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Question: Love Triangles—How Do You Really Feel About Them?


Love triangles are my #1 least favourite trope; maybe I’d feel differently if they weren’t a dime a dozen, but it seems like every second romance book I pick-up features one, and the odds increase significantly if it’s a Young Adult title. My list of cons is pretty extensive, but I’ll try to stick to the biggies.

Cliché / Predictable: Authors are basically shooting themselves in the creative foot as soon as they introduce a love triangle because there are only two possible scenarios: bad boy vs. good guy or friend vs. stranger. There’s always a winner and a loser, it’s impossible to make every reader happy, and a mature resolution is about as likely as hell freezing over.

The HEA is a tough sell: Whenever there’s more than one candidate vying for the protagonist’s affections it automatically cheapens the romantic elements. Instead of spending 300+ pages focusing on building one relationship and making it believable; the hero / heroine is seesawing between two possible futures, and when a decision is finally made a ‘what if’ factor always remains.

Doesn’t ring true: I have a very hard time buying in to love triangles because they imply that three people are incapable of making a decision. Also, what is this The Bachelor/ette? I’m sorry, but if I was interested in a guy, and he took as long as some of these fictional peeps do to make up their mind, I’d say see ya. I’m not waiting around in the hopes that you’ll ‘pick me.’ How desperate do you think I am?

Weakens main character: The lead’s growth ends up suffering because her / his individuality is eclipsed by who he / she is with each prospective suitor. The pros & cons of all decisions end up being measured by how they impact each team rather than what’s best for the hero / heroine. They become a secondary player in their own story.

Detracts from the main plot: It’s impossible to focus on the meat of a novel when there are two characters obsessing over who the protagonist is going to choose. Angst is pretty much unavoidable in this type of situation, and it becomes difficult to focus on the task at hand when there’s so much drama going on in the background. Readers end up obsessing over who’s going to come out on top instead of the ultimate end goal (i.e. defeating the Big Bad, saving the world, etc).

Forced conflict: A lot of the time it feels like a love triangle gets added as ‘filler’ because the author wasn’t able to write a sufficiently well-constructed plot, and needed to compensate by padding their book with an extra one hundred pages of romantic WTF-ery in order to avoid the novella label (and price tag).

Love Triangles—How Do You Really Feel About Them?

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Carmel Signature

Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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  1. Oh gosh, I can’t even think of a Pro. Hahaha! I don’t like Love Triangles, at all. Next to Instalove, it’s what turns me off in a book. And I have this thing where I always root for the guy who will obviously gonna lose. So the MC choose the guy he wants, and I’m left sobbing because my OTP didn’t happen. I agree with everything you posted, Carmel LOL. ‘What is this The Bachelorette??” Hahaha. Right??

    1. Mc haz to save the world.
    2. oh but MC have 2 boyz crushing on her
    3. forget the world, WHO TO CHOOSE? WHOOO? OH DECISIONS!!!

    Paula M. recently posted…ARC REVIEW: The Book of Ivy (The Book of Ivy #1) by Amy Engel + Giveaway!

    • Are there even pros to love triangles?? 😉 I read a lot of werewolf books so I’m not as against insta-love as I am this particular trope. You hit the nail on the head with your 3 points. Hehe!

  2. *ha* Carmel, you’ve made some very valid points here. I laugh because I didn’t think I minded a love-triangle until I read all your reasons for not loving them…and now I’m like, “yeah, I don’t like that or that either!” Thanks for the enlightenment this morning. 🙂
    Bookworm Brandee recently posted…**Blog Tour Review ~ Fairy Tale in New York ~ Nicky Wells**

    • LMAO! Sorry about that, Brandee. My intention wasn’t to win you over to my POV, but it’s kinda funny that it worked out that way. Hopefully this post doesn’t make you struggle with all of your romance reads going forward. o_O

  3. There are some books I’ve read where some people might consider it a love triangle, but I don’t. For example, Rachel and Al, Samuel and Mercy and even Katniss and Gale.

    I’m not a fan and I think it is one of the reason I don’t like YA. It is like there is a rule to have a love triangle in those books.
    Melanie Simmons recently posted…Angel’s Blood Audiobook by Nalini Singh (Guest review)

    • I’m one of the people who think that Katniss and Gabe is kind of a love triangle… Even if there wasn’t really anything romantic going on between Katniss and Gabe – the fact that he felt something towards her colored both his and her decisions in the story.
      Lexxie recently posted…Review: What a Lady Demands – Ashlyn MacNamara

      • I haven’t a clue as to who Katniss & Gabe are, I’ll have to Google it. LOL

      • Surely, that’s Katniss and GALE from The Hunger Games? 🙂

      • DUH! I clearly hadn’t had enough coffee when I replied to this comment. I just made #1 watch the first movie last weekend too. *headsdesk*

    • I never considered Samuel / Adam / Mercy a love triangle either. The only exception to this rule would have to be Sierra Dean’s SECRET MCQUEEN series, and even then, I probably still would have enjoyed it minus the romantic drama.

  4. Awesome post, Carmel! It’s true that love triangles is a very, very old trope! I have read medieval romances with love-triangles, and they are part of what made those stories or poems romance in the first place. Mostly, I don’t really enjoy love-triangles, because they feel a little contrived and ‘fake’ to me in the first place. Really, how often has it happened to you that two guys were so in love with you they were competing for your attention and your love?

