and I cheat and deceive but I need you."
A romantic and/or sexual relationship that is truly destructive, breaking down at least one of the lovers, probably both. While they may eventually recover, it can also be an emotional counterpart of Defiled Forever.
The characters may or may not be aware of how bad their relationship really is, but, in either case, the author is very aware: this severe form of Love Hurts is not portrayed as amusingly wacky or Romanticized Abuse, no, it is Played for Drama as well as Nightmare Fuel. However, Romanticized Abuse or The Masochism Tango can morph into this trope through the power of Mood Whiplash or Cerebus Syndrome.
If the relationship doesn't contain outright Domestic Abuse, then they are still dragging each other down on an emotional level. This is sometimes done on purpose as a calculated move to make the partner stay. If your partner doesn't have any self-esteem, they'll believe that they don't deserve any better then being with a creep like you. They'll simply fall into Despair Event Horizon and accept the pain. However, please note that the partner does not have to be malicious or abusive; it depends on how sensitive the other character is.
These relationships can sometimes be caused by situations such as A Match Made in Stockholm and messed-up beliefs such as Marital Rape License and Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny. They might lead to situations such as Love Makes You Evil and a Destructo-Nookie.
If only one of the partners suffers, then that partner is likely a Love Martyr.
For platonic variants, compare With Friends Like These....
Compare Woman Scorned for when the destructiveness is caused by the termination of the romance rather then the romance itself. Contrast Safe, Sane, and Consensual and Casual Kink for stuff that might look like destructive romance without actually being it. A Deadly Affair is a subtrope for when the romance involves infidelity and leads to death. See also Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny.
- Karim and Zagi in Jyu-Oh-Sei. Their relationship is described at least once as Zagi "ruling" her, and while they have expressed pretty genuine feelings for each other, it's clearly unhealthy.
- Loveless is absolutely full of this, with almost every relationship (romantic or otherwise) being faintly dysfunctional. The most blatant example is probably Soubi's utter devotion to Seimei, who doesn't care about him in the least and is both verbally and physically abusive. Despite the fact Seimei doesn't love Soubi, Soubi will still do anything he says.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: The relationship between Asuka and Shinji quite literally causes The End of the World as We Know It. Despite their mutual attraction, she's too much of a Tsundere and he's too much of a Shrinking Violet for them to truly understand each other, much less be open with each other about their feelings. Their failed attempts at doing so throughout the series is one of the biggest causes of Angst for both of them. This finally comes to a head during The Movie, after Rei blows off Gendou and leaves the ultimate outcome of the Human Instrumentality Project in Shinji's hands. Shinji and Asuka are two of the first to be absorbed by the LCL, and when their souls meet together it's essentially the first time in the series that they're open about their feelings with each other. Only by this point, Asuka is so angry and disgusted with him (assuming it was not a Flashback, the infamous masturbation scene was probably the last straw for her) that she rejects him, which causes him to jump at her and choke her. However, Shinji does reject Instrumentality at the last minute, and in the last scene it is implied that they may or may not be getting over their issues and reaching out to each other.
- An interpretation of Chiaki and Hatori's relationship in Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi. While it's obvious they're an Official Couple from the two openings from the anime, their relationship in series doesn't seem to work. What could have been a Childhood Friend Romance ended up becoming this due to how different the two are in work ethics and personality. (Chiaki is a childish, lazy person despite being one of the top manga authors in Japan while Hatori is serious, hard working and has to force Chiaki to do almost everything.) It gets to the point that neither can live without the other supporting them. This has shown to backfire though as once they do get together after Hatori brutally rapes Chiaki, mind you, and it's not played for fanservice or laughs, the episodes after that show them fighting more than making love to each other to the point where it seems like both of them can't seem to trust each other to not cheat on them and snap whenever one accuses the other of cheating. And even though they recoil at the end of the episode, it ends up being repeated in the next episode simply because the only reason they're in a relationship to begin with is the fact they can't function without the other. And of course, both drag in Chiaki's friend Yanase into the picture who always ends up suffering from their arguments and disagreements physically and emotionally.
- This trope is extremely common in Yaoi Genre manga in general; the main couples in Maiden Rose and Sakura Gari are good examples, as are Soubi and Seimei above. To a lesser extent, it's also present in Yuri Genre manga (mostly older works such as Dear Brother). Makes sense when you consider the Melodrama-driven nature of most Yaoi Genre and much Yuri Genre.
- Very much so in Future Diary between Yuno and Yuki. The best example is probably when Yuno drugs Yuki, takes him to an abandoned hotel and keeps him chained down in a basement so that the 'happy end' her diary predicts can't be interfered with. Then, when Yuki's friends finally track him down, she traps them and then tries to gas them to death. Thankfully, their relationship get sorted out by the end of the series. It's brought up that the relationship is also abusive on Yuki's part, although he's nowhere near as bad as Yuno. He admits to only using her in order to survive the game and move ahead, and is just exploiting her devotion for his own needs. Yuno later acknowledges that she understands this, and is content with him using her so long as they can pretend to have a real relationship. Though later in the game, Yuki does come to genuinely care for her and stops using her.
- Goodnight Punpun has the eponymous protagonist and his love interest, Aiko. The only thing uniting the two is an unhealthy obsession, and the fact that they're two damaged, broken people. They keep hurting each other more and more, and the realization that their romance has no real foundation and is fundamentally destroying them both may be a big reason why Aiko eventually killed herself.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena has a lot of creepy, unhealthy relationships, but the one that best fits this trope is Anthy and Akio/Dios - she used to love him as a brother, but after she sacrificed herself for him he became bitter and selfish and pulled her into a mutually manipulative, codependent incestuous relationship from which she couldn't, or wouldn't, escape for who knows how long. Touga also uses 'joking' romantic behaviour to manipulate and control his younger sister Nanami, but they're not actually in a relationship.
