Stalking: Because Obsessive, Unhealthy Behavior in a Relationship is Soooo Romantic!

Lord Lothwick of Lumberdine stood outside of Geraldine’s window and gazed soulfully up into its dark depths.   His beloved slept there, not knowing that she was being watched from below.  Lothwick was weary.  After all, he had followed Geraldine all day from her picnic in the park to the afternoon lunch with friends and finally to the ball, during which he had stared at her from behind a potted plant until supper time.  She had danced until nearly dawn, unaware of his pining gaze.  And now she was home at last.  He could not bear to sleep now, not when he knew that dearest Geraldine was dreaming so peacefully and it was his duty to watch over her.  He was In Love, and that is what people In Love must do.

If you are feeling at all supportive of Lord Lothwick’s endeavors, you most certainly need to read this post and Learn From It.  Unfortunately, too many books are beginning to follow this trend in romance.  No, Twilight was not the first, and it will certainly not be the last.  Many a romance novel, romantic film, and even your general adventure tale seems to feel the need to include a stalker.

Now, stalkers can be quite useful in a story.  I think of Danger in the Shadows, a great novel by Christian writer Dee Henderson, who was able to actually capture the scary elements of being on the run from a psychopath.  However, many of the stalkers who make their way into today’s novels are not supposed to be psychopaths (although really, that is exactly what they turn out to be).  Here is the dictionary definition of a stalker:

Stalker (noun):

  • a person who stealthily hunts or pursues an animal or another person.
  • a person who harasses or persecutes someone with unwanted and obsessive attention.
I'm sorry, ladies, but the likelihood of being stalked by one of these is extremely low.

Notice the key elements of this term.  A stalker hunts, pursues, harasses, and persecutes.  Their attention is considered “unwanted” and “obsessive.”  These ought to be alarming.  However, books (yes, books like Twilight) have turned the art of stalkery into something romantic, desirable, and enviable.  To have someone pursue you and refuse to leave you alone is dramatic.  *swoon!*  Instead of being hunted, the chase becomes a game.  Because, of course, the person following you will always be attractive and ultimately desirable (although not at first, for whatever reason).  Here is today’s definition of a stalker:

Stalker (noun):

  •  a person whose love is so strong that he will not leave the object of his desire alone until  she comes to love him as much as he loves her
  •   a dark, angsty hero whose obsession is unwelcome at first, but we all really can’t wait until she comes around
  •   Edward McSparkles

This probably wouldn’t be such a bad thing if it was perhaps a little more light hearted and a little less creepifying.  For instance, I was able to employ the concept of stalking in my book about Danni as a more hilariously alarming aspect of the story.  Crazy teenage girls chasing after a boy, to the horror of Danni, who wants out of the mess entirely, makes for a fun storyline, but also acknowledges the fact that stalking isn’t precisely a healthy, mature, or truly romantic way to woo the object of one’s interest.

Searching for and striving for a loved one is a great way to add interesting drama and romance to a story, but it must be done carefully to avoid unwittingly falling under the definition of “stalking”.  Characters can do very rash things, but the author (and the readers) should always be aware of how admirable those actions are – or aren’t.  Stupidity and creepiness should not be mistaken for attractive and impressive behavior.

The dramatic stalking of such ilk as Lord Lothwick is exactly such stupidity.  Books that emphasize the romance and drama and attraction of having someone pursue and obsess are giving readers a very false impression of true love and healthy relationships.  They are also indulging in a truly worn out cliché.

And so, I suggest that in real life (or at least in a story that I would write), the story of Lothwick and Geraldine might end something like this:

Geraldine woke with an uncomfortable sensation of being watched.  It had begun early that morning and lasted throughout the day and she was growing concerned.  She had a sneaking suspicion that she knew who it was that haunted her every move.  And she was sick of it. 

Geraldine lit a candle and went to the window.  Sure enough, a man stood outside, staring up at her with hopeful, dark-rimmed eyes.

“Lothwick, get out of here! I have told you many times that I do not care for you at all,” Geraldine informed him.  “Leave now before I awake the house!”

“But, my love! I pine for you! I yearn for you! I must be with you! I cannot leave you!  Let me stand here and guard your sleep, dearest, fairest, Geraldine!”

Geraldine picked up a priceless china figurine and threw it at Lord Lothwick.

“Get out, you disturbing creature! I do not like you.”

“I will follow you all my life,” Lord Lothwick vowed, staggering slightly from the blow to his head, a crazed light in his eyes.  “Until the day I die, I will never leave your shadow!”

“Go!” screamed Geraldine.  “I said I don’t like you!”

 “My love, my goddess!” Lord Lothwick gasped as he began to climb the trellis outside Geraldine’s window. 

