The Way Edward Treats Bella in Twilight Is Super Problematic — I Can't Believe I Had a Crush on Him

At the ripe old age of 11, I was fully convinced I was destined to meet the glittery love of my life and spend eternity with him as a "vegetarian" vampire (as were all of my other friends in the sixth grade). I wasn't on social media yet (thank god), but if I had been, all of my pages would have proudly proclaimed I was #TEAMEDWARD4LIFE. His charm and mystique lured me into the pages of the Twilight Saga like his piercing gold eyes lured Bella into the forest where he confessed his love for her. Nearly 15 years later, my stance on a 100-year-old vampire wooing a teenage girl — whom he constantly wants to murder and drain every drop of blood from — is, uh, a little different.

He pulls a major Romeo and Juliet in New Moon and goes to Italy to convince the Volturi to kill him when he thinks Bella is dead. I mean, he could have called her first.

Aside from the fact that he's 100 years older than her, Edward's relationship with Bella is basically the definition of problematic. For instance, after speaking to her exactly once, Edward takes it upon himself to sneak into her bedroom and sit in the corner all night to watch her while she sleeps. Considering that I used to be afraid of the shadows projected by jackets thrown over chairs at night, I have no idea how middle-school me didn't catch onto this being super creepy sooner. Also, aren't vampires supposed to require an invitation before they enter someone else's home?!

In addition to the fact that one of his favorite pastimes is smelling her, I find it difficult to get past the fact that, prior to Bella's transformation, Edward spends 100 percent of the time right on the edge of murdering her and draining all of her blood. My younger self would have argued that this was sort of romantic because Edward loves Bella so much that he's willing to battle his inner bloodlust constantly just to be with her. Now, of course, I realize that's a terrifying train of thought. Edward is manipulating Bella, and his inability to stay away from her ultimately hurts her more than anything. In fact, there are quite a few majorly questionable moments between the couple that all of Team Edward should have thought through a little more carefully when we were younger. Here are just a few of Edward's creepiest and most problematic moments:

  • He literally stalks her all the time. Sure, he can probably smell her scent a mile away, which can be difficult to ignore, but come on, Edward.
  • He has zero boundaries and is impossibly clingy. While his attentiveness to Bella's needs may seem sweet, their codependency is unhealthy at best.
  • His personality is as stone cold as his skin. Aside from playing the piano (because whose perfect vampire boyfriend hasn't mastered that?), he's got about as much personality as the bag of hard-boiled eggs Emmett carries around at lunchtime during the first film.
  • He is overprotective and tries to restrict Bella's friend group, especially when she starts hanging out with Jacob Black and the other werewolves. The fact that Bella has friends he doesn't get along with or approve of upsets Edward, so he tries to guilt her into not seeing them anymore, and nobody needs a boyfriend like that.
  • When he smells her for the first time, he misses school for weeks, but the urge to turn her and make her his for all eternity brings him back. He knows the risks of entering a relationship with Bella outweigh the positives, but he goes forward with pursuing her to satisfy his own needs. And if that doesn't sound like a left swipe, then I'm not sure what does.
  • He pulls a major Romeo and Juliet in New Moon and goes to Italy to convince the Volturi to kill him when he thinks Bella is dead. I mean, he could have called her first.
  • He is painfully self-loathing and only expresses this to Bella enough to worry her without fully explaining his past or what he wants.
  • The creepy staring without blinking, both during the day and at night, is a lot. (I'm getting the chills just thinking about it now.)
  • When Bella gets a paper cut in New Moon, it sends all of the Cullens into a feeding frenzy, forcing Edward to take her out to the woods, where he promptly breaks up with her for her own safety. This feels like the right decision on Edward's part — and Bella definitely should have taken the hint and moved back to Arizona ASAP — but does he really have to leave her sobbing in the middle of the woods? The least he could have done was drive her home.
  • He, like, never smiles. At this point, though, it would be freakier if he did.
  • He makes decisions for her, constantly, including where she should stay and who she can talk to. I understand Edward was raised 100 years ago and has slightly different morals than the average teenager today, but that just means he's had 100 years to learn he doesn't need to be making decisions for his girlfriend and should respect what she wants. Get it together, Edward.
  • Yes, Bella chooses to hang out with Edward and the Cullens, even after she finds out they're vampires, so she kind of understands the risks associated with being around them. But Edward continues to lead her on by inviting her out on dates (aka creepy hangouts in the woods and a ravioli dinner at that one Italian restaurant). He has considerably more knowledge about vampire-human relationship dynamics, so it's fair to assume that, if he really cared about Bella, he'd stay away from her completely.

Bear in mind, all of this is applicable even before he gets Bella pregnant with a parasitic half-vampire baby that nearly kills her by sucking the life out of her from the inside out. He's then "forced" to transform Bella into a vampire to save her life while she's giving birth, which coincidentally means they'll be able to stay together forever. Admittedly, Bella isn't the best at decision making, but Edward is far from the ideal boyfriend. Overall, their relationship is beyond messed up, if you ask me.

On Aug. 4, 15 years after the debut of the first book, Stephenie Meyer released Midnight Sun, a retelling of the Twilight saga's first book from Edward's perspective. While I haven't had the chance to sift through it myself, I'm not so sure hearing the creeptastic "watching Bella sleep" scene from Edward's point of view is going to make it feel any less hostile . . . That said, the Twilight series was entertaining when I was growing up, but I feel like 11-year-old me would agree that the best decision for Bella would have ultimately been to get the hell out of Forks and never look back. It's a little late for that now, but there's always fan fiction, right?