Ortiz: Our generation is normalizing toxic relationships

Kenia Ortiz

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Netflix’s recent and popular series “YOU” has people fascinated with main character Joe Goldberg. Joe is a stalker and serial killer and yet some viewers still support him. Along with “YOU”, Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” sheds light on toxic relationships.


While these shows are highly entertaining, we are a susceptible audience and it is normalizing toxic behavior. 

A toxic relationship is characterized by insecurity, self-centeredness, dominance and control. 

Penn Badgley, who plays Joe, has spoken out about the romanization of his character. In an interview with The New York Times, he says that while his character is depicted as charming and romantic he also says, “Yeah, but he kills four people and then Beck. What more can we tell you about his character than that?” 

Even after Badgley’s statement, fans continue to find his character alluring. 

We have been convinced that dangerous and violent behaviors and its tolerance are proofs of love. This is a dangerous ideal targeted towards young audiences causing them to see nothing wrong with abuse and manipulation in relationships. 

The “13 Reasons Why” twitter account posted a picture glorifying the toxic relationship between Justin and Jessica and fans spoke up. Fans were upset that “13 Reasons Why” was promoting a relationship where a partner let their signifiant other be raped.

Our generation highly romanticizes toxic relationships and popular shows as “YOU” and “13 Reasons Why” reaffirm our dismissals of red flags of an unhealthy relationship.

Some signs that you or a someone you know may be in a toxic relationship are: separating from family friends, looking for emotional support outside the relationship, cheating, lying or manipulation is involved and possibly relationship violence.

According to the Women and Gender Advocacy Center at Colorado State University, if someone were to disclose information about being in a toxic relationship it is important to listen to them, validate their experience, assure them they are not to blame and support them by letting them know they have options. Toxic relationships cause people to feel powerless and frightened, so let them know you are there for them.

We have been convinced that extreme, dangerous and violent measures for someone is proof of love, along with tolerating said measures.

According to Dr. Lillian Glass,  author of Toxic People and expert in communication, while all relationships have downs, a toxic relationship is constantly draining. It is important to keep in mind that sometimes both partners in the relationship are toxic and not just one. Another sign of a toxic relationship is when a relationship no longer brings joy but instead one feels sad, anxious, angry and envious of happy couples, wrote Glass. 


Kristen Fuller, a family medicine physician and specialist in mental health, states that toxic relationships are also mentally, emotionally and possibly physically damaging to one or both participants. They can cause people to feel selfish for taking care of themselves and doing stuff that makes them happy.

According to Fuller, “you cross the line when you’re not your individual self anymore and you’re giving everything to your partner.”

Even though it is relieving to know you or someone you know has left a toxic relationship, it is important to know that there is aftermath.

After a person leaves a toxic relationship there are still feelings of trauma, low-self esteem, depression and isolation. This can be due to self-blame and reminiscing the good times of the relationship and overlooking the harm. 

If you have any questions, concerns or need assistance, please reach out to the Women and Gender Advocacy Center or the Victim Assistance Team here at CSU.
Kenia Ortiz can be reached at letters@collegian.com or online at @Kenia_Ortiz_