- Mirage of Blaze: Kagetora and Naoe's relationship when Naoe starts proving himself to be a Yandere, tries to rape Kagetora, and Murder the Hypotenuse.
- Tokyo Babylon, and its sequel-of-sorts X1999, has Subaru Sumeragi and Seishirou Sakurazuka. Subaru is the epitome of morality and empathy, Seishirou is a cold, sociopathic assassin. Under the disguise of a nice vet, Seishirou manages to get Subaru to fall for him but he proclaims to feel nothing for him, breaking Subaru's heart at the same time he tries to kill him. When he fails to kill the boy, Subaru's sister gives herself to Seishirou in order for him to spare her brother's life, in that way managing to gain Subaru's hate. But then X/1999 reveals that Subaru, despite all that happened, still loves Seishirou and wishes to die by his hands; Seishirou, on the other hand, pretty much commits suicide by tricking Subaru into killing him, because he realizes he does actually loves Subaru. Or so we assume.
- Kasuga and Nakamura's relationship in Aku no Hana (as well as the anime, which is a close adaptation) is the definition of a destructive romance that is glorified. Their entire relationship's basis is Nakamura taking an opportunity to blackmail Kasuga. It goes even further, as she takes a great deal of disturbing pleasure out of physically and mentally abusing him without any empathy or even an inkling of remorse for his situation in sight. Pretty hard to read when you remember that both characters are in middle school during this portion of the story. This is made even worse when it's revealed that she engages in abusive behaviors because she does not know how to express that she likes him in a healthy way. Even more disturbing is the fact that Kasuga behaves much like a real-life abuse victim. He views her in an unhealthily dependent way, eventually beginning to behave erratically and out of character in able to please her. He destroys any relationships with everyone else to please her, including his family, close to disrepair. She even physically assaults his father with a baseball bat in a manic fit at random. Nakamura's behavior and role in the story is seen by many as endearing and heartwarming. In the final chapter, which is written in her point of view, the only explanation given of her self-destructive and abusive behaviors towards others is a half-hearted declaration of loneliness. Her abusive behavior is never properly addressed or corrected.
- Vampire Knight: Yuuki and Kaname, being prone to bring out the worst in each other. With him, Yuuki changes from her determined, energetic, joyful and relatively action-driven self to being a needy, insecure, whiny and timid Stay in the Kitchen girlfriend, being "reminded of her place" and how weak she is, should she ever oppose him. In turn, Kaname keeps manipulating and killing whoever he sees fit for her sake (awaiting no request from her), leaving her with the guilt and sadness from it afterwards. There are also very few, if any, cases of the two looking happy together (unless you refer to five-year-old Yuuki.)
- Although, they waver between this and Romanticized Abuse, given how the author still portrays them in a romantic light despite all the unhealthy aspects.
- In Bitchy Butch, one of the main sources of the protagonist's permanent foul mood is that she got her heart broken by her first serious girlfriend. First the girlfriend was unfaithful, sleeping with another woman without asking for an open relationship first. When discovered, she declares an open relationship retroactively, and Butchy accepts it on a theoretical level. On a emotional level, she obviously never got over it.
- In Fables, the relationship between Jack and Rose Red has more then a hint of this even from the start, with Rose Red eventually realizing that they only brought out the worst in each other. When she later reconnects with him, it's out of pure self-hatred. Their new relationship drags her down even further.
- In The Feeling Prince Charles Had, love itself is portrayed as a destructive force that is bound to break people down emotionally.
- The comic series Flinch once featured a short story titled "Red Romance" (illustrated by Bruce Timm, of all people) where a man and a woman, both sociopathic lowlifes, fall in love and begin a relationship that involves sickening amounts of Masochistic Tangoing until even this violence isn't enough to satisfy their desires. It leads to the jaded man hiring a specialist to torture and kill her while he watches, only to discover she hired the specialist for the exact same reason. The story ends with the couple in orgasmic ecstasy as they watch one another get horribly brutalized, before the specialist finally kills them and leaves them in each other's arms on the bloodstained bed. A story that manages to be touchingly romantic AND incredibly disturbing at the same time.
- When mishandled, Cyclops and Jean Grey's relationship can come across as this, oscillating between possessiveness and infidelity from one or both of them. Scott is very jealous, especially where Wolverine is concerned; but is himself less than totally loyal and has cheated or come close to cheating on Jean more than once. Jean meanwhile went so far as to attack Psylocke for making eyes at Scott; but, while never technically being unfaithful to him, has a history of enjoying male attention and flirting or being physically affectionate with other men, sometimes right in front of Scotty.
- In Lucifer, Lady Lys' spirit gets permanently broken by her mortal lover Cristopher Rudd. And you thought a romance between a demon and a human would be bad for the human?
- Roy Harper and Cheshire's relationship in Teen Titans and other related series is this, on the part of the former. No one can understand as to how Roy could possibly have any sort of feeling of love towards Cheshire, who is a Psycho for Hire genocidal maniac and the mother of his daughter, Lian. Although there is the fact that most of it stems from him not wanting Lian to see her mother be caged like an animal. In the first Titans series Roy's conflicting feelings towards Cheshire were causing problems with his relationship with Donna Troy, which Donna eventually ended. Not long after Roy finally came to terms with the fact that Cheshire would always be a heartless murderer and eventually put his feelings to rest after she was convicted. That hasn't stopped Cheshire from multiple attempts at exploiting their past relationship to manipulate Roy for her own ends. The Villains United miniseries leads strength to the argument that Cheshire is incapable of love unless it's a means for her goals.
