The romantic relationship depicted in ‘Twilight’ provides an awful example to a young audience

The cult classic has been loved for years, but recently it has come under new criticism

Electronically published December 8, 2021 by Alexa Terry, Staff Reporter

Bella and Edward get married in a culminating moment of the series. (Huffington Post)

The Twilight series is known for many things in modern day pop culture, from the iconic blue tint to a whopping 26 minutes of staring throughout the films. On the surface, the plot seems like that of any other teen drama: Bella Swan moves to eerie Forks, Washington where she meets Edward Cullen, a vampire who she later falls madly in love with.

 But under the innocent teen plot line, the relationship featured between Bella and Edward perpetuates a harmful, obsessive and abusive dynamic.

When the two meet, Edward’s immediate attraction is obvious before a word is spoken between the two. During one of their first meetings, Edward has to leave because his bloodlust is too overwhelming. As their relationship develops, the two develop a mutual infatuation that quickly begins to border on obsessive. 

Throughout the movies, Edward and Bella’s codependency is portrayed as romantic. The movie wants us to believe that they are a match made in immortal heaven, but their dynamic is nothing of the sort. 

Bella is repeatedly emotionally abused by Edward. He constantly exhibits characteristics closely associated with abusers. 

In the first movie, Edward saves Bella from being attacked while visiting Port Angeles, this seems romantic right? Wrong. 

It would be a heroic act, if not for the fact that Edward was only present because he was stalking her every move. The writing depicts the act as love, but the writing also seems to equate love with obsession, a dynamic that can be damaging to both parties involved. 

 Bella barely bats an eye when he sneaks into her house to watch her sleep or when he feels such possession over her to the point where he isolates her from her family and friends. 

Another facet of their relationship that is heavily romanticized is the jealousy Edward feels throughout the story. When Bella develops a friendship with a werewolf named Jacob, Edward takes this terribly. 

He reacts with hostility and forces Bella to endanger herself by getting in the middle of his fight with Jacob.

The behavior exhibited by Edward creates an unbalanced power dynamic between the two lovebirds. Bella is constantly forced into the role of the delicate girlfriend who would do anything for her boyfriend. She gives up important parts of her life to fully enmesh herself with Edward and his family. Because of this, her relationship with her dad severely suffers along with her relationship to herself. 

One of the defining moments of the franchise occurs when Bella decides to become a vampire so she and Edward can live together forever in their teenage fantasy. Bella is willing to give up her humanity and every remaining “normal” part of her life to continue their relationship. Is this really what young girls should be seeing as one of their first depictions of love?

Though the series has had a dedicated following since its release in the early 2000s, over the pandemic, the movies have gained a new fanbase.

 On social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, aspects of the movies from the fashion to the aesthetic to (unfortunately) the relationships have been heavily romanticized, mainly by young girls, one of the most impressionable demographics. 

As the resurgence continues, it is important to acknowledge the series for what it is, a depiction of a highly toxic relationship that should be looked at as a cautionary tale, not an aspirational romance.