Friday, January 31, 2014

Follow up post: How Do You Define a Love Triangle + My New Button

Everyone had really great points to make on my How Do You Define a Love Triangle post, and I wanted to share some with you here. Then I need to stop talking about this topic, because if I'm getting tired of it, I'm sure you are too. 

I'm also unveiling my new Love Triangle Free Zone button that the amazing Jenny @ Supernatural Snark made for me. I love love love it so much. I've also put it on my sidebar with a link to grab, if you'd like to live a love triangle free lifestyle as well.  

What is a love triangle? 

A triangle, in my eyes, is when there are two guys competing for one girl and she has genuine feelings for both of them and just can't make a decision (or a guy with two girls, though I haven't read a book with that type of triangle yet)...If the girl's feelings are clear, even if there are two guys present it's still not a true triangle for me because she's not confused. She knows who she wants, it just might not be possible at that point in the story. ~ Jenny

I agree with this, Jenny! Though when a first book in a series is set up with two possible love interests, even if the heroine only wants one at this point in the story, usually it means that she is going to eventually do some wavering. Or the reader is at least going to be led to believe that she will waver, which is often just as stressful for me. Sometimes an author pulls off this situation well, without falling into a triangle trap, and I always think those books have more to offer. 

All these types of love triangle hurt my head! Why can't they just all go away? But going through the different types, I agree that some of them didn't even feel like a triangle to me... Overall, I would prefer there to be no triangle at all, but if it has to be there, then I'd want to heroine/hero to be smart enough to make a decision within one book and stick with it. ~ Aman

I know no one is perfect, and mistakes in love are part of life, but I agree, carrying out a triangle over an entire series rarely is necessary or realistic, especially when the integrity of the heroine is sacrificed to keep a reader guessing until the end. 

I don't think most books are really written as true triangles, which I define as someone well and truly caught be between two characters she's equally drawn to in different ways. This is why they are rarely interesting, because most "triangles" don't feel emotionally authentic and feel more like obstacles added to create romantic annoyance. I mean, tension. ~ Wendy

YES, Wendy! Also, I agree with the fact that fake triangles are annoying and often just a plot device. I'd even argue, that that there's a fine line between whether a book has a triangle and whether an author/publisher wants you to think a book has a triangle. Even though most books don't have true triangles, they're still being promoted has having a "triangle" or at least "teams" that the reader needs to choose. This hype just leads to more drama and a drawn out decision that gets old fast. 

There have been love triangles that I never consider a real triangle because the choice was obvious to me. ~ Sara @ Forever 17 Books.

I tend to agree with this, Sara. The Best Friend On Hold model, especially, rarely seems like a true triangle to me. Or at least, It bothers me less than some of the other models, probably because I'm not usually worried whom the heroine will eventually end up with. However, my former confidence has been wavering a lot, in the wake of some surprising (to me) recent ends to love triangle series. This has made me even more determined to avoid them. I wonder if some of the series that were fine for me previously, would bother me if I started them today?

Why are triangles so painful?

For me the bitterness of a love triangle comes from the fact that the MC is truly torn between two choices, whether or not she prefers one, and that act of being so confused and leading on two guys is what irritates me. If a guy is simply there because the MC is grieving (like in The Sky is Everywhere) I can forgive her and I can also get behind her if she's loyal to one guy and someone else just happens to like her which is out of her control, but either than that it's definitely a love triangle for me. ~ Keertana 

I don't mind the Love T, as long as there isn't any wavering happening. I think it often adds some great tension. I also wouldn't call the Make-Out Buddy an official love triangle. However, that model bugs me a lot and I usually don't enjoy experiencing it. BUT I wouldn't call it a "triangle," and thankfully it usually resolves within one book. 

To be honest, every single one of these annoys me, ha! I guess the love T isn't so bad... but I usually end up hating that third party, when he (she) could have actually been a great character otherwise. I can't stand the fact that again and again romantic tension has to come from the outside in the form of another person. It's unrealistic and kills the romance for me. :( Where's the loyalty? ~ Danielle
I know neither of us likes love triangles in general, Danielle. But I agree that they have been overused recently, and that my favorite stories create tension in other ways than including a triangle. It's starting to feel like a bit of a cop out to me. 

It's not like I need a happy ending every time. I just need to know there's peace among the characters I care for --more so if romantic feelings are involved. ~ Marlene C.