    At the other side, I think that when they are really well done, they can help the character growth of the heroine. If the heroine is unsure of herself and her own worth, having two guys fall for her certainly helps her in the self-esteem department, right? And once she becomes more sure of herself, she will aim higher in all aspects of her fictional life.

    One of my classes this semester is called ‘Romance and its Remediation’ and I really love that class to pieces! So far, we have read medieval stories and poems (think Havelok the Dane, Sir Orfeo, Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere and The Faerie Queene…) This has also helped me figure out what to do with my MA thesis – I’m going to write about love triangles in 21st century dystopias…

    So, while in many cases I find the use of a love triangle a little lazy, and not too appealing, it does happen that I enjoy them .
    Lexxie recently posted…Review: What a Lady Demands – Ashlyn MacNamara

    • I’ve never been in a real life love triangle situation myself, nor have any of my friends (to my knowledge) which further contributes to their lack of credibility IMO. They can add to a story, but those instances are the exception to the rule, and I don’t read nearly as many romances as you do, so that’s probably why I haven’t encountered many of the ‘good’ variety.

  5. I feel like you do… It’s like the author stick them in when they don’t want to stress themselves with more plot development…
    1 in 100 maybe are well done, but I usually don’t want to try them to find out….

    • Give me an extra plot thread or two any day over a love triangle! At least the former runs the chance of being somewhat original.

  6. Exactly why I loathe love triangles. But I’ve read a couple where the plot was good enough for me to ignore this cliché romantic trope. Seriously, YA authors. Staph. I’ve had enough. :/
    Joy (Joyousreads) recently posted…Throwback Thursday [#10]: The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

    • I am willing to overlook ’em if the story is still strong, however when they completely derail the pacing that’s unforgivable. They are the main reason why I stopped reading YA altogether a few years ago. I’ve slowly started reading that genre again here & there, but it’ll never be at the top of my TBR.

  7. “I” don’t like love triangles and they are mostly found in YA but if you think about it, the target audience is going to love the triangles because….drama! I feel as an older reader (yeah, I say that a lot) I expect something different from the books I choose.
    I steer clear of YA unless I know the author and it’s not about the drama. In the older historicals I used to read, the triangle was used effectively in most cases but maybe my perspective has changed as I’ve gotten older and more settled in my life.
    Overall if I read a book with a love triangle, I don’t mind if it takes a back seat to the major plot of the story.
    Dolly recently posted…Review: The Perfect Witness by Iris Johansen

    • You make a valid point about love triangles and their target audience. I know many older readers who still enjoy YA, so age isn’t necessarily the only factor, but it is a consideration.

  8. i don’t like when characters are too indecisive so love triangle… really how can you doubt your feeling … not for one but 2 people? i don’t know it make me think it’s false and won’t last
    miki recently posted…Deadly, Calm, and Cold: Preorder giveaway! Win some handmade jewellery ( INT)

    • I can understand having doubts for one, maybe two books, but throughout an entire series? That’s just madness! Make up your mind already, and stop stringing these poor suckers along.

  9. When done right they…add almost nothing to the story. When done wrong it can kill the whole thing. So ya.
    Nathan ( recently posted…Tough Travels- Named Weapons

    • Yup. That pretty much sums up love triangles in a nutshell. They are an unnecessary risk with very little reward.


    *ahem* That probably tells you how I feel about them.

    That said, I have (to my own surprise and shock) read a few love triangles that I could tolerate. Often, it’s when the choice represents two sides of the main character, or two paths she can take. So the choice of boy represents who she wants to be — and there’s a somewhat clear good/bad choice. As long as that battle doesn’t swallow up the rest of the story, I don’t hate them as much as I used to.

    I’ve noticed them more in historical romances too, where it’s the “I’m engaged/pursuing/in “love” with someone else, but I’m falling for you” trope, and while I don’t know I’d call it a true love triangle (who the HEA is with is obvious), it does often bother me the way love triangles do.
    Amanda recently posted…Trouble in Mudbug by Jana Deleon {Kelly’s Review}

    • I’ve been following your reviews for a while now, Amanda, so I am all too familiar with how you feel about this particular trope. LMAO! I appreciate you adding your Historical Romance perspective with me being a non-reader of that genre.

  11. I’m with you on love triangles, Carmel–I think when I was younger they had more appeal but then like you said it just seemed like there are too many of them to the point that it has become a plot device or a contrivance. I also liked Amanda from On A Book’s observation about how the trope tends to play out in historical fiction–so true!

    • I honestly don’t remember encountering them very often in my younger years, then again I have a horrible memory so it’s hard to say for sure. Thanks for returning the comment!

  12. I hate them and if there is a book with a triangle — I will by pass it. I have seen books where they are done very good . But that has been few and far between and lately I am have been team Main Character — who cares about the love interests.
    ** Best ones so far – snow like ashes , unearthly series
    julie recently posted…Cover Lusting ( auto read authors )

    • Team Main Character, I like that! I tend to shy away from titles that feature love triangles as well, but sometimes they sneak up on you, I hate it when that happens. All books that have them should come with a warning for readers like us. LOL!

