7 TV Girlfriends That Are Emotionally Abusive

We talk a lot about emotional abuse here at Gurl, mostly because it’s more common than people think and because it’s a hard issue to discuss. Because of this, it’s so important to be able to recognize the signs of emotional abuse, whether it’s happening to you or a friend. There are a few shared behaviors of emotionally abusers: they can be liars, manipulators, and/or downright possessive. Most of the time, you don’t even realize the person is being emotionally abusive towards you – it’s easier to see it when it’s happening to someone else. It is also, prehaps unfairly, attributed to something guys do more to girls. But girls can be emotionally abusive towards guys as well. And, believe it or not, a lot of your favorite shows feature girlfriends who perpetuate toxic and unhealthy relationships. 

There are popular TV girlfriends who are abusive, something you might not even take notice of, because we’re so used to watching for that behavior in guys. Sometimes it seems innocent – the girlfriend is just a little jealous, or is just playing out the “crazy girlfriend” stereotype so popular in Hollywood. But that is definitley not always the case. Take a look at these examples of female characters who were emotionally abusive in their relationships:


Paige From Pretty Little Liars

Everybody remembers that time that Paige tried to drown Emily, right? And then, all of a sudden, they fell in love? Sure. Okay. But actually, the fact that Paige tried to literally kill Emily contributed to their relationship being awful. Obviously! Paige was manipulative and whiny and she was even a suspect in Alison's murder for a while. She eventually moved away, but the damage she did to Emily is still very relevant.

Jan From The Office

When you think of The Office, you probably think of the "fairytale" relationship between Jim and Pam, but it's hard to forget the awful Michael and Jan relationship from the first few seasons. First of all, Jan was Michael's boss and used her power over him to her advantage. Then, once she quit, she would not let Michael break up with her. WTF? Even Pam told him that their relationship was unhealthy, but he stayed in it for years.

Helga From Hey Arnold

I know that Helga and Arnold never really "dated," but her stalking and high-key obsession was definitley an unhealthy emotional relationship. I mean, she had a shrine of him in her closet? She would purposefully sabotage his friendships so that she was the only one in his life, and yet she still bullied him by calling him names and making fun of his head. Honestly, Helga was pretty awful!

Quinn From Glee

I watched this show on and off, but one thing I always noticed was how bad of a girlfriend Quinn was. She joined the Glee club because she didn't trust her boyfriend, and she ended up cheating on him. After getting pregnant, she tried to convince Finn that the kid was his, even though it wasn't. That isn't okay on any levels. Sure, she gets better in the later seasons, but the damage she did was done.

Georgina From Gossip Girl

It makes sense that one of the most dramatic shows on television would have one of the most dramatic characters on television. Georgina arrived in season one as the "bad girl" who was constantly manipulating people. She eventually starts a relationship with Dan and even convinces him that he is the father of her child. I don't know about you, but this was definitley not what my teenage years were like.

Katherine From The Vampire Diaries

Katherine is the evil ancestor of Elena, the main character/badass of The Vampire Diaries. She not only dated both Damon and Stefan, but turned them into vampires and ended up manipulating them for literal centuries. Not that the brothers were completely innocent themselves, but Katherine's emotional abuse of the boys is a constant throughout the series.

Marissa From The OC

As much as I love Marissa, she was a pretty bad girlfriend to Ryan. In season one, when they first began dating, she was constantly accusing Ryan of being jealous and possessive of her. She was constantly sending mixed messages to Ryan: one day she would love him and then all of a sudden they wouldn't be speaking. This whole relationship was a mess, and lasted three long seasons.

Which of abusve TV girlfriends did we miss? Tell us in the comments!

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