the romantic life of a surrealist like Dalí is as far from “normal” as you may expect, but for all its quirks he and his wife Gala actually had a pretty sweet relationship. okay maybe sweet isn’t the right word. um, different? ultimately they were allowed to be completely themselves in their relationship and that’s probably the most anyone could want in a partner.

Russian born Gala (aka Elena Ivanovna Diakonova) met and fell in love with her first husband, the surrealist poet Paul Éluard, at a sanatorium in Switzerland at the young age of 17 where she was being treated for tuberculosis. they married a few years later and it was through him that she eventually met Dalí, ten years her junior, who at the time was an emerging artist within the Surrealist movement.

when they met Dalí apparently asked her what she wanted from him and she replied, “I want you to kill me.” Dalí was smitten. yep, different.

she left Éluard for Dalí and abandoned their only daughter Cecile in the process. it was speculated that Dalí was a virgin when they met, and perhaps a lifelong one at that as he had a phobia of female genitalia and physical contact. they had an open marriage and he encouraged her to have many affairs (which she did of course, even with her ex-husband Éluard). he bought her a castle in Spain where she spent time every summer, and he had to get written permission from her if he wanted to visit.

they were together until Gala died at the age of 87, after which Dalí lost much of his will to live. i think their’s was a tumultuous relationship, but as Dalí said of Gala, “I love her more than my mother, more than my father, more than Picasso, and even more than money.”

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