Friday, October 18, 2013

A New Non Love Triangle Shape


I've read a few books/series this year where I haven't known exactly how to categorize the Love Triangle Factor. These books don't feature the agonizing three part love triangle where one girl's heart is torn between two guys. But neither do they feature the standard two person romance (i.e. one guy, one girl all the way through). 

In these non love triangles, it's all pretty normal at the beginning. A girl falls in love with one guy, and all the signs indicate that THIS is the couple that we need to be focusing on. That's when the fake-out happens. All of a sudden, something goes wrong and the original couple is no more: he dies, betrays her, turns evil. Whatever the reason they break up, and she has to get over it. Then the magic happens and a new guy enters the picture. Maybe he was already quietly in the background. Maybe he comes galloping onto the scene when she's least expecting him, and you finally realize that this new guy is the ONE that was right all along. 


I've decided that this type of love story is getting common enough to need a name.

I'm calling it the 

Linear Love Progression

The difference between a traditional Love Triangle and a Linear Love Progression is simple. In a triangle, a girl is in the middle of two guys. It's tearing her heart in two because she can't choose between them (I'm trying to keep neutral, but I'm sure you can all imagine me rolling my eyes here). In a Linear Love Progression, the girl is only with one person at a time, although the object of her affection switches throughout the course of the story. Its also eventually clear that the second guy is a better choice for her in the end. 

Although traditional dual romances are my favorite, I'm really starting to like these Love Progressions. They cut out the angst of a triangle and feel much more natural to life, because very rarely do we end up with our first loves. How often do we think back on them and realize that they really weren't the right choice for us after all? I'm glad I didn't end up with mine. However, I personally have a hard time switching my affections once I pick a guy - one of the reasons I dislike triangles - so it can be tricky to make this romance direction work in a single book. 

This is one love shape that I generally don't want to know about before I read the story, since knowing that it's coming, usually spoils something about the book. But I did want to give an example without being too obvious about it. I think many love stories have elements of the Linear Love Progression, but only one book/series below would I fully put in that category. One is a straight on triangle, the other two are more standard two people love stories. 





Have you noticed this new love shape cropping up recently? 

Do you like it more or less than the standard triangle? 

27 comments:

  1. Oh, those linear fake-outs! Many of them I really have liked. They're a lot more realistic than the triangle (seriously, the teens I know would break up with someone who tried to triangle them! And, yes, I know that's not a verb.) and, though I don't always enjoy getting attached to one character who doesn't wind up being the MC/love, I can totally handle it.

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    1. I agree about real teens not getting stuck in triangles -though you would think they all do with how author's write series! Gayle Forman said something really great on twitter recently about that "Very rarely in young love is there a situation of being torn between two guys. Sorry. I know my genre is full of it." and "But I think they are essentially bullshit. When you fall in love, you know who you love. #JustOneRead" YES to that with exclamation points!!

      I like the idea of "triangle" being a verb. I might have to use that myself sometime.

      It is hard to lose a character that you've gotten attached to! The Linear Progression can be tricky to pull off, and I've seen it where I am devastated because of the loss of the guy and also where I've wanted him to GO AWAY. Generally, it's okay as long as I have enough time to get into a new one. I think this works best over a series for that reason.

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  2. I love that you have finally given a name to this particular type of romance, Lauren! And you're right, unlike most love triangles we see in YA these days, the linear love progression is much more realistic and much more genuine. I, too, am glad that I didn't end up with my first love, and although I think it's sweet all those people who ended up with their high school sweethearts, it still squicks me out a bit. Like, they haven't really lived until they've loved and lost and all that. I'm actually glad to see more YA using the linear love progression because it doesn't give the impression that young love is everlasting, that it triumphs above all else...because usually it doesn't. They don't forego emotion, but they do cut out that angst that I find so tiresome with the average love triangle. I find my appreciation for this type of romance growing with each new instance. Thanks for calling attention to this, Lauren...it really did deserve it's own term. :D

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    1. It is wonderful to end up with your HS sweetheart! But you're right, it happens a lot less than YA would have us believe. I hope that the linear progression doesn't become HUGE, because I think it could get repetitive unless handled correctly. However, I agree that it's a much better and more realistic model than the traditional triangle, and I wouldn't mind more of it.

