It’s been almost 12 years since Twilight premiered and came into everyone’s pop-culture consciousness. It’s received its fair share of hate but obviously wouldn’t have catapulted to become a major franchise if it didn’t have a lot of fans, too. There’s always been a debate between the Team Edward crowd and the Team Jacob kind, really popularizing the idea of
“teams” when it came to love triangles in fiction. But let’s face it: both sucked at different points in the five-movie/four-book saga. In fact, both exhibit signs of abusive partners often, with Bella being poor little Switzerland in a literal, harmful war over her.
Edward Cullen’s cons
Oh, Edward Cullen, the sparkly, dreamy, and cold vampire who sulks around often. He’s gorgeous, of course. All the better to lure his unsuspecting prey in. He falls for Bella even though her blood is so delicious to him, he nearly kills her a few times.
There are several pros to Edward, and Bella does end up with him in the end. But, there are many cons as well. Especially when it comes to their relationship. Despite being over 100 years old, Edward never got involved in romance as a 17-year-old boy in Chicago in the early 1900s, before he nearly died of the Spanish Influenza. That lack of emotional maturity might be why he was so horrible at treating Bella well, but there’s also no excuse for how bad it got.
As Wired reported in 2011, livejournal user kar3ning pointed out 15 instances of abuse in just New Moon, based on a list from the National Domestic Abuse Hotline. For scale, you’re supposed to call the hotline if your partner exhibited even one thing on the list. For instance, they point out that Edward controls who Bella talks to, literally setting up a divorce-parent scenario when he drops Bella off to spend time with Jacob. He also puts her in danger outside of vampire stuff and abandons her in the middle of the woods when he breaks up with her.
Edward also stalks Bella before she even knows what he is, watching her in her sleep. While we, as 13-year-olds, thought that was swoon-worthy, it’s concerning now.
Jacob Black’s cons
On to Jacob Black. While Edward was emotionally stunted, Jacob literally had no emotional control nor maturity in general. He is a couple of years younger than Bella, and it shows in how they interact and how he deems their relationship when they had nothing romantic between them.
He was the king of perpetuating the friendzone, a concept that in itself is majorly sexist. Bella tells Jacob that they can’t be anything more than friends because her mental health couldn’t handle anything. “You’re about to ruin everything,” she tells him in the theater in New Moon, referring to their friendship that was currently her only haven. Instead of respecting her very obvious boundaries and just honoring their friendship, he keeps pushing a romance.
Not to mention, he coerces Bella into kissing him in Eclipse, telling her he’s going to kill himself if she didn’t kiss him. Threatening to kill oneself to get something in a relationship is absolutely one of the signs of an abusive situation. That also doesn’t even cover the fact that he sexually harassed her earlier in the book/movie, forcing a nonconsensual kiss. This resulted in her punching him in the face and breaking her wrist.
In the end, they both weren’t great partners
Basically, as stated at the beginning, both boys suck, for lack of a better term. Neither men listen to what Bella wants or what Bella feels comfortable with. There are multiple occasions where Edward and Jacob choose something for Bella without consulting her, since they think they know what’s best.
For Jacob, it’s his continual pursuit of a relationship with her, despite all signs pointing to her not wanting one. Even before Edward came back, Bella might have been falling in love with Jacob. But instead of accepting her boundaries, he assaulted her.
For Edward, it was leaving her in the woods and breaking her heart, saying he never loved her and their relationship wasn’t enough. He did all this because he thought it was best for her, but didn’t dare have a conversation about it first. You know, in a healthy way, to see what problems they were facing and if how they both wanted to move forward or if they should. Communication hardly happens in any of Bella’s relationships but is key in healthy ones.
And let’s not forget, Bella also forced Edward to agree to sex with her in order to postpone her impending vampire transformation and agree to marry him. That type of coercion, even if Edward did want to be intimate eventually, is abusive because he didn’t want it at the time.
While this doesn’t have to negate your love for the series, it is something really valuable to reflect on. As pre-teens, all fans read the books and fell in love with someone, whether it be Edward, Bella, or Jacob. It’s healthy to look back and realize that some of those infatuations weren’t the best. But that’s OK. And you can still rewatch them all for nostalgia’s sake.
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