Discussion: Why Do We Love to Hate Love Triangles?

why-do-we-love-to-hate-love-triangles

Ahh, the dreaded love triangle. Most of the time, it revolves around two boys and a girl, but there are some books with two boys and one girl. Love triangles been around for a very long time in YA fiction, and in 2016, it seems like nearly everyone loathes this plot device.

I asked the twittersphere what they thought about love triangles. Do you hate them, or do you love them? Here are some of the great responses I got:

The responses to my questionย surprised me! A lot of people said that they hate love triangles, which I expected, but a lot of people also claimed that they like them, so long as they’re done well. I definitely agree with that–there’s nothing worse than suffering through a novel with a million love interests and a character who can’t get their hormones in check. So, I got myself thinking, how is a love triangle done well? I’ve come up with a few criteria that I use to decide if a love triangle is worthy of my time or not.

1. The one in the middle of the triangle must be well-developed and “deserve” the love.

We all know those characters that have nothing special about them (or lack a personality), but somehow two people manage to fall in love with them. When I say “deserve,” I mean that I have to understand why both characters love that person. The person in the center of the triangle must have a well-developed personality–and I don’t mean that they’re just simply “beautiful,” because that is what will make me immediately put down a book if all the characters like the person for is their beauty.

2. ย The love interests must also be well-developed.

Like with the character in the center of the romance, the love interests also have to have some personality to them. They have to be their own person, and I’ll throw the book across the room if they’re anything like the Brooding YA Hero from twitter. Seriously, if their defining characteristic is their stunning good looks, I’m out.

3. The emotions have to be roughly balanced.

If the center character clearly likes one character more than the other, then I don’t see a point to the love triangle. It doesn’t make sense for an author to drag out a romance that isn’t there just to add unnecessary drama to the plot. ย It annoys the reader and just makes everything so tedious. There’s no point to a triangle if the emotions are one sided or super weak.

JUST TELL THE BOY/GIRL YOU DON’T LOVE HIM, DAMMIT! *sighs*

4. There can’t be too many love interests.

I’m talking about love squares and anything else with more than 2 love interests. I can get behind a love triangle, but I can’t deal with 3+ love interests. Most of the time, it means something is underdeveloped in the book, whether it be the characters or the romance or both. Want to know a great example of what NOT to do?

I’m not the biggest fan ofย Red Queen, it’s true, and the love square in the book did nothing to help its case in my opinion. There were the two princes, Cal and Maven, and then there was Kilorn, a childhood best friend. My head got dizzy trying to keep track of all of them, and it felt like the romance between all of the guys and Mare was weak at best. Besides Mare being someone with special powers, I didn’t really think there was anything special about her that would’ve attracted so many love interests (But hey, if you like this book and the love square, don’t feel bad! This is just my opinion ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Now, if a love triangle has all four of these things, then I’m sold! I personally love the drama of a love triangle and will root wholeheartedly for one side (*cough* Chaolaena circa book 2 *cough*). As long as they’re done well, I think they’re an interesting addition to a story. It’s something that will most likely keep my flipping the pages, wondering who the main character will end up with.

But what about people who don’t like love triangles at all, regardless if they’re done well or not? I can understand that; it can get a little annoying to watch someone pine over two people (especially if they don’t like your favorite love interest–I am totally guilty of this in the ToG series, and I’ll be damned if I ever really acknowledge the ending ofย Ruin and Rising *sobs*).

Navigating the waters of the dreaded love triangle can be tough, so with the help of the twittersphere, I’ve put together a small but nice list of books where I think love triangles are done well! (Some of them don’t check off all 4 things on my love triangle criteria, but they’re still pretty good)

ย 

I think that love triangles are really subjective, and not everyone will agree with my choices, just like not everyone is on the same side of a triangle. I think they’re one of the hardest plot devices to do right, but when they are done right, it’s incredibly fun to read.

Maybe it’s time to let go of our hatred for the dreaded love triangle and embrace it. Maybe we should hate the book for its weak development of the triangle, but not for theย triangle itself, you know? If done well, it can add drama and suspense to a novel and make it ten times more interesting.

