Writing Tips

#WW Love Triangles

#WW: Love Triangles

Opening note:

I’m trying to create more YouTube videos, and this is one of my first ones where I discuss a fiction opinion over my channel, Coffee & Cats. I’m more comfortable writing my thoughts because I feel like I can express more, so I am trying this format: an article that goes along with the video. But I want your opinions. How can I improve? Should videos be separate from www.ShannonAThompson.com or do you like a sister article to support the video? What topics would you like to see next? I’m mainly leaning toward talking about movies and books I love on my YouTube channel, but any and all opinions are appreciated. Today is an experiment, so I need your help.

Thank you!

Coffee & Cats: Episode 14: Love Triangles:

What are love triangles and why don’t I like them?

Love triangles are nothing new. It normally involves one person who loves two people at the same time, and more often than not, there is a “who do I pick?” tension connecting all of them together. They are immensely popular, especially in YA, so why do we keep seeing them over and over again? Well, for one, they are popular. For one, it’s an easy way to create conflict. And for three…well, love triangles arguably go the whole way back to the bible, so it comes to no surprise that they are so embedded into our culture and no surprise that we keep continuing to explore them in literature and others medias

So why don’t I like them?

I’m not a fan of love triangles. Well, let me reword that. I’m very picky when it comes to love triangles. Why? Well, mainly because love triangles lose me. It’s difficult for me – personally – to believe in fully loving two people romantically at the same time…wait for it…especially when they end up choosing one and completely walking away from the other. I actually think it would be really interesting to see more polygamous relationships discussed in fiction, for instance, since I’m not against loving more than one person at once in fiction. Like I said, I hate the “choosing” factor. I find it the opposite of lovable. But love triangles as they stand now (most of the time) want me to believe in one person undyingly loving two people and not knowing which to choose, and this entire situation makes me extremely uncomfortable for everyone. No one should ever be a on the back burner, just simmering in someone’s else’s heart. That’s not love to me. That’s awful.

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Are there any exceptions?

I definitely have exceptions. Like I said, I’m not completely against love triangles or loving people at the same time in fiction. What I’m against is the concept of “choosing” but still claiming to be undying love. That being said, I do have exceptions. One major one for me would the love triangle in Delirium by Lauren Oliver. (Spoiler Alert) When Lena believes her love is dead, she falls in love with someone else, but then…of course her first love isn’t dead. (End Spoiler Alert) So bam! Triangle. I don’t mind this. In fact, I like this. It’s believable, relatable in that she honesty wouldn’t have done this if it weren’t for the circumstances sort of way, and exciting – in the sense that we now have conflict. So, yes, there are exceptions, and I also wanted to touch are a MAJOR exception for me.

What’s a “like” triangle?

Now that I’ve probably spent too much time debating a love triangle I wanted to talk about a literary trope that I think I just made up. A like triangle. I love these. When characters come together and one character likes people but isn’t sure if they love any of them or love one more than the other, I enjoy it. I enjoy the development, and I like watching “like” grow into love. We could always discuss that “instant love” or “instalove” right now, but I think I’ll save that for next time.

What do you think?


Minutes Before Sunset now up for pre-order!
Minutes Before Sunset now up for pre-order!

26 thoughts on “#WW Love Triangles

  1. I totally agree with you on what you said about the love triangles, to be honest. I hate these triangles sometimes, mostly because inevitably there comes that moment when you “fall” for the first one and she/he – but mostly she – chooses the second one, and you just one to knock some sense into him/her. And let’s face it, not all the love triangles are a total success ,some tend to be boring – I’ve had my share of those. To be fair and square I don’t know which one to pick – I mean,the video/article. Tough call. 🙂

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on love triangles and the format of videos/articles. I appreciate that. 😀 I agree – I think the main problem comes down to the fact that most love triangles don’t seem to be handled with care. They are thrown together for simple tension, rather than developed over time in a natural and complicated way, which causes the situation to either be obvious, boring, or both.

  2. As an author tangling with a love triangle, I have to agree. It’s really hard to keep the entire thing balanced. You want readers to think both couples have a chance while also making the decision a natural one. This tends to require some forethought and work like, as you said, having the main love thought to be dead. My biggest issue is when you have a triangle and it’s obvious that the first one is going to win. There’s never a moment of doubt and the connection with the second one is flimsy or entirely one-sided. It’s makes me wonder what the entire point of second one is besides an attempt to divide readers into two shipping camps. (That the term?)

    Honestly, I always saw love triangles as part of a ‘tragic’ storyline because at least one person is going to get hurt there. At least that’s how things work in the real world. It’s weird when it ends and the ‘loser’ simply shrugs and walks away.

    1. Agreed! I think – more often than not – love triangles are only created to create tension and tension for only one couple, the “right” couple so to speak . . . sort of like what you were talking about where it is obvious who is going to win. And that’s what I don’t like. I like the triangles that have a lot of depth and question, the ones that you don’t see coming nor do you see how it will work out, but love triangles, more often than not, don’t seem to be handled with deep care. On YouTube, author Jonas Lee brought up an excellent point too. Love triangles make it very difficult to like the “chooser”, which is another balance authors have to keep in mind.

