I was reading The Kiss of Deception the other day and it features a love triangle that’s not really a love triangle (there are two guys who like Lia but she really only likes one of them – I hope this doesn’t change in the rest of the series but we’ll see). And it’s cool, you know, identifying yourself with Lia and imagining you have two hot men looking at you like you’re chocolate cake.
I’ve read my fair share of books with a love triangle plot and while I don’t hate them, I also feel it’s an over-used trope that really shouldn’t serve as a plot device to add more drama to a story, because that’s just plain awful.
I did a quick check of my Goodreads “read” shelf and came up with these examples of love triangles, most of which are young adult novels:
- those where the love triangle was really unnecessary and used for angst and I wanted to slap the hero/ine and tell her to stop leading that poor boy on (that doesn’t necessarily mean that I didn’t enjoy the novel): Twilight, Clockwork Angel, Cruel Beauty, White Hot Kiss, Throne of Glass, The Eye of the World.
- those where the love triangle was more of an afterthought and didn’t bother me (much): One for the Money, Scarlet, Pride and Prejudice, The Hunger Games.
- those where something innovative was done with the trope of the love triangle: Lying Out Loud, Ketchup Clouds, Shadow Scale.
But let me ask you something: How many of these do you think feature a love triangle where there’s one guy and more than one girl? Three, that’s how many. There’s Shadow Scale, where Seraphina’s in love with a man who’s promised to marry another (a princess, no less); Lying Out Loud, where the love triangle isn’t really a proper triangle since one of the girls doesn’t even like the guy; and The Eye of The World – or indeed later instalments of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan – where Rand has three (at least I think there are only three of them?) women trying to win his heart – and they’re remarkably civil about it, too.
What I’m trying to say is that we’re apparently much more likely to meet a book where there are two boys/men trying to win a girl’s heart. And I don’t know whether it’s just me – I’m guessing not, since this trope is still so popular – but my thought process when encountering a love triangle like that is: “Wow, I know it’s unrealistic but it’s cool, two hot guys is better than one any day, right?”
But we’re reading the story from the girl’s perspective, aren’t we?! It always surprises me how tolerant the two poor guys are when confronted with a heroine’s indecision. How can you not know who you want to be with? How do they just wait and wait for her to decide? Ugh. If the story was reversed and a guy was “trying to decide” which of the two lovely girls he wants to date, I’d probably think: “He’s such a douche, leading those two on.” And even: “That bitch, trying to steal her boyfriend!”
And that’s completely unfair! Ok so I know these are fictional relationships we’re talking about but as most of the people I hang out with these days are either virtual or fictional (Wow, that sounded way worse that it actually is, I do have flesh-and-blood friends as well!), I care about them deeply – most of the time.
I’m OK with a love triangle that’s unobtrusive and where the person in the middle (the one deciding) isn’t being an asshat. I would, however, love to read more stories where this age-old trope is used to further the plot in a non-angsty way, where my expectations are turned upside down and where the final decision surprises me. I’d love more of that, really.
What’s your take on love triangles? Love them? Hate them? Love to hate them?
Have you read any stories with an innovative use of a love triangle?
I’d love to hear from you! :)