To All the Toxicity I’ve Loved Before

How Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship grew toxic


Photo Courtesy of John Jennings on Unsplash

When To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, originally came out in 2018, many teens fell in love with the plot and the characters. Lara Jean Covey was sweet, and albeit a little naive, and Peter Kavinsky was the stereotypical jock but had cute moments- like the notes he wrote her every day. However, most of those moments were simply to make Gen jealous, and he made that very clear. As the second and third movies came, Peter no longer looks like a perfect boyfriend. While there were some small, almost unnoticeable, toxic moments in the first movie, they became much bigger and more noticeable in the latter movies.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before…
The viewer is first introduced to Peter when his current girlfriend, and Lara Jean’s ex-best friend, insults Lara Jean’s boots. Chris, the new best friend and Gen’s cousin, comes to the rescue by defending Lara Jean’s shoes and insulting Gen’s Uggs. Peter looks down at her boots but stays quiet until after Gen leaves. Later in the movie, he told Lara Jean that he wanted to compliment her boots, but in the actual moment, he cites a new diet as the reason for Gen’s insults before chasing after her. After their agreement to fake-date, he includes parties in the contract despite Lara Jean’s obvious discomfort with the idea. At their very first party, he takes her favorite scrunchie based on his preference for her hair and promises to keep it safe. However, as soon as Gen expresses interest in it and tries to take it, he doesn’t even try to stop it. Lara Jean doesn’t seem to notice as Peter immediately suggests they leave and go to her favorite diner, where Gen won’t stop texting him. He insists that it’s annoying, and when Lara Jean asks if he’s going to reply, he reveals that they talk on the phone. Despite Lara Jean being a fake girlfriend, that’s still incredibly disrespectful to her. She justifiably makes a face, and Peter begins to insinuate that she’s unrightfully judgy. The worst moment in the movie is after the “breakup” and the release of the hot tub video. Lara Jean has to face a lot of backlash, and Peter waits a while to stand up for her and then is unrightfully praised for it. He tells her he wishes he knew who did it, so he could beat them up, and she tells him she knows exactly who it was, implying Gen. Peter insists Gen wouldn’t do it, although, it’s revealed in the second movie that not only did he know it was her, but Gen was also the one he was waiting for in the hot tub.
…PS I Still Love You
The second movie is undeniably when Peter faces the most backlash. The movie starts with him taking Lara Jean to a fancy restaurant on their first official date. It seems sweet, and Lara Jean is awe-filled with the dinner and lanterns after. At school, however, she learns that’s where he always took Gen on dates. She understandably is upset about the news, and Peter tells her that they’ll meet after school for coffee, where he pretty much stands her up. After waiting over an hour, Lara Jean gets up to leave, and Peter rushes in. He apologizes, claiming lacrosse practice went over and cited his coach’s no-phone rule. While that seems like a reasonable excuse, there were many different ways he could’ve gotten the news to her. He also tries to guilt Lara Jean into doing the same volunteer program as his by telling her it’d be more fun, and they should volunteer together since they’re dating. When she suggested he attend the same program as her, he all but laughed at the idea. Over Valentine’s Day, he didn’t get her any of the school-sponsored valentines then read her a poem to make up for it. She obviously was ecstatic about it and told him it was romantic of him to write her a poem, which he went along with. One of the residents at the nursing home she volunteered at, quickly told her the truth- the poem was actually “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe, and Peter just changed it to Annabel Lee to Lara Jean. Another Valentine’s Day miss was taking her to a house party, where he ditched her for a game of flip cup. Lara Jean was clearly not enjoying herself, but he ignored that and kept socializing with everyone but her. It got to the point where she told Lucas, one of her best friends, that she sometimes wished her boyfriend wasn’t so popular but quickly added that she didn’t blame Peter for any of it. Very soon after, she and John Ambrose, another recipient of the love letters and a fellow volunteer, organized a small “party” to dig up the time capsule their old friend group had buried. Peter quickly invited Gen without telling Lara Jean, knowing her discomfort with their friendship. They have a fight after that quickly blows over, but the Gen-Peter friendship argument is revisited shortly after on the way to one of his games. Lara Jean dresses up for the game, despite that being out of character, to make Peter happy, but Chris shows a picture of Peter and Gen embracing. She gets mad at Peter for not telling her that he’d been comforting Gen, and when Peter tries to push the argument aside, Lara Jean breaks up with him, believing she was the second choice. They, of course, made up, but that was tested again in the third movie.
… Always and Forever, Lara Jean
The main problem throughout the third movie was college. Peter was given a lacrosse scholarship to Stanford and convinced Lara Jean to apply, so they could attend together. When she was rejected, he told her UC Berkeley was only an hour away, and she could later transfer to be with him. She wasn’t sure whether she’d want to, but after his continued insistence, she agreed. On a class trip to New York though, she and Chris bumped into Gen who was touring NYU. In lieu of the somewhat mended friendship, Gen invited the two girls to join the tour then go to a party with her and her tour guide. They accepted, and Lara Jean soon fell in love with the campus and atmosphere. When they get back to the hotel lobby, Peter is waiting for her and seems annoyed that she wants to spend time with Gen and Chris. Lara Jean quickly tells him about how much she loves NYU and the city, but he quickly shuts her down by insisting that she go to Berkeley then switch to Stanford. He continues to insist on this throughout the whole movie, and even tried to guilt-trip her by saying she was just trying to end their relationship by going to NYU. Throughout the whole movie, she told him “don’t be mad,” even after facing rejection, which is incredibly concerning that her first thought was to be worried that he’d be angry with her. On prom night, he essentially told her that if she went to NYU, they’d break up. This led to an actual breakup between the two. Of course, they got back together and insisted they’d work out despite the distance.
Of course, Lara Jean isn’t completely blameless throughout the movies either. She let her own insecurities get in the way of the relationship and flirted with a guy that she knew had feelings for her. She also didn’t tell John Ambrose that she was dating Peter, even after he was brought up. Overall, both the characters had faults, but Peter Kavinsky was a toxic boyfriend and a bad example for young teens. As Nylah Simpson (11) stated, “All of his character development seemed to go down the drain.”