According to everyone, vampires make excellent boyfriends.

Fans of “Twilight”  believe that Edward Cullen is Prince Charming, and “True Blood”  fans think Bill Compton is the perfect gentleman. This apparently gives all vampire boyfriends permission to get away with things that would land a normal human boyfriend in jail, and with good reason.

When you look at it objectively, vampires actually make terrible boyfriends. They’re pretty much the worst possible choice of boyfriend. Vampire boyfriends do things that, were they not supernatural, sexy creatures-of-the-night, would easily be defined as abuse, manipulation, assault, and even attempted murder.

Take away the “vampire” in “vampire boyfriend” and what you are left with is an abusive boyfriend and an unhealthy relationship crying out for an intervention and legal action.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the vampire boyfriends from four of the most popular modern vampire stories, and judge them by their actions, not by their hotness or the ludicrous devotion of their human girlfriends (read: battered women).

“The Vampire Diaries”

The romance of Stefan and Elena on “The Vampire Diaries” is possibly the tamest on this list. They snuggle and chat and care for the people around them. They interact normally when not faced with certain death. Neither one forces the other to go farther sexually or emotionally than they are both ready to go.

When Elena finds out that human blood will make the vegan-vamp Stefan stronger, Elena encourages him to drink a tiny drop of her own blood every day. In return, Stefan looks out for not only Elena, but her little brother Jeremy and her best friends Caroline and Bonnie as well. Aside from the whole creepy-old-man in the body of a teenager thing that all vampire boyfriends have, Stefan is actually a pretty good boyfriend to Elena. Except for two things:

1. His evil vampire brother is also in love with Elena and expresses his feelings by killing people.

2. His evil vampire ex-girlfriend is still in love with Stefan and expresses her feelings by killing people.

I’d say those are two very compelling reasons not to date said vampire. Despite Stefan’s best efforts, he proves time and again that he cannot protect Elena and the people she loves from the dangerous monsters in his life. Elena is kidnapped, beaten, intimidated, terrorized, and forced to watch as her friends and family are similarly abused… none of which would have happened if Stefan hadn’t waltzed into her life.

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”

Despite being tough, smart, brave, and quick-witted, Buffy has horrible judgment when it comes to men. She dates not one, but two blood-sucking fiends.

Buffy’s first vampire boyfriend is Angel, who has a soul and does good deeds to make up for his murderous past. Their relationship is equal: She saves him from impending death, he saves her from impending death, and then they make out.

When things are going just swimmingly for Buffy and her bi-centennial BF, everything goes wrong. Buffy sleeps with Angel, which causes him to revert to the soulless monster his fangs proclaim him to be. He hurts her feelings, laughing at her pain when he tells her that their tryst meant nothing to him. Then he runs around killing and terrorizing the people she loves. He even sketches pictures of both Buffy and her mother while they are sleeping and leaves the sketches under Buffy’s pillow to scare her. Then he tries to destroy the world, forcing Buffy to take him down. But just before she kills him he regains his soul, conveniently losing his memory of his recent evil spree, which means that Buffy has no choice but to thrust a sword through the heart of the man she loves (sword + thrusting = pretty much what he deserves).

As if destroying her innocence once wasn’t enough, Angel returns the next season as the good guy Buffy fell in love with. To save him from poison, Buffy lets Angel drink her blood. He over-indulges, sucking her nearly dry and putting her in a coma (Read: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE). To add insult to injury, he skips town after prom without saying good-bye.

Because once wasn’t enough to teach Buffy her lesson about dating vampires, a few years later Buffy hops into the sack with Spike (Even though he spent the last 150 years murdering people willy-nilly when he and Buffy weren’t beating the ever-living crap out of each other). When Buffy realizes her relationship with Spike is incredibly self-destructive, she breaks it off. Spike responds by attempting to rape her.

And Buffy never dated a vampire again (we hope).

“True Blood”

There is a lot wrong with Bill and Sookie’s relationship on “True Blood.” Let’s start with the obvious: He drinks her blood during sex. This leaves her with obvious wounds after a roll in the hay, which she doesn’t seem to mind. To put things in perspective: If my boyfriend left me with a black eye and a bloody lip in the morning, I’d pack my bags and call the police.

But this is all well and good for Sookie until Bill, weakened by blood-loss, needs to drink Sookie’s blood to heal. He over-indulges, sucking her nearly dry and putting her in a coma (sound familiar?). Her friends Tara and Lafayette try to keep Bill away from Sookie while she’s recovering, and rightly so, since the psychological damage is only beginning.

In season three, Sookie’s best friend Tara is kidnapped and raped by a psychotic vampire… in the same mansion where Bill is hanging out. Bill knows Tara is there. She even begs him to help her. Yet Bill does nothing to save his girlfriend’s best friend from being tortured. When Tara escapes, she tells Sookie that Bill never lifted a finger to help her. Sookie responds by being all “Oh noes, super sorry! Let’s hug it out!” and then runs back into her dead lover’s arms. She never so much as slaps Bill on the wrist for letting her best friend get raped when he could have prevented it.

