What about relationships that challenge us?

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We spent some time last week on our images of abusive relationships, but what do we see in relationships that challenge us and what we believe in instead?

I don’t know about the shows that you watch, but this is my favorite:

They’re from The Vampire Diaries. Neither is a terribly recent episode but even when we catch up, we find them challenging each other. Well, the first two, the blonde in the second clip is off to The Originals, where she gets challenged by and is challenging to an entirely different man. Damon and Elena continue to challenge each other, as they have from the first episode, as do other relationships in the show. It’s what I’ve always loved about it.

We see that Elena is her own person with her own ideas of what is right in a situation and what she’s willing to sacrifice for a desired outcome. The story mostly revolves around her and not just because she’s a love interest. We find her same qualities hold true of the other women on the show. They are not afraid of doing what they believe to be right, standing up to men, monsters and each other. We see men who may not always like that their plans are challenged but they know they are the better for it. These men are shown to realize that opposing opinions and ideas make a plan better sometimes, though sometimes not. They occasionally lash out and make mistakes that hurt the others around them, but even these moments are recognized as hiccups in the growth of the character. I think just about everyone “falls off the wagon” at some point and the others pick them back up and dust them off. Sometimes it’s the significant other, sometimes not, but we see people who aren’t required to be perfect, regardless of gender. They’re required to try to do better, and I like that about it.

If you’re not one for YA viewing or supernatural shows in general, there are examples that go into other areas of television as well. While this isn’t the full scene from House of Cards, I think it’s still obvious that this is the type of relationship they have:


I love that line. If you’re not familiar with the show, he just let her know that he didn’t get a promotion he was promised and she was asking what he was planning on doing about it. They have a strange relationship, but I totally get it. It’s supportive in a way that doesn’t placate the wounded ego but demands that it get right back up and out there with even more gusto. Admittedly, it’s not for everyone. We still see a couple who challenges each other, though we aren’t privy to how it got that way, which we find in watching young adult entertainment more often.

What do you see in a relationship that challenges the people in it? Do they defy gender roles? Do they embody them? Do they not even worry about it and just enjoy the nuances of each other?


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