Thank you so much!
I think I might have given you a false impression. I don’t hate Rhaegar. (I would guess that nobodysuspectsthebutterfly doesn’t hate Rhaegar either — though she doesn’t blame people who do hate Rhaegar, and neither do I — but Butterfly can speak for herself on the matter.)
I’m very critical of Rhaegar’s actions but I don’t hate him. I think being labeled “Prophesied Savior of the World” since birth is a very heavy burden to bear. (That’s probably why it’s a good thing that Jon grew up in ignorance of his true parents, and that “no one ever looked for a girl”.) Even with such a heavy burden, though, Rhaegar shouldered it without any apparent complaint: “It seems I must become a warrior.” I think that’s something that’s too easily forgotten: Rhaegar wanted to save the world in the War for the Dawn. It’s just … the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
As I was saying earlier today, Rhaegar focused on the Big Picture of “saving humanity”, and he lost sight of what that actually meant. Aerys was out of control, but instead of implementing the government reforms he was thinking about (possibly a permanent Great Council of lords to limit the power of the king and appease the great houses who had been upset for a couple generations), Rhaegar disappeared and left the people of Westeros in the hands of a madman. Winning some future War for the Dawn does no good if Aerys burns everyone to death in the meantime. Similarly, Jorah says that Rhaegar would have stopped the Dothraki from raping the people they conquered, but, regardless of what Rhaegar & Lyanna’s story was, there are some serious consent issues in a relationship between a 15-16 year old girl and a 23 yr old married man who disappears off the map and who isolates that girl from from the rest of her family and who impregnates her despite the high risk involved in such a pregnancy.
Typical of GRRM, Rhaegar is morally grey: “When I look around at the real world, it’s a world full of greys. Even the greatest heroes have weaknesses, and even the blackest villains are capable of the greatest acts of compassion and humanity. People are complicated, and I want my characters to be complicated, too.” I don’t think it’s in keeping with the spirit of GRRM’s text to say that Rhaegar was Wonderful, but I also don’t think that Rhaegar was operating on the same level as Ramsay or Littlefinger or whoever when Rhaegar wanted to save the world. (This is why I argue that Lyanna chose to go with Rhaegar, because if he instead abducted Lyanna, then he stops being morally grey to me and becomes much more of a villain, which I don’t think is what GRRM intends for someone who tried to save humanity.) So I admire Rhaegar for wanting to save the world, but I condemn the way he went about it, abandoning the government, humiliating his wife, and the many other unforgivable things he does.
I’m not trying to say that anyone’s hatred of Rhaegar is invalid, not in the least. Everyone has to work out their own relationship with Rhaegar’s actions, and if Rhaegar publicly humiliating Elia makes you hate him, then by all means, hate him. There are too many men in RL who treat women like shit, and no one should have to accept that in fictional men. But my own relationship with Rhaegar isn’t "I hate him," it’s "It’s complicated."
So now that I’ve clarified … I first read AGOT when I was around 13/14, so I don’t remember exactly, but I probably thought Rhaegar/Lyanna was romantic idk. I had many bad ASOIAF opinions. I dislike the fandom’s general tendency to romanticize Rhaegar/Lyanna but I also dislike the fandom’s general tendency to turn the relationship into a strict dichotomy of either “True Love” or “Abduction” without considering that there are “grey” options in between those two possibilities.