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Bad, Bad Romance: On Toxic Notions of Love & Other Issues [Part II]

We might have started “Bad, Bad Romance” as a response to 2017’s XianGazaGate, but it has since grown into a much-needed discussion on toxic attitudes all in the name of “romance” and “love”.

Maybe we’re entrenched in too much media that culminates a romance plot via public declarations of love. But the notion that public proposals — whether for marriage, relationships, or for an event (like “promposals”) – are romantic has been normalized. Likewise is the trope of friends teasing, egging on, or even pushing for a relationship to develop between two parties. Regardless of either parties’ feelings on the matter.

This is especially true in Filipino culture, where almost every romantic movie has the token barkada or best friend character that exists solely for this purpose. But the truth is far more nuanced than romcoms would lead us to believe. In real life, factors such as guilt, peer pressure, fear, and societal expectations are at play.

We published the first part of this series featuring stories of the all-too-familiar “Nice Guy”. For this round of Bad, Bad Romance: On Toxic Notions of Love & Other Issues, we’d like to bring attention to how these damaging attitudes on romance are sometimes aggravated by social groups or trusted friends.

As with the previous article, we have changed names to protect the contributors’ privacy.

From O.

Since apparently everyone is sharing their story on being put on the spot by unwanted advances… let me tell you how my former officemates not only actively encouraged it; they also made sure that the ENTIRE office went along with it.

Let me get this straight: right off the bat, I made it clear that i was absolutely not interested. I even made it clear that I wasn’t even actively LOOKING. But because one of the office guys had a “crush” on me (whatever it was), I just HAD to be subjected to near daily teasing and my officemates’ attempt to set us up.

I believe my exact words were “no thank you” and “no”, but that didn’t stop them.

Oooh no, everyone, from my own supervisor (who was one of the worst offenders of it) to the freaking human resources people (shouldn’t they acknowledge that this kind of daily thing should be called workplace harassment already?!) and even THE FREAKING CIO of the company played along and tried to insist on pushing the guy to me.

I never made any indication that I liked him. But because he was “such a nice guy”, I had to put up with it or I’d look like the asshole for not “going along with it”.

I politely smiled, said hello, and took photos with him (he and the others insisted on a bunch of selfies, especially when I was in cosplay for one reason or another; remember, if I had said “no” or acted up, they would just weaponize that against me). I awkwardly accepted his gifts (there was one during Christmas), but I was able to volley away the one during Valentine’s. And this was only because I was allergic to the nuts in the chocolate he tried to give me.

Look, I’m sure he’s a nice guy. Maybe he’ll make someone a good boyfriend one day. But NOT me, and I did not LIKE HIM that way and I made that clear.

I was always on the spot at every moment because people expected something to happen. A response from me or SOMETHING.

I had to play along and make nice or I’ll end up looking like the ass in all this.

This was AFTER I said no and made it clear i wasn’t interested and begged everyone to stop. Repeatedly.

No one took my side or took me seriously. Not my teammates, not my supervisor, not Human Resources; and certainly not the head of the company. Because “it’s just teasing” or “why don’t I just give him a chance”. It was horrible, and fake, and so inwardly infuriating.

So in conclusion, please DON’T FUCKING DO THAT TO PEOPLE.  TAKE A HINT, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT’S IN NEON LIGHTS SAYING BACK OFF. STOP trapping people by PUTTING THEM ON THE SPOT, on blast in public like that.  And most of all, STOP ENABLING THIS KIND OF BEHAVIOR. Don’t STAND BY and ENCOURAGE, and DON’T ENCOURAGE IT, especially in a professional setting! #leavegirlsALONE #letthemSAYNO

From V.


toxic notions of love

In college, I was dating this guy for like a mere two weeks before he decided to declare “will you be my girlfriend” in Cantina in front of everyone. He even asked the staff to turn the music off. And everyone was like, “Aw come on, say yes!”

I felt so pressured so I said yes. We broke up just as quickly.


From L.

My experience didn’t “ruin my life” per se. But it made me wary of dating guys, and also sharing personal stuff with the people around me.