  13. I loath love triangles and the ones I always find are in YA which is why I have a love/hate relationship with YA. Also I always pick the one that is not going to get picked every time. I preferred Jacob to Edward, Gale to Peeta, etc.(I think that is there names as I didn’t finish this series..blah)

    So conclusion is I don’t like them not one bit. 🙂
    Stormi recently posted…Book Review: Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich

    • I feel your pain. Authors never pick the team I want either. It sucks! YA is the most obvious culprit, but apparently Historical Romances are fond of love triangles as well. I guess it’s a good thing that I don’t read ’em.

  14. I agree with your assessment, but I don’t always think that because two guys/girls are interested in the same person it qualifies as a love triangle. If the focus of the book is on the conflicting the relationships however, I will pass. It just seems too immature.
    Annie Slasher recently posted…Book Review: Wickedly Dangerous by Deborah Blake

    • Love triangles can be difficult to quantify in certain circumstances; it’s the blatantly obvious ones that really get on my last nerve.

  15. YES to every single point you made Carmel. I can’t really add anything because you’ve already so eloquently summed up why my patience for love triangles has hit an all time low. It definitely feels like a cheap ploy now, especially in YA, an easy way to add drama. (That may actually be entirely false and love triangles are spectacularly hard to write, I’m no writer so I don’t know, but as a reader they feel like a cheap manipulation of my emotions.)

    • This post actually took me a surprisingly long amount of time to write because I didn’t want it to be just one big rant. I’m glad that I’m not the only one who’s had it up to here with this annoying trope.

  16. I’m not 100% against them but nor am I 100% for them either. They have to be done right and done well to really work for me anymore. They use to not bother me until everyone started using them.
    kindlemom1 recently posted…Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: A Cursed Bloodline by Cecy Robson

    • I’ve come to accept that they aren’t going away anytime soon, however that doesn’t mean that I have to like it. Hehe! If they weren’t so prevalent, I probably wouldn’t get irritated by them so easily.

  17. For some reason I can deal with them a lot easier in YA reads, after all we’re talking about young people and I know I didn’t have my world figured out at that age, but they bother me a ton (I get mad when they pick the guy I don’t want) when the heroine is all grown up – Is hard to admire a heroine that doesn’t know what she wants, to me that goes against self assurance…IMO, but if I love the writing and the world, I do stick with it…Under protest..LOL
    Lupdilup recently posted…Angel’s Blood Audiobook by Nalini Singh (Guest review)

    • Whenever I pick-up a YA title I just assume that there will be a love triangle in it, and I try not to hold that against the author. But yeah, it’s hard to not get peeved when the protagonist goes with the ‘other’ boy. At least our rage means that the book succeeded in getting us emotionally invested in the story. That’s kind of a good thing…

  18. I feel similar. I would much rather read about a slow burn kind of love then a triangle. I like a bit of drama from the sidelines, maybe people who are jealous and/or try to keep people apart, but not a straight up love triangle. The heart should know what it really wants.
    Karen Blue recently posted…RUSH (The Game #1) by Eve Silver -Review

    • Like you, I can work with side line drama. It’s just those darned triangles, they get to me every time! I hate wishy-washy characters.

  19. You know how I feel about this and I agree 100% to everything that you said. I can handle dating, getting to know a few people before pickin the one. But a LOVE triangle? Ine must have lots of insecurities if s/he can’t settle for just one love.
    Braine recently posted…Liked It: Make You Remember by Macy Beckett

    • Yes ma’am! But, I still appreciate that you took the time to weigh-in. I’m kinda partial to the one in Cole’s Arcana Chronicles, however it’ll depend on who Evie picks in the end.

  20. Hate Them! They are my biggest pet peeve. Whenever a new book comes out and the first thing you hear about it is “I’m team so and so” it’s an instant turn off and drops down the list.
    Kristina D recently posted…Some Thursday Randomness

    • Whenever I visit a blog, and their sidebar is filled with team banners, I immediately know that our reading preferences are worlds apart. I don’t hold it against them, but like Julie said, I’m Team Main Character. 😀

  21. Frankly the only time I like love triangles is when all three end up together in a menage that leads to a HEA for all three of them.
    Mary Kirkland recently posted…Arm & Hammer Baking Soda Uses

    • Hahaha! That RARELY happens in the novels I read because Erotica isn’t in my regular genre rotation, and even then, I can’t imagine that working in the long run. There’s always going to be a third wheel.

  22. So, you’ve masterfully highlighted all the reasons triangles are a major pet peeve of mine, lol. I tend to hate them, and they seriously make me dislike the characters involved, even if I liked them before the triangle happened.

    I mean there’s so much conflict potential between two people, why use a spare that ruins it all, lol? And I admit the very existence of the triangle makes me seriously dislike the middle player, the one allowing the triangle to be born and continue existing, sigh.

    Death to love triangles, lol!

    • You’re so right! Damn the main character for allowing a love triangle to spawn in the first place! If they’d just make up their damned mind to begin with we could have avoiding pages and pages worth of drama.

  23. I hate them. The first book always sets up the first romance so well that you get whiplash when new #2 hot boy suddenly appears and throws everything into chaos in the next book.

