat-up student cards. My girlfriend unsuccessfully tried to get them back for me." -- Chris

"My ex would only keep the worst photos of someone when he broke up with them. He somehow believed that by only looking at the ugliest photos of an ex-girlfriend it would make him feel better about the relationship being over. I'm sure there are some stellar pics of me in that album nowadays." -- Becky

Statement pieces

"He was cheating on me, and denying it. So I saved every random earring, necklace, bracelet, and hairclip I kept finding under his bed, on the dresser, or beneath the pillows. When I confronted him with the pile of evidence, he lied again and said they must have come out of his daughters' clothes in the laundry and gotten stuck in his sheets. I dumped him. But I never got rid of the jewelry." -- Lindsay

The best-laid plans...

"I bought a bottle of wine 18 years ago, and told myself I would drink it with my true love when I found her, then pour some on both [of us] as a ceremony. I still have it. It was bottled in the mid-'90s, it's past its prime, but so am I." -- Joe

"In high school, a friend of mine worked a part-time job for a local church. When he was bored he'd create gag documents for his friends. Once, he made a phony marriage certificate for me and my high school sweetheart, along with a bogus certificate of baptism for a fictitious child. I kept both documents for about a decade after we broke up." -- Sonia

The archivists

"This guy I was dating had this big red binder of all of the love letters he'd ever received. It was organized meticulously by date and even had name tabs for each authoring correspondent." -- Nadia

"I still keep one shoebox of mementos from each serious relationship I've been in (there are six). Just some of the treasures in those containers include: the condom wrapper from when I lost my virginity, wisdom teeth, a number of dreadlocks, love letters too numerous to count, lucky pennies and shells from all over, a pipe made out of a shell casing, and one broken compass from a boyfriend who'd decided to spend a year riding his bicycle cross-country, jumping trains, and hitchhiking. He mailed the compass home to me in Massachusetts from the beaches of San Diego, saying I was his only true north. We broke up a month later." -- Amelia

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Sara Pacella is a freelance writer and PR specialist. As an Archie Comics and Heathers fangirl/aficionado, she's Team Veronica. Follow her musings on Twitter @Sarabethbug.