Discussions

Let’s Talk Love Triangles // Discussion

Love triangles, eh? Let’s just say I have a complicated relationship with them. Not as complicated as being in a love triangle, but complicated nonetheless. 

So many times they just don’t work for me. Whether it be the incessant whining (looking at you America Singer) or the back and forth who will she chose in the middle of a war (looking at you Miss Juliette Ferrars) or the downright toxic half side of the triangle that people still think are in the running for unknown reasons (looking at you Darkling stans), it’s safe to say that I don’t often vibe with them. (What I do vibe with, apparently, is the overuse of parentheses and run-on sentences, but we’re going to ignore that.)

So, that begs the question: what makes a compelling love-triangle?

But before we dive into the really deep life questions (as stated above), let’s talk about what makes a not so hot love triangle. I’m stressed and tired and taking this question from the more negative side because aggressively typing about it is oddly stress relieving. Fight me. 

UPDATE: I wrote this a couple weeks ago and some parts are so aggressive, erm passionate, for literally no reason. I guess therapeutic click clack moo-ing works…

Please note, I will be talking about relationships (and love triangles!) in a bunch of different series. There are details about relationships, but I did my best not to spoil anything too major. 

When the main character has to chose aka incessant whining

If there is one thing I can’t handle when I’m indulging in some good ole escapism, it’s 200 pages of woe is me, I have two hot people simping over me! Whoever will I choose?? No. I just can’t handle it. We get it, you have a superiority complex and issues making decisions. Play Rock Paper Scissors, flip a coin, pick a number between 1 and 10. I don’t care how you decide, just pick already. 

It is my personal belief that Miss America Singer is the biggest culprit of this sort of love triangle. Not only does she ooze with not-like-other-girls energy (ick) but she spends three books — THREE BOOKS!! — going back and forth in a merry-go-round of death. I can’t do it. And in this case, it shouldn’t even be a hard choice! Hmm I wonder who you should choose??? The simping prince or the man who is the literal human form of toxic masculinity????? 

*deep breath*

On the other hand, when the main character doesn’t have to choose a side, the urge to commit light homicide goes wayyyy down. Take Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales for example. Hands down one of my favorite books of the year, yet it features a love triangle. What made it work?

Darcy, the main character, didn’t sit around and twiddle her thumbs trying to pick a side of the triangle. She has her own character arc and her own problems and the entire story isn’t reduced to the love triangle and the love triangle only. The love triangle is most certainly there, but it is not a driving plot point for neither Darcy nor the book itself. 

She had been pining for her friend, Brooke, for quite a while before the other love interest was even introduced. Add the icing to the love triangle cake is that in the end the triangle works itself out without Darcy having to choose. Brilliant done. When a book has a love triangle, this is what I want. 

When there is a literal war going on, but somehow the love triangle takes center stage #priorities

Yes, I get it. Sometimes a bit of drama is fun. Maybe you prioritize it over doing your math homework on time, or maybe over engaging in small talk or something like that. But to prioritize your drama over a literal war??? Seriously? Make it make sense.

I mean, Shatter Me gives off more soap opera energy than it does dire dystopia revolution energy. In the grand scheme of the trilogy (plus the eighteen billion other books that are also in that series), I literally do not understand how Juliette made herself the main character of a war. She has these super cool powers and could smoothie-ifiy your brain in like two seconds flat, yet her biggest concern is a love triangle??? I just can’t. 

The whole love triangle taking center stage also applies to the Hunger Games. It’s on a much smaller scale, but my issue with the love triangle in the Hunger Games is actually the readers reducing the book to a love triangle, not Katniss. 

That being said, I find that I don’t mind the love triangle being a show snatcher as much when it comes to contemporary. Not to diminish the struggles of contemporary lit characters, but for the most part their decisions aren’t life or death. I don’t want their whole character arc to be reduced to a love triangle, but I can handle it (to some extent at least) if it is somewhat of a driving force in the novel. 