Back in college I had a group of female friends. I was the only one without a boyfriend. This being in our freshman year, it apparently bothered them to a great extent that I was single and okay with it. Without my consent they set me up on blind dates with guys from their circle. And this meant ANY guy. Cousins, acquaintances, neighbors.

They way they’d do it, they’d ask me to come to a place to “meet with them and hang out”. And I’d get there to find their latest tribute waiting for me. The problem was, since they didn’t know the guy well enough most of the time, they had NO IDEA if the guy was a creep.

They were all creeps. And I had to go ALONE.

It would have been okay if it had been a group date. At least that would feel safe because there would be witnesses. But no, they thought it would be much better if we had our “alone time” so we could get to know each other better.

I’m kind of shaking right now, because it’s coming back to me and I’m still so angry. These people were supposed to be my friends. What if something had happened?

On one occasion they did send me off my merry way to meet a complete creeper. Very handsy, likes to get in your personal space. I was 16, fresh outta high school and quite sheltered. Didn’t know how to deal with guys and these situations so I was trying to be nice and at least have lunch with them and then rush back home. This dude right off the bat said he wants to see me naked. It was so wrong. I don’t owe them anything, especially not my time. All those times I should have left right away.

I guess that’s why I’m still angry. We often only really realize it later.

I should have just explained the situation, told them I’m not interested, then left. I guess I didn’t want to disappoint my friends.

Handsy Dude actually found my Friendster account and kept trying to get in touch with me after we met. I just ignored him. The day we met though, when I asked him what he did for a living (because he was in his late 20s at the time), he told me that he was a rapper. He even brought out a pen and a notebook, scribbled what he said were lyrics of a new song. He told me it would be about me, then showed it to me.

It was all references about my ‘sexy body’. Lost my appetite after that. He offered to take me home, of fucking course I declined. Anyway, that’s that. I finally told my friends that I was not interested after the last dude. They were just kind of ‘ok sure, you’re so hard to find a boyfriend for’ like, girl I didn’t ask you.

We – me, those friends – still talk from time to time but I don’t like hanging out with them. All this because they thought it would be cool if they could make me their sort of ‘romance simulator’ or something. Also I’m sure it’s really irrelevant but I’ve always thought them being obsessed with Twilight had something to do with all that HAHA.


From C.

So there was a Christian girl who was into me in the office, a couple of years back. And things got muddled because of the whole “I only date Christians” rule.

toxic notions of love

This whole toxic thing comes in with: instead of leaving it at that, my dumbass friends at work had to go out of the way to make her feel uncomfortable and awkward about it. It hit a point where she unfriended the lot of us on social media.

To this day their stance on it is “welp you sure dodged a bullet fam” and not “whoops we goofed”.



From E.

I had this one suitor who stalked me and found out my work address in the province and sent me a bouquet of flowers. She also kept giving me unnecessarily huge and embarrassing gifts even when I outright told her I didn’t like her that way.

Toxic Romance - Guilted Into It Digital Collage

I don’t know if it counts as public, but she always gave them when we were hanging out with other people.

One time, she gave me this big box of cupcakes that had TMNT designs she especially had made for me. It was just embarrassing.

She even went all the way to Capiz and forced me to go to Boracay with her and her brother. Thank god my parents made my bro go with us, though. And just to be clear, she didn’t physically force me to go to Boracay. She just came to my town, and I felt guilty to refuse because she already went all the way here and all. She bought tickets and booked rooms and stuff.

Soooo… yeah hahaha.

Did any of these stories resonate with you? Have you had similar experiences in the past? Working against toxic notions of love and similar issues is a war that can’t be waged on one’s own. Let us know what you think. If you’d like us to publish accounts for you, let us know too. Until then, stay tuned for the final part of this series.

Jerica Chingcuangco on Instagram
Jerica Chingcuangco
Jerica will soon fulfill her dream of becoming a real-life Pokémon Master. She loves true crime, fanfiction, and journaling. She doesn't have enough patience to follow TV shows weekly, but will binge a whole series in the course of several days instead. Her hair magically changes color when she’s bored.

Talk to her on instagram. View more of her work here.

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