By Ashley Truong | GoodMenProject.com
Whether it’s through movies, TV shows, or magazine articles, we’re constantly being bombarded with advice about what’s romantic. We have quizzes to figure out if someone’s interested in us and advice columns to plan the perfect date (I would know –I’ve written one).
There are also plenty of articles about inspiring fictional couples, including this one about couples who’ll restore your faith in marriage.
The couples on that list communicate, support each other, and most importantly, have fun together. Those are all definitely things to aspire to in our own romantic relationships.
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.
Related Article: How Gratitude Positively Affects Romantic Relationships
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 abusive, which is why I’ve compiled this list of the most common ones — as well as explanations about why they cause more hurt than romance.
1. A Jealous Partner Is a Caring Partner
Edward Cullen and Christian Grey both exhibit unhealthy and abusive behaviors (let’s put aside for the moment that, since 50 Shades of Grey is essentially Twilight fanfiction, they’re the same person).
One of these behaviors is jealousy. They’re jealous of other people that their partners spend time with, whether it be friends or family.
You might argue that their jealousy is a sign of romance. They love their partners deeply, so they always want to spend time with them.
People I knew in high school would say that they wanted their partners to be jealous, and more than one expressed the desire to deliberately make their partners jealous so they would feel cared for.
However, as I explained in the introduction, jealousy is more about objectification than about romance.
Because they see their partners as property, Edward and Christian become upset when other people spend time with them. If they own their partner, they shouldn’t have to share them with anyone else.
But this isn’t a healthy way to think. 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.
Isn’t that what romance is, though? Wanting someone all to yourself?
No, not really.
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 warning sign for abuse.
Related Article: How to Identify Physical & Emotional Abuse & Why Perpetrators Do It
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.
It’s easy to think that boundaries destroy intimacy. If you can’t share anything and everything with your partner, are you even close at all?
On the other hand, if you’re free to say or do whatever you want with your partner, then it means that you’re comfortable with each other, right?
This is not true.
Boundaries get violated a lot in fictional narratives, especially between couples. One of the most common examples of this is stalking. Edward stalks Bella, even going so far as to sneak into her room at night to watch her sleep.
Christian stalks Anastasia to her place of work, and furthermore, coerces her into doing things that she’s uncomfortable with.
The Phantom in Phantom of the Opera follows Christine without her knowledge and even kidnaps her – more than once.
Other forms of violating boundaries include pursuing someone even after they’ve said no, reading or prying into things which the other person has deemed private, and touching them without their consent.
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.
People have told me that respecting boundaries isn’t important when you’re close to someone because your intimacy means that there can’t be any discomfort no matter what you do.
Honestly, that’s utter bullshit.
It’s like that white person who says it’s okay to make racist jokes around their friends of color because they’ll understand that it’s “just a joke.”
At the end of the day, racism is racism – and ignoring someone’s boundaries is violating them.