I don’t know about you, but I’m proud to admit that I absolutely love love triangles.

How do you feel about love triangles? Do you loathe them or love them? what are some books that use this device well? lET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!

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22 thoughts on “Discussion: Why Do We Love to Hate Love Triangles?

  1. pigeonreads says:

    Such a great discussion post, Alex! Very well done. I enjoyed reading this and cannot agree with you more. I like love triangles because I think it puts the reader a bit more inclined to the story like “who is this girl (or boy) gonna choose?” hence battle of ships will form (i.e. Celorian and Chaolaena) but I must agree that it has to be well done. In my opinion, the most beautifully written love triangle is Herongraystairs from the Infernal Devices in which you can’t help loving all three. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I also remembered Twilight here. although i loved that saga back in the day, I never really enjoyed the love triangle when it was SO obvious Bella was going to choose Edward.

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  2. SarahClare says:

    I really don’t mind a love triangle, but as you explore here it needs to be done well. I don’t like it when the one in the middle essentially toys with one or both feelings of the other.. and I get frustrated when one or the other gets turned into a villain or bad guy. As though that’s an excuse for the attraction.

    Cool post! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Like

  3. karlaamae says:

    I’m actually in between with love triangles but the “I don’t quite like it” is more prominent I think. In reading love triangles, I feel like I’m the one struggling with the feelings instead of the characters and I actually don’t want that kind of stree on reading. Haha. But I’ve read several triangle-stories that are made on a very good way and I actually loved it. I guess, it will all just depend on how it was written. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. Sara @ freadomlibrary says:

    I just feel like they’re unrealistic for how much they happen. I mean this random chick has two guys thirsty for me and I can’t even get a guy’s phone number like, girls aren’t always caught between two guys. I would love to see one guy choosing between two girls or two boys because it would break the mold. (Side note: when are we going to get a fantasy with a male who has to say the world and he’s gay? How has the not happened!) Most of the time I like love triangles but there’s sometimes where it makes so sense because like you said, you know the chick is only vibing with one of the guys and the other is just there to look desperate and annoying. Great discussion!

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  5. corrallingbooks says:

    I definitely thought the love triangle in the Infernal Devices series was handled really well (imo much better than in the Mortal Instruments). Idk about Throne of Glass personally, because I felt like Dorian was going to end up with Celaena, but yeah in the next book, I felt like there was more of a focus on Chaol so… xD But yeah, great discussion post – I especially love the point about how they need to be well rounded and equal love opponents (idk how else to phrase it haha), because all too often, I’ve read books where it’s so obvious what’s going to happen, and it just feels like a waste of pages >.<

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  6. Becca and Books says:

    I love that you did this post, I feel like everyone’s too busy ranting about love triangles to talk about what makes a quality oneโ€”or what they hate so much about love triangles. I completely agree with all the points you made! I especially love the Will-Tessa-Jem love triangle. The way it ended up is especially intriguing.

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  7. Dani W says:

    I’m totally ok with love triangles, as long as they’re, like you say, done well. I don’t understand why people are so against them and say they’re not believable. I’ve been a part of one! I mean, didn’t anyone have crushes in school where you loved one person, and then it came out that someone liked you? When I was at university, my one guy friend admitted he liked me the same day another guy asked me out. (That other guy has been my boyfriend now for six years.) It frustrates me to hear people ranting about them. Love triangles aren’t the problem โ€“ it’s how they’re written that annoys me sometimes!

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  8. AngelErin says:

    I’m one of those that I LOVE the triangles if they are done well. But I HATE it if not done well. The Infernal Devices is a great example of a done right love triangle for me. I mean Wessa forever, but still I like Jem too.

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  9. Erin @ The Hardcover Lover says:

    Oh cool! I did a post on this same thing a few months ago because I am so sick of people hating on the love triangle.

    Personally, I enjoy reading books with love triangles because they can be realistic. As a teacher, I see kids go from crush to crush all the time, and I think it’s healthy. It’s so rare for people to be completley sure of who they want to be with for the rest of their lives, or even the next year when they are a teenager.

