Forbidden love. The mysterious new guy. The possessive partner. The playboy who’s been in bed with the entire planet except for you.
What is so special about those characters who almost always end up as the main love interest of our heroes/heroines in novels, TV shows, and movies?
It’s safe to say that lately, TV has shifted a bit away from the tall, mysterious, dark, and quiet character who ends up capturing the heroine’s attention (I’m thinking about Landon Kirby from “Legacies” who’s just the most adorable with Hope). For some time, I have to admit that I was into all of that—when I was a teenager and Damon Salvatore was all the hype. But as I grew older and became more aware of real life, I realized how most of the traits of those characters were toxic.
The couple would suffer from emotional abuse, possessiveness, pathological lying, uncontrolled behavior, emotional vampirism, and inexistence of boundaries.
Back then, some of us might have thought, “He is sabotaging her perfectly healthy relationship with this nice dude because he is jealous? Hot!”
“He is serial dating and sleeping with others to forget about her? Double hot!”
“He is insulting her terribly because he secretly likes her? Swooning.”
But most importantly, what follows after that is what matters. How does the heroine react? Does she fall in love with him despite everything? Does she show him that she has no time for this bullsh*t? Or does she desperately try to fix him?
The last bit is what makes me worry the most. We are growing to believe that we need to save our partner from their toxic behavior, and that this can actually be done. Whether it’s possible or not, we are not our partner’s therapist. We stand by them, support them, fight by their side, and soldier on together. But we do not fix each other.
This was evident in movies like “Fifty Shades of Grey,” “After,” “Twilight,” even “The Vampire Diaries” (as much as I adore that show).
I was just having a conversation with a friend about the latest season of “Emily in Paris” (skip this part if you haven’t seen it yet), and we were wondering if we were team Alfie or team Gabriel, and I was team Alfie all the way (as silly as the discussion was). And when several people voted for Gabriel because of his chemistry with Emily, I wondered, why was she still hung up on him? Everything about their relationship was dramatic, toxic, and complicated. Why not go for the beautiful, loving, and healthy relationship that she has with Alfie?
An easy relationship is a good thing, not a bad thing.
Perhaps, we do romanticize difficult relationships because they give us a good story and we love to watch the couple struggle to fight for their love. We sometimes might link suffering to a stronger bond in a relationship.
And no relationship goes without a struggle, but why not have them be external rather than internal?
The strongest relationships are the ones that have solid and unshakable foundations.
For example, if this mysterious dude we’re talking about cheated on his girlfriend with the woman he claims he loves, who’s to say he won’t do it again with another girl? If he is possessive and jealous, which some might find sexy at the beginning, who’s to say that possessiveness won’t suffocate his partner later and turn her into a prisoner of a relationship she hasn’t signed up for? If he is controlling and pretends he’s only taking care of her at the beginning, who’s to say he won’t control every aspect of her life in the long run?
Those traits are ones that would stop the relationship from having those solid foundations to begin with.
Maybe we do secretly sometimes wish to be saviors and pull our partners from the pits of hell and give them everything we have, or maybe, like our heroines, we sometimes might like the special attention of someone who doesn’t usually give it to those around him.
But one thing is for sure, if we want to end up in the easy, loving, and healthy relationship that we deserve, we have to keep the following in mind:
>> We need to keep an eye out for red flags because the best romance comes from being loved, not tossed around and tortured.
>> The popular playboy is outdated. Why not think about the funny, talented, and devoted man? Or more specifically, why not go for the man who’s going to spare you the heartache?
>> Respect is everything. And this doesn’t only come to respecting you verbally, but also respecting your boundaries, choices, dreams, person, body, and soul.
The world is already full of enough drama, sadness, and anger. And so, we end up looking for sources of happiness in the smallest things. Why not start with our relationship?
Relationships should be a safe haven for us, not a source of anxiety, resentment, and abuse. Our partner should be someone we go to when we are facing a problem, not be the problem itself.
Writers, let’s start creating characters who genuinely love each other and do not scream “toxicity” whenever they’re in the same room.
In healthy relationships, partners learn from each other, grow together, learn from mistakes, and most importantly, never do something to purposefully hurt the other.
Let’s advocate healthy relationships.
Let’s advocate genuine love.