Man is a social animal. They are expected to live socially and not entirely alone. Even those who refer to themselves as introverts have family and friends that they still care about as well as care for them. Even those who see themselves as “outcasts” of civilization fill their social quota with imaginary friends and animal companions. Relationships with other living beings are just part of the whole human experience package.

That doesn’t mean that all relationships are for the better, however. While relationships are supposed to help you in your life journey, sometimes they can just be plain toxic. Living with an alcoholic, sharing living spaces with “energy vampires,” even just talking to overly-critical people is enough to drain your whole energy. Maintaining a relationship with these people will slowly and surely destroy you from the inside until there is nothing left but a simple husk of what you used to be.

Plain and simple, toxic relationships are bad. However, they do make for some compelling stories. From literature to film, something about unhealthy relationships makes for a good narrative. Maybe it is the satisfaction of getting out at the end that makes it so readable. Nonetheless, here are some books that talk about toxic relationships or have such relationships at the center of the narrative.

Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

 Written in 1938, this Daphne du Maurier story proves that toxic relationships are not a new phenomenon. This classic psychological thriller novel is about a young woman who becomes obsessed with her husband’s first wife. With the main topic of jealousy and betrayal, this story discusses what happens when you get too obsessed with somebody’s past. This story has been adapted multiple times as a feature film, with the 1940s Alfred Hitchcock adaptation being the most highly regarded one.

My Alcoholic, My Love: My Love and Loss of an Alcoholic Husband – Margaret Moschack

 Some toxic relationships exist because of an addiction of one of the parties, in this case, alcohol. Not only is this a tale of a toxic relationship and letting go, but it is also a warning against alcoholism. Since this is also a memoir, it also serves as a good read on how to leave a relationship that just isn’t working but instead is destroying you as well. This is what makes this book different from the others on this list. It is a book that is also about picking up the pieces after getting out of a toxic relationship.

You can get this book or learn more about it by visiting the author’s website.

My Lovely Wife – Samantha Downing

 Horrible people make for horrible relationships. In the case of this book, not only do you have one atrocious person, but both parties in the relationship are awful people. How horrible, you ask? They are both serial killers who happen to be married and have two children. It is a thrilling story that keeps us guessing which of the couple is the more horrible one.

Laura Dean Keep Breaking Up with Me – Mariko Tamaki

 People with self-esteem issues are the most prone to entering into Toxic Relationships. Often, these people feel that if they do not settle for the love they are getting, then there will be no other love that will be available for them. This is the topic that sits at the heart of this Mariko Tamaki novel. Although aimed at a younger audience, this book also offers a lot to its older readers. Mainly to not leave and ditch your life-long friends just because of a significant other and that it is always okay to vamoose at a relationship that is destroying you.