So what does Sookie get upset about? Oh yeah: The fact that Bill was stalking her before they even met and conned her into forming a relationship with him so he could deliver her to the Vampire Queen of Louisiana as a tasty snack (But it’s cool because he fell in love with her and changed his mind… what?). That’s right. That special night you lost your virginity to your vampire boyfriend? For him it was all an act.


Where to begin?

Edward Cullen’s worst crime as a vampire boyfriend is that he has made millions, if not billions of women long for a boyfriend just like him. His relationship with Bella Swann is abusive on both an emotional and physical level. It is this abusive relationship that has been glorified to teenage girls —children— through “The Twilight Saga.” Let’s break it down:

  1. He watches her sleep, both before and after they are dating. He sneaks into her bedroom at night and he watches her sleep. This is the universally accepted pastime of serial rapists and murderers (see Buffy, above).
  2. He insults her and tells her to stay away from him during their very first interaction. This goes beyond playing hard-to-get. It’s just mean.
  3. He disables the engine of her truck so she can’t go visit her friend Jacob, thus restricting her movement and interactions with people other than himself. Controlling much?
  4. He withholds sex and makes Bella feel bad about herself for wanting to explore the physical side of their relationship.
  5. He infantilizes her. Constantly. If she didn’t have daddy issues before getting into the relationship, she does now. Edward repeatedly tells her (sweetly) to shut up and (nicely) makes decisions for her. She’s a pat on the head and a cookie away from being his puppy dog.
  6. Daddy issues, part 2: Edward seems almost amused and intrigued by the fact that Bella is an inexperienced teenage girl. If you didn’t have problems with the older man issue before, you should now.
  7. He says things like “You are my life now” and “I can’t live without you.” That’s heavy stuff. You might think it’s sweet, but every time he says something like that it is encouraging Bella to feel responsible for Edward’s life and well-being. One classic sign of an abusive relationship: When your boyfriend threatens to kill himself if you ever leave him.
  8. He forces her to go to the prom with him, even though she is uncomfortable about going. Disregarding your girlfriend’s comfort is always the gentlemanly thing to do.
  9. After making Bella totally dependent on his sparkly vamp-charms, Edward tells her they’re over and skips town (see Buffy, above). He doesn’t call, and he doesn’t write. The hurt he inflicts on this hormonal, not-yet-fully-developed child is so intense that she repeatedly places herself in dangerous situations. She even jumps off a cliff… because of Edward.
  10. He alienates her from her friends. After Edward shows up on the scene, everyone else pales in comparison, including her childhood friend Jacob Black, and especially her normal, well-adjusted friends at Forks High School. Bella resides in a social vacuum. But wait, she has the Cullens, who aren’t at all creepy and weird!
  11. He makes ultimatums. He will only turn her into a vampire after she marries him. Granted, she’s a fool for wanting to be a vampire, but withholding rewards in exchange for your personal desires is no way to run a relationship.
  12. The morning after Bella and Edward consummate their marriage, she wakes up covered in bruises. Edward is all, “Sorry babe. Did I hurt you with my awesome vampire strength while we were boning?” (see True Blood, above), to which Bella responds “Oh no dear, I don’t mind! It was perfect in every way!” He then goes off to brood and makes her feel guilty for not only enjoying the sex, but also forgiving him. Let me make this absolutely clear: Edward physically injures Bella during sex, and yet she is the one who is made to feel guilty. I believe this is chapter two in the textbook on domestic abuse.
  13. He gets her pregnant. Yes, it takes two to tango, but do not tell me that in 100 years Edward has not learned how to use a condom.
  14. Realizing her pregnancy is potentially life-threatening, Edward decides that the best thing for her would be to abort the baby. Without her input or consent.
  15. Edward decides with Jacob that if Bella wants a baby, Jacob should be the father. Again, the two men make this decision about Bella’s body and sexual freedom without her input or consent.
  16. He makes her a vampire. This ultimately cuts her off from her parents and friends, and prevents the possibility of her going to college anywhere but darkest Alaska. Cut out the “makes her a vampire part” and you have a boyfriend who has restricted her access to family and education forever.

So, is Edward Cullen Prince Charming, the perfect boyfriend, or Mr. Right? The evidence suggests otherwise.

Why do these vampire boyfriends get away with abuse and assault? Why is their behavior romanticized and excused by millions of fans? Removed from context, they are textbook abusers. In context, they are…  still abusers. So why are vampire boyfriends so desirable? The world may never know.

Oh, and bring it on, Twihards.

