Common tropes of toxicity in YA relationships:
- For example, every time Edward says, “silly Bella” or Warner’s derisive way he calls Juliette “my dear” and “love” (Meyers 281 and Mafi 74, 75, 131). In Twilight, Edward constantly treats Bella like a child. Edward calls her “an insignificant little girl” and is often pictured carrying Bella like a kid (111). Edward “reach[es] out with his long arms to pick [Bella] up, gripping the tops of [her] arms like [she] was a toddler” (297). He also sings her to sleep with a “lullaby,” making Bella seem like a baby and Edward seem like the dad (311).
- In a toxic relationship, one person is always borderline stalking the other, showing up randomly, needed to know where their significant other has been, and stating what they can and can’t do. In Twilight, Edward even watches Bella sleep without her knowledge and “follows her” to make sure she’s safe, which is creepiness at it’s finest (174). In Shatter Me, Warner constantly tells Juliette what she is and isn’t capable of, which isn’t his to tell. In Dreamland, Rogerson gets mad anytime Caitlin hangs out with anyone other than himself. She says herself that “I couldn’t talk to anyone because if Rogerson saw me he’d assume I was (A) flirting or (B) discussing him” (169).
- Dominance is often showed being overbearing or using strength to control a significant other. In these relationships, men’s voices are typically “low but full of authority” and girls follow instructions “obediently” (Meyers 166, 169). Often times, the guy barks “commands” or “order[s]” instead of asking politely or simply talking (Meyers 169, 391). In Twilight, Edward has to constantly control his desire, he has to put “mind over matter” and be “strong enough” to not hurt Bella (301). He even says himself, quite nonchalantly, “I could kill you quite easily, Bella, simply by accident” (310). In Shatter Me, the eventual love interest, Warner, is constantly physically assertive, pushing Juliette against walls or holding her face and chin tightly just to keep her looking at him (Mafi 132). In Dreamland, Rogerson is obviously dominant in that he physically harms Caitlin by hitting, slapping, punching, or kicking her (Dessen 143, 155, 156, 165, 184, 214).