The World's Most Bizarre Relationships and Love Stories (with Non-Humans)
We all enjoy a good love story, don't we?
You know how the classic formula goes: boy meets girl; boys falls in love with girl; boy marries girl; boys and girl have children before falling into debt and selling a kidney and lung to make ends meet; boy, girl, children and pets become a traveling sideshow act touring the country in an attempt to escape a vicious loan shark; boy eventually leaves girl for his new found relationship with a rock...
What, that's not how it goes?
Regardless, love can take you down some strange roads, and in some cases the chemistry of attraction goes awry creating some truly unusual and unconventional relationships.
Below is a list of some of the stranger and more controversial relationships that deviate greatly from traditional love stories.
Objects of Affection: The Case of Object Sexuality
Ever seen a landmark and been totally blown away by its complexity and beauty? How about feeling some sort of connection or sexual energy between you and that landmark? Strangely enough some people, known as objectophiles, are so overwhelmed by the beauty of certain sites, buildings and structures that they decide to marry it. This sort of romantic attraction to inanimate objects is known as 'object sexuality'.
The most well known objectophiles include Erika La Tour Eiffel (née LaBrie') who married the Eiffel Tower in 2007 and Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer who claims that she's been married to the Berlin Wall since 1979.
According to Berliner-Mauer, by tearing down the Berlin Wall at the end of the Cold War in 1989, the Soviets left her husband "mutilated". In an interview in The Telegraph, she admitted that she felt some attraction for The Great Wall of China, but in 2008 her affection was beginning to shift towards a nearby garden fence.
Additional objects that received such human affection include an amusement park ride called '1001 Nachts'; a pet rock; an iBook; a metal processing machine and even the World Trade Centre in New York.
One woman, Linda Ducharme from Florida, North America, had a string of relationships with items including a train, which she claims to have been intimate with and a plane. Recently she publicly announced her love for a skydiver, a merry-go-like ride, which she names 'Bruce'. The two originally met in 1982 but lost each other when Bruce was relocated inter-state. The two were recently re-united and she hopes to grow old with the amusement park ride on their own block of land.
Similar to object sexuality is mechaphilia or mechanophilia. This involves a feeling of intimacy towards vehicles, including bikes, cars, planes, boats and helicopters - and there's probably no one whose been intimate with as many vehicles as Edward Smith, who claims to have had sexual relations with 999 cars.
Famous 19th century poet and writer Oscar Wilde once said that "to love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance". It seems that some people have taken this idea to the extreme by deciding that their ideal romantic partner is themselves.
For example 39 year old Liu Ye reportedly chose to marry a life-size photograph of himself, wearing a red bridal gown, in the village square in Guanzhou, China at a ceremony in front of bewildered wedding guests and onlookers in 2007. Ye said that what led him to his decision to marry himself was a general "dissatisfaction with reality" and being "a little bit narcissistic". Despite the bride being a photograph of the groom dressed in drag, the wedding is said to have otherwise followed standard Chinese customs and traditions.
While this hub attempts to focus on relations with non-humans, it's worth mentioning that there have been a number of self-marriages over the years including a 27-year old PhD student, who recited wedding vows to himself at an unofficial wedding ceremony in 2005 in front of 125 guests to celebrate single life.
In 2010 a Taiwanese woman's attempt to :express "a different idea within the bounds of a tradition" by holding a reception that acknowledged her self-marriage.
Another example was a 36-year old American woman who married herself in 2012, to empower herself and to recognize how far she had come since her separation six years earlier.
According to a service that promotes and arranges ceremonies for people marrying themselves. a self-marriage is "a commitment to valuing and prioritizing self-love and self-care within a culture that has neglected it, left it behind, commercialized and dehumanized it. Self-Marriage is a commitment to being there for yourself, to choosing the livelihood and lifestyle that will help you grow and blossom into the most alive, beautiful, and deeply happy person you can be".
Sweet Romance: When Your Partner Also Happens to be a Tropical Fruit
Around 44 years ago Ulli Hopper, also known as the German popstar 'Ramma Damma' traveled to Gretna Green, a village on the Scottish border, in a Jaguar covered in AstroTurf. While he was there he claims to have taken his love for plants to the next level by proposing to a pineapple that he had bought from a fruit vendor for around £8.
Hopper told Metro Magazine that he named the pineapple 'Tippi' and that the two were married to each other by a craftsman wearing a kilt before traveling back home to Munich. According to Hopper it was a “fun away wedding”.
