Over they last couple of days in a geek facebook group I’m part of there has been a discussion of tv couples that people like/don’t like. One of the couples that has come up a couple times is Ted/Robin/Barney, with most people feeling that they didn’t like Ted/Robin, but wished that Barney/Robin had stayed together. Sometimes I wish Barney had been played by a less charming actor, because he really is a terrible person. He constantly lies to the people around him, views women solely as objects for sexual conquest, has made borderline rape jokes (such as the ‘take advantage of dumb drunk girls’ line in the Puzzles theme song). I feel like even the times he is actually a good friend to Robin, and he does have some of those moments, it is still comes off as “other women are objects, but I can put that aside for a few minutes with this one.” The highest praise he gives her is calling her a “bro”. And, I will only briefly mention the end where he has a daughter and suddenly has the magical realization that women are people. But, there are a lot of women defending him with “just a somewhat broken man who had never actually been in a proper relationship” and “Well, his mom was a bad example” and “Well, Robin helped change him” (except that even his whole “romantic” proposal was nothing but a series of lies)....is any of this sounding familiar? Maybe similar to defenses of a certain “BDSM enthusiast” (*cough*abuser*cough*).

And, of course there is Belle and Rumple in Once Upon a Time, which seems to be a pretty good portrayal of domestic abuse. But, because it isn’t physical, people don’t seem to see it. He is constantly telling her he will always love the magic more than her, he is constantly doing self serving things, he will lie to her and anybody else to get what he wants. But, despite all the lies and terrible things he does, she stays with him because “she can see the good in him”.

Is this kind of relationship becoming more common in popular culture and seen as good and romantic. Or, am I just more aware of it, mostly thanks to you guys? I know that “bad boy that changes thanks to the love of a good woman” thing is kind of a trope. But these relationships seem to go beyond that into continued abuse and disrespect being seen as romantic because “she can see the real him inside” or “well, he had some bad stuff happen, so whatever he does is fine”.