I prefer HEA. But I completely agree that series that drag out triangles until the bitter end are rarely emotionally satisfying. Usually the heroine looks bad and one of the choices gets majorly shafted. After working so hard to keep the reader guessing and investing in multiple parties, this is disappointing. 

How do so many characters let themselves get drawn into triangles? 

Honestly, if I was one of the boys in these love triangles and some girl was having a hard time choosing between me and some other guy, I would quickly delete my name from the multiple choice exam she seems to be taking. ~ Monique Morris
I can't stand it when a character spends a whole book (or series *shudder*) vacillating between two love interests. It doesn't make sense to me that a character wouldn't make a choice (A, B, or C (neither)), and it makes even less sense that choices A and B are willing to stick around and wait for this indecisive person to make a choice. ~ Kel @ No Cucumber Sandwiches

Both of your comments made me laugh, because they are so true. I don't understand how these YA guys get suckered into triangles over and over again, especially with girls who often describe themselves as 'plain' and who never had a guy look at them twice before. When a triangle gets to the point that a heroine looks bad because she's been leading on two guys for so long, I wish the guys would just give her the boot. 

Overwhelming dislike for the Blindside and the Middle Book Tension Triangle.

I won't read a book if a love triangle is a feature, which is why I feel conned when it shows up halfway through. Allie @ Little Birdie Books 
I HATE "the blindside" with a burning passion. I mean, come on, I don't need any more of those in my life! … The "middle of the book tension".... *cringes* I can't stand those. ~ Christie  
I HATE the blindside and middle book tension triangles. ~ Sara @ Forever 17 Books   
For me, the worst love triangles are the ones you mentioned that drag on and on and keep us guessing until the very end. I can't deal with those types any more. I'm also not a fan of the guy that pops up in book two in order to create additional tension between our main couple and put them on the outs before they reconcile in book three. ~ Jenny 
Love triangles make my brain melt. And the ones that show up MID series? I can't even ... WHY?! It's like I've been tricked! Allie @ Little Birdie Books 
My least favorites are when they are SO in love with a guy in the first book - this is the only guy who has even known her this way and then - ooh! shiny new boy. And the I want you - no I want you - no I want you - every other chapter for 2-3 books.  ~ Karen

YES! To all of this. I'm so bad at waiting to start series until multiple books are out, but it's crushing to experience a mid-series triangle. It's even worse when it's clear that they're just added for tension. I'm liking this new trend towards duets, though. Less time for a triangle to happen - or drag out. 

On authors' reactions to the love triangle madness. 

"It's always funny when I discuss this with authors and they don't even think they've written [a love triangle]. They know in their head what happens in the end so it seems more like a minor detour while we're all having heart attacks over the eventual decision." Karen

I've noticed this too, Karen. I went to an event last year featuring two authors of very popular/polarizing Love Triangle series (polarizing in that they their audience is split into very prominent and vocal "teams"). Both authors said that they didn't think their stories had a triangle. I was like???? Even though an author knows the way her story is going to go, when she or her publisher tries to set up readers to pick a 'team' that carries throughout a series, keeping the reader guessing until the end, I think that's 100% a triangle. 

These blurbs must be written for someone else.

I think we're screwed. Those blurb writers seem to think that we like the triangle. Silly blurb writers. ~ Mary @BookSwarm 
I am totally with you about misleading publishers! >.< Not just concerning love triangles, though. I have a shelf on GR that's called "avoid until sequel releases." If the sequel has a love triangle or cliffhanger I don't bother. It's saved me quite a bit of heartache in the past, at any rate. ~ Keertana 
I've almost completely stopped reading summaries right before I pick up a book because I don't want to be misled about a possible triangle. And it seems like those who write the descriptive copy think we all WANT love triangles because I've been misled that way and recently, too. *sigh* But I still agree that we should at least get advanced warning of a triangle so we can decide if it's worth it or not. ~ StarryeyedJen 

I'm not sure why some blurb writers push the triangle and some try to hide it. Definitely a mystery! Jen, I think you have the right idea of avoiding blurbs, because they can be misleading. I tend to trust a reviewer's comments more - that's why I'm always coming to you and others for your opinion. Also, Keertana, you're right, blurbs can be misleading in general. Though that's a topic for another day. I LOVE your shelf idea. I need to check that out. 

