Menu Search
Home Flashback
Flashback

Remember when? Quick hits of history prep you to vault forward by considering in full how things used to be.

Sepia tone image of Albert Einstein topless on a sailboat
picture source

In a fancy-free mood

Einstein Was The Original Christian Grey

Albert Einstein - The Original Christian Grey

Why you should care

Even a genius can have so much difficulty navigating relationships that he needs his significant other to sign on the dotted line.

When you think of Albert Einstein, you may think of the letters E=mc2, but probably not S&M, let alone BDSM. But the German physicist actually shares a desire with Mr. Fifty Shades himself, Christian Grey. Both Einstein and Grey had a penchant for contracting their love lives.

The physicist contractually bound Mileva to clean, feed, and stop talking to him.

Sadly – or perhaps, better for our mental image of Einstein – the scientific genius’ contract had nothing to do with whips or handcuffs. He did, however, draw up a contract for his wife Mileva Marić, a gifted physics student in her own right whose academic career had floundered when she became pregnant by Einstein. The duo had been experiencing trouble in their marriage. So, in 1914, Einstein proposed a contract outlining how they could live together for the sake of their children. Though the resulting document, labeled “Conditions,” lacked the passion and kinkiness of Anastasia Steele and her lover’s paperwork, Einstein requested the same level of control Grey demanded. The physicist contractually bound Mileva to clean, feed, and stop talking to him.

The terms:

A. You will make sure:

  1. that my clothes and laundry are kept in good order;
  2. that I will receive my three meals regularly in my room;
  3. that my bedroom and study are key neat, and especially that my desk is left for my use only.

B. You will renounce all personal relations with me insofar as they are not completely necessary for social reasons.

C. You will obey the following points in your relations with me:

  1. you will not expect any intimacy from me, nor will you reproach me in any way;
  2. you will stop talking to me if I request it;
  3. you will leave my bedroom or study immediately without protest if I request it.

D. You will undertake not to belittle me in front of our children, either through words or behavior.

Sir, yes sir. Mileva accepted Einstein’s conditions and he graciously promised her, “In return, I assure you of proper comportment on my part, such as I would exercise to any woman as a stranger.”

A more comfortable version of Grey than Einstein is Jamie Dornan, the actor who was just cast to play Christian in Fifty Shades of Grey, replacing Charlie Hunnam who was originally cast. Dakota Johnson will play Anastasia Steele.

Aw, you shouldn’t have. Despite these romantic overtures, Mileva left Albert a few months after and divorced him in 1919. Einstein was not too crushed by this, for he had already been making more Grey-style “contracts,” with his cousin. Guess for Einstein, it really was all relative.

Cover/Lead Photo Credit: Reuters

Go deep

Go deep

  • Watch Einstein’s Wife, a documentary profiling the gifted Mileva who some scholars claim contributed to Einstein’s early work. (53 min)
  • Learn more about Einstein’s work at AIP Center for History of Physics
BW headshot of Lorena

Meet The Author Lorena O'Neil

Lorena covers religion, LGBT rights and feminism. She is also unusually fascinated by Instagram dictators.

Back To Top