Geraldine found the small pistol that she kept on hand for just such occasions as this.  The overenthusiastic Lord Lothwick was almost to the window by the time she returned.  She aimed the pistol and said once more,

“Leave. Now.”

“I would die for you!” Lord Lothwick declared, clearly deranged.

So Geraldine pulled the trigger and obliged him.


The End.


19 thoughts on “Stalking: Because Obsessive, Unhealthy Behavior in a Relationship is Soooo Romantic!

  1. This is so true, and the more I think about it, the more books pop into my head that use this very thing. In reality this would freak you out big time… interesting blog.

    1. It is scary, isn’t it? This is the sort of thing restraining orders are for! Somehow, real life stalkers are never quite so attractive, are they? Thanks for reading!

  2. I LOVE your ending. And yes, stalkers are not even slightly romantic. As someone who was once pursued for eight months by an ardent stalker, I can speak with some authority — Stalkers are creepy and terrifying!

  3. Nice, Melissa. I especially liked the capitalization of “In Love” — it captures the idolatry quite well.

    I can’t help but add, though, this (occupational disease): Rewarding as the end of the Geraldine/Lothwick story is, it would be terrible as legal advice. Sadly, until stalking reaches the _Sleeping With the Enemy_ point, killing a stalker isn’t justifiable homicide.

  4. Two words. “Miller’s Tale.” A classic stalker comes to a well deserved “end.” Ahem.

    David, Lord Lothwick on his way up the trellis is on the verge of turning Stalking into Home Invasion. Does that make a legal difference? If not, the law, sir, is an ass.

    1. Yes, Don, the law is an ass. Geraldine can use “reasonable” but not “deadly” force to expel Lothwick. So unless Geraldine “reasonably” apprehends an imminent threat of serious bodily harm or death in Lothwick’s approach, Lothwick’s trespass isn’t legal justification to shoot.

      If the big bad prosecutor decided to charge poor Geraldine, though, jury nullification could help her.

      1. Ah, but remember that this story is taking place in a hypothetically gothic setting. All Geraldine has to do is swoon and no one will accuse her of any wrongdoing.

  5. Very well done! I have the opportunity to work with both sides of this situation. Unfortunately those who are convinced become aware that the “romance” of the situation is quickly overcome by the obsessive need for control that these people evidence in their “dating”. This often enters into the cycle of manipulation that includes the hearts and flowers as well as the control and limitations of freedom and denial of access to money and resources and becomes verbal denigration and physical violence before the hearts and flowers begin the cycle all over again.

    These people often are so insecure and out of control internally that they have an obsessive need to control everything and everybody around them. Their internal chaos is covered and cloaked by a very facile and attractive exterior that they have developed over the years to accomplish their desires and to hide their flaws, just like the rest of us. They just have a lot more to hide.

  6. Great article, Melissa! The comments are also very interesting- thanks for the input, Wayne. I think that some of the misconception of the Stalker is a sort of shyness mixed with labrador-like devotion that some people think is cute and endearing- but the demonstration of that kind of “secret admirer”‘s love is often just romanticized stalking, as you pointed out. It’s all very mixed up and unhealthy when you think about it. The only legitimate uses of this theme that I can see would be for comedic or dramatic stories (like the one you wrote for us, Melissa), but certainly not romantic.

  7. As soon as he enters Geraldine’s dwelling uninvited she may shoot him and the law will support her. I checked on it before purchasing my semi-automatic. 🙂 And, according to one of my police friends, the law (at least in Georgia) is unlikely to convict a woman for shooting the man attacking her no matter where she is.

    I enjoyed this post immensely. And sure enough, after Bella married the creep he turned out to be controlling and part of a very manipulative “family”. She let herself in for a lot of trouble and heartache by tolerating a stalker (the traditional definition).

  8. I loved this post. I am a girl who just recently had a stalker (who came back as soon as his year-long restraining order was up forcing me to take action again. Some guys don’t understand “not interested”.) Definitely wasn’t something to be romanticized so I love your honest and amusing impression on the use of stalkers in novels. I do think persistence is a good quality in a man though (as a lot of women like myself are not likely to notice a good man on first glance). Stalking seems to be taking the admirable intention of persistence to an extreme.

    1. Persistence can be good, if applied respectfully. My current boyfriend was persistent because I was generally clueless about his interest. So he kept making himself available and I finally noticed and went, “Hey, he’s awesome!” So, that worked just fine. What he did not do (at least, as far as I know) is stand outside my window and pine for me in a creepy manner. =D

  9. I have one point to add in this post Grey Nightmare books world. A lot of those “Lord Lothwick” books also condone rape as does that horrid Grey series.

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