The downright toxic half side of the triangle that people still think are in the running for unknown reasons

Hi! Yes, I like the relationships I read about in books to not be toxic. Thank you. 

When one side of the triangle is sorely underdeveloped

Part of what makes a love triangle so interesting is what I fondly refer to as the “not knowing who will they pick seesaw back and forth.” Catchy name, right? The point is, when one side is the equivalent of an undercooked brick, I’m not invested and it’s just plain annoying. 

Another good example of this is John Ambrose from the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series. Man never had a chance. I mean, he was the better option (in my humble opinion), but he never got any chance for good development. His only role in the story was to be a drama-instigating-pawn in Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship. I’m asking for an equilateral or isosceles triangle in terms of development, not a scalene.

Cool For the Summer is a great example of this. While this story was told in the Now/Then format, and had the potential to have the development it needed, one side of the triangle still fell flat. I felt so much more invested in the Lara/Jasmine side of the triangle because they had more emotional connection and development. Chase on the other hand, didn’t, and I could make myself care about him. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed this book but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the love triangle could have been much better executed. 

Love triangles as a plot device to “test” the relationship 

Introducing a love interest for the sole purpose of “challenging” and “strengthening” the relationship of the main couple is a hard no. If you can’t come up with a better conflict for the ship, please don’t write another book. Or brainstorm some more for something else?? Do something, anything, other than introducing a side of the love triangle to stir up drama. I’m begging you.

This example still makes me want to blow angry dragon smoke out of my nose (and it’s been months since I read it), but the Stalking Jack the Ripper Series does it in Escaping From Houdini. All I wanted from that book was for Thomas and Audrey Rose to slice and dice some bodies together, solve crime, and live happily ever after. But apparently, as corroborated by the absolute word arson Maniscalco commits during the entirety of the book, that was too much to ask. 

Enter the character nobody wanted, Mephistopheles. Man just reeked of slimy-ness and wrecked unnecessary havoc the entire time. He was such an unnecessary addition and the fact of the matter is, I would have loved Escaping From Houdini had there not been a love triangle introduced. The plot could have stood on its own without the unnecessary relationship hurdle. 

When love triangles get in between friends

I do not need pettiness between friends. I love it when there are chaotic, fun, supportive friendships. Where they will drop everything and be there in an instant or literally defend each other to the deaths. This is very much a me thing, but whenever one of the plot points revolves around conflict between friends, my insides shrivel up a bit. Especially when the conflict between friends is a love triangle. 

Kate in Waiting is the most recent example of this I’ve read. I will admit, I was a bit hesitant about starting this one because I knew there was a love triangle. It was literally advertised and in the synopsis. But I was told there was good humor, so I ignored my reservations and dove right in. 

I don’t regret reading Kate in Waiting. The humor delivered and my inner theater kid was thriving. However, the love triangle wasn’t it. It was the main conflict between the two friends and dragged on wayyyy too long. I think I could have handled it had it not dragged on so long or if there wasn’t so much back and forth between the friends. 

And thus concludes this long (somewhat rambly) post about love triangles. On very rare occasions I like them (looking at you Perfect on Paper), but the vast majority of the time I do not. I do tolerate some (looking at you Cool for the Summer), but at the end of the day I can’t say that love triangles are anywhere near my favorite trope. 

What do you think of love triangles?? Do you like them, dislike them, or somewhere in between?? What books feature some of your favourites?? Least favourites??

34 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Love Triangles // Discussion

  1. Loved reading this!! Tbh I think the only love triangle I’ve liked so far is the one in hunger games, cuz Katniss’s life didn’t revolve around “whom do I choose??😐. And everything you told about the selection here is so true!!!

