Don’t be fooled by the media — toxic relationships aren’t true love

The glorification of abuse in romantic and platonic relationships has become ingrained into the fabric of film and television, to the point where viewers idolize toxic relationships. What we see in pop culture is often unhealthy and it’s extremely important to be aware of and denormalize this pattern of behavior. Think back to relationships like Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele from “Fifty Shades of Grey” or Harley Quinn and Joker’s depiction in “Suicide Squad.” These relationships, or relationships similar, are depicted to young impressionable girls and boys and this can be harmful.

One example in mainstream media is in the television series “Euphoria.” Most viewers put the relationship between Maddie and Nate on a high pedestal, neglecting the fact that Nate harmed Maddie emotionally and physically on multiple occasions.

As a person who has been in a toxic relationship, I believe the romanticization of them should be the furthest thing from anyone’s mind. During the relationship, my mind was always plagued with worries about how the other person would respond. I forgot what it was like to not always be walking on eggshells to avoid conflict. My experience resulted in deep-rooted insecurities and vast amounts of overthinking about my actions.

According to an article by One Love, “A lot of people in abusive relationships stay in them because they love their partner and think that things will change.” In most instances, that’s far from the truth.

Statistics from the National Intimate Partner & Sexual Violence survey show, “For emotional abuse, prevalence rates were high, averaging around 80%; 40% of women and 32% of men reported expressive aggression, and 41% of women and 43% of men reported coercive control.” Coercive control is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten their victim. Reality shows such as “Love Island” and “The Bling Empire” have drawn attention to this pattern of behavior, as well as domestic abuse.

According to the National Statistics Domestic Violence (NCADV), “On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. For one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.”

The way the media addresses toxic behaviors is far from perfect and can give us the wrong idea of what a healthy relationship looks like. It’s up to us, as viewers, to keep in mind that if a relationship feels like it’s destroying us, it isn’t love. Real love can’t flourish in a toxic environment.

If you or a loved one find yourself in an abusive relationship, don’t be afraid to reach out to a close friend or family member.

24-Hour Statewide Hotline 1.800.33.HAVEN (1.800.334.2836)