- The Morrigan and Baphomet in The Wicked + The Divine are well on their way. Persephone also breaks up with Baal to prevent this from happening to them.
- A case of this trope without excessive abuse is the one between Mai and Zuko in the Avatar comics; in particular Smoke and Shadow. The more the relationship goes on, the more apparent they are both in a toxic relationship. the two are really shown just not to be able to work out. Mai and Zuko are having constant fights and breakups while suffering from Poor Communication Kills. In comic continuity; Zuko gets along better with Suki (nothing overt from the two of them; but there's some light teasing) and Mai generally grew to love Kei Lo (though it doesn't last). It's becoming incredibly implausible that they ended up Happily Ever After with a child (Izumi, from Legend of Korra).
- Requiem Vampire Knight: Heinrich and Rebecca's relationship turned into this when he joined the Nazis and later found out she was Jewish. They remained together, but they became abusive towards each other where he would beat, insult and degrade her up until she was discovered by other Nazis and sent to an concentration camp while he joined the Eastern Front to die. They were reunited in Résurrecion where Heinrich feels shame over his actions and they briefly rekindle their love. He eventually realizes that if Rebecca remained with him, she'd be in torment and opts instead to release her from Résurrecion so she can ascend to Heaven.
- Erin and Umbra from And the Story Continues are caught in between this trope and With Friends Like These.... One is an increasingly traumatized All-Loving Hero in the midst of an existential crisis. The other is an insane, amoral and clingy shinigami for whom the one feels responsible, being the unholy reincarnation of her friend and Implied Love Interest L, with whom she'd already had a plenty troubled relationship before his death. Although he doesn't mean to, Umbra acts as a tormentor for her, and more than one of their interactions can be construed as emotional abuse or manipulation. Not to mention his possessiveness, which unlike his previous incarnation he makes no attempt to hide—Umbra outright admits he doesn't like Stephen getting close to her and proceeds to bully and humiliate him from the outset to drive him away out of sheer jealousy.
- L and Light from Those Who Stand for Nothing Fall for Anything. They've been having a secret off-and-on affair for years, one that is rife with every form of mutual Domestic Abuse you can imagine: physical, emotional, even sexual. Even when they try to break away from each other, neither can stay away for long.
- In Dominoes, Shinichi is the son of a Batman Expy called Night Baron and his girlfriend Ran and all of their friends are his father's superhero apprentices. None of them tell him, and the information disparity quickly descends into power abuse as everyone takes advantage of his lack of knowledge with the justification that it's For The Greater Good and the assumption that he'll never know of the slight anyways. Ran's constant lying at his father's request "for Shinichi's own good" probably wouldn't be so bad if Shinichi had other, more stable relationships—but when compounded with everyone Shinichi knows cooperating with Night Baron's information blackout and Big Brother Is Watching tendencies towards Shinichi and her omission of support for Shinichi in the face of his family's abuse (and her casual reinforcement of their abusive rhetoric), Shinichi is deprived of any healthy, trusting relationships, and she becomes just another thing that hurts Shinichi rather than makes him happy. Their relationship makes him feel so miserable and trapped by the time the story begins that Shinichi describes her grip on his hand as a "shackle." After Shinichi finds out their secret identities and realizes how much of an inferior burden her actions imply that he is to her, Shinichi dumps her in chapter 10.
- Bad Timing: The film charts the emotional, spiritual, and physical ups and downs of a young couple's relationship that is fueled by their compulsion to attack, manipulate, and humiliate one another.
- Clash by Night: Mae is married to Jerry but has an affair with Earl, Jerry's best friend. It's an ugly relationship that breaks Jerry and Mae's heart.
- The Darjeeling Limited: A defining feature of Jack Whitman is his propensity to enter these kinds of relationships, first with his girlfriend (played by a short Natalie Portman cameo) and later with Sweet Lime. This seems to be a motif of Wes Anderson.
- Fallen Angel has Stella and Eric, who are trying to get married, but it's more of an unhealthy obsession, than love. And then Stella is murdered...
- Gilda is all about the love-hate relationship between Johnny and Gilda. The entire plot revolves around the psychological, emotional and physical abuse they inflict on one another, which gets increasingly nasty and violent and bizarre, to the point where both of them are practically mentally unhinged by the end of the film.
- In I Shot Jesse James, the relationship between Cynthy Waters and Robert Ford is largely based on Cynthy's fear of Robert after he kills Jesse James. Her fear that he'll hurt her in some way makes her grow more distant, until she dumps Robert for his rival John Kelley.
- Ruby Sparks: Calvin is a self-centered writer who creates the character Ruby, who is written to be his ideal Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Then Ruby comes to life. The difference between Ruby-the-fictional-character and Ruby-the-real-person, however, is that Ruby-the-real-person wants a life outside of Calvin, which Calvin doesn't want. Not to mention, while Ruby is written to be perfect for Calvin, Calvin is not perfect for Ruby, and is rather controlling. And then he realizes anything he writes happens to Ruby, meaning he can basically control her every move if he wants to. Cue things going steadily downhill. In the end, he sets her free, realizing that Ruby is truly her own person, and deserves to be treated as such.
- Star Wars: As sweet as it can be at times, Anakin and Padme's relationship wasn't healthy. When you have two people trained from a very young age to live a life of nothing but duty, and essentially forbid them normal, healthy relationships, there's no way it can end in anything but this trope. It's especially bad for Anakin because this prohibition is one of the seeds that would lead him to The Dark Side.
- Thirst: You have a vampire priest struggling to keep his humanity and ethics and a woman who can't wait to indulge in the powers and menus of vampirism.