    Then in most books the girl waffles and callously goes back and forth so often and for so long that I can’t believe these two eligible guys are just sitting there waiting. Move on! lol

    Then it’s usually resolved in the last 20 or so pages out of nowhere so I don’t believe her choice/feel like the author wasted my time/ and don’t get a chance to see the relationship work.

    I think they *could* be written well but rarely are. Plus for me there are so many awesome ways to write a conflict in a relationship – it feels like a cop out and with all the drama happening around them (the end of the world etc) who has time for that crap?? lol

    • I’ve never understood how two men can just sit there and patiently wait for the girl to make up her mind. What pushovers! It makes me lose all respect for them; how can you expect me to believe that the protagonist is capable of making intelligent decisions when they can’t even pick which boy to love.

  24. I absolutely agree with every point you made. I’ve been known to abandon books because of love triangles. They just don’t make sense to me, they never do. I don’t believe that one person can have genuine feelings for two people so even when they end up choosing, it isn’t convincing at all.

    • Our society is so focused on monogamy that I don’t get why peeps so easily shrug off love triangles. What’s romantic about giving someone half of your heart??

  25. I think this is an excellent discussion topic. I realized recently that as much as I may bitch and moan about love triangles, I actually don’t dislike them that much — when they’re done well. I think it’s because we’ve been bombarded by very “blah” love triangles in so many books, ie. they follow the same tired formula and progression (especially in YA) that there’s this kneejerk “oh no!” reaction whenever we come across them. A few recent reads have changed my mind about love triangles because the characters were treated very uniquely and the resulting geometric relationship actually worked quite well for the story. Now for me it all depends how they’re written.
    Mogsy recently posted…Tough Traveling: Named, Famous, or Sentient Weapons

    • The way they are written has a huge impact on my overall feelings towards love triangles. Quality ones are far from being the norm, so I tend to put them all in the same basket. Authors have succeeded in winning me over before, but they had to really work at it, and most simply aren’t willing to put in that kind of effort. They use ’em as an excuse to sell books instead of actually adding something to the story.

  26. Oh, how I hate stories with love triangles! Though I’ve read about four or five books with this feature that were extraordinary, for the most part, I don’t end up enjoying the story because someone has to lose. I love your list of why you dislike them. Nicely thought out.
    Jonetta (Ejaygirl) recently posted…Let’s Make it Permanent! Her Temporary Hero by Jennifer Apodaca

    • Four or five is a pretty decent number IMO. I don’t have nearly as good of a track record with good ones. Then again, you read more romance that I do, so the odds are in your favour.

  27. I couldn’t agree more Carmel! With all that the main character tends to get really annoying when there is a love triangle there. I just want to slap her. So yeah. Great post! 🙂
    Tanja recently posted…Bookish Problems #14 – Having a co-blogger

    • I often have the desire to slap a heroine while reading, and love triangles are usually the main culprit unfortunately.

  28. I mostly hate love triangles, but I have to admit that there are times when they work for me. Just like insta-love, I think an author can make a love triangle work (if there’s something compelling about both choices). But there are LOTS of times when I agree that the triangle just feels thrown in there and frustrating!
    Nicole recently posted…Review – Whisper to Me by Christina Lee

    • I’m more accepting of insta-love than triangles because the former is kinda a given in werewolf books, but I agree that both do have their place when properly executed. It all comes down to the author.

  29. Very true, if I ever met someone in real life that was involved in a love triangle, I would never think it was true love.
    But it’s always so dramatic in books. I don’t mind love triangles in books, when done right. Unfortunately, they are never done right. These are the only possible solutions I’ve encountered when dealing with a love triangle (they all suck):
    -One of the love interests dies leaving the MC to not really have to make a choice (cop out)
    -One of the love interests sacrifices himself, making the choice for the MC (cop out)
    -A new love interest magically appears for the poor guy left out (Renesme, ugh)

    Also, I hate the double standard that love triangles are always a girl deciding between two guys. If it was a guy in love with two girls he would be considered a manwhore.

    Also, why does it have to be between a bad guy and a good guy. Give me two bad boys or two good guys.

    I don’t mind them but they do get annoying sometimes, especially when it’s thrown in there JUST to create drama and angst…
    Nereyda recently posted…Audiobook Review: Talon by Julie Kagawa!

    • Death, sacrifice, or unexpected candidates really are the only possibilities, so like I said, they never end well. I tried to write my post from a unisex angle because I don’t read all genres, but you’re right (at least in my experience), it’s always the girl who can’t make up her mind.

  30. Love triangles are my second least favorite trope, (instant love being my least, but the two often go together) I don’t mind love triangles as much if it isn’t just the female string two guys along because she “just can’t decide”

    I don’t like reading about someone who all they think about is their love life, it’s boring. You are absolutely right that love triangles cheapen the main character!

    Also, so often I don’t like the one she chooses. What’s wrong with picking the nice guy?
    Molly Mortensen recently posted…Top Ten Characters I Wish Would Get Their OWN Book

    • The nice guy rarely wins in a love triangle scenario which just makes me sad. Granted, bad boys have a certain sex appeal to them, but they aren’t who you want to take home to your mother. Silly heroines, don’t they know that you’re supposed to marry the good guy?

