Romantic movies will tell you these four things are romantic. But the truth is, they’re pretty disturbing.
Whether it’s through movies, TV shows, or magazine articles, we’re constantly being bombarded with advice about what’s romantic.
Unfortunately, there are other popularized “romantic” behaviors that actually aren’t romantic at all. For example, I’ve heard too many people say that they’d want their significant other to be jealous and possessive. To them, jealousy is a sign of deep emotions.
I mean, it sure is, but not of the romantic kind.
Jealousy means resenting someone for having something you don’t, whether it’s a talent or a new car. It’s certainly a natural feeling, and it’s okay to feel jealousy, but how you express it matters. And a lot of times, it’s not okay to be a jealous partner. A significant other isn’t the same as a car, after all. They’re not an object you can acquire or own.
If you think about it from that angle, jealousy is more objectifying than it is romantic.
Yet there are plenty of people who find Edward’s jealous and possessive behavior in Twilight romantic and long for the same thing. The same goes for Christian Grey in 50 Shades of Grey and even Snape’s obsession with Lily in Harry Potter. There are plenty of other popular “romantic” behaviors which are actually unhealthy. They get promoted through fictional media, through songs, and even through our own social circles.
It doesn’t make you a bad person if you find behaviors like jealousy romantic. We’re all told the same messages, after all.
However, it’s important to recognize that those behaviors are harmful. In fact, some of them are downright toxic, which is why I’ve compiled this list of the most common ones — as well as explanations about why they cause damage.
1. A Jealous Partner Is a Caring Partner
A romantic partner isn’t property. They’re an independent person with a social life separate from their significant other’s.
A constantly jealous partner is someone who resents their significant other for having that separate life. Their resentment isn’t borne from romance. It’s borne from a desire to keep their partner all to themselves.
I’m not going to sit around and wax philosophic about what romance is, but I can tell you for sure that it’s not trying to keep someone all to yourself. What that is, is control.
A jealous partner is a partner who wants to isolate their significant other. They want their partner’s world to revolve around them, with no room for friends or family — and that’s a red flag if ever there was one.
2. Having No Boundaries Is a Sign of Intimacy
What does having boundaries mean? Basically, it’s drawing lines about what you are or aren’t comfortable with. This can encompass both actions and words.
Respecting someone’s boundaries means listening when they tell you that something makes them uncomfortable, and then not doing that thing.
And no matter what TV shows, advice columns, or your friends tell you, boundaries are essential. This is true of all relationships, including romantic ones.
What boundaries boil down to in the end is consent.
Did your partner say that it’s okay for you to do this thing? Do they even know that you’re doing this thing (such as following them around)?
If they don’t know, they didn’t consent, and it’s not okay to do it.
3. Constant Clashing Is a Sign of Chemistry
The idea of the bickering couple has been popularized by books like Pride & Prejudice and just about every TV show ever. You know the couples: the ones who fight all the time, break up, then get back together only to repeat the process all over again.
Their constant arguments are supposed to be a sign of chemistry. They can’t stop clashing, but they also can’t stop being drawn back to each other.
They’re often contrasted to the cheesy, mushy couple who are always all over each other. That couple is supposed to be boring because they never have any conflict.
First of all, no couple has zero conflict.
Second of all, constantly fighting with your partner isn’t healthy. I’m not saying that you should never, ever argue with your partner. Like I said, no couple has zero conflict. But if you’re constantly clashing to the point where you’re in tears or ready to break it off, then that’s not healthy.
How can taking out your anger on someone over and over again ever be?
Which leads me to my final point…
4. You and Your Partner Hurt Each Other Most Because You’re Closest to Each Other
There’s a common belief that the people closest to you are the ones who can hurt you most. That can be true. After all, the closer someone is to you, the more likely they’ll know what words will hit home.
That doesn’t mean that throwing those words out is a sign of intimacy. Like getting physical when you argue, it’s a sign that you’re trying to hurt your partner.
How many times have we watched fictional couples on TV say things that they know will wound their partner? We’re supposed to believe they can’t control themselves. But the truth is, they can.
Think about it this way: We lose our temper at people a lot, from loved ones to strangers. When it’s strangers, however, we (usually) don’t give in to our urge to yell rude things at them. That’s exercising control, isn’t it?
Saying hurtful things isn’t a side effect of passion. It’s a warning sign for toxicity.
Toxic partners mock and degrade their partners. It’s their way of destroying their partner’s self-confidence, telling them that they’re not good enough to be with anyone else. And there’s no romance in that. Only control.
So what I’m saying is this:
It’s important to recognize when what we’re being told is romantic are, in fact, harmful. Because there’s no one definition of romance, but if there’s one thing I think we can agree on, it’s that romantic relationships should make us happy way more often than they make us sad.