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  2. haha hard agree on most of your points! KOTLC series has a love SQUARE in about 4 books and then a triangle in the other 4. But I think it was pretty well handled thoughout the series as it was never made a major plot and the mc was not the whiny type (she is still oblivious to one guy’s feelings lol)…and since the last book of this series is coming out soon I am eager to see how the love triangle gets resolved.
    And The Infernal Devices is another series which handled the love triangle nicely (the pain, the heartache, and the angst aside) and it got wrapped up in the end quite well too.
    Loved the post💙

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    1. yesss glad to hear you agree! oh my, a love square??? that’s a whole new level of intense. glad you enjoyed it and I hope it gets resolved in a good way!! ooo I also haven’t read that one! I’ve heard many good things about that love triangle though!! thank you so much for reading Rachel!! happy reading : )

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  3. Oooh, love your discussion, I have the same views regarding love triangles, and I generaly as a rule end up not enjoying a book if the MC’s greatest conflict is choosing between two love interests, especially in fantasies when there is literally a world to be saved but here you are gallivanting around with two love interests *shakes head*. Amazing post! ❤

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  4. ahh completely agree with you! Love triangles in general are something I dislike a lot and you explained a lot of my thoughts very well! Especially about one aide being much more developed than the other, pls at least try to make us conflicted?

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  5. Nice post! I can say that I haven’t come across a lot of books that have love triangles, but I have read a fair share of them, and your post actually sums the different types very well!! I have gotta say, while The Selection is a bit stretched, I really liked it, but I guess I was in it for the drama, and my feelings might have changed now.
    SO, to sum it up my feelings for love triangles are definitely somewhere in between, but in no way are they my favourite tropes

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    1. thank you so much Riddhi! glad to hear it!! haha yea the selection was stretched, but something about all the drama made it strangely addicting. yeah somewhere in between and def not a fave is probably where I fall too! thank you for stopping by and happy reading : )

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  6. I completely agree with you! You can tell when a love triangle has just been thrown in for drama and it’s so frustrating. Also this was so funny. The isosceles/scalene/equilateral line made me chuckle.

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  7. the only love triangle i accept till today is the one from the infernal devices by cassie clare. i can’t stand them otherwise. it’s too tropey and the kotlc one is by far the worst I’ve read. honestly, i’d pick insta-love over this! great post! it summed up my feelings perfectly!

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    1. ahaha I’ve heard many good things about that love triangle, but I can’t say I’ve read it myself! yea that’s fair. hmm I’m not sure which one I dislike more between insta-love and love-triangles, but my feelings are farrrr more conflicted when it comes to love triangles! glad to hear it!! thank you so much and happy reading : )

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  8. Woah! This post is great!! I love how you put down into words how you feel about love triangles, and at the same time wrote down my thoughts too! Haha! I love your posts like this because you’re much funnier than you think you are! Also, loved the click-clack-moo reference! Haha!

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  9. Love this post!! I’m definitely not a huge love triangle fan, but PoP certainly has love triangle superiority! I mean, who’s really surprised though…PoP is superior in all ways. Also, I’m still sad that John Ambrose never had a chance in the To All the Boys “love triangle.” He was obviously the right choice despite his lack of character development, which really says something about why Peter WASN’T the right choice. Lara Jean’s horrific romantic choices still make me cringe. But anyhow, great post!!

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    1. ahh thank you so much Rose!! oh for sure. PoP is most certainly superior in many, many, MANY ways. RIGHT????!! like he was obviously a pawn and plot device to stir up drama. but had he had the chance to actually have some character development?? whole different ball game. Peter just annoys me tbh. and love the first book dearly, but it went downhill from there. thank you so much and happy reading : )

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  10. april!! that intro was SO good ahahah, and definitely agree all those love triangle flaws are just terrible, especially the “when a major war is going on” that it takes away my entire enjoyment of the book 😦 i’ve yet to find a book with a “good one”…. great discussion!! ❤

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  11. This is an incredible post. To say I’m not a big fan of love triangles is an understatement. I avoid them as much I can ’cause they just seem to spoil the entire plot for me. These are extremely good points, April. I never even thought of some of the points but I totally agree.

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  12. I haven’t read all of the books you mentioned but I completely agree with every single point. IThere are so many books which had a lot of promise, a great premise but alas the love triangle ruined them for me!

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