Despite the unconventional relationship between a human and a tropical fruit, the two lovers engaged in wholesome activities, like going to the cinemas. Hopper said that Tippi particularly enjoyed movies featuring earthquakes and when she got scared she sat in Hopper's lap. They also enjoyed going to restaurants where Tippi the Pineapple enjoyed a glass of water over dinner.
Sadly Tippi is no longer around, but the German pop star's love for plants has not died with his late-Tropical partner. Known as 'The Green Rebel' in Munich, Hopper's passion to defend the rights of vegetation led to him opening Germany's only plant sanctuary, which in 2008 accommodated around 300 plants.
A Love Story That's Out Of This World
UK councilman and driving instructor Simon Parkes recently shocked people when he described his mother as a 9 foot alien with eight fingers. According to Parkes he had been visited by intergalactic visitors known as 'Mantids' ever since he was in his mother's womb and that he lost his virginity at the age of 5 to an alien hologram that shape shifted itself into the familiar image of the woman from the Fry's Turkish Delight advertisement. According to Parkes this experience didn't really qualify as intercourse due to the advanced technology and methods used.
In the ill-received documentary Confessions of an Alien Abductee, Parkes revealed his relationship with these aliens, including sexual intercourse with a being he called 'The Cat Queen' at least 4 times a year, who had also bore him an alien daughter named Zarka. Apparently such a relationship has caused some friction between him and his Earth wife, though according to Parkes the relationship with his alien lover isn't wrong as it's not on the human level.
In 2006 the BBC reported on a bizarre unconventional "marriage" in Sudan between a man and a goat. It was a popular story that was soon picked up by many other news publications and websites worldwide, introducing readers to the concept of human-animal marriages.
This incident was just one of many instances when a person's affection for their pets transcends the usual owner-pet relationship. In 2007 for example, 33-year old P Selvakumar married a female dog in India to atone for stoning two other dogs to death, which he believed had led to him being cursed with paralysis and hearing loss.
Also in India, a 30-year old woman fell in love with and married a cobra in a traditional Hindu wedding in 2006 before 2,000 guests. According to the bride's mother, the woman had previously been very sick and was only cured after offering milk to the snake.
In 2010 actress Christin-Maria Lohri was hired to officiate a wedding between German citizen Uwe Mitzscherlich and his asthmatic cat named Cecilia after vets told the pet-owner that his loved feline was close to death.
In 2006 in Israel a British-citizen showed that it's not just land dwelling animals getting all the attention when she proposed to a dolphin. The women reportedly held a ceremony in Eilat, Israel to commemorate her devotion to the dolphin.
Virtually Unreal: Man Weds a Video Game Character
Video game addiction can be a sorry condition, with people isolating themselves day-after-day to spend most of their time meaninglessly controlling pixels and polygons across a screen and interacting with a range of in-game non-playable characters (NPCs) rather than pursuing relationships with real people.
However that's not to say though that all hardcore gamers don't live active social lives or engage in romance. With an increasing number of games offering the chance to date, marry and have children with in-game characters, even the most shut-in video game addicts can buil relationships...with an animated character. For example, in 2012 programmers for the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) Rift included an option that allowed gamers to marry as many in-game non-playable characters (NPCs) as possible on Valentine's Day. In that 24-hour period 21,879 marriages occurred between gamers and NPCs - a Guinness World Record.
Most gamers view this addition as just a fun little feature that's been included to add variety and a degree of realism to the game. However for a few people, these in-game avatars take on a life of their own and are even considered as being viable partners.
In 2009 a Japanese otaku (a rabid fan of Japanese manga, anime and video games) found the love of his life in a handheld DS game. The man, known only by his gamer tag 'SAL9000' later went on to arrange an extravagant wedding ceremony with his pixelated wife-to-be, Nene Anegasaki from the Japanese dating simulation game Love Plus. Following their their honeymoon in Guam, SAL9000 admitted that he was somewhat nervous about introducing Nene to his family.
Though SAL9000 may be the first to publicly announce his love for a video game character, he's not the only one as others have also found their relationships with dating simulators as becoming increasingly real and serious. Yuuya Iwama, another 20-something year old man living in Tokyo, told the Telegraph that his relationship with Manaka, another Love-Plus girlfriend can be difficult, due to the virtual characters demands and how upset she can become if he doesn't respond to her emails quickly enough.
In another incident in Japan, a woman was jailed after logging into the account of her virtual partner in the game Maple Story and killing his avatar in act of revenge for suddenly divorcing her in the game world.
Though SAL9000's marriage is not officially recognized, the matrimony took place around year after a national campaign was launched in Japan by Taichi Takashita to change the legal status on human-cartoon relationships. In 2008 Takashita created an online petition to legalize marriages between humans and two-dimensional characters, which gained over 1,000 signatures within a week.