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  3. "However, I personally have a hard time switching my affections once I pick a guy"

    Me too Lauren! Unless the guy I pick originally turns completely evil like you mentioned can happen (or dies, as is sometimes the case), I have a really hard time warming up to someone new. I'm guessing The Girl of Fire and Thorns is the one that fits this new love shape, at least in my mind. I fell madly in love with Hector in book two of that series, and was rooting for him and Elisa even though the romance in the first book was with someone different. I much prefer this setup to the standard triangle of course, and I love the name you've given it!

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    1. I have read the Linear Progression in a few books, and it works best for me if the first guy dies or does something horrible to betray the girl - though I will say that I was not so into him all along - however, I did read one version of this where it took me a LONG time to work my way to the new guy, because I kept holing on to the old one. Thankfully, once I'm there, the new guy is almost always a very clear better match for the MC. Like with Fire and Thorns like you mentioned, the first guy was nice, but wouldn't have been able to take Elisa where she needed to go as a ruler. Hector was her perfect match, and it was a much more mature relationship overall. I loved that progression. YES to this being better than a triangle, but I don't think it's ever going to be as common as the triangle. There's only so many ways you can make this work. And I find it better over a series than in one book. Thanks for your insight on this!

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  4. I've been reading more of this too. It seems more natural and slightly less irritating than the triangle.

    The one downside for me is something you touched on. Unless the first guy does something HORRIBLE - he's my guy lol I find that relationship is developed more just because they are already in love. The foundation has been set whereas the new one stumbles & bumbles (like it should) then they get together in the last 10 pages. I'm not always convinced.

    But I'll take a Linear Love Progression to a Love Triangle any day!

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    1. I agree, it's definitely more natural to life. No way are triangles as common as YA makes them seem!

      I also agree, I have a lot of trouble emotionally changing guys, so this can be tough to work. In the three clear instances of this progression that I've read, the guy either died or turned out to be evil, so there was really no going back. Still, with one, there were extenuating circumstances and it took me a long time to get my heart wrapped around the new guy. However, in all three stories, the new guy has been the clear better match for the MC, and I've loved watching their love. For the full progression to be satisfying, I think this works best over a series, instead of in a standalone book.

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  5. Yes, I love this name and the trope is so much more preferable to a love triangle. Carson's trilogy is the only one that features it, actually, though I'm sure there are more. I also think it's becoming more common to have another love interest who exists for jealousy purposes who is interested in the girl, but the girl isn't ever torn between two people. (It happens in Sarah Fine's Fractured.) Lots of variations on the love triangle are occurring, but as long as they're different from the traditional route, I definitely don't mind. :)

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    1. Yes! I love how this Progression was handled in Carson's series. I also think that it works best when played out over a series, so we have a chance to see the love blossom between the new couple in an adequate time. With Fire and Thorns, I also love how Hector was a a more mature, better choice for Elisa considering where she was headed in life. The first guy was sweet but it was much more of a young love and he couldn't have been her equal in where she had to go by the end of the series.

      As for the other situation you mentioned, I'll have to think of a name for that, but I like when there's another character thrown in for jealousy sake, as long as it's clear that the characters don't waver. It's when the MC starts feeling torn between the two guys that I lose it. But I do like tension and pressure in relationships, especially when it causes growth to happen. I think we're on the same page about this!

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  6. So, so love that you gave this a name! And I agree, I love the traditional kind, but this is also good because it adds a different element and it's kinda realistic. I mean, I never even have had one guy to choose before (slim pickings, lemme tell ya) but I know crush-wise, I look back and go "thank god he never had any interest" and I like someone else. I think of Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo!