- The War of the Roses walks the line between hilarious and genuinely scary. The film follows the courtship and marriage of a nice-but-shallow couple, followed by the most un-amicable divorce imaginable.
- The English Patient: Katharine cheating on her husband with Almasy is portrayed as a highly destructive obsession that ends in the pointless deaths of all three.
- Gone with the Wind features Rhett and Scarlett's marriage starting okay, but due to Scarlett's obsession with Ashley Wilkes taking prevalence over Rhett and her family, the marriage becomes destructive.
- The Joy Luck Club: Ted's and Rose's marriage is built more on rebelling against their parents and cultural norms, and Rose grows to realize that Ted relies on her passive and submissive nature to blame her for his emotional insecurities.
- The Mark of the Lion: Julia goes through at least two of these: the first man she falls in love with turns out to be brutally abusive; the second gives her a baby she really doesn't want and the STD that eventually kills her, before abandoning her and leaving her totally disillusioned. The various affairs she had in between certainly didnt help her slide towards total cynicism or excruciating death by syphilis.
- Nightmare Alley: Two heavily one-sided destructive romances appear:
- Firstly between the innocent Molly and the manipulative Stan who constantly mistreats her, cheats on her and coerces her into criminal acts she doesn't want to take part in.
- Secondly, Stan's extra-marital relationship with the evil psychologist Lilith also counts. She mentally and emotionally manipulates him to the point where he becomes completely infatuated with her and his mental state begins to deteriorate significantly as a result.
- Norwegian novel Nothing Grows Of Moonshine is built around this trope, with a nameless teenage girl (the narrator), being physically and emotionally abused by the one man she gave her heart to in good faith. Not that the man in question always acts rationally. The trope is almost mentioned verbatim, and the girl ends up as a Broken Bird Defiled Forever.
- Skippy Dies: The Love Triangle between Carl, Skippy, and Lori, who's sort of dating both of them, doesn't end well for any of them. Carl is a violent psycho who constantly pressures Lori for sex; their relationship is very unhealthy. When he non-consensually sends out a sex tape of her to the whole school and Skippy finds out, this evidence of her infidelity pushes Skippy over the edge and he's driven to suicide. Skippy's death brings a lot of unwanted attention to Lori over their romance, and this combined with a pregnancy scare from Carl causes her to develop a severe eating disorder and try to kill herself. Meanwhile, Carl decides he's responsible for Skippy's death and develops hallucinations that drive him to burn down the school and also try to kill himself.
- The novel The Story of O exists in two versions. These versions have very different endings, casting the rest of the story in very different lights. In the most popular version, which most adaptations are built on, the relationship is simply Casual Kink and Property of Love. The other version is a Destructive Romance presented as Romanticized Abuse during most of the book but then abruptly changes tone at the end. It ends with the protagonist and her boyfriend agreeing that she should commit suicide... and she does.
- The Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Helen and Huntingdon's marriage. Huntingdon associates love with complete submission and compliance, Helen associates love with trying to improve her husband's faults. At first this only causes a few spats, but later Huntingdon starts going out of the way to be horrible just to spite Helen and Helen stops giving him any affection and encouragement at all. It's more Huntingdon's fault than Helen's, but after a few years their marriage crumbles completely.
- Wuthering Heights: Most of the characters think Heathcliff and Cathy are a terrible match, though though there is something to be said for how their trademark brand of selfishness, vindictiveness, contempt for others, and mutual obsession makes them kind of perfect for each other. While their relationship may well have turned out disastrously even if they had been together from the start, it would probably not have gotten to quite the level of vengeful spite it did when they tried to live apart.
- Better Call Saul: Jimmy's relationship with Kim. Jimmy helps bring out the self-destructive streak hidden within Kim, and Kim's tolerance of Jimmy's schemes has also made it easier for Jimmy to rationalize and act on his worst impulses.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike's interest in Buffy started as Stalker with a Crush, but she regarded his advances with contempt. But after Buffy falls into depression in Season 6 she secretly starts sleeping with him. Unfortunately this only ends up making things worse—Spike is convinced Buffy wants to come over to The Dark Side and is frustrated by her unwillingness to either return his love or abandon her friends, while their Interplay of Sex and Violence, her lust for a soulless monster who's supposed to be her enemy and her guilt over using Spike without respecting his own feelings only increase Buffy's self-loathing. At one point she savagely beats an unresisting Spike, describing him in terms that are clearly referring to herself ("There is nothing good or clean in you! You are dead inside! You can't feel anything real!"). The In-Universe Values Dissonance between the two reaches a point where after she ends the relationship, Spike tries to rape an injured Buffy; fortunately Buffy is able to fend him off and Spike realises that, even for him, this act is crossing the Moral Event Horizon, and motivates him to go on a quest to regain his soul.
- Daredevil (2015):
- Matt Murdock and Elektra Natchios. When they dated in college, Matt nearly ruined his future because of how much of a bad influence Elektra was on him. When she comes back into his life on Stick's orders to bring him into Stick's war against the Hand, his career and budding relationship with Karen Page are shattered as a direct result. And it's a two way street: Matt's positive influence has a negative effect on Elektra; she struggles with self-loathing because Matt's restraint makes her feel like a monster, her strive to be better because of him causes her to reject her teachings and puts her in the crosshairs of the Chaste (who, by virtue of her being the Black Sky, consider her too dangerous to leave as a Wild Card), and ultimately results in her death and resurrection by the Hand when she chooses to side with him against them.