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  10. Gabi @ Let's Gab About Books says:

    Ahh I think this is a great list of what makes a decent love triangle! I honestly don’t hate them, again if they are well developed and deserved! I whole-heartedly agree that Throne of Glass and The Infernal Devices are perfect examples of this ๐Ÿ™‚ I would also add The Selection series probably, although I know America in those books can be incredibly frustrating most of the time haha

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  11. Sarah Cone says:

    Great post! I love your ‘good love triangle guidelines’. I agree; as long as it’s written well and adds to the storyline, I don’t mind it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

  12. StrawberrySmiles says:

    I enjoy romance in stories so I welcome them – as long as the characters are well written. I’ll have to agree with “how about where they all get together” or “the girls/guys should date”.

    I don’t think any of my stories have love… Wait. I think one does.

    Oops!

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  13. Tamara @ Tamaraniac says:

    I really can’t think of any love triangle I’ve really liked… There’s books with love triangles that I’ve really liked DESPITE the triangle, but I don’t remember ever really liking the triangle itself. I don’t really feel like they add any suspense for me. I just get really tired of them, honestly.

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  14. Olivia Ashryver says:

    I completely agree with you! I love love triangles if they’re done well, and most of them time I think they are. They make books so much more interesting and I enjoy trying to guess who will end up with who. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think the love triangles in Legend, The Infernal Devices, and Throne of Glass were all amazing, too! I also thought it was well done in The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson. ๐Ÿ˜€

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  15. Melanie Noell Bernard says:

    Oh man! Character development is everything! Not just in love triangles, but in general for novels. So many books lack character development and change throughout the books that not only does everything else feel wrong and fake, but the love triangle suffers IMMENSELY. Love triangles can totally exist, but they need to develop over time and not be instant. Also, beauty doesn’t equal love. That’s passion. Goodness freaking gracious. This! This is SO ANNOYING! *moving on* -.-

    #3 This is such a cop-out by the author because the need to drag out a love triangle for no reason means that they’re lacking ideas for their own story. That doesn’t sit well with me and I lose trust in the author. Not to mention, the love triangle should NEVER be used for added tension unless the book is a romance. If an adventure/fantasy/thriller is forcing a love triangle to continue, something is seriously wrong with the motives of the characters, and the plot line.

    GAHSHMAHA!!! RED QUEEN! *angry face* This love trapezoid was CRAP! First off, Mare isn’t lovable. (I hated her). But she even degrades herself on multiple occasions, which makes it so freaking odd why everyone suddenly loves her. It makes NO SENSE! She even says she isn’t pretty. So, why do they like her? And the whole thing with Kilorn is garbage. What? He loves her just because she’s hanging out with Cal? Seriously? Because that’s TOTALLY real and plausible. *headdesk* -.- (I really hated Red Queen, but the love triangle/square/trapezoid was only one of the reasons. However, it was one of the reasons why the lack of character development was so obvious… *sigh*)

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  16. Bhramori says:

    I’m in a weird position in that I really enjoy love triangles when they’re done well, but I absolutely hate them when they’re NOT done well. Personally, I think the Infernal Devices love triangle is the most beautiful one ever, and ToG comes a close second. In these stories, the love triangles are so intricately woven with the plot that you automatically become a part of it without even realising it yourself. And rooting for your favoured love interest is always so much fun, especially when there’s opposition coming from your friends. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    All the same, some love triangles are simply ridiculous. Like the Twilight one (NAME ME A SINGLE PERSON WHO ACTUALLY THOUGHT THAT BELLA WOULDN’T END UP WITH EDWARD!!!) or The Hunger Games one (Gale against Peeta? Seriously??!)

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  17. Christine says:

    I hate cheating love triangle. But when the love triangle is not against on my beliefs, well it’s perfectly fine for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

    #Commenting365

    – Christine @ Tine’s Reviews

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  18. Chiara says:

    Oh man this reminds me of how much I miss Chaolena ๐Ÿ˜ฅ I once almost didn’t go for a movie cause I thought it was about 2 brothers falling for the same girl. When one of them came out as gay, man I was so happy๐Ÿ™‚

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