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    1. This IS a far more realistic situation, Sunny! HAHA, I never had two guys that I couldn't choose between either. Not only because they weren't out there, but mostly because I always knew who I wanted. However, I agree that it's possible to crush on multiple people. Siege and Storm is a great example - though I'm not convinced that Alina has really strayed too far from Mal (she was confused about the Darkling for a while, but once that was cleared up in book one, I'm not sure she's really wavered). I'm so nervous about the end of that series, however. Really anything could happen!

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  7. Surprisingly I haven't come across such triangle but I can tell you right now that it would majorly annoy me. If the girl is with one guy in the beginning, break off and then gets it on with the next guy (the one) later on, I would feel like the first half was a waste of my time. Does that sound weird? I'm real life, I'm all for learning from mistakes and letting go of someone who's not right for you, but I don't want unnecessary stretches in my books. Though I really like the name, Linear Love Progression. It explains the triangle itself.

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    1. Aman, I can definitely see your point on this. I've read this kind of love situation 3 times, and it's worked to varying degrees each time. One of them, I'm not sure it was necessary to the extent it was written, but the others I've thought made a lot of sense. I think it's best when spread over a series, so you get a chance to switch your focus. It also works best when the first guy is completely taken out of the picture - becoming evil or dead. I don't want to give examples, because I'm thinking you haven't read the books I have, but I'd be interested to discuss it if you ever do!

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  8. Very true. I do prefer your Guy Swap-Out model to a triangle, because it seems WAY more realistic. But I also agree with commenters that as readers, we are somehow trained to bond with Guy #1. However, there are times as a reader when I think Guy #1 is a) a jerk or b) just not a great match for the girl.
    So I guess what I'm trying to say is that while this model still has high potential to tick readers off, it is a HUGE improvement on a triangle and personally, I don't mind it at all.
    Jen @ YA Romantics

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    1. Guy Swap-Out is another good name for this! And it is so much more true to life than a triangle. I've read one situation of this where guy #1 was fantastic, but not the best match for the girl over the long run (Fire and Thorns). He also was no longer an option... I've also read it where guy #1 turned out to be a jerk, though I will say that in that scenario I was nervous about him from the beginning and had trouble with that part of a book. I've read one though where it took me a very long time to switch my affections, but when I did I was happy with the new guy. I was very unhappy for a while. I agree that it's tricky to pull off, and I doubt it will become the NEXT BIG THING. But I do like it better overall than a triangle. Ugh. Triangles go away forever!

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  9. I love this in The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy-it felt very natural the way it was handled and kept me pleased with the characters.

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    1. YES! I love how it was handled in that series too.

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  10. I agree with what Bookworm1858 said, The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy it definitely worked. I think I like this shape better than the normal triangle at least!

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    1. Definitely better than a normal triangle! Also, YES to how it was handled in Fire and Thorns. LOVE that series. And love how the progression showed Elisa's maturing understanding of love.

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  11. I also love this type of love story because, I agree, it does feel more real. I hope we get more books with this type of romance in them!

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    1. Definitely more realistic, Jess! I think it can be tricky to pull off, especially in a standalone. I'm not sure I'm ready for it to be the next big thing, but I'd definitely wouldn't mind it being a little more common, and the traditional love triangle being a lot less common!

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  12. Ooh this is such an interesting idea, Lauren! I do think it makes a lot of sense, too, and is definitely much more applicable to real-life scenarios. I'll have to keep this in consideration when thinking about
    I think I know which series listed actually fits into this mold. :)

    Potential spoiler, but not really:
    The Harry Potter series has tons of examples. And I don't think that's really a spoiler, since the books have been part of our mainstream culture for such a long time now. Harry's with Cho and then Ginny. Hermione's with Krum and then Ron. Ron's with Lavender and then Hermione. haha all three main characters fit this, it looks like.

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    1. Oh that's a wonderful example, Amanda! I didn't think of it, but you are completely right on the HP comparison. I really like how their relationships changed and matured as they grew up. It was definitely far more realistic to life.

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