- Wilson Fisk and Vanessa Marianna, at least from the eyes of Fisk's allies. Leland Owlsley and Madame Gao think that Vanessa is a bad influence on Fisk and is causing him to be a bit too soft and distracted from business at hand, and even make an attempt to kill Vanessa in an attempt to get Fisk to focus more on the criminal enterprise. When she comes back from her exile in season 3, we see that this plays out both ways as Fisk's desire to keep Vanessa safe is what drives his actions with the plot, while his agreeing to let Vanessa give the order for Ray Nadeem to be killed ends up being his downfall.
- Degrassi has Miles and Esme in season 15. Pre-relationship, he already had a lot of trust issues and mental health problems that stemmed from his abusive father. Then he met Esme and they became friends-with-benefits and he got even worse. She seems to be just as messed up and in an attempt to help him got him hooked on pills. Together they isolated themselves from everyone else and encouraged each other in their destructive behaviour. When he decided to get clean and become friends with his former boyfriend/best friend again, she faked a suicide attempt to get his attention, scared of being alone.
- Elementary reveals that Sherlock and Jamie Moriarty had one. She's the abuser in this case, as she invented an entire identity whole-cloth in order to study and break him. And succeeded, because it drove him into a drug-fueled downward spiral and a stint in rehab, which kicks off the series. The show also does not shy away from showing that, even from prison, Jamie is still exerting her abusive influence over him by writing him letters.
- Maddy and Nate are agonizingly unhealthy. Nate is a poster-boy for toxic masculinity, belittling Maddy and physically attacks her at points. Maddy is unable to separate herself from him and frequently goes back.
- It's implied Rue and Jules are headed this way, as Jules makes herself into Rue's emotional crutch, taking far, far too much on herself.
- Fi: All of Can's romantic relationships eventually fall into patterns of abuse and manipulation. Some women, like Sıla, are lucky to escape relatively unscathed. Duru and especially Billur, on the other hand, are far less fortunate.
- Frasier: Niles and Maris's marriage was depicted as this, only being stable when Niles was miserable and cowed and Maris was wrapped up in her own pursuits, and erupting into vicious fights, break-ups, and various forms of abuse (on Maris's part) whenever this status quo was shaken up. It was hinted that the main reason that it lasted as long as it did (and the amount of backsliding that occurred during their drawn-out breakup) was because of Niles's insecurity and codependency and Maris's enjoyment of having someone to control.
- Glee: Terri spells out to Will that the only reason their marriage works is because it's one of these. Will, actually wanting to be in a healthy relationship, leaves.
- Grimm: Monroe and Angelina's relationship is presented as this. Though it is clear that the two characters care deeply about each other, by the end of the episode, it is made clear that the relationship simply would not be good for Monroe. This is mostly due to Monroe having been through Monsters Anonymous program and consequently trying to stay clean and live a normal life, but being around Angelina causes him to lose control and go back to his old ways.
- Hannibal plays with this with Hannibal and Will Graham's relationship. By the latter half of Season 3 their relationship is arguably less destructive towards each other, and moreso towards the people around them.
- Heroes: Sylar and Elle, as she's a sociopathic Company assassin broken by years of Company experimentation on her powers and he's a psychotic serial killer with serious mental issues. They both try to reform for the better, but when the Company lies she's told surface, including how she manipulated his feelings, Sylar kills her.
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has portrayed many of these over the years. In one episode, Olivia tries in vain to convince a woman to report her husband for Domestic Abuse. Of course she refuses to betray her beloved like that and eventually ends up dying in Olivia's arms, stabbed to death by her husband.
- Moonlight: Josef describes Mick's relationship with his sire/ex-girlfriend Coraline as this to Mick's current love interest, Beth.
Josef: You have to understand, Mick and Coraline's relationship was one of those terrifying, completely self-destructive freakshows that you spend your whole life searching for knowing it can only end in one or both of you dead.Beth: That's your idea of love?Josef: What can I tell you, I'm a romantic.
- In the North and South (U.S.) miniseries, Madeleine is married off to the villain Justin—who gradually breaks her down over the years, eventually turning her into a drugged down empty shell of a human being. It lasts until the hero saves her with his love.
- Orange Is the New Black: Alex and Piper's relationship has been described as "epic, if psychotic".
- Oz: Beecher and Keller. Keller is in love with Beecher to the point where he kills himself and makes it look like Beecher murdered him when Beecher rejects him. Keller was also obsessed with remaining in Beecher's life despite Beecher shutting him out numerous times.
- Robin Hood: Guy of Gisborne and Marian have one of these, born out of the fact that she was a spy for Robin Hood, and he genuinely fell in love with her (thinking that her attention toward him was real). It ends with him stabbing her to death when he finds out the truth.
- Supernatural: Despite being brothers who don't have that kind of relationship, Sam and Dean probably fall more under this trope than With Friends Like These... simply because their relationship is so close that it functions more like they really are a couple than like a normal sibling relationship. It is blatantly obvious that Dean and Sam have a very messed-up, tangled, codependent, unhealthy relationship. The two simply cannot live or function without each other—which really isn't a good thing, considering what they've gone through and what they have done to keep each other alive, especially Dean in regards to Sam. Dean's one and only serious girlfriend straight-up acknowledged that she knew she would always be second place to Sam. Their codependency has literally gotten them both killed, as well as several other people around them and nearly ended the world multiple times.
- Most of the romantic relationships on The Vampire Diaries have a destructive element to them. Damon and Elena in particular have a hard time, even post-Damon's HeelFace Turn.