About The Author

Bombshell executive editor Jess d'Arbonne works in book publishing. In her non-existent spare time she writes about nerd culture, books, feminism, and zombies. She's a Libra, a Browncoat, a self-professed geek, and nobody's fool. You can follow her on Twitter @JessDarb

10 Responses

  1. Aslinn Dhan

    Can a Truebie chime in? I say the girls knew what they were getting into when they hooked up with a Vampire…Run with Vampires and you get blood on you…and sometimes it is yours

    • Jess d'Arbonne

      An excellent point, Aslinn. And may I just say that I LOVE “True Blood”, despite criticizing Bill and Sookie’s relationship above.
      But here’s the thing: When you say “the girls knew what they were getting into”, it sounds suspiciously like victim-blaming. If Bill wasn’t a vampire and still let his girlfriend’s best friend get raped and tortured, would you still think that Sookie should have been prepared for such a horrible thing to happen? If Bill was a human, would it be ok that he slept with his ex so soon after asking Sookie to marry him? If Bill was human, would it be ok that he physically injures Sookie during sex?
      Beware the victim-blaming, and don’t be so quick to forgive the vampires for being domestic abusers. Thanks for reading, Truebie! 🙂

      • westexan

        I am fairly certain Aslinn’s comment only refers to the actual lady getting involved with the Vamps, getting their blood drank and all, not all the extra that may come along with it. NOT that they should simply forgive for other trespasses that wouldn’t fly with a human. However, vampires are what they are and if the ladies are gonna allow it, well, their issues. It happens in “real” human life too, their choosing.

      • Aslinn Dhan

        Rape is never tolerable, but I must say, you must not watch the show…Bill was powerless to do anything for Tara….Besides, she was not his chief concern.

      • Jess d'Arbonne

        Oh I definitely watch the show. As I said above, I am a huge fan of “True Blood.” I’m just choosing not to give Bill a free pass. Tara will never forgive him for letting that happen to her. And neither should Sookie.

  2. Ashlee

    Oh my gosh, I couldn’t agree more! If I had a daughter, I would NOT want her reading these books or watching these movies. If she did (which I’m sure would be inevitable), we’d definitely be having a talk about healthy relationships and the myriad of things Edward does that are NOT healthy!

    THANK YOU for writing this!!!

    • Jess d'Arbonne

      And thank you for reading!
      I really love “Buffy” and “True Blood”, despite the abusive relationships. And let’s be honest: The shows are entertaining, and by thinking critically we can even learn something from the unhealthy relationships.
      …except in “Twilight”, of course.

  3. Chrissy Morin

    The only one of these Vampire Saga’s I’m really familiar with is Twilight. I have to confess to totally loving the books and wasn’t reading them with a “mothers” eye but simply enjoying the Vampire lore and action. In the books Bella is much different from movie Bella Swan. Meyer’s Bella does stand up for herself, argues, battles with Edward and seems to have a least a little self confidence but the movie version leaves much of that snarkiness out of her personality. Anyway, I really do plan to rent True Blood since I don’t get that cable channel just to check it out.

    A fun read Jess… thanks!

  4. amw

    while i agree with your article and your points, im left wondering what i should do with this information. i agree that abusive relationships are bad. i agree that teenagers getting caught up in these stories, wanting them to be reality is bad. but, its not a new thing. i mean vampires are trendy right now. they easily exemplify the “bad boy” that (almost) every young woman lusts for at some point in their pubescent fantasies. the bad boy is usually destructive to himself and the girl who involves herself in his web. but its a common, timeless theme. even super heroes arent good boyfriends: always ditching you, lying to you about who they are, hiding a MAJOR part of themselves, treating you like you arent smart enough, stable enough, etc. to handle the truth. etc.

    and the other boyfriend type we always see is prince charming. this usually involves the girl getting put through the ringer and becoming a rescued victim. i cant think of a prince charming who wasnt anything was cardboard and hollow inside. you can fill in his personality in your head if you want, but ive never felt like they had much to offer in the conversation realm.

    the only boyfriend type who ever works is the “best friend who finally gets accepted as the boyfriend/husband.” this usually involves the girl/boy going through several bad relationships and life experiences before finally realizing that they had what they needed right next to them the whole time. usually the relationship doesnt work out until the characters have reached maturity and gotten out of the puberty/lust stage.

    i mention all this because i think it sucks. there isnt much out there that i think guides young girls in love. it makes me nervous for my daughter. but i just assume i will have to talk to her about the movies she watches. teach about how i love her father. and then show her my favorite movies and their male flaws. in Princess Bride, wesley pushes buttercup down a hill (abusive!), in Grease danny is an a$$ to sandy most of the time and in the end SHE changes for him. in Dirty Dancing johhny is definitely the leather jacket wearing bad boy turned good for love (every womans false fantasy). however in Gone With the Wind, scarlett is usually seen as a flirt, a tease, a manipulative wench, etc. just because she tries to figure out what she wants and get it. sucks.


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