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How Twilight's Toxic Relationships Normalized Underage Grooming

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To Catch A Predator: Twilight Edition

Oops, the chick flicks of the 2000s and 2010s did it again. That’s right, it’s time to talk about "The Twilight Saga" and the toxic relationships portrayed in the five films based on Stephanie Meyer's YA books.

"The Twilight Saga" set up a new residency on Netflix as of July 16. So if you have a basic subscription to the streaming service, you can watch Bella Swan fall desperately in love with Edward Cullen... and Jacob Black... and herself... (but only as a Vampire?)

Now that the franchise has become popular once again, the first book — which was published in 2005 — and its successors are coming under new scrutiny.

For myself, rewatching the series always takes me back to the young, impressionable 13-year-old I was the first time around. and what I've realized now that I didn’t back then is that the lessons they teach may be pretty dangerous.

The toxic relationships described in The Twilight Saga normalize underage grooming.

When I watch the movies now, I not only internally cringe, but I panic, unable to understand how liked content that romanticizes such horrible relationship styles and abusive behaviors.

To name a few alarming issues present: codependency, control issues, manipulation and depression. Not to mention the disturbing age gaps that would have Chris Hansen jumping out from behind a doorway.

RELATED: Will There Be A New 'Twilight' Movie? Details About ‘Midnight Sun’

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. So strap in, or jump overboard, because the Titanic is going down.

Toxic Traits of Bella and Edward's Relationship

The protagonists of the series may have seemed like #RelationshipGoals to us once, but they really weren't something to envy.

Edward is over 100 years old and when they meet, Bella is still a minor.

Let’s get the big one out of the way. Yes, he’s a vampire and he’s frozen at age 18. Okay, he is, but regardless of that, he is still over a century old.

That means he has over a century of life experience, while Bella — who doesn't turn 18 until the second book — has less than 20 years of the same.

Bella isn’t standing on equal ground compared to Edward. She doesn’t have the life experience or emotional intelligence he does. He takes advantage of that and manipulates her with ease throughout the entire series.

Sure, Bella loves him and Edward loves her, but as Ronnie Ann Ryan, Love and Cosmic Coach says, “The idea that the ‘heart wants what the heart wants’ is nothing new, but it sure isn't healthy.”

So here you have a young woman who isn’t even an adult yet, with less life experience and knowledge or control over her emotions, being manipulated by an older man.

That wouldn’t go over well today, so why did everyone ignore it then?

Bella has to completely change who she is in order to be with Edward.

You can argue all you want that it was Bella's decision to become a vampire, but who put the idea in her head? Could it be her vampire boyfriend who will never age while she grows old?

Edward continued to say, “I don’t want to change you,” while also providing no way for their relationship to progress without her becoming a vampire.

He made it pretty clear in "New Moon" — when he and his entire family ghosted Bella after Jasper Cullen nearly attacked her — that her being a human was not conducive to their relationship continuing.

What he should have done was stay away from a young teenage girl he had no business being with. He has over a century's worth of knowledge about human/Vampire relationships so he must have known how this would have ended.

He's not stupid, as his high school teachers point out.

Edward is seriously controlling of Bella.

Edward is characterized as being this mysterious bad boy who is waiting for the unique girl who will come along to tame him. He is also characterized as being well...perfect. He’s looking for someone who is on his “level”.

When they begin a “relationship” or whatever you call it, Edward exhibits typical controlling boyfriend behavior. For example, he tries to control who Bella sees and who she is friends with.

Ever notice how the further we get into the books/movies, the less she hangs out with that group of friends she made in the first book? Or her soon-to-be werewolf friends? Yeah, they don’t approve of Edward, so he tries to guilt Bella into not seeing them!

Does anyone else see Edward isolating her from anything outside of the Cullen Clan?

Then there's ever-present tension of Edward not wanting Bella around Jacob, who was her childhood friend.

Edward showed up in her car to stop her when she tried to go see Jacob in "Eclipse" because she would be "crossing the line," and when she was in her room going to see what was wrong with Jacob, Edward also tried to stop her from going.

Red flags, ladies!

Edward and Bella exhibit codependency.

Edward isolates Bella in what becomes a codependent relationship.

What did he think would happen when/if they fell out of love, or Bella smartened up and left him? She wouldn’t have any friends to go back to or lean on; she’d be alone. You can argue she had her dad, but it wasn't a close relationship she shared with him.

This brings me to the depression and suicide attempt that followed their inevitable breakup. Enter "New Moon" and a paper cut that drives the Cullen family into a feeding frenzy.

Edward decides to leave Bella because his lifestyle is dangerous for her, but he does so in a horribly inconsiderate way.