- Marilyn Manson has two entire albums based on this: Eat Me, Drink Me and The High End of Low. Both were written during Manson's relationship with actress Evan Rachel-Wood. EMDM starts okay and starts to spiral out of control (which is exactly how things were going in their relationship) and The High End of Low, which was written in order, starts with Manson begging her to let him love her in the song "Devour" and slowly turns from desperate love to hate, to homicidal hate (not hyperbole, he said in an interview that if he hadn't made the album, they both would be dead), to moving on and acceptance. With a few tangents against both America and himself (Arma-goddamn-motherfuckin-geddon being a parody of the album Anti Christ Superstar, and We're From America being as critical as you'd expect).
- Blutengel has several songs on this theme, often from the point of view of a former Bastard Boyfriend who realizes how horrible he has been.
- Clawfinger milks this trope in songs such as "I Need You" (see page quote) and "Love Is Just A Four Letter Word".
- Days of the New's "Touch Peel and Stand" is a disturbing example:
Yes, I've finally found a reason
I don't need an excuse
I got this time on my hands
You are the one to abuse
- the Mountain Goats:
- "The Alpha Couple" is this all over. Even their inevitable, final reconciliation has threatening undertones:
Oh sing, sing, sing, for the dying of the day.
Sing for the flames that will rip through here
And the smoke that will carry us away
Yeah, sing for the damage we've done
And the worse things that we'll do
Open your mouth up and sing for me now
And I will sing for you
- Their song "No Children" is also probably about this, though it could also be interpreted as a marriage that simply lost its passion.
I hope that our few remaining friends give up on trying to save us.
I hope we come up with a fail-safe plot to piss off the dumb few that forgave us.
I hope the fences we mended fall down beneath their own weight.
And I hope we hold on past the last exit,
I hope it's already too late.
And I hope the junkyard a few blocks from here
Someday burns down.
And I hope that the rising black smoke carries me far away
And I never come back to this town again
In my life.
I hope I lie,
And tell everyone you were a good wife.
And I hope you die.
I hope we both die.
- "The Alpha Couple" is this all over. Even their inevitable, final reconciliation has threatening undertones:
- "(I Hate) Everything About You" by Three Days Grace is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- The lyrics of Sara Bareilles' "Gravity" may count as a mild version of this trope, as the song appears to be about a genuine but not-terribly-healthy passionate relationship.
- "Go to the Mattress" by Get Set Go features a couple who are just terrible together.
I'm a lecher, she's a cheater
I'll let her cut me, she likes to let me beat her
I'm a fucker, she's a screamer
I may be tougher, but she's definitely meaner.
- Fiona Apple's "Werewolf" could be the theme song of this trope:
I could liken you to a werewolf, the way you left me for dead
But I admit that I provided a full moon
And I could liken you to a shark, the way you bit off my head
But then again, I was waving around a bleeding open wound
But you were such a super guy, 'til the second you get a whiff of me
We're like a wishing well and a bolt of electricity
But we can still support each other, all we gotta do is avoid each other
Nothing wrong when a song ends in a minor key...
- Pink Floyd's "Don't Leave Me Now", from The Wall:
Don't leave me now.
Don't say it's the end of the road
Remember the flowers I sent
I need you, babe
To put through the shredder
In front of my friends
Don't leave me now.
How could you go?
When you know how I need you
To beat to a pulp on a Saturday night
How could you treat me this way?
I need you, babe, why are you running away?
- Maroon 5's "One More Night" is about a guy that keeps arguing with his significant other, but he can't leave her due to her excellent love-making in bed. He regrets doing it, but he keeps coming back for more, thus being unable to break out of the abusive relationship.
- Miranda Lambert's "Bring Me Down".
- Kelly Clarkson's "My Life Would Suck Without You", especially since it's about an off and on relationship.
Being with you is so dysfunctional
I really shouldn't miss you
But I can't let you go
- Megadeth's Dave Mustaine had an infamously turbulent relationship throughout the 80's. In fact, several songs - most famously "Last Rites/Loved to Deth" and "Tornado of Souls" are about this woman. Needless to say... the lyrics paint quite a picture. Just take a peek at some choice lyrics.
You'll grow to loathe my name
You'll hate me just the same
You won't need your breath
And soon you'll meet your death
Not from the years, not from the use
Not from the tears, just self abuse
- Poets of the Fall's "Kamikaze Love" has a pair reveling in their illicit, volatile and presumably doomed romance.
Take me where the angels fall
You take it all
You give no quarter for my love
You raise me high to tear me down
Leaves you reeling, feels like stealing
Frantic moments of kamikaze love
- Sufjan Stevens:
- "Drawn to the Blood", about Domestic Abuse.
The strength of his arm, my lover caught me off-guard
- "The Owl and the Tanager", about a secret, emotionally painful relationship (also involving some violence).
I'm bleeding in spite of my love for you, it bruised and bruised my will
- "All of Me Wants All of You", about a relationship that's lost all passion and intimacy.
I'm just a ghost you walk right through
- "Drawn to the Blood", about Domestic Abuse.
- Florence + the Machine's "Kiss With a Fist" is either this or Romanticized Abuse:
You hit me once
I hit you back
You gave a kick
I gave a slap
You smashed a plate over my head
Then I set fire to our bed
- Ga1ahad and Scientific Witchery by Mili tells the story of a pair of doomed lovers who do their best to kill each other.
The magical potion of reanimation
Rise from bed my darling
So I can see you again
So I can kill you again
- "Laid" by James is another that could either be about this or Romanticized Abuse:
Caught your hand inside the till
Slammed your fingers in the door
Fought with kitchen knives and skewers
Dressed me up in women's clothes
Messed around with gender roles
Line my eyes and call me pretty
Moved out of the house so you moved next door
I locked you out, you cut a hole in the wall
I found you sleeping next to me, I thought I was alone
You're driving me crazy, when are you coming home
- "Concrete Wall" by Zee Avi is about a relationship gone sour and bordering on a break-up.
