Girl meets Boy.
Girl and Boy immediately have an attraction and either start a relationship or do a dance around their feelings.
Then another Boy enters the picture.
Girl finds herself attracted and torn between her feelings for the two boys.
And we the reader have to painfully endure all of the characters go back and forth with their feelings or this three-way relationship makes a mess of both their lives and the story that is being told.
And that my fellow readers is what is called a love triangle.
When I think back, there is not one book that I read that did not have a love triangle incorporated in the story. Some weren’t as noticeable or the main focus of the story so you really didn’t give it much thought. But there are other novels where the dominance of the love triangle overshadows the entire plot of the story. And that is what I want to discuss today…can a love triangle hurt the story?
Let’s take Twilight for example. When I first heard about the series, all I could gather from the series that it contained one girl and two guys vying for her affection. Before you know it, you see teenage girls wearing “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob” t-shirts. I didn’t know the plot (what little there is from what I can tell) or whatever else about the book. You can blame it on the hype or this feature being used as a marketing ploy, but I believed the main focus of this book was the love triangle. And because of it, that is one of the reasons why I stayed away from it.
It may not be as dominant, but the same theory applies to The Hunger Games series, The Mortal Instrument series, and from what I heard The Throne of Glass series has one as well. I recall reading a review of the Red Queen and the love triangle was one of the reasons they didn’t like the book.
Why do authors feel that love triangles are necessary? I mean, I understand that having straight forward romance may be a little bit boring to read. But how is having two guys fighting over one woman any more interesting? This appears to be a popular trend in young adult books and I feel that is unfortunate. When you put so many love triangles out there, you create a false perception of what a real relationship is really like. You are also putting out there that a young woman can’t go through life without having conflicting feelings over two guys. To me, that just seems unrealistic.
My fear of love triangles is what I like to call the Twilight syndrome: taking a dysfunctional relationship and making it the center focus of a novel. I think that could be a dangerous element added to a book. You want your readers to remember the story and yes, the romantic relationship, if there is one, should be memorable, but not so memorable that it overshadows the story all together. This might cause the reader to lose interest in the book altogether. You don’t want to find yourself really getting into the story but only to be stopped by the incessant whining of why the female character can’t choose between the two guys.
There are many books out there that describe a loving relationship, in either young adult or adult books, without diverting from the plot. They have become pretty successful and memorable without it. So maybe we should just tone down the use of love triangles. I don’t think it really is all that necessary. Because I don’t think this author from The Guardian could say it any better:
“In my opinion, love triangles are not healthy nor are they something readers should dream about. The one being loved is forced to decide between two people, two people he/she forged a bond with: this is not healthy. It is also not healthy to dream for two people to love you. In my opinion, you need to accept who you love and who loves you.”
What are your feelings toward love triangles? Do you get completely turned off when you find them in a book?