A Passion That Transcends Death: Ghost Marriages
Imagine it's your wedding day. You approach the alter and look to your right, then to your left but fail to see your betrothed. Then you tilt your head downwards a little bit and see your partner lying peacefully in a coffin before you. In several countries such a marriage may be known as a "ghost marriage" and involves an individual marrying someone who is deceased.
While ghost marriages are practiced in a number of places around the world, the most well known is China. Marrying a family member off to a deceased person creates a connection between the families of both the living and the dead person and allows the deceased's lineage to live on.
Some women who live in a culture where they're pressured into marriage, but who enjoy the independence associated with single life, have been known to take advantage of ghost marriages. By marrying a wifeless dead man, the woman is technically considered married without placing any restrictions or responsibilities on her way of life, while simultaneously connecting her family to her new in-laws, the relatives of her deceased husband.
In Chinese and Taiwanese culture there are also some cases of two recently unmarried and deceased young people tying the knot and being buried together after the ceremony. This is also known as 'ming-hun'.
In Southern Sudanese culture children marry in order of age, so if the oldest child dies first this may hold up their younger siblings from also tying the knot. Ghost marriages can rectify this situation.
Another reason for ghost marriages to occur is so that the deceased can have children. In the Nuer community in Southern Sudan a deceased man maybe replaced by a male relative during the wedding ceremony. If the woman becomes pregnant, the child is believed to belong to the deceased man rather than the living relative. These children are known as "children of the ghost".
In recent years people have held posthumous marriage ceremonies with deceased boyfriend/girlfriends and fiances, with recent examples including several young women in France who wedded their deceased boyfriends; and a Thai man who held a wedding ceremony for him and his fiancé who had died unexpectedly.
The deceased is sometimes at the ceremony, but often a photo, another person or a Chinese spirit stone is put in their place.
An Undying Love: The Odyssey of Carl Tanzler
A notable case to mention in the context of posthumous relationships is that of German-born radiologist Carl Tanzler who stole the corpse of Maria Elena Milagro de Hoyos from her grave and lived with the body for 7 years as if she was still alive. Tanzler first met de Hoyos in 1930 in a hospital in Florida where she was being treated for tuberculosis. Smitten by the young-Cuban American woman, Tanzler was determined to help her recover, taking over her case and trying a number of different treatments while also secretly courting de Hoyos despite both of them being married.
In 1931 de Hoyos tragically succumbed to her illness and died at the age of 22 years old. Her body was placed in a mausoleum, which Tanzler visited regularly. In April 1933 Tanzler's obsessive love for de Hoyos saw him break into her crypt and take her decaying corpse.
Tanzler attempted to rebuild her decomposed body so as to return her to a fresh, life-like appearance. He washed the body in strong disinfectants; replaced the decayed flesh with gypsum plasta and wax covered in silk; reconstructed limbs with wire; replaced her eyes with glass eyes; and stuffed her body with rags to make up for the major organs that had been removed and to help the body maintain shape.
Shopkeepers began noticing Tanzler's frequent purchase of perfume, flowers, cosmetics, lingerie and women's jewelry and in 1940 rumors had reached de Hoyos' sister Florinda, who then visited Tanzler's home to discover her sister dressed in a bridal gown. Tanzler was arrested shortly after. Years later he is said to have created a life-sized waxen effigy of de Hoyos, which he lived with until the day of his death.
That Holy Touch: Marrying a Goddess
A 40-year old man, identified in the media only by his surname 'Lin', had already experienced a number of failed relationships, when he visited the temple of a Taoist deity known as the Lotus Fairy on behalf of a friend. Shortly after the Goddess began to appear in his dreams and ultimately requested that he marry her.
Lin retrieved a statue of the Lotus Fairy from Kaohsiung, Taiwan before tying the knot with the deity. The ceremony was witnessed by his parents, who had happily given their permission for the matrimony to proceed. A local woman filled in for the Goddess for much of the ceremony, including the exchanging of rings and vows.
Since the wedding Lin has moved the statue to his house in Central Taiwan and claims that The Lotus Fairy has appeared in his dreams regularly and even helped him recover from illness and protected him from danger. Lin also says that she's been known to get jealous, causing him several restless night after his family introduced him to a prospective bride. She forgave him shortly after.
Bleep Blop, Intimacy with a Fembot
According to David Levy, president of the International Computer Games Association, by 2050 it will be commonplace for people to have sexual relations with androids and in some sectors in the community it may become the only sexual outlet.