- "Sea of Sorrow" by Alice in Chains is a Break-Up Song from the perspective of a narrator escaping a toxic codependent relationship who reminds his ex that without him, their problems are now theirs alone and they no longer have him to lean on and prop them up while they drown in their own dysfunction.
- "Circles" by American Idol alum Will Makar is told from the point of view of a broken man who is trapped in an unhappy relationship. Fighting over nothing in particular is commonplace, and he is regularly getting calls from this woman begging for forgiveness for whatever she's done. He knows very well that he needs to get out of the relationship, but he just keeps finding himself going back to her, and he spends sleepless nights contemplating the hopeless situation he's in.
- "Games We Play" by Stream of Passion is about lovers who constantly hurt each other.
- Alice Cooper's "Poison":
I hear you calling and it's needles and pins (and pins)
I want to hurt you just to hear you screaming my name
Don't want to touch you but you're under my skin (deep in)
I want to kiss you but your lips are venomous poison
You're poison running through my veins
I don't want to break these chains
- Much of Stabbing Westward's catalogue is made up of songs about toxic relationships, playing the True Art Is Angsty trope to the hilt. To wit, "Lies" from Ungod:
Hatred runs through me marrow deep
I long to tear your eyes out in your sleep
This passion can lead to evil crimes
Do I kill you or do I choose to die?
Acid burn etched in my brain
Someone dies before I go insane
I was searching for some answer in your eyes
I find malicious laughter and a love that has died
- All relationships between other vampires are assumed to be this by default in Vampire: The Requiem. It's not surprising.
Mess with their heads. Get it so the victims love their keepers, will do anything for them (even better if they can work one of the couple against the other—so sweet, that betrayal).Night Horrors: Immortal Sinners, pg. 74
- Best example: the Honeymoon Hijackers, Charles and Charlene Greengrass. They were kidnapped and turned into vampires on their respective wedding nights by cruel sires, with their spouses killed. Charles and Charlene meet one another ten years after their abductions, instantly recognize the predicament of the other, and fall in love. They diablerize their sires, escape vampire society, get into a scary codependent relationship, then perform netorare scenarios and serial killings on any recently-married couple they can findnote .
- Coming full circle, Charlene cheats on Charles. He doesn't know, but she wants him to.
- Romeo and Juliet: It wasn't really their fault, but the situation ended pretty badly nonetheless.
- Norma and Joe's relationship in Sunset Boulevard: and oh, what a dysfunctional one it is, with Norma's outbursts and Joe's passive aggressive BS. Close to the end, it turns out that Norma's relationship with her butler is even worse.
- Eddie and May in Sam Shepard's play Fool for Love. For over a decade their relationship's been a nonstop violent power struggle consisting of one trying to run away from the other only for the two to come back together time and again. For extra Squick, they also happen to be half-siblings...and even after finding this out they still kept seeing each other. They're also mirroring the dysfunctional dynamic their father had with each of their mothers.
- J.D. and Veronica in Heathers are a hot mess. Veronica knows it. J.D. doesn't. They're only seventeen, and start dating barely twelve hours after they first meet (when J.D. beats up two guys Veronica hates, which gets her very interested...), and the relationship becomes very serious and intense very quickly. When J.D. finds out an Alpha Bitch is giving Veronica trouble, he decides to solve the problem by murdering her. Then, when two Jerk Jocks spread hurtful rumors about her, he kills them, and manipulates Veronica into helping. Despite this, Veronica stays with him, pleading with him to stop the killings, and he listens — for maybe a week. Finally, Veronica decides enough is enough and dumps him, but he still remains madly in love with her, and she clearly still has some affection for him in spite of herself. In the end, J.D. blows himself up to save her, and his last action before being blown sky-high is to simply reaching out for her, and she reaches back... Jeez.
- Tom and Sara in Murder Ballad — their affair is what causes the titular murder and is implied to ruin a marriage.
- Exit, Pursued by a Bear: Even though she's trying to take her stand against him, Nan still isn't completely over Kyle - and he knows exactly how to manipulate her feelings for him, sending her from vengefulness to questioning her motives to a breakdown to submission to falling in love all over again in the course of a few pages.
- Nameless: All of Tei's bad endings portray his relationship with Eri as this, as he's never addressing his underlying issues and enjoys mentally or physically harming her, while she chooses to indulge in this and letting him do whatever he wants. There's also one bad ending for Yeonho where Eri becomes the destructive one. She becomes obsessed with Yeonho and doesn't want to share him with anyone, and Yeonho's trauma leads to him doing whatever his current owner wants of him because he doesn't want to be abandoned again.
- Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time: Penelope only hooked with Bentley because she believed he held the key to power and fortune, but since his childhood friends are in the way, she intends to murder them both to keep Bentley to herself. When Bentley finds out, the revelation of being in an abusive relationship with a sociopathic Gold Digger who insults him in private causes him to tuck into his shell in heartbreak. By the time Bentley confronts Penelope of her sins, she ignores his words and attacks him.
- Dear Children has one of these between Eric Saddler and Vallory King. He is in it for sex and the opportunity to psychologically abuse her; she is in it for expensive gifts and a boost to her modeling career. They do not love each other; they don't seem to even like each other.
- Troll Romance includes a quadrant based on mutual hatred (the caliginous quadrant, known as kismesissitude and symbolized by a "♠") to the point where one would at least try to kill the partner. Gamzee and Terezi get together under one, which demonstrates how unhealthy it can be if the pairing isn't right. After one year of the relationship, Terezi's had her self-confidence shattered and admits that, while she hates Gamzee, being with him makes her hate herself even more. She compares him to a drug, and notes that she now takes every insult personally, but she can't leave because she's drawn to the wretchedness and she's disgusted by her dependence. This was part of the reason that she had her eyes fixed, but having her blindness, which was a proud part of her self-image, cured devastated her. When Karkat tells her Gamzee will likely end it, she breaks down crying and says that if he throws her away, she really will be pathetic.
