I used to think love triangles involving a girl and two guys were awesome. Then I ran into some people who were so sick of them I was forced to reconsider my opinion. Now, I’m at a stage where I really don’t know what I think.
Of course, you can’t blame people for being frustrated. After all, they were still recovering from the realization that Jacob from Twilight is much cuter onscreen than Edward, and then they got Hunger Games thrown at them, not to mention all the Twilight rip offs and lots of other completely unrelated Young Adult love triangles. But is there anything inherently so very bad about the love triangle? And considering how many love triangles are floating around in the fictional air right now, is it even possible to write a good love triangle that doesn’t sound like somebody else’s? That is the question of the day.
First the pros of a two guy, one girl triangle:
1. The dilemma. In a good love triangle, both the heroine and the readers should feel like both relationships have significant possibilities, and that both perspective soul mates really care about her. This means that no matter whom she chooses, she’ll have to break somebody’s heart. And since breaking the heart of someone who could be good for you is something nice girls don’t want to do, it creates an enormous amount of internal conflict in the heroine, which is so fun to read.
2. The wish fulfillment. The greatest fear of a lot of girls is that they will never really be loved or appreciated by a man. So a story about a girl who has not one, but two guys solidly in love with her is the perfect escape for an unmarried female audience. Because even if one romance turns sour, she’ll always have the other guy to fall back on.
Judging based on those, love triangles sound pretty great, but now it’s time for the cons.
1. Over simplicity. Love triangles may look bad to some people because they don’t exactly match up with real life. I mean, let’s face it, very few women, and even fewer teenage girls, ever reach a point where they have exactly two men who are equally obsessed with them for different reasons, and between whom they don’t have a favorite. So that kind of situation in a book seems a little contrived.
2. Does this really have to go on for three books? Further diminishing the credibility of the standard popular love triangle is the fact that it often continues for three books. Even if someone in real life were to get into a romantic situation similar to the love triangles described in books, chances are they would get out of it pretty quickly.
3. You shouldn’t want to have it both ways. I sometimes feel that in young adult fiction, part of the reason the girl holds on to both of her relationships for as long as she does is so the author can let her have touching… hugging… kissing scenes with both suitors before she’s decided who she wants. If a guy character were to do that with two girls, we would look down on him and call him a playboy, but when a girl does it it’s okay? Um… we may have to think about that again. True, it’s usually the guys who are fueling these relationships, and it’s usually the girl who backs off at the end of a book saying she’s not ready to make her choice yet. Trouble is, that’s after all the kisses.
So… I guess my conclusion is, when writing triangles, proceed with caution. Don’t let their appeal fool you into thinking they’ll be easy to write. What are your thoughts on love triangles?
- Love Triangles: Can a Character Love Two People at Once? (addictivestory.wordpress.com)
- The Trouble with Triangles (blog404.org)