  31. I agree with you and all your reasons are sound (especially the doesn’t ring true part). There have been VERY FEW triangles that I enjoyed or at least thought made sense. It isn’t my least fave trope, but it is a close second. :p
    Melissa (Books and Things) recently posted…Cookbook Review: Go Fresh by the American Heart Association

    • Let me guess, #1 on your list is insta-love. I can’t really argue with that!

  32. I tend to say I hate love triangles but there are a few out there that I do love. Most are super complicated type stories though where it seems much more realistic. Most of them in YA I’m not a fan of but sometimes I can overlook it. It depends on the story.
    Candace recently posted…Blog Tour: Induction Day by P.K. Hrezo Review & Giveaway

    • Multi-layered love triangles are usually the exception to my ‘I hate them’ rule, but most are so simple that you’re lucky if they have more than 3 stages to them.

  33. They never work for me in YA, but some adult books have managed them. Mostly I hate them
    blodeuedd recently posted…Author Interview and Giveaway: Victoria Vane

    • There are a few good ones out there, it’s finding them that’s the challenge.

  34. It’s very VERY rare that I will say a love triangle was well written into the story. I can think of a few instances but yeah most of the time they’re just cliché and all for drama and only make the book more annoying, not more interesting. It’s def used as filler more than anything else in a lot of books I’ve found. Bleh!!
    Giselle recently posted…Review: Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander

    • I don’t care how you spin it, filler is NEVER acceptable, and love triangles are the worth culprits. Watch me end up reading a bunch of books that feature them back-to-back as payback for this post. LOL

  35. I totally agree with you on everything! You just put my thoughts into words. I really really don’t like love triangles, never have and never will. I tried to read some but it’s so tiresome and frustrating. Ugh. One guy is enough!

    • Thanks for commenting! I read your profile on GoodReads, and I just couldn’t resist. We’re sisters from another mother. 🙂

  36. You just read my mind! I usually don’t like love triangles in books for these very reasons, especially when they start derailing the book even further and someone is going to look bad, no matter if they deserved it or not. That’s why I like reading romance books where the main character only has one love interest throughout the whole story.

    • Relationships take a lot of work; I have enough on my hands with one guy, why the heck would I want to add a second one into the mix? Whatever happened to The One??

  37. I’m usually pretty much against love triangles per se, and very few times a love triangle works for me… Only triangles that work involve two very different guys that appeal to two different parts of the nature of the one torn, and that usually involves paranormal stories.

    The love triangle that irks me the most of them all is the one that appears in the second book of a trilogy, to add some “conflict” to the romance… that is beyond annoying!!
    Pili recently posted…Lailah by Nikki Kelly: An International Giveaway!!

    • Ooh, yes, those sneak attack love triangles that pop up later on in a series are the worst. You’re already committed to the story, and then BAM the author plops that trope on your head.

  38. Oh, I so dislike triangles! There are very rare occasions that they work. But, for the most part, they’re just not good. Filler, cliched, fake conflict…just no.
    Mary recently posted…Speed Date with Celaena: The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

    • After reading over all of today’s comments, I really wish that authors would get a clue, it’s obvious that there are LOTS of bookworms out there who HATE love triangles.

  39. My problem is that someone always ends up odd man out..and I feel sorry for them, even if the author tries to give them another love interest. I just prefer they not be there or be one of those where the winner is always clear from the beginning and the person makes her choice known.
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…Cowboys for Christmas by Liz Talley, Kim Law and, Terri Osburn

    • Yup. It sucks being the one to end up with the consolation prize no matter how the author spins it, and sometimes it’s death.

  40. I really don’t like love triangles. If it’s written where you can tell who she’s going to wind up with it annoys me. Makes me think why can’t you make up your mind? I know I did already 😛

    • They are especially crappy when the end choice is obvious from the get-go, then the characters are just going through the motions. Boo!

  41. “How desperate do you think I am”

    Hahahahahaha oh Carmel, you made me laugh so hard I almost spat tea across my laptop. That would have been awkward to clean up…

    But so true! Love triangles seem to NEED to be a part of all YA books these days, and it’s gotten to the point where I celebrate when there isn’t one in the current book I’m reading. That’s just sad, seriously. I honestly don’t mind them if they’re executed properly, but who are we kidding? Half the time they’re so bad you don’t want to root for either party. Plus you want to scream at the protagonist for being so stupid when there are bigger things at stake. But when it IS executed properly, those romances are just gems. Too bad there are not enough gems going around these days. 🙁 Great discussion lovely! xx
    Joy recently posted…Book Review: A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird #1) by Claudia Gray

    • It’s sad when novels without love triangles are cause for celebration. That just goes to show how rare they are, and the authors that actually succeed in pulling them off usually get buried under all of the ones that don’t. And yeah, they reek of desperation, I mean honestly! What schmucks!!!

  42. You raise excellent points, and I found myself agreeing with every last bullet. At the same time, and I hate to admit this, but I still enjoy a juicy love triangle. That is to say, if it is done well.

    I think love-triangles kindof call out to that side of us that want to be fought over? Or at least daydream about being fought over. Real life drama is not my thing, that’s why I like it in my books. 🙂

    • I’ll admit that a secret part of me would LOVE to have several men butt heads to win my hand, and this is fiction after all, but unfortunately we don’t live in a time of knights and princesses. I’ll pick book drama over RL drama any day!