- It's heavily implied if not outright stated that this pairing is too vitriolic and abusive (including Gaslighting and outright physical abuse) to be a healthy kismesissitude, in comparison to other caliginous ships like Vriska♠Eridan or Jack Noir♠Black Queen. We see the latter at one point, and it turns out that they hate each other just the right amount (in every universe; Spades Slick and Snowman had a thing as well) to have an actually healthy kismesissitude. Doc Scratch is not amused when they start hate-kissing in front of him.
- In Erfworld, the romance between Wanda and Jillian is shown to be unhealthy, tinged with abuse, and possibly sanity-damaging for both women. Wanda uses their BDSM sex as an opening to lace Mind Rape spells on Jillian, turning her into an unwitting mole who would willingly betray her side time and time again in order to return to the pleasures of Wanda's dungeon sessions. When Jillian becomes aware of the spell, she forcibly breaks it and calls Wanda out on abusing her like that. Despite this, both women remain obsessed with each other. Jillian first endangers herself trying to slay Stanley, then offers to help Wanda sack the kingdom of Jetstone — her ally and the kingdom of Jillian's boyfriend, Ansom — if she will defect to Jillian's kingdom, despite knowing that this will bring her other allies screaming after her head. Though she shakes this off when she realizes that Wanda will never allow her any autonomy, in the bedroom or outside of it, that just makes Wanda sink deeper into obsession. Once Jillian makes it clear that she has truly chosen Ansom over her, that's when Wanda really snaps: she makes it her new dedicated goal to kill Jillian and revive her as a Decrypted, forcing her to mindlessly love and obey Wanda alone.
- Lore Olympus: Hades knows his relationship with Minthe is toxic and unhealthy, but decided that since they're both unhappy people they might as well be unhappy together. When Minthe thought Hades might be leaving her for Persephone, she admits that what they have might not be love but she's doesn't want it to end, showing that she's emotionally dependent on Hades to some extent.
- My Deepest Secret: While the series has never exactly shied away from showing that Emma and Elioss relationship is not what you should aspire to have, there were still some chapters devoted to showing their relationship as quite adorable, namely Emmas sick day episodes. However, later chapters show just how disturbing it truly is. After finding out that much of Elioss kindness depends on how much value he places on someone, Emma grows afraid that if she werent his girlfriend, he wouldnt care about her at all, which makes her even more quiet and less talkative with him. It comes to a head where, after a truly terrible day, she confides in him, he comforts her...before telling her to depend on him and only him. Burr.
- All of Romeo's romances in the Whateley Universe. He's an incredibly handsome mutant and a member of the Bad Seeds (at least one parents must be a supervillain to be admitted). He picks dowdy girls who feel unattractive and tries to turn the ugly duckling into a swan. No matter how successful he is, he always creates someone who doesn't feel attractive enough compared to him and so they mistreat him and then break up with him.
- In you could make a life, Nikita broke up with Luke while they were teenagers in such a callous manner that Luke never emotionally recovered from it. Their ensuing on-and-off relationship of hatesex and brutal beatdowns for the next seven years only serve to drag the embittered Luke down even further.
- In Twig, Sylvester confesses to Lillian that his fear of engaging in one of these is why he hasn't acted on his and Mary's mutual attraction. Mary, a Laser Guided Tyke Bomb who has been defused by The Power of Friendship, is both deadly and emotionally vulnerable enough to push Sy's Manipulative Bastard button so that he starts pushing her by instinct, while she in turn eggs him on, which Sy fears could culminate in them making each other into the worst possible versions of themselves.
- Between Frank and Courtney on The Cry of Mann. The two of them are implicitly having an affair, with Frank even calling her "princess" and the two being very physical with each other...but they both also spend the whole time bitter and angry, mocking and threatening each other and dragging each other down. Frank even betrays Courtney by giving her Gergiev's "medicine".
- South Park gives us Heidi Turner and Eric Cartman, which started out very sweet and loving in Season 20, before it devolved into this in Season 21. Eric Cartman becomes miserable in his relationship with Heidi but doesn't want to end it because of his constant need for attention and is emotionally manipulating her into staying with him. Likewise the only reason Heidi is still with him is because she doesn't want to admit to her friends she made a bad decision, even if his influence turns her into his Distaff Counterpart. The relationship has also affected other people as well, especially Kyle who was upset that he wasn't able to convince Heidi to leave Cartman blaming Canada for this, which resulted in him getting the country nuked. Eventually Heidi realizes how much of a negative impact her relationship with Cartman had and how they only saw themselves as the victim of the other spouse's emotional abuse and decides to end the relationship herself, not letting Cartman's emotional manipulation affect her anymore.
- In Steven Universe, Malachite is a prime example of an abusive relationship. In "Jail Break", Lapis Lazuli fuses with Jasper after the latter persuades her to, but then drags them both under the ocean, forcing Jasper to stay fused with her for months. This takes a heavy psychological toll on them both. In "Alone at Sea", Lapis admits that she was abusive towards Jasper, even while in the fusion ("I liked taking everything out on you [Jasper]. I needed to, I-I hated you! It was bad!"). However, Jasper seems too attached to the relationship they had, begging Lapis to become Malachite with her again. Lapis declines, saying that "what we had wasn't healthy" and that she never wants to feel like she did with Jasper again.