And they say romance is dead: Ukrainian couple handcuff themselves together

Sergiy Karazy and Margaryta Chornokondratenko, Reuters

Posted at Mar 12 2021 11:15 AM | Updated as of Mar 12 2021 11:16 AM

Alexandr Kudlay, 33, hugs Viktoria Pustovitova, 28 in their apartment in Kharkiv, Ukraine March 4, 2021. Tired of occasional break-ups, this Ukrainian couple decided to handcuff their hands together for three months. Reuters

KHARKIV, Ukraine - A Ukrainian couple who grew tired of arguing are trying to mend their on-off relationship by handcuffing their hands together for three months and documenting their experiences on social media.

Online car salesman Alexandr Kudlay, 33, and beautician Viktoria Pustovitova, 28, began what they call their "experiment" on Valentine's Day and have since gained thousands of followers on Instagram.

"In terms of physical comfort, with every day passing, we are getting used to it more and more. It gets easier," Kudlay told Reuters in their flat in the eastern city of Kharkiv.

He came up with the idea after Pustovitova said she wanted to break up with him.

Alexandr Kudlay, 33, and Viktoria Pustovitova, 28, have breakfast in their apartment in Kharkiv, Ukraine. The couple decided to handcuff their hands together for 3 months and began documenting their experience on social media. Gleb Garanich, Reuters

"We used to break up once or twice a week. When during another fight Vika once again said that we had to break up, I replied: 'Then I will attach you to myself.'"

Pustovitova refused his idea at first, hanging up the phone on him the first time he suggested it, but eventually changed her mind. For nearly a month now, neither has had any personal space and they do everything together, from grocery shopping to cigarette breaks.

"I decided it will be an interesting experience for me, that it will bring into my life new bright emotions which I did not experience before," Pustovitova said.

"I love him, so I came to a decision to do it."

Alexandr Kudlay, 33, and Viktoria Pustovitova, 28, drink tea in their apartment in Kharkiv, Ukraine March 5, 2021. Gleb Garanich, Reuters

Now they post images of themselves on Instagram portraying an idyllic coexistence, complete with captions stressing the importance of mutual respect and understanding. They have also appeared on talk shows on Ukrainian television.

As for their relationship, "some tension has come up", but the couple say they have found new ways of dealing with discord.

"Fights between us did not disappear, we still fight. But when we approach a dead end and there is no understanding between us, we simply stop talking instead of packing up our things and walking away," Kudlay said.

The public response has been a mix of praise, skepticism, and simple curiosity. Comments on Instagram range from "Lovely couple" to "Can anyone explain me what for?".

Among the most burning questions is how the couple go to the toilet. The answer: The other has to wait outside with a hand remaining inside the bathroom. They take turns showering.

(Editing by Matthias Williams and Raissa Kasolowsky)

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