Isn’t it interesting how some of the most popular couples in modern fiction are also the most dysfunctional?
What is it about these tortured characters in the books we read, that makes them so appealing? So attractive? For me, Edward and Bella have always been a perfect example of an unhealthy, almost abusive relationship, and yet we LOVED them! (Sorry Twihards but it’s true)
Natasha is back with an interesting look into our obsession with these literary characters, and some signs that you may be in an abusive book relationship.
Seven Signs You May Be in an Abusive Book Relationship
Have you ever thought back on any of your high school partners?
Nine times out of ten, it’s during our teen years that we get those fluttery feelings of first love. We’re complete entranced by this person and think we’ll love them forever. Of course, most high school relationships fizzle out and though there’s never anything quite like first love, I think our relationships early in life affect those we have later in life, as well.
Am I making sense here? Is my Dr. Phil coming across clearly?
Perhaps you sigh fondly when you think of high school loves. I, on the other hand, usually smack myself in the face and wonder “What the hell was I thinking?”
Truth be told, I do that when I think about a lot of past relationships…including a few book boyfriends.
Though people may joke about girls loving bad boys and boys having “mommy issues,” I think these things are real. More importantly, they rear their ugly heads in our relationships including those that are real, as well as those that are more fictional.
Book boyfriends and girlfriends can tell us as much about ourselves as the real ones. With that said, here are seven signs you may be in an abusive book relationship.
(Side Note: Please, keep in mind you can flip the genders. I think this list can apply to both women and men. Thanks!)
- He Only Speaks to You When You’re Speaking to Another Guy
Picture this. You’re the new girl in school and, as expected, it’s a little awkward the first few weeks. Some people are open to getting to know you, others shut you down immediately. But, then, one day a cutie approaches you asking general questions. It’s obvious you both are interested in one another and that he’s trying to get to know you.
Then, out of the blue, another hot guy (of course) who you know from school but he never took the time to even get your name, storms over and breaks up your lovely conversation. Maybe, he even drags you away in the middle of said conversation. When you question his behavior with a few choice words (because you have to be sassy but allow this crap to go on) he responds by saying something like this:
“You just need to be careful who you talk to. Plus, you deserve better than him.”
“I don’t ever want to see you talking to him again. Got it.”
“You’re too good for anyone at this school. Just watch who you talk to. I’m trying to protect you.”
And then he fades back into obscurity. The next day at school he goes back to ignoring you but now you can’t stop thinking about him. Because he’s mysterious and ignores you. Being ignored is just so hot!
- Body Language Is His Primary Form of Communication
Hot guy? Body language? Sounds like a perfect combo, right?
Perhaps it is, until oral communication (you know, how most people talk to one another these days) becomes a secondary thought. Everything this guy wants to do is physical. He can’t simply tell you he thinks your new boyfriend is a dangerous douche. He has to grab you by your arm and drag you away to some isolated location. Then, he’ll probably get you into a corner or backed up against a wall where he’ll lean into you real close.
At this moment, he’ll remember he can speak and he’ll say “You’re not going anywhere with him.”
This ringing any bells, anyone?
Of course, one can argue he’s being so rough because he cares so much or “it’s for her own safety.”
Yeah, I get it but honestly, I don’t buy into this reasoning.
For one, I’ve read too many books where the physical intimidation and restraint like described above happens over and over again. Also, why does he have to drag her to an isolated area? Why can’t he just pull her (not literally) aside and speak with his darn mouth vs. getting all handsy?
In these examples, it’s not about keeping you safe. It’s about control.
Boyfriend knows best, after all.
- Jealousy Is His Favorite Game to Play
Sometimes a little jealousy can be fun. You know this, as well as your partner or the person who’s soon to be your partner, except you two have different definitions of jealousy. While, you just want to tease him a bit, he wants to get a physical reaction out of you. Maybe he gets off on the hurt and shock on your face when you see him kissing another girl.
She’s your arch-rival, of course because how could she not be?
Or maybe the only way you can get his attention is to make him crazy jealous which doesn’t take a lot. Pizza forbid you have a male friend or dare to look at another guy. If you do either of those things, you obviously want to sleep with this other guy and, so your love interest has every right to start taking names and breaking faces, doesn’t he?
No, he doesn’t. Initial reactions of violence mean he easily goes from zero to one hundred pretty quickly. There’s nothing wrong with being protective. But question where the line between protective vs. isolating/overbearing rests?
Also, question why violence is his go-to when many situations could be de-escalated with simple conversation?
- When He Does Bad Things There’s Always A Reason
Your book boyfriend is free of any guilt no matter what he does. If he does feel a little guilty about something he did, he shouldn’t because he’s had such a troubled past. Let’s say he was abused as a child and he’s never been able to recover from the trauma. Actually, he can’t even speak about it with anyone, except you.
Of course, you feel privileged that he’d trust you with such personal information. Maybe you even start to give him a pass for some of his hurtful behavior because he’s been traumatized. But when is enough enough?
When does his past trauma become not a reason for his behavior but an excuse?
Also, as his partner you should want to better him. So, instead of allowing him to rely on that trauma to cover up his outbursts or violence, you should try to help him move past it. Isn’t part of that holding him accountable for his actions, especially if the verbal/physical anger turns toward you?
- Affection Is Only Shown In Private
If your book boyfriend only gives you love and kisses behind closed doors, you’re more of a dirty secret than a girlfriend.
- He Follows You Everywhere
Unless you’re being tracked by the main villain of the story (most likely because your blood holds the key to a secret history or you’re the keeper of an ancient power…), there is no reason the male protagonist should follow you everywhere. Especially, to your house.
Once again, the “need to keep her safe” argument could be used here but let’s be realistic. If you are not in the above situation, why is he following you home, likely without you knowing he’s following you?
Is it just in case there’s a sudden terrorist attack or does he think you can’t handle walking home without tripping and breaking your neck?
I guess it make sense. I mean, you’re not capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time, so his stalking makes total sense…
So, has anyone ever been in a book relationship with a character who exhibits one of the sings above? Perhaps all of them…
Have you ever questioned why you fall for this book character?
To wrap this post up, I’ll leave you with a quote from J.K. Rowling about one of her own villains and his strong fan base:
“Draco has all the dark glamour of the anti-hero; girls are very apt to romanticise such people. All of this left me in the unenviable position of pouring cold common sense on ardent readers’ daydreams as I told them, rather severely, that Draco was not concealing a heart of gold under all that sneering and prejudice and that no, he and Harry were not destined to end up best friends.”
-J.K. Rowling, Pottermore
Natasha’s a friend of most things caffeinated, a lover of books (particularly fantasy), and a writer to her core. Her first fantasy novel “The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone” is set to come out this spring. You can keep up with her on the social media links below.
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