Should love triangles exist in fiction?
Anyone who reads fiction, especially YA fiction, has likely read a story with a love triangle in it. After all, the main character in the story is HOT! or they’re gonna save the world! Who wouldn’t be in love with the main character? Actually, how come there are there only two love interests instead of the entire planet? I mean, really! This main character is AMAZING! Go big or go home!
Yeah, I’m kidding. I hate love triangles, and maybe I’m a little biased because I’m not into romance stories in the first place, but I also hate them because they feel cheap. And I’ve read enough of them to know that many (if not all) of them are garbage!
The biggest problem with love triangles is that a lot of authors throw them into non-romance stories and try to use them as a plot point. Why is this bad? Well, besides the fact that the romance has literally nothing to do with the main plot, a love triangle can often be a sign of a weak plot. It’s misdirection.
Not only that, but I wouldn’t consider most love triangles to be realistic. The number one reason behind this is that the love triangle often involves three characters who have no romantic background. They don’t have established relationships, but two characters are willing to fight to the death over the main character for X, Y, and Z. (For more on loving people for no reason, please see Love at First Sight.)
That’s not to say love triangles can’t happen in real life as I know they do. (Affairs do happen, people), but real life relationships don’t work in the same way that fictional relationships do. People don’t just suddenly love two different people. Also, the odds of both love interests being alphas and willing to fight over the main character are astronomical. It’s even less likely that both love interests continue to vie for the MC’s attention even after the MC has been unable to make a choice between the two of them.
I mean, come on already!
Someone must get tired of playing cat and mouse with no reward, yes? (Or am I really just far less patient than the general populace?)
The One-Sided Love Triangle
What’s even worse is when a story has a love triangle, but the love triangle doesn’t actually exist because the main character doesn’t love both love interests. Instead, two characters are desperately in love with the MC, but the MC only loves one of them right out the gate. They might care about the other character, but they don’t love them in a romantic way.
In other words, the author is forcing a love triangle when there is obviously no love triangle simply because they want a love triangle, and are therefore offering up their story and their characters to the suicide Gods on the mountain of Story Death over the volcano, Cheap Writing.
Still, the worst part about love triangles in a non-romance story is how god-awfully cliché they are! I mean, honestly! Are writers this desperate for a love story that they have to make sure their character is desired by two different people? Can’t you just be happy with one love interest? It’s not like they’re gonna end up with both love interests anyway.
So, what’s the point in having them both when one love interest is obviously going to be left heart-broken and the MC may spend the rest of their life wondering if they made the wrong choice? This is NOT the way to reach the happy ending (that you people love so dearly) and it’s just soooo overly done that it’s not even interesting any more!
What do you think about love triangles?
Leave your thoughts in comments!
And check out my discussion from last week: