Happy Friday! Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion. Today we’re discussing toxic relationships in literature. This prompt was suggested by Mikaela @ Mikaela Reads. I’m going to be answering the prompts as well as talking about both red and green flags in relationships.
🗣️ Let’s Talk!
Who doesn’t like living vicariously through fictional character’s romantic experiences? As a young reader, I ate up tons of young adult romance without much thought. As an adult reader, who actually has relationship experience now, I’m much more critical of what I read and get frustrated when I encounter toxic relationships in any genre.
How should we address toxic relationships?
Authors have a responsibility to protect readers and not romanticize toxic relationships. However, I have to assume that authors don’t always do this intentionally, which is the scary part. Love is subjective. Expressions of love can vary by culture or individual, but I think there are some ideas about what love is/isn’t that should be universal.
Writing toxic relationships can be appropriate, as long as the author’s intentions are clear. Brittney Morris did a great job of this in Slay, she clearly contrasted Kiera’s boyfriend’s harmful ideas about Black love with positive ideas and didn’t allow him to get away with his toxic behaviour.
I take issue with a happy ending for couples that have had problems throughout a book; if the resolution to their problems is too easy or requires one partner to compromise far more than the other I won’t be satisfied. Perfect relationships are unrealistic, yes, but authors need to be careful about the messages they send.
What does a healthy relationship look like?
I think it’s equally important to talk about green flags and red flags in relationships because if we spend so much time discussing what relationships shouldn’t be, how would we know what they should be? I am in no way a relationship expert, so feel free to take my opinions with a grain of salt!
Teacher x Student Relationships
These relationships are an absolute no for me because they almost always feature a girl being taken advantage of by an older male. I hated the relationship between Aria and Mr. Fitz in the Pretty Little Liars books and it was even worse in the show. Adults should not be in relationships with minors, period. We can avoid glorifying teacher-student relationships by calling them for what they are, an abuse of power.
I really dislike reading about abusive relationships in books. That’s it, that’s the tweet.
Dark Adult Romance
I’m not familiar with this genre but after Googling it, it’s a hard pass. I can’t root for a character who abuses their love interest physically or emotionally. I prefer my romances to be light and funny, sans abduction, violence, or stalking!