Toxic Relationships in books: this is a topic, that’s really important to speak about and I can’t wait to dive into this topic and talk to you about the issues I have with some books, and why others are the perfect eye opener for toxic relationships!
Especially hyped books are hard fought over on the market, and some of them I didn’t like that much, but their message was lit! But there are also books who romanticize toxic relationships. Books that I loved, but still know that they should be up for discussion. And then there is the whole of “Dark Romance” which I liked, and still like sometimes, but shows young women relationships exactly the way they shouldn’t be and often romanticizes rape and assault, which I couldn’t just let it be anymore.
Toxic relationships are something you won’t feel or hear, they are not something you can see coming. And when you are in one, you only get glimpses of the real good life through a prism. It turns at twists and a lot of times you won’t know what’s real anymore.
Are you really unhappy?
Are you too serious?
Are you too clingy?
Have you overreacted?
Wasn’t his action just a reaction to your action?
People firing up a toxic relationship often act like the victim is guilty. Like it’s his or her fault, that this is happening. @Sofibatt writes about that tremendously and perfectly real on instagram! In most books the abusers are charismatic and good looking and nice in the beginning and then it gets downhill very fast. We’ve all seen it in the Netflix series “You”.
I’ve been in two seriously toxic relationships, so I know what I am talking about, and what it can get you in. But this post isn’t about me. It is about the value of books to a reader, who doesn’t even realize he or she is in a toxic relationship. Today when I read books with certain topics I often realize, that I’ve been there. I felt that, I’ve seen that, but I never realized it was intoxicated behavior. It just felt like really deep love. Like I was just feeling “more” than average?
And thats the crux with books about love. Love is a deep feeling. Its a feeling you never felt before. Books tell you the ups and downs in a relationship, the screaming and getting back together, is romantic. And guess what? It is! But only in books. In reality you loose the sight on what is “real” and “okay” for you, because the deeper you get, the more you endured, then more is yet to come, because you’ve already got that far in, you can endure more now. You get where this hell hole is leading us?
Good representation for the topic Sexual/ Physical Abuse:
What could be “good” represantion of something that bad? Well if the character realizes, that this is toxic behavior. If the character isn’t taking shit from anyone and also asks for help. Because thats real and right. So here are some (please please please help me continue this list) books who represent abuse well in my opinion!
- It ends with us – Colleen Hoover
- A Court of Mist and Fury – Sarah J. Maas
- Ninth House – Leigh Bardugo
- Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher
- The Secret History – Donna Tarrt
- A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
- Shadow and Bone Series – Leigh Bardugo
Something that also isn’t much represented in books is the emotional and sexual abuse from men by women, but it’s out there you know? It’s a thing that is happening. And we can call the Sarah J. Maas books trash if we want, and not representative enough (which I don’t think, just quoting the critics), but her books have a great representation of abusive relationships, even toward men! What about Rowans codependence to Maeve? Or Amarantha who holds Rhysand hostage as her lust boy? That’s eyeopening and absolutely perfectly made. Because these men are strong, powerful, full of charisma, and still a single women has power over them. This shows exactly, that no matter how strong you are, and no matter which gender, that this can happen to you!
Good representation for emotional abuse:
And then we have the topic of “emotional abuse”. What is that even? Well not every abuse has to be physical. And thats the problem. Because many people don’t take emotional abuse serious. But its a thing. Words can hurt just as much as fists, anyone who was robbed in school knows what I am talking about. So here is collected some books that fit the theme in my opinion, but feel free to add on it!
- A Court of Wings and Roses – Sarah J. Maas
- After – Anna Todd
- You – Caroline Kepnes
- Twilight – Stephanie Meyer
- A Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin
Now let us come to the questions of questions: When should a Relationship get the label “toxic”?
When your boyfriend comes home drunk in the night, though he promised you he would not, and calls you names? When he hits you the first time? Or when he makes you feel worthless in the presence of others? It’s hard to draw the line. The “this is enough line”. I know what I am talking about. And it’s even harder when the person you love is doing all of this, because it doesn’t minimize your love!
It might feel unnecessary for you, that I talk about all of this. But Books can be a mirror for reality! That means: if you are reading a book and think the relationship pictured is toxic – and then you find parallels to your own life, you should totally reflect on that, because rather a fast end with horror, than a horror with no end. I often read something and think back to my time with “Why haven’t I seen this earlier?”.
Here are some articles I liked regarding this topic:
I’d love for you to leave a comment with more books, so we can complete this list 🙂 It would be a big trigger warning list for new readers.
Click here if you want to read more of my “Stories” 🙂3
Ein spannender Artikel.
Was ich persönlich an der ganzen Geschichte einfach nicht mag ist, dass toxische Beziehung einfach viel zu häufig – gerade im NA/YA Bereich, wo insbesondere junge Leser*innen die Zielgruppe sind – romantisiert werden, was im Endeffekt ja dazu führt, dass diese Paare so immens gehyped werden. Das empfinde ich als sehr problematisch.
Natürlich muss/sollten auch weiterhin solche Beziehungen in Bücher thematisiert werden, da sie eben kein Fantasiekonstrukt sind, sondern tatsächlich existieren, doch dann sollte man mit dem entsprechenden Fingerspitzengefühl an die Sache herangehen und auf entsprechende Problematiken aufmerksamen machen.
In “It Ends with us” empfand ich dies z. B. als sehr gelungen, vielleicht auch deswegen, weil Colleen Hoover hier aus eigener Erfahrung spricht.