Toxic relationships in media should be raising more red flags

by Lizzy Miller and Katherine Lopez

Many people drink in the poison that is the love the media portrays. Manipulation, lies, anger, and unrealistic expectations are all portrayed and romanticized thoroughly. In some of the most popular fandoms romanticize obvious toxic traits and impressionable teens believe that the red flags are normal.

“The kids I work with are growing and developing. They are not yet clear on what is important in a relationship/friendship. As a result, their opinions are largely based on what they see and hear, and when they are mistreated, while they may know it is not okay, they do see it as normal,” said Mrs. Beth Lucas, a guidance counselor at Lime Kiln Middle School. 

Manipulation is a huge problem in a lot of relationships. Using strong emotions to control another’s behavior, gas-lighting, lying and denial are all ways someone can manipulate another to get what  they want. In a very popular movie called After, the main male character (Hardin Scott) manipulates the main female lead (Tessa Young) into falling in love with him due to a bet. Hardin also manipulates her into buying an apartment with him after only three months of dating and constantly gaslights her while she is living with him. 

Another issue that is broadcasted as romantic, is the lack of boundaries between the two people in a relationship. In almost every romance, the couple spends a scary amount of time with the each other, almost abandoning their friends.

The best example of this is in the books and movie series, Twilight. Not only does the main character (Bella) fall immediately in love with an obviously bad person (Edward), but she ignores how obsessed he is with her. He stalks her throughout the entire first half of the book. In the second book, she completely leaves her friends and family to be with him, sinking into a depression when Edward leaves her. It portrays the unhealthy boundaries and the obsession with another person being ‘their only person.’  

Stalking and being a serial killer is a big thing that is being romanticized at the moment. An example would be the series on Netflix called YOU. The main lead in this story is a male (Joe Goldberg) who easily becomes obsessed with girls he takes interest in. He goes as far as stalking them, breaking into their homes, stealing their belongings. He has also gone as far as killing those closest to them, such as best friends and even family members.

He doesn’t only do this with one girl but with four different women. They are all clueless to the situation until they are murdered, except one who is just as obsessed and crazy as he is. When this series first came out, everyone was fangirling about how good looking the male lead is, but this is just showing how someone is easily manipulated based on looks.

There are many types of toxic love that exist in many relationships. What is horrible to see is that they are not only relevant in the media but that they are romanticized and shown to be desirable.