Elon Musk and Grimes I Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images

WHAT DO YOU want in a relationship? Before you answer with the usual staples: love, intimacy, affection, regular sex, someone to grow old with, you might want to begin evaluating prospective partners through a more professional prism, if Canadian singer Grimes’ description of her relationship with tech baron Elon Musk is anything to go by.

In an interview with Wired, Grimes described dating Musk, the father of her two children, as “the best internship ever”. “People don’t like talking about Elon, but it was incredible to be right there watching all that Space X stuff happen,” the artist said. “That’s a master class in leadership and engineering and makes you understand how rare it is to have a leader of that quality.”

Grimes and Musk made their red-carpet debut together at the Met Gala in 2018. The pair are now separated and co-parent their two children: X AE A-XII (nicknamed “X”), born in May 2020. The pair’s daughter, born Exa Dark Sideræl (later renamed Y, Why? or ?) was born via surrogate in December 2021.

“He’s challenged me a lot,” Grimes added, noting that while the tech billionaire’s “old-world discipline” may rub some people the wrong way, it suited her. “I learned a lot about running my own team and my own life. I’m now way tougher and smarter than I used to be.”

Obviously, there is a lot to unpack here and while the natural inclination is perhaps to zero in on the master-pupil dynamic of the relationship and the inevitable power imbalance that brings with it–did Musk set Grimes KPIs, for instance?—if we step back, or at least delay the outrage for a second, perhaps the ex-couple have unlocked a new relationship paradigm: professional intimacy.

Jaded relationship experts and other killjoys have been reminding us for a while now that matrimony’s original function was the consolidation of power and wealth among elites. It continues to hold very utilitarian aims in much of the world; marrying for lofty goals, such as love, intimacy and the commingling of souls, is a largely Western concept less than 200 hundred years old. In 2K23, perhaps you need to be asking what a prospective partner can offer you in terms of up-skilling, leadership capabilities, career advancement, heck, maybe even their capacity to improve your OH&S standards? Rather than seeking a soul mate, perhaps you should be looking for an Excel buddy.

Now, before you update your dating profile on Hinge to displace bouldering and ultimate Frisbee with “powerpoint wiz” or “master at identifying brand synergies” (in fact, in the new paradigm you’d be better off trawling for dates on LinkedIn, or copying and pasting your LinkedIn profile into your Hinge account, or shit, do both, you go-getter) you do need to give some thought as to what practical and professional goals you actually want to achieve in your relationship—hitherto known as a personal brand merger (PBM)—as well as navigate the inevitable challenges that will arise. Below, we offer some ideas.


Executive management

Grimes clearly mined Musk for his leadership capabilities and if you’re serious about your PBM you definitely want someone who can help you shine in this area. It’s not enough for them to be able to communicate a brief to a team (that’s a family), you want someone who can outline a vision and corral everyone to get on board. If the person you’re dating isn’t bullet-pointing goals for the day over breakfast or effectively detailing an ambitious 360-degree plan for the strategic rollout of relationship objectives over the next five-10, this person is a time waster.


Obviously, this is a no-brainer. In a PBM you should never be focused solely on one task. Parties’ browsers should be bursting at all times, calls should be taken whenever and wherever they occur and, in that event, it is perfectly acceptable to silence your merger partner (MP) with a raised finger. Emails or slack are preferred modes of discourse to discuss domestic chores and household management. And, this can’t be stressed enough, if your MP asks how you’re ‘travelling’ while you’re doing the laundry, you must reply “busy”. Also acceptable is, “I don’t know how I’m going to get through this week”; or if you’re really up against it separating whites and coloureds, “It’s going to be a late one”.

Content strategy

This is critical. Do you know how much of a relationship these days involves sitting on the couch and watching streaming shows? You need someone who can build an effective strategy to maximise your nightly viewing and ensure you watch the right shows, read the right recaps and follow the right accounts to maximise your mutual brands. How can you identify this capability off the bat? You do need to screen for it, I’m afraid. If they can’t put together a detailed Excel spreadsheet for a month’s worth of quality content consumption, they don’t move onto the next round.

Carnal knowledge

It’s not all business in a PBM; you also want someone who can enhance your sexual experience, while acknowledging that everything must be quantified, documented, performances rated and weaknesses identified. If said weaknesses can’t be rectified within an agreed upon time frame, then you may need to look at outsourcing some professional help until the issue is resolved. Too much? Not if you’re serious about achieving optimum copulation, it isn’t.

Performance reviews/parting of ways

It’s important to evaluate your PBM goals at least quarterly. Ideally this will be done across the dining table but can be done off-site in a café—this is preferable if your review of your MP is particularly negative. If they’re not hitting their benchmarks, you know the drill: notify HR, get a press release out with statement to the effect of “we have mutually agreed to pursue other opportunities”. You want to get ahead of this thing before the friendship circle begins aggregating on their social channels. Always thank your MP for their time and effort, and offer them the opportunity for feedback, possibly an exit interview if time allows—it could offer insights that might inform your search for the MP of your, um, strategy-day vision board, going forward.


The Bear’s Jeremy Allen White’s five strongest fits

Wow, you only need to work out twice a week to stay healthy, finds awesome study