  43. I’m not usually a fan of love triangles (and menage/threesomes) either, and you’ve hit several important nails on their heads with your excellent post, Carmel!

    The only book I’ve read (so far) that makes it work IMO is a Science Fiction Romance book I read recently called Hearts of Ishira by Bethany Aan, where multiple male partners and one female was part of the men’s culture. The MFC had two gorgeous brother hunks. So, not so much a situation with the potential for conflict and “who wins” and therefore probably somewhat off topic? It was lovely and gooey how the men looked after their lady, though…in more ways than one :-).

    I know this isn’t within your usual genre range, but just in case you or anyone else is interested (highly recommended):

    Of course, Laurell K. Hamilton similarly (kind of) took this to the nth degree in her Meredith Gentry series, which I only read some of because the MC shares my name (yeah, I know…if only I had!). It all got too much after about book 7. Ugh! Blech! All that time stolen from me!

    • Some authors are indeed able to make love triangles believable with their world-building, and such. I’ll definitely have a look at the title you recommended because now I’m curious, plus I kinda want to read a ‘good’ version of this trope for once! I gave-up on Hamilton a long, long time ago. LOL

  44. Hands down hate-em. The only love triangles I can tolerate are the heartbreaking kind… you know, where the character central to the love triangle actually makes a decision and doesn’t spend the entire novel dwelling on the possibilities. Just make a decision and let’s move on from the whole “Who shall I choose” dilemma, shall we?

    • Agreed. If the love triangle aspect of the story is short-lived, then I’m ok with it because it’s barely a blip on the radar, and you’re not stuck wasting your time on endless pages of indecisiveness. In cases like this it doesn’t detract too much from the story.

  45. I hate these triangle -shaped romantic relations . If it’s done well I even root for both love interest but sadly that’s often not the case . I never read twilight , my gateway YA novel was shiver by maggie stiefvater. This trilogy has a charming romance. I know a lot of people find it “boring” but I loved it because of the writing, the atmospheric setting and the characters. Sam ‘s adoptive father , wooof would definitely bang . Ok I’m veering of topic. I dislike triangles of it is unrealistic. Ok , fiction is not real . But how many people do you know of that this has happened to. And secondly I think creating a healthy loving relationship is hard work . Imagine if you had to split your free time where you’re not running for your life ,fighting demons or bringing down an totalitarian government with two people .

    I my mind the triangle in the hunger games is valid because of the certaint sercomstances (sP?) . I do have to add I’m 100% with most adult triangles but it must serve the plot

    • Talking about Maggie Stiefvater’s wolves is a perfectly acceptable side topic. There’s no love triangle in that trilogy, but I just love it so much. Hehe! Yes, relationships are indeed hard work, as is saving the world, and dealing with all of the other crap that gets thrown protagonists’ way, so who has time for a third wheel?

  46. Honestly I can take them or leave them. I have read great ones and horrible one. But for the most part, they are so freakin’ frequent I get annoyed mostly.
    Jennifer Bielman recently posted…Review: Tangled by Emma Chase

    • It’d be great if every second author didn’t include one in their novel, then the “I hate love triangles” movement would probably die down a bit. But, until then, queue rant!

  47. To be honest I could do without love triangles completely. In most books they’re a waste of time and definitely filler, there are other ways to make a book good. I actually had one book that I liked a portion of but the romance ruined it for me and I’m not continuing the series. I’ve even stopped books that started out okay and then a love triangle was injected. Sometimes they can make the book good (I didn’t mind it in the Iron Fey) but mostly they kind of suck. I’m really hoping that trend phases out.
    Kelsey recently posted…Review: Visions by Kelley Armstrong

    • There are so many elements that authors can add to a book to up the entertainment factor, I don’t understand why they always fall back on love triangles. I guess they are an easy out. It really sucks when the romance ruins a novel.

  48. Well put, Carmel. I personally loathe 3 way triangles. Every single time one rears its ugly head in a book I’m reading, I automatically deduct an entire grade. So, you are basically starting out with a 4 if you toss this crap into your story, and it goes down from there with instances or rape, or child abuse. I agree with your points. It’s a cop out in the nth degree when authors writes in triangles. Just make a point and stick with it! There is no reason to screw with a series or a story over another possible love interest who is already happy with the person she’s with. The “Oh, but it happens in real life!” argument is just another lie to sell a product to readers. I have come to ignore any books that clearly state that there is one involved in a story I’m interested in. Sorry, I have too many books to read without adding yours to my list. The Katniss/Gale/Peta situation is an interesting one. My last point has been made already: IF there is a triangle, someone loses out and their heart is shattered and I don’t see how that is fair to anyone.
    Shelley recently posted…*Gizmos Book Reviews* Waistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School #3) by Gail Carriger

    • Couples already have more than enough to argue about, and to create drama within their relationship without throwing an extra player into the mix. In a sense, a love triangle is about three cheaters, and I personally don’t see anything even remotely romantic about that!

  49. Well you definitely put a lot of thought into it. I don’t like it either but hadn’t really put that much thought into why. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • Ha! Well, I needed I bit more than “love triangles suck” to make the post interesting, so yeah, I did my research!

  50. OMG YES, they are so distracting! THe author is basically telling us that the plot isn’t interesting to keep you coming back, SO HERE IS SOME DRAMA. While I do think that all these, Team Guy 1, Team Guy 2 groups are entertaining, I could do without it.

