Leave it to superheroes to set an example for the rest of us, even when it comes to co-dependency and messed-up relationships. Here are some brightly costumed romances that provide anti-role models for the rest of us.
It's the love without end, although that's part of the problem. Hawkman and Hawkgirl are a couple of superheroes in a state of permanent rebirth, destined to be reincarnated, find each other and fall in love. But knowing that's your destiny is one thing, and feeling it is another, especially when you don't necessarily like the other person. DC's most recent incarnation of Hawkman and Hawkgirl ignored the pressure and expectations of fate and brought new meaning to on-again, off-again romances (Mostly by ignoring that "on-again" part), only managing to admit their love seconds before being killed in Blackest Night. Ouch.
The Atom/Jean Loring
Everyone's had that ex that they just can't stay away from, but how many people's exes kill their friends and then become possessed by extra-dimensional personifications of evil? I think more than a few hands in the audience went down with that last part. The Atom divorced Jean Loring when she was discovered having an affair, but when an attempt to rekindle the flames of their romance ended with her torching their mutual friend Sue Dibny with a flamethrower after accidentally killing her by stepping on her brain, Loring became evil trickster goddess Eclipso and tried to destroy reality in the service of Darkseid. Some people just can't let go.
He's the King of Atlantis! She's a superhero grown from an alien egg that was left underwater for so long that she's become semi-aquatic! Truly, nothing could pull these two young lovers apart, with the exception of the part where she gets pregnant and her hormones turn her into a giant monster with a face resembling a vagina with teeth hellbent on destruction that he has to kill. Unluckily for him - and the audience - she's only pretend dead, and is brought back decades later as a genetically modified vagina monster that must destroy because she is in heat. Or something. This time, the Sub-Mariner really killed her, because sometimes you've just got to put these hormonal women in their place. Or something. Thanks, Marvel Comics' Gender Relations Department!
It's a story as old as the sun: Boy hires girl as secretary for his lawfirm, boy falls in love with girl, boy reveals superheroic secret identity to girl, girl flees to Hollywood to become an actress, girl becomes pornstar addicted to heroin and sells secret identity of boy to crime bosses, boy undergoes nervous breakdown before forgiving and reuniting with girl, girl becomes anti-pornography talk radio host who believes she's HIV positive but isn't, girl is killed in arms of boy by boy's arch-nemesis. That's what I love about superhero comics: They're just like my life.
Green Lantern Kyle Rayner/Alex DeWitt
It says something about the repetitive nature of Kyle Rayner's tragic relationships that it eventually got turned into a plot point, but that's after it had launched the website/movement called Women In Refrigerators. Why that particular name, you may ask? It's because Kyle's "Uncle Ben" moment that taught him that, with greatly powered magical rings comes great responsibility wasn't just that girlfriend Alex was killed, but that she was killed and had her corpse stuffed in a fridge for Kyle to find. As motivational tools go, it's kind of extreme, but as a plot device, it's downright tacky.
The Wasp/Hank Pym
Never mind the reputation as a wifebeater, there was so much wrong with the relationship between Marvel's primary Avengers couple of Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne before he thought to raise his fist. For example, that whole nervous breakdown that made him into a schizophrenic and led to Janet marrying him because she recognized the way he kissed but didn't want to remind him of his old self? Or his building a robot that became fixated on her and ultimately built his own robot modeled after her personality that Pym ended up having a relationship with? Or the weird, controlling (and cuckolding) way that Van Dyne treated Pym during their marriage? Without a doubt, this was comics most dysfunctional relationship, and made all the moreso by the number of creators who kept getting them back together after numerous splits.
The X-Men's dream couple are proof that sometimes love isn't enough. Teenage sweethearts, Scott Summers and Jean Grey kept getting separated for various reasons that included her being replaced by a cosmic entity, his getting married to someone who turned out to be a clone of her, his having a telepathic affair with another woman and her death. Even in alternate realities, it doesn't work out; parallel reality series X-Men Forever showed that Grey cheated on Summers with Wolverine and, following Wolverine's death, then hooked up with the Beast. Maybe they simply got together too young.
Delving back into the worrying issues of comic book professionals, welcome to the troubled relationship between Spider-Man and Catwoman rip-off the Black Cat. She was a woman who worshipped Spider-Man so much that she gave up her way of life - and almost her life itself on multiple occasions - in order to impress him, but was only interested in excitement and hedonistic pursuits, her status as fantasy object became somewhat questionable recently when it was revealed that she's not allowed to look at Peter Parker's face while they have sex. No, really; there's a scene where Peter makes sure she didn't look at him without the mask on. That's either taking the secret identity thing too far or some weird level of control that I'm not sure I want to think about in connection to Spider-Man.