Romeo and Juliet. Elizabeth and Darcy. Scarlett and Rhett. There are many famous fictional couples whose amazing love stories – be they tragic or happily ever after – resonate with generations. Often, these love stories are so enduring, people find that their own love lives pale in comparison. However, a number of famous fictional couples are admired even though their relationships are seriously unhealthy and not something you should wish you could experience in real life.
Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele
The popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey doesn’t appear to be waning with two more movies on the horizon and a somewhat recent bestselling release retelling the first book from Christian’s point of view. However, the story at its core is about what amounts to a mentally, and in some ways physically, abusive relationship. While BDSM is a legitimate relationship choice, built-in safety measures are used when consenting adults participate. In the Fifty Shades of Grey series, Christian dominates Ana’s life, bringing her into his world of BDSM without offering her the proper aftercare that makes these types of sexual encounters sustainable. He may be a billionaire with a tragic past and a brooding, handsome face, but he also does things like sell Ana’s car without her permission and demand she sign a contract that will allow him to dictate every aspect of her life. That Ana is able to “save” Christian from his dark side and get him to commit doesn’t negate the relationship’s unhealthy beginnings.
Bella Swan and Edward Cullen
Since Christian and Ana are actually based on Bella and Edward from the Twilight series (Fifty Shades originally appeared online with Bella, Edward, and other Twilight characters as a work of fanfiction), it’s no surprise that they make this list, too. That said, the abuse isn’t physical or even as obvious in this fictional world about vampires and werewolves in rural Washington. Still, their relationship becomes all-consuming for Bella, to the point where she attempts reckless acts when they break up in order to attract his attention. Edward, like Christian, is controlling and goes so far as to break Bella’s car so she can’t visit another boy. He also breaks into her room to watch her sleep before they even start dating. Supernatural or not, that’s not exactly something to want in the love of your life.
Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw
Wuthering Heights is often mistakenly thought of as a romantic work of fiction. Upon closer inspection, it’s clear that Heathcliff and Catherine are both obsessive and overdramatic to the point of ruining each other’s lives as well as the lives of everyone else around them. Torn apart first by societal class and then by death, Heathcliff is abusive to his wife (another woman) and nephew, and he raises his son to be sadistic and cruel, all because Catherine professed her love to him but refused to run away with him.
Torrid love stories can be fascinating, whether we read about them in a classic novel or watch the story unfold on the big screen. But they’re not always something to admire and emulate. These popular fictional romances are actually quite unhealthy and even abusive. Enjoy them in fiction – just don’t let them hold that special corner of your heart reserved for the fictional romances that truly stand the test of time.