Things I dislike about (not really) love trianglesYou all know that I don't like love triangles. But it's also hard for me to read about situations that give off the feeling of a love triangle, even when it's not really one.
One of them is the Decoy Boy, which I've talked about before, another is what I like to call the Kiss of Destruction, which I wanted to discuss today.
KISS OF DESTRUCTION
The moment in a building romance when one of the characters in the almost-maybe-you-can't-wait couple tries to push the other away by kissing+ someone else. As a result, it's usually the moment where the romantic interests realize they REALLY do like each other. SURPRISE!!
I HATE WHEN THIS HAPPENS.
I HATE WHEN THIS HAPPENS.
A few reasons why the Kiss of Destruction bothers me:
1) Whether the love interest is caught or not, this part of the book just hurts me so much. Sharp pain and agony. I hate seeing characters kiss the wrong person! It is not something I'll ever be comfortable reading.
2) In many cases, the guy (or girl) is caught mid action and immediately stops and apologizes. Then they're very quickly forgiven. However, I'm always left wondering what would have happened if he/she hadn't gotten caught? How far would the person have taken it?
3) It calls into question this guy's attachment to the heroine (or vice versa/depending on who does the kissing). I struggle to trust him/her again. If the person so easily strayed when his/her love interest isn't around, how can I trust in this relationship?
4) Why does the love interest need to kiss someone else to realize they're really into the person they're hurting? That is backwards logic. Stop it.
Even though a Kiss of Destruction is painful for me, and I don't enjoy it at all, I do think it has been successfully utilized in a few stories. Successfully, in that I've been able to work though it and still love a book.
For me, what is essential to making a KoD work is that it's treated like a Big Deal. That all the emotions and hurt it brings up are confronted head on, and that it's not fixed right away. I also want to see true remorse (and I'm not opposed to groveling).
I just can't take it when: The perpetrator of the KoD is caught and immediately apologizes. Or just gets defensive, because they and the love interest who discovered them weren't really together. Then in the same scene the person is forgiven and becomes perfectly faithful. I want to see anger and hurt and confusion on the part of the person who's been hurt. Those are all emotions that I'd be feeling if it happened to me, and that I am feeling on behalf of the character who discovers the transgression. Often, I have to step away from a story for a while before I can face my emotions (and the character) again.
Situations where characters successfully worked through a KoD:
(I'm about to discuss 3 specific scenarios. Don't read on if you don't want to be SPOILED about them)
1) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - This is one of the first instances of the KoD where I remember feeling like the author handled the situation exactly like I would have taken it. Even though it's a small moment and the two weren't a couple yet, I felt exactly as Cath did at the time. It also happens early in the book, and we get to see she and her love interest rebuild and create a healthy relationship slowly over time. Later, they even talk through what happened in that scene (he didn't realize she was there), which I appreciated so much.
2) I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios - This was a bad one. The person wasn't caught mid act, so we saw the entire transgression though, which is worse, but also better because we aren't left wondering any what ifs. It also completely ruins the relationship between the guy and the girl and they have to rebuild it over time. Although the KoD was one of the hardest I've read, this book was one of the times where I felt it was successfully handled.
3) Under A Painted Sky by Stacey Lee - In this situation the person was caught mid act, and it HURT SO MUCH. But, what I appreciated the most about this book is how seriously it was handled. The heroine who discovers the guy, is very very upset and it takes weeks for them to rebuild any sort of friendship, let alone the possibility of more. He also apologizes big time. I was able to go out of the book feeling confident in them as a couple, because of how it was handled.
I have had this post written for at least 6 months but never published it. Partially, because I wanted to write out some examples of books where the KoD didn't work. But those are to painful for me to relive, or I avoided reading them. The Truth About Us, I'll Give You The Sun, Siege and Storm, The Lynburn Legacy, all have examples of the KoD that were, in my opinion, unsatisfactorily handled. Although I did end up loving 2 of those books/series despite this.
Another related situation to the KoD that makes me as much - or more insane - is when one member of a committed couple kisses another person who is NOT their love interest, with little or no consequences. Sometimes it's not ever discovered or mentioned again. Bella kissing Jacob after she got engaged to Edward in Eclipse, Adrian letting Nina kiss her while Sydney was missing in Silver Shadows, and Rachel letting Harris kiss her in Every Move (right before she goes and sleeps with Mycroft) are three examples that make my BLODD BOIL.
Does this bother anyone else?
Am I the only person who says down with the Kiss of Destruction?
I might have to add this to my anti-love triangle platform.