I know I have a post about yelling at people to stop excusing abusive behaviour. I’m here to now explore the topic about books that explore unhealthy relationships and friendships and romanticise them. These are the books that promote negative, jealous behaviours in relationships that are really clear warning signs to get out of a relationship. Basically, it really is just an extension of my stop excusing abusive behaviour post which you can read here.
There is just so much to say on this topic. From the romanticisation of ‘bad boys’ to the emotional abuse that characters go through in books that are never called out. I just have such a fiery hatred for it. I understand that in society we think these things are normal a lot of the time and don’t even realise that they are wrong. Hell, I’m not perfect and have done this.
A lot of the time over dependency is also a clear sign of an unhealthy relationship. If you text every second of the day or your characters suddenly have no friends when they get together, you are over-dependent. It is important to have your own life, friends and aspirations. Following a guy you just met to a college on the other side of the country doesn’t really fit that.
The clearest and most commonly used example I know of that one is Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Twilight. For two years I didn’t read any other book apart from the series. It was everything to me. The first young adult book I had ever read. Now, as an adult and looking back I can see a lot of flaws.
For example, Edward stalks Bella. He sneaks into her room, so literally breaking and entering, to watch her sleep. Y’all that ain’t romantic. That is serial killer shit. Continuing on that train of behaviour, Bella suddenly has no friends once she gets with Edward. Where did they all go? Who knows. If you decide that once you have a partner your friends don’t matter anymore, that is a problem.
Even more so, if you have a partner who tells you your friends don’t matter any more that is a red flag.
The biggest book that glamorises an unhealthy relationship is Paper Princess by Erin Watt. This book was big on Goodreads a few years ago and I was jumping on the trend of whatever was popular. However, I have never been so disgusted.
The love interest threatens to rape to the main character and it’s okay because he’s hot and rich. It is so bloody gross. She is also basically adopted by the family, which just makes me feel gross anyway. The whole relationship between Ella and Reed (the two main characters) is just overall toxic. Yet the books have such a high rating, and even have a spin-off series.
The authors completely glamorise abusive relationships which is something that infuriates me as well. This book was marketed as a young adult book and I can not imagine young girls reading this and thinking it is okay, but it would happen.
I mean to just highlight how disgusting this book have a quote:
He’s a jerk and he wants to hurt you, I scream at my body. My nipples pucker despite my warning.
I read the first three books in the original series, because I hate myself, and it was just one of the most disturbing things I have ever read. If you want to see my reviews for the books you can click here: one, two, and three.
These are all things that come up so often in books that it is ridiculous. Honestly, the number of times I read a book and think of how disturbing the relationship is only to see that it has high ratings all over Goodreads is disturbing.
A big one that stands out in my mind is The Chase by Elle Kennedy. Ironically, the author is part of the duo that wrote Paper Princess. This book is full of jealousy. A lot of it is internalised by the main character but it is not healthy. She basically switches between two guys at her own will but as soon as a girl even looks at them shit hits the fan. The double standard is definitely clear and it is not okay.
I understand that people get jealous, I personally don’t, so seeing it happen in the perspective of any gender’s perspective is realistic but so tiresome.
I find that this is more often a problem in the romance community, particularly the new adult books. So often there are negative tropes. More often than not the stories are about jocks who bully the girl and then they fall in love. It is just infuriating. Not only that but typically they are full of girl hate, slut-shaming and just all around sexist behaviour. It is so incredibly frustrating to read and see people praising and loving these books.
What If It’s Us? by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertelli, is something similar but a young adult book that hit bookstores October 2018. It is been highly reclaimed due to the popularity of the two authors. However, one of the characters only thinks about his ex-boyfriend while on a date with a new guy. It was incredibly frustrating. The relationship wasn’t healthy at all, with one character basically seeking the approval of the other the whole book. It just felt unhealthy and not a single time was it addressed in the text.
These kinds of behaviours are obviously present in society. Abusive relationships do exist. Whether this is emotional abuse or physical abuse, these signs are typically clear throughout the book. They still shouldn’t be romanticised or glamorised. They need to be called out within the text if that is what the author is including.
Hell, the relationship may not even be abusive. It may just be incredibly unhealthy. It is okay to show unhealthy relationships, important even. But, they need to be called out. So many teens start dating and glamorise these unhealthy relationships unknowingly and it just ends badly.