      1. I hate to beat a dead horse, but I think the ‘created solely for tension’ thing really hit a high note with Twilight. I remember the whole ‘Edward/Jacob’ team thing among my female friends (minus the wife who claimed team Angel and team Spike). Just glancing through the books’ wikipedia page, I could tell that Jacob was never intended to win and that kind of irked me. Now it seems to be everywhere.

        I’m having a lot of trouble making some people ‘like’ any of the people involved in the love triangle. I’ve been attempting to show how conflicted the ‘chooser’ is and he’s even tried to call it off with both sides. It’s actually reached a point where I don’t think he’s in the driver’s seat and it’ll come down to the two ladies deciding who stays and who goes. Honestly, I never saw that coming and I can’t go into any more details because of spoilers. All I know is that I’m never doing a love triangle again.

      2. LOL I completely agree! I know I’ve had this conversation with many writers, and many writers talk about how they’ve been around forever, but I do believe Twilight had a HUGE impact. As an avid reader of YA fiction before and after Twilight, there has never been so many love triangles before. I actually miss stories that didn’t have them. But it sounds like yours is really interesting. I know one that ended that I enjoyed (as a teen) was Gossip Girl. (And if anyone is reading SPOILER ALERT) The chooser basically ends up leaving, stating that none of them are healthy for one another since he needs to go discover himself still, and the girls need to go live their lives too. (END SPOILER). I remember it striking me, like I never thought that would happen but when it did, it felt right, almost like “of course that would happen, nothing else could’ve happened but this.” But I never saw it coming, and although Gossip Girl isn’t regarded on it’s literately merit, it certainly struck me as an interesting love triangle ending.

      3. It’s not even YA fiction that seems to have snagged it. The love triangle is everywhere and it’s just not as subtle or interesting as it used to be. I mean, I grew up reading comics. So I had the Cyclops/Jean Grey/Wolverine thing. There was something about that method where it felt more like it was Wolverine’s (the obvious loser) story of growth. So I guess it can be used to evolve the one that doesn’t get chosen and see how they handle a broken heart.

        That’s an interesting ending. We’re always told that it has to be one or the other. So something outside of those two choices kind of throws us even if it’s obvious.

      4. So true! That’s a great love triangle, despite the obvious part of it. But I also feel like it was great because the overall focus wasn’t the triangle, it was what was happening around them and to them, and the love triangle was a factor that often caused interesting reactions during an already interesting situation. And like you said, it seemed to be more about character growth than on who Jean was choosing or not choosing.

      5. Thinking about it, that storyline is probably want evolved Wolverine than any of his fights and personal quests. There were times where comic writers pushed it too far and you got the feeling that Jean was stringing both along for her own amusement. Downside to comics is that they go for so long with so many writers that character personalities tend to fluctuate wildly.

        It’s amazing how much there is about the love triangles when it comes to reader reaction too. Usually negative with the characters being called names, many of which shouldn’t be said in polite company. It’s like people take fictional love stories too personally.

      6. Agreed! Sometimes, I think it’s easy for a reader to get so caught up in the story that they forget this is the character’s love story, not theirs. But I guess that means you’re doing a great job as an author. :]

  3. I don’t like them, either. I think the “who will s/he choose” thing is over-done, and while it obviously gives a great romantic tension for many readers,
    Indecisiveness just makes me impatient.

  4. Shannon, love the video! I’m visual and prefer video to reading paragraphs of text. I love vlogs and book trailers too …

    Love triangles – you’ve got me thinking as I don’t really read a lot of books that have them. Life is too short 🙂

    1. Thank you for reading, watching, and commenting! I’m definitely going to continue making videos in the future, and I’m really happy to receive feedback from you about it, so thank you again. 😀

  5. I’m generally against love triangles, because all too often both potential partners are cookie cutters of one another, or it’s made fairly obvious that one or the other isn’t even really in the running. If the choice isn’t any more in depth than picking red or blue (sorry, Mass Effect fans), or one individual is only there to provide conflict rather than a viable potential with as much interest and possibility as the other, then it’s not really any kind of growth, development or choice at all.

    That said, I enjoy triangles where two of the points represent different types of attraction. Both parties may be suitable for the chooser, just in different ways. So far as semi-recent material goes, I think Angel vs. Spike or Damon vs. Stephan are closest to this idea, though there’s a little too much whimpering about tortured souls for my taste.

  6. Totally agree about the hating of love triangles and their treatment in most literature. I did find the treatment of the theme in Grasshopper Jungle to be interesting, as far as developing the idea of not choosing to a greater extent.

  7. Like triangles! I love that phrase. I also think you’re right to say that concept is more consistent with people’s actual experiences. I’m pretty sure that I purposefully created “like triangles” for myself in high school so that I would never get too attached to any one person.

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