10 Ways Hollywood Romanticizes Toxic Behaviors

Hollywood has a long history of romanticizing toxic behaviors. Here are some magical movie moments that would be horrifying if they happened in real life. 

Threatening Your Life for a Date

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Everyone loves The Notebook, but the scene where Noah climbs a Ferris Wheel and threatens to fall if Allie doesn’t agree to date him is actually horrifying and abusive. 


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Holding a radio above your head outside your beloved’s window makes for great tv, but in real life, the iconic Say Anything scene would be less romantic and more stalkerish. 

It’s Okay if She Likes It

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Revenge of the Nerds is a cult classic but deeply problematic when viewed from a modern lens. The main character tricks a woman into intimacy, but she’s okay with it when she uncovers the truth because he is “giving.”


Winning the Girl

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Far too many movies follow the same trope. A man embarks on a dangerous quest, and when he returns victorious, he wins the heart of his true love. 

The trope is so common it’s almost invisible. John Mclane gets his wife back in Die Hard because, of course, he does; he’s the hero! John Sparta wins Lenina in Demolition Man, Indiana Jones earns Willie in The Temple of Doom, and in An Officer and a Gentleman, Zack literally carries Paula off. 

Jasmine from Aladdin says it best “I am not a prize to be won!”


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Lots of movies celebrate obsession as a sign of romance, but none is cringier than the teenage love story Twilight. Edward’s weird obsession with Bella is portrayed as romantic, but if someone were that obsessed with a woman in real life, they’d be calling the cops. 

Change Who You Are

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She’s All That showed that a woman could easily win over the high school heartthrob as long as she changes every single aspect of herself. 

The trope teaches girls that they should mold themselves into something they’re not for the sake of a relationship. 

Lies Lead to Healthy Relationships

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There’s nothing wrong with centering your entire relationship on a lie as long as you get what you want in the end. You’ve Got Mail has Joe Fox destroying Kathleen’s business and lying to her about who he is, all while maintaining an online romance with her. 

But it’s okay because she totally hoped it would be him. 

Passionate Fighting

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The action flick Mr. & Mrs. Smith is the most egregious example showcasing a connection between passion and violence. They’re both bored, phoning in the relationship until they discover each other’s secret, resulting in a blowout fight that culminates in the most passionate night of their marriage. 

Drama is Love

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Drama sells movies, but drama doesn’t make for a happy relationship. 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer threw this trope on its head. In a season four scene, she admits that she equates love with heartache, obliviously asking where she developed that idea while staking a vampire. 

The Original Toxic Relationship

Actors in a ballet doing the final scene of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet.
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Culture still celebrates Romeo & Juliet as the epitome of romance. These two star-crossed lovers were destined to be together, and they chose to perish rather than face a lifetime apart. 

The entire trope that you should perish rather than be with your beloved is toxic in the first place. “No man is worth your life – ever!” yells Buffy to Dawn, who tries to lie down on the railroad tracks to prove her love. 

But Romeo & Juliet is even worse than that. The two just met. They’re teenagers. They aren’t deeply in love. They barely know each other. Yet they risked everything to be together?

The story is about the folly of youth, not about an epic relationship.

Signs Your Relationship is Toxic

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Check the warning signs and find out if you’re in a toxic relationship

Love isn’t Enough

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People always say love is enough and that there’s someone out there who will love you for who you are. Find out why that’s not true.