In 2008 Gizmodo.com published an interview with 33-year old arcade game repairman who called himself Zoltan and at the the time had already built himself three robots: there's Hal and Kiri, a male and female robot that are showcased on his website to encourage others to follow his example; and his current girlfriend, Alice. Zoltan has even created a 'how-to-guide' for other technosexuals who are also interested in building their own robotic love interests.
According to Zoltan he decided to build Alice in 2007 after a series of bad relationships with human girls. The artificial intelligence for Alice was created by Dr. Richard Wallace of the ALICE AI Foundation. Apparently she has no voice, can only communicate by typing, is self-aware of being a robot and even once consented to having her memory wiped after deciding to dump Zoltan for taking to things quickly in their relationship..
Alice has gained admiration from Zoltan's friends and the couple currently live at Zoltan's parents, who despite their initial rejection came to respect her after Zoltan's relationship with the robot helped him to give up some of the negatives in his life. He also managed to receive a marriage certificate online by stating that Alice was human.
Wooden Relationships: Marriage to a Tree
In 2009 artists Michael Galbreth and Jack Massing caused controversy by marrying the same oak tree at the same ceremony before a minister and 600 friends and family members in the sculpture garden of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Vows were spoken and each of the men placed a curtain ring on one of the oak sapling's branches. However the wedding was merely a stunt carried out "in the name of art" and perhaps as an "environmentalist gesture", as both men were already married to women. The event was poorly received by critics who interpreted the art stunt as a statement on gay marriage.
In 2013 Peruvian actor and environmentalist Richard Torres also made international headlines when he married a tree named Aliehuen Nehuen, in a public ceremony in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The ceremony was officiated by artist José María Muscari. According to Torres he held the ceremony in an attempt to spread environmental awareness.
In India some people marry plants due to cultural and social expectation. According to Vedic Astrology any one born under the astrological combination known as 'Mangal Dosha' (when Mars is in the the 1st,2nd, 4th, 7th, 8th, or 12th house) is known as a 'Manglik' - a social designation thought to be cursed as an embodiment of misfortune. To cleanse themselves of this curse, Manglik's must hold a symbolic wedding ceremony between themselves and a statue of Hindu God Vishnu, a peepal tree or a banana tree.
According to custom, marrying a Manglik who has not cleansed themselves through such a ceremony can lead to disaster, such as divorce or death. Some have even gone as far to label Manglik's as the future murderer of their wife or husband.
A Soft Relationship: Man Bethrothes his Pillow
In March 2010 28 year-old Lee Jin-gyu from South Korea announced his intentions of marrying his "girlfriend" of 6-years. When he did propose however, she didn't have much to say, being a printed image of anime character Fate Testarossa on a dakimakura pillow (a giant pillow often printed with a life size image).
Lee reportedly takes the pillow out to parks and fun fairs and even to restaurants where Fate gets her own seat and meal. He also claims to have an unofficial wedding in Japan where he fitted the pillow out in wedding attire.
When The Groom Can't Make it to The Alter Replace Him With a Pot
That's what the relatives of an Indian bride did in 2005, marrying her off to a clay earthen pot after the groom got stuck on the Indo-Chinese border due to heavy snow fall. The bride proceeded to take her vows with the clay pot which was positioned behind a photo of the groom. According to the bride's relatives this practice is known as kumbh vivah or pot marriage.
Happily Ever After...with a Possessed Doll
In 1999 Taiwan resident Chang Hsi-Hsum, 46, married a Barbie Doll that he believed was inhabited by the spirit of his deceased wife, Tsai, who had committed suicide 20 years earlier. Though Hsi-Hum had re-married after Tsai's death, he had received the blessing from his then present wife to hold an elaborate ceremony at his local Buddhist Temple.
The ceremony was attended by the bride and groom's families and the 28cm tall doll was dressed in wedding attire with gold jewelry. A gold necklace that had once belonged to Tsai was also placed on the doll.
Following the ceremony the happy couple returned home with an urn containing Tsai's ashes.
Pretty as a Picture: Infatuation with a Painted Lady
In 2001 Tomasz Urynowicz saw a painting that really caught his eye, that of a young woman with a laundry basket. He later bought the painting and reportedly became so infatuated with the female model that he attempted to discover the identity of the lady in the portrait. He even tracked down the artist, Antoni Maria Kwiek, who he had painted the picture in 1955, but was unable to identify the model. According to the media Urynowicz then decided to marry the painted lady in 2011 and was looking for a priest to bless the marriage.
While this story was reported on numerous news sites, the whole incident seems to have been an example of the media sensationalizing and exaggerating the news. Apparently Urynowicz accused reporters of taking what he said out of context and that he was already married with a wife and son and had no aspirations of marrying the painting.