(Side note: He leads her into the woods. dumps her, then leaves her sobbing. He wouldn’t think that she may not know how to get out of the woods?! That is selfish.)

Edward made himself and his family her entire world and then ripped them away, leaving Bella to pick up the pieces of her life. This plunges Bella into a deep dark depression.

In the movies, Bella's depression is romanticized with a beautiful, heartwrenching ballad playing as the camera circles her sitting in a chair and staring out of the window watching the seasons pass. This makes Bella’s depression seem glamorous and romantic, like “how sweet she’s so broken over this guy she must have really loved him.”

The film also makes Edward seem like the be-all-end-all for Bella, which no one should ever be for another person.

Also, while the two were broken up, the only way Bella could “see” Edward was when she put herself in danger. This leads to her suicide attempt. When Edward thinks Bella died, he pulls a Romeo and Juliet and goes to the Voltori — the leaders of the vampire world — to ask them to kill him.

With this storyline, "Twilight" teaches its audience that without this relationship both of them would rather die. That’s codependency at its finest, which is something we shouldn't be idolizing in any way.

Ryan says “Often characters like these become role models, and young adults end up being influenced enough to believe this is just how love works and nothing out of the ordinary.”

This is the content that is being targeted to 13-year-olds who are already prone to depression and, unfortunately, suicide.

Edward literally stalks Bella.

Let's talk about how Edward has no respect for boundaries. The guy literally stalked Bella throughout the books. He knew where she was when she went shopping with her friends. He always showed up after she hung out with Jacob.

But the real kicker I want to point out (that is absolutely ridiculous and I personally have no idea why Bella didn’t freak out) is that he snuck into her bedroom and watched her sleep at night.

Read that again.

I mean, that’s not okay. And it was romanticized like, "He's so protective of her." No!

RELATED: 7 Rom-Coms That Deserve A Facebook Mini-Series Over 'Twilight'

Toxic Traits of Bella and Jacob's Relationship

Many may say Jacob was the better of the two, but that’s not entirely correct. They were both horrible options.

Jacob tells Bella he wishes she was dead.

Jacob told Bella that he’d rather she was dead than to be with Edward. How did we not get angry over that?

He could’ve at least said he’d rather she be with another guy instead of him, but no he said dead. Like, go to your funeral dead.

You don’t say that to a teenager who's depressed and having suicidal thoughts. C’mon, Jacob. Do better.

Jacob also manipulated Bella.

Jacob’s choice of manipulation was ultimatums and love bombing.

Remember in "Eclipse" when he told Bella she loved him she just won't admit it? Yeah, that was weird.

Jacob gave Bella several ultimatum — like “me or him" amd “our friendship or vampires."

The reality is that ;ultimatums are a power play where one person is manipulating the other. You follow that up with love bombing and you get a situation where Jacob was basically forcing Bella into a decision when she wasn’t ready to make one.

That is not the best way to communicate your emotions or feelings at all.

Jacob imprints on Renesmee when she is a newborn baby.

Yeah, I’m still concerned with how we were all fine with a full-grown adult imprinting on a baby who wasn’t even an hour old.

Jacob imprints on baby Renesmee — the child of the girl he loves and his arch-nemesis — and is like, “It's cool, I’ll just wait until she’s older.”

The author even made her grow super fast as a way to help us be okay with it. But the age gap is significant and not at all okay.

Then they made Jacob start out as a brother figure to her, but then implying that they would become lovers later on… weird and inappropriate are the words that come to mind here.

"The Twilight Saga" is simply not appropriate for its "young adult" audience.

There are 12 to 15-year-olds reading this content, watching this content and imagining themselves in this content.

Life coach Keya Murthy says, “Popular movies like 'Twilight' normalize for a young girl to be in love with a dangerous person whose extreme version is that of a Vampire. It also normalizes for good young boys and men to go rogue and play the bad boy to get the girl they desire.”

Twilight" is just one of many books and films that choose to portray this type of relationship because drama sells.

"They romanticize toxic relationships and make unhealthy relationships the majority of tv shows because healthy relationships doesn’t create drama and therefore won’t have viewers,” says counselor and therapist Lisa Rabinowitz.

But the important fact that Rabinowitz points out is that these shows, books and movies almost never explicitly explain that these relationships are toxic to their audience, so “people grow up with a false perception of how ‘love’ or a relationship should look,” Rabinowitz adds.

"The Twilight Saga" is a dangerous franchise that teaches lessons that are detrimental to us, especially to the targeted audience of young girls.

The only difference is that we are now old enough to recognize them, but the 13-year-olds of today probably won’t.

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Deauna Nunes is an assistant editor who covers pop culture, news and entertainment for YourTango and has been published by Emerson College's literary magazine Generic. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.