Discussion: Love Triangles

I’m pretty sure you guys all know my feelings about love triangles by now, but I’ll reiterate for any newcomers: I hate love triangles with a passion.

They used to be kind of cool and really ratcheted up the drama in the few books they appeared.  The love triangle trope was used, but it was fairly rare.

Enter the Twilight phenomenon.

Bella had to choose between Edward and Jacob and fans went nuts over the fact.  There were and still are ‘Team Edward’ and ‘Team Jacob’ fans and although the series is obviously finished they still go berserk over it.  Which is fine because if people are reading (even Twilight), that’s awesome.  But I’m getting a little off topic here.

The point is that enterprising authors and publishers saw how much a love triangle enhanced interest in the series by fans as well as how it generated buzz amongst the general public, who would then be compelled to read the book as well.  Can you see where I’m going with this?  So because of the ridiculously huge success of one triangle, now almost every single YA book I read with a female main character has two good-looking guys fighting over her.

Cue the eye-rolling.  I really hate how love triangles are forcibly added to the plot to create a dramatic subplot and I really, really hate how they’re so unbelievable 99% of the time.  The latter is often due to poor writing or the author doing a half-hearted love triangle because their editor told them to.  Love triangles can be done well (see: Cleopatra’s Moon), but those are rare and the fact is they’re so overdone.  Can we just let the trope die for a bit?  Or at least use cryogenics to freeze it for a few years, even a decade before reviving it.

So I’m done rambling about my hatred of love triangles, but what do you think?  Do you love or hate love triangles?  What was the worst love triangle you’ve ever read?  The best?  Why do you think so many authors use love triangles?


  1. Author Unpublished

    I like love triangles when they’re done right, but like you said, that’s rare. I just read a book where there was a love triangle and it made me so mad. One of the guys was sweet but moody, the other was “an old friend” who was super possessive, and the girl was wishy washy about both of them. (and neither seemed to mind) It made me want to stab her. At best she had lukewarm feelings for one of them (the one she chose to date) and passion for the other (who she tried never to talk to) and in the end didn’t end up with either. It baffles me. I’ll admit I’ve written love triangles before, but it was before twilight had a rough draft (and they’re still admittedly questionable). LOL I think they only truly work when the three individuals involved are WORTH having a triangle over… and in my experience, usually that’s not the case.

    • Carrie Slager

      So true! Love triangles only work when the characters are actually worth something rather than being the usual possessive old friend and hot jerk the girl obsesses over. What bugs me the most about love triangles (and a lot about them bugs me) is how the girl usually just stands by and lets them fight over her. The girl is never proactive, she simply reacts to the events as they happen.

      • Author Unpublished

        agreed. it’s like the default girl position in the love triangle is “omgosh why is this happening to me”… which of course the answer is almost always “because you’re a tart and can’t just pick one..”

  2. jalal michael sabbagh.http://gravatar.com/jmsabbagh86@gmail.com

    Triangle used by many novelists because its a common point to build more than one plot.Have a nice day.jalal

    • Carrie Slager

      Yes, I know that and I mentioned it in my article. But in a lot of books authors should be paying more attention to how they develop the main plot rather than just adding a wishy-washy love triangle for more drama. Love triangles usually hide other plotting problems in books in my experience.

  3. Annie

    Um, most YA love triangle are the opposite of dynamic! Although to be honest, I’ve never read one in any genre that truly worked for me. 🙁

    • Carrie Slager

      I’ve read a few that worked for me and were believable (the Trylle trilogy was one), but they’re incredibly rare. I’ve found maybe 5 at the most and considering how much I read that’s probably 1% of all the love triangles I’ve encountered. Even when love triangles aren’t in YA, they’re usually bad as well!

  4. annaguanaplay

    I think love triangles, like you said dramatize the plot of a story, but after almost every book you pick up has a love triangle gets really repetitive and predictable. I really enjoyed this discussion btw! thanks !

    • Carrie Slager

      Thank you! And yes, they’re mostly in to add drama to the plot rather than help with characterization. They’re a lazy writer’s plot device in most cases.

  5. Diantha Jones (@DianthaJones)

    In general, I despise love triangles. Somebody always gets hurt and that’s never cool. Unless the person left in the cold is a douche. Then it’s okay. My only thing are YA love triangles. This week the girl is an ugly nobody, the next week every guy in the school wants to date her. Get out of here! I can see maybe one guy going for her, but two, three, a dozen? Get real.

    • Carrie Slager

      But Diantha, it’s usually the ‘douche’ that gets the girl while the poor best friend gets hurt! Yes, the believability factor is also nonexistent in most cases. The girl keeps insisting how ugly she is and suddenly every person with a Y chromosome in the area is fighting over her. Not believable at all.

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