The Daily Evergreen

Unhealthy relationships sometimes portrayed in pop culture

Some beloved fictional couples may represent toxic behaviors

ANNA YOUNG, Evergreen columnist

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Grab your life vests, people, because we’re about to sink some of your favorite ships. And don’t expect there to be enough life rafts, either – some of these ships are overloaded and definitely not concerned with safety.

When it comes to sex and relationships in literature, there’s a range just as broad as in real life. Unfortunately, this also includes a spectrum of unhealthy behavior that, for some reasons, readers often ignore or even praise.

So, I took it upon myself to compile a list of some of the worst ‘ships in popular literature in hopes that, if you see your OTP on here, you might take a second to reconsider your life choices.

1: Bella Swan and Edward Cullen: Is anyone still talking about these books? It seems like an era has passed since we cringed as Bella swung like an out of control pendulum between Edward and Jacob. Instead of pining after her, both of our male leads should have recognized emotional immaturity and ran with all the supernatural speed they could muster.

Side note: Stalking is not cute, it’s sexual harassment.

2: Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey: Sure, this one is a little overdone, but with the “Fifty Shades Freed” movie coming out in 2018, I thought it was important to reiterate: NOT A GOOD RELATIONSHIP!

Along with a dangerous lack of clarity on consent, this pairing was based off of another toxic relationship from the Twilight franchise (see: above). Controlling, unpredictable, and violent, Mr. Grey should not be a standard to which you hold your boyfriend.

(And sorry, Mom, but yes, I have in fact read portions of this terrible, terrible fanfic. I had to know what the hype was about, but let me tell you, ignorance is bliss.)

3: Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling: This is somewhat ambiguous, but it can be inferred that Starling and Lecter fall in love in Thomas Harris’ novel “Hannibal”. This is more a PSA for Harris himself; the third installment in the series sees two former “rivals with respect” fall in…lust?

It possibly implies that sex can fix two very broken people; by the end, serial killer Hannibal has hooked up with ex-FBI agent Starling and living a happily-ever-after of anonymity. Putting the famous characters themselves aside, a relationship will not fix all your problems. Period.

Suggestion? Pretend this part of the novel never happened. Better yet, read Harris’ “Red Dragon,” the first book in the same series. It’s a perfect choice for Halloween, and doesn’t try to ship two incompatible characters in an unhealthy relationship.

4: Zeus and Hera: Kicking it retro for a second here … Greek mythology. Good gods, please do not pretend half the relationships in mythology are even remotely ok. Sticking with the most famous example, Zeus and Hera are the original break-up, make-up combo.

Whether you think you’re a god or not, cheating is not a good thing. And taking back a cheater over and over, while punishing the other woman, is just as unhealthy. While this seems obvious, I’ve seen this too much in real life to let it slide.

We’ve all known that couple. They’re screaming at each other one day, and bragging about their weird sexual exploits the next. Please, for the love of all that is holy: just break up for good.

5: The Joker and Harley Quinn: Again, this is one we’re familiar with, but I got real tired of seeing OTP posts about this duo when Suicide Squad came out. Is “goals!!!” really how you would describe this?

I’m pretty sure emotional manipulation is not what you want, and physical assault is generally frowned upon. The abuse-to-compliments cycle is rampant in the original comics. Understandably, victims of this often have been manipulated to the point where they don’t recognize the warning signs. So, friends, this is where you step in.

These works of literature depict enough toxic relationships to fill the entire “Encyclopedia of Red Flags.” If you still ship any of the pairings on the list, I suggest you give that encyclopedia a quick perusal. Don’t let fictional relationships, sexual or otherwise, lower your standards in real life.

About the Writer
ANNA YOUNG, Evergreen managing editor
Anna Young is a sophomore creative writing major from Helena, Montana, and is the fall 2018 Evergreen managing editor. She started as a writer for the Mint section fall 2017 and became a copy editor in the spring while continuing to write. Post-graduation she plans to edit manuscripts at a publishing company and work on...

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Unhealthy relationships sometimes portrayed in pop culture