    Has there every been a book where the female MC says “fuck it all” and doesn’t choose any of the guys? Someone should write that.

    • LOL! That would be AWESOME, however I’m not sure that author would sell as many books as the ones who use love triangles. I understand that a story needs more than just one plot arc to be interesting, but why not focus on world-building, characters, etc instead of this super annoying trope?? URGH!

  51. A fabulous post! I completely agree with all of your points Carmel.

    If the storyline is amazing then I can (try to) overlook them, in YA I definitely think they are overdone and more often than not unnecessary, they tend to create subplot conflict and too much angst.

    The bane of my existence 😉

    • Thanks, Sharon! I had a couple of other ones, but I wasn’t quite sure how to word them so that other people would understand. They only made sense in my head. Hehe!

  52. Yes to everything on this post Carmel.
    I don’t fancy love triangles and I actually think that only one series has ever had a well done triangle–The Infernal Devices series. Yet again, that triangles was so beautiful. It wasn’t about a girl flip flopping between two boys. It was a girl loving these two boys but these two boys also loving each other. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and you understand why all these feelings develop. The ending was also incredibly beautiful as well.

    That being said, I feel like a lot of “love triangles” are also “not really love triangles” I mean, I remember everyone considering the love triangle in The Hunger Games a big deal but I remember reading the books and thinking ‘this isn’t a love triangle. There’s a love story between two characters and just a what if between the other one. The girl isn’t flip flopping between two boys shes falling in love with one and learning how to let the other one go” –and I feel like that thought can be related to tons of different series with love triangles as well. Great post Carmel!
    Lily recently posted…I Sailed My Ship…And Than Sunk It

    • I personally can’t stand the really obvious ones, like you said, The Hunger Games wasn’t a legit love triangle, and I haven’t read The Infernal Devices, but the way that you described it sounds pretty cool.

  53. I don’t mind a love triangle. Really I don’t buuuuuuuuuuuut…it can’t wrap up nicely because while I can suspend my disbelief…that’s a fictional line that can be crossed, you know? For example, the Fate Series by Heather Lyons did it beautifully. It was gut wrenching. There was no perfect ending but it left many of us satisfied and wistful at the same time. I definitely live for the drama. 😉
    Cristina recently posted…For Darkness Shows the Stars (For Darkness Shows the Stars #1) by Diana Peterfreund

    • You might want to be careful around these parts, Cristina! For the most part, it seems like all of today’s commenters have it in for love triangles. I guess if you can turn your brain off while reading they aren’t so bad.

  54. I do occasionally enjoy them, because, well: Fun. 🙂

    BUT I can’t read them very often or they become irksome deterrents to me. Also, some just seem to work better than others, so like anything else, there can be a well done love triangle or a poorly done/contrived love triangle.
    Lisa recently posted…Tough Traveling – Named Weapons

    • Everyone is allowed their guilty pleasures. Hehe! However, too much of anything is never a good thing (except maybe chocolate), and as far as love triangles go, less is more.

  55. I’m always surprised when people say that they read them all the time. They’re so very rare in my reads. Even the NA I’ve picked up I don’t think any had a love triangle in them. They really dont bother me when I do stumble on them. I think the only one that I have an issue with is the Stephanie Plum books and even in the beginning I didn’t mind them but it’s been 20ish books now and dang girl. Make. Up. Your. Mind. lol
    anna (herding cats & burning soup) recently posted…Tag: The Cat Herder (edition 4)

    • Really!? I would have thought they’d be pretty common in the genres you read, then again in erotica threesomes are always a possibility. OMG a love triangle that has lasted 20-ish books! That’s cray-cray! I would have given up on that series a looong time ago.

  56. Wonderful topic Carmel, good thinking as I just wrote a discussion post on love triangles as well! I think you’ve nailed it on the head, love triangles feel very forced and heroines taking ages to pick just detracts from the plot. But sometimes that IS the main plot which is frustrating as hell.
    Jeann recently posted…INT Giveaway: Gratitude Giveaway Hop

    • I’ll have to check-out your post, and compare notes. Whenever they steal the show is the WORST. That’s no plot at all IMO.

  57. It’s so funny that you ask this now, because a month ago I would have agreed 100%. But I recently had a crisis/epiphany or whatever. I read the Selection series and DEVOURED it. And as you’ll see in my reviews, those books are like love triangle breeding ground. By the last book I had to face an uncomfortable truth about myself. If done right, I kinda love a love triangle. I still know of books that I hate them in (Hunger Games, for example) but I can no longer say I’m anti-love triangle.
    Berls recently posted…Book Blog Walkers Check-in 46

    • The truth is out!! Kimberly is PRO love triangles! I haven’t read the Selection series, but from what I know of it, I imagine that the romantic aspects are somewhat central to the plot. But, it’s dystopian too, right? So, maybe it makes sense in a post apocalyptic world…

      • I liked it in this one as well.
        Plus I liked it in Thousand Pieces of You, and part of vamp academy… and I liked in Mafi’s books until last one where felt forced.

        So, I guess that I don’t mind them for the most part. But there are def books where they are one or more of your points and that can turn me off.
        Brandi Breathes Books recently posted…Stacking the Shelves, The Sunday Post, Bought Borrowed and Bagged

      • Where there’s one, there’s always two. At least Kimberly is no longer alone in her I ❤ love triangles corner. 😉

  58. Yes to this post!! Love triangles really are forced conflicts and they really don’t carry the story as well as the authors think. It is just so overdone.
    Julie recently posted…That’s what HE said Thursday- November 13, 2014

    • Forced conflict sucks the big one; at least make the characters work for it a bit. Geez!

      • I actually like love triangles better than a straight up OTP romance because this way, the readers have a bit more of a choice when it comes to their participation in the narrative of the book instead of having the author force this One True Love on them. I absolutely agree with everything you said about what was wrong with love triangles, especially that they tend to eclipse who the character is on her own, but I also think that love triangles give the character a bit more independence too because she realizes that she could choose either potential suitor and she isn’t just part of a whole or ending up with a man who “completes her” or is her “other half”. Either trope is problematic, but as a reader, I like to feel like I have a bit more of a choice and rooting for a specific pairing of a love triangle makes me feel like a more active participant in the story.

      • There are advantages & disadvantaged to love triangles as well as soulmates, it mainly comes down to each reader’s personal preferences, and the author’s writing. I understand your POV about feeling more actively involved when there’s a team to root for, but on the flip side it really sucks when your choice ends up being the loser. There’s no perfect solution, that’s why there are so many options, a little something for everyone!

  59. The only time they work for me is when both love interests are equally good for the main character…and this NEVER happens. There’s always one person who’s obviously the runner-up, even when they avoid being completely unsuitable. You’re totally right about the HEA, too. It always feels a bit too soon when there was a love triangle that hadn’t yet been resolved not 40 pages prior.
    Danya recently posted…Review: A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire

    • You’re dead-on about there never being two equally good choices available; Sierra Dean’s SECRET MCQUEEN series is the only one that comes to mind where this was actually the case which is precisely why I was ok with the triangle between her characters. Plus, her snark is top notch!

  60. Wow, Carmel! A lot of your reasons are really, really spot-on why I hate love triangles. They’re seriously bad news for me. I wouldn’t mind a love triangle if only there isn’t really a love triangle (does that make sense) like there are two possibilities but not really explicitly implied any of them will be the one the girl will end up with. Like… Hermione to Ron and Harry. She had moments with the two that send both fandoms to the high heavens, and it was fun, but there weren’t really any hints at all and it was up to the reader to interpret them.
    Faye M. recently posted…ARC Review: Omega City (Omega City #1) by Diana Peterfreund

    • I know what you’re talking about, but yeah, it’s not something that’s easy to explain. Most of the time though they are a lose / lose proposition.

  61. Hate them ;/ you are right, most of them are the same, especially when it comes to love interest. The last book I remember that had a triangle.. surprise surprise a YA fantasy. One was a friend, the other a stranger -cue eye roll- Now if I hear that a book has them I put them off to the side ;/ it’s way too frustrating for me. I like chemistry build between two characters, hard to accomplish that with 3

    • Whenever I’m checking-out reviews on blogs, as soon as I see ‘love triangle’ mentioned, I’m like NEXT.

  62. I can’t argue with you on any of those points. It makes me wonder why they’re so prevalent. It’s not like people are caught up in triangles in real life (at least not very often). Is it a fantasy thing? Like people want to imagine what it’s like to have two people want you that are so amazing you can’t possibly choose?

    The tough thing is that since love triangles are so prevalent (esp in YA as you mention), reading selections would be cut drastically if they weren’t everywhere. I guess I don’t mind them awfully much for that reason. But I do actually enjoy them when both possibilities actually have a chance. Not when one guy/girl stands a snowball’s chance in hell of actually being chosen. Think Edward/Jacob/Bella as opposed to Katniss/Gale/Peeta.

    You’re also so right about the triangle detracting from the plot. In some cases the love triangle is actually a significant part of the plot. Which is a shame. Because waffling in relationships can only go on so long, even in a fictional love triangle that’s been stretched out as far as possible.

    At the same time, without love triangles a significant number of common story lines are out of the picture. So I think it’s one of those things where we have to push through our annoyance (and write a snarky review).
    Leila recently posted…It Never Gets Old – BookBlogWriMo Day 17

    • I think love triangles have become an quasi essential part of the majority of books, so unfortunately we just have to grit our teeth and try to enjoy the other aspects of the story. I’ve written so many reviews complaining about them that I’m beginning to feel like a broken record.

  63. Oh man, I completely agree with this!! I cannot think of a single book where a love triangle actually contributed in some way to the plot. It is mainly a distraction . . . an unwelcome one at that.

    • As a whole, there’s no such thing as a good love triangle. It still baffles me why authors are so fond of them.

  64. I CAN like them. There are a couple of books where the love-triangle really worked for me, but it depends on the situation and how it’s wrapped inside the story. If it’s believable and part of the story, I don’t mind it so much. If it’s spread through the book to just be there, while it takes over the plot; HATE IT. The best example I can think of is Throne of glass. Her feelings are understandable, because her relationship with the characters are different. There is so much more going on than the romance and it’s not cliched where one of them is a good guy and the other a bad guy.
    Mel recently posted…Review 302. Kasie West – Pivot Point series.