In Summary:
  • A Love Triangle is when a girl has feelings for, and is is truly torn between, two guys. If several guys like her, but she never wavers on who she likes, that is not a triangle. 
  • Triangles that pop up mid series are annoying, especially when it's clear they're only included to add tension. 
  • Triangles that drag out through multiple books are rarely emotionally satisfying, and usually only make the heroine look bad, and the love interests foolish for sticking around so long. 
  • How the reader perceives a story is sometimes more relevant than whether an author thinks they've written a love triangle. If an author/publisher is pushing their series as having a love triangle with 'teams' that the heroine and, as a result, the readers are encouraged to choose between, the story has entered love triangle territory. 

Do you agree, want to add anything?


  1. I agree with all of this and this post made me laugh and nod my head until my head literally couldn't stop nodding. Haha. (AND THE BUTTON. WELL, IF ANYONE COULD COME UP WITH THIS GORGEOUS BUTTON IT'S JENNY. IT'S SO PRETTYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *stares*) I wanted to add something, but I forgot what it was. If I remember, I'll tweet or come back to comment etc.

  2. LOVE THE BUTTON!! Love this post! Can we just stop with the triangles, please? Add drama and conflict in other ways. Please. I'm beggin' you.

  3. YAY!!!! I'm so happy you love the button Lauren! I was thrilled with out it turned out:)

    I'm with Mary, I'm ready for a break from love triangles. It seemed like they had maybe waned for a bit, but now they're becoming more prevalent again. This about sums up what I think:

    "Triangles that drag out through multiple books are rarely emotionally satisfying, and usually only make the heroine look bad, and the love interests foolish for sticking around so long. "

    Those are what I consider to be true triangles and are the ones I have very little patience for now after reading so much YA. For some reason, triangles in adult novels aren't quite as bothersome for me. I have no idea why. That's a topic for another day I guess:)

  4. I really love your blog and read it because of the love triangle ratings! I also hate love triangles. I've tried to avoid them, I've tried to ignore them, I've tried to accept them, but the fact of the matter is: if there is a love triangle, I automatically hate the main character (the one that has to choose). I feel it makes the MC disloyal and why would you want to be with someone like that anyways. In real life, if I was dating someone who also had an interest in someone else, I would just forget him and move on. Even if he chose me in the end, I would always be wondering if he still had feelings for the other person.

    A love triangle to me is where the MC has feelings for two people and can't decide. That is my take on a true triangle. However, it still annoys me if the MC is loyal to the guy she wants to be with, but there is another guy trying to get her attention, or trying to make her fall in love with him. I hate that. Many real men that I know would back off if he finds out the girl he likes has a boyfriend. That is the respectful thing to do.

    Lastly, another thing I hate is where a second interest pops up in later books!!!!! WHY???? Why would an author do this? For example, I loved the first Shatter Me book, but I hated the second because of this. Now with Ignite Me coming out soon, I plan on just reading reviews and seeing if someone will spoil it for me, so I can just see who Juliet ends up with. I really don't want to invest reading Ignite Me if she ends up with Warner, since I'm team Adam. If she ends up with Warner I'll feel like I've wasted my time in reading the first two books.

    BTW, I love all the posts on love triangles. I could talk about how I hate them forever!

  5. I love this recap! And that button is adorable. I'll probably be back to grab the code. :) I'm not as anti-love triangle as you yet, but I'm getting there. There are plenty of interesting and legitimate ways to increase tension in a story than with one of these ill-fated romances. *sigh*

  6. First off, I love the button! ;) Secondly, this re-cap post is wonderful! I wish we could print a copy to send to every major publishing house just so that they'd know that we do NOT like love triangles and they can stop (a) publishing books with them and (b) mis-marketing books as a result of them. Fantastic compilation, Lauren! :)

  7. I agree with pretty much all of this. A true love triangle for me is when the MC truly doesn't know who to choose and has genuine love feelings for both (not just caring feelings). That hardly ever happens. Instead, I think they're just plot devices. There's got to be something to keep the happy couple from being happy so that's one of the easiest ways to do it. Generally there's something else happening too (mistrust, misunderstandings) and a lot of times the couple isn't totally a couple yet, but there's got to be something in the way of them becoming a couple and being happy and a lot of the times it's the (sort of) love triangle. I was actually planning on doing a post soon about favorite (or hated) plot devices that keep the couple apart (or unhappy). Curse, thinking you're brother and sister, etc. Fun post! ~Pam

  8. I love this button! Jenny is so amazingly talented! I fully agree with everything in this post, and I don't like being frustrated with my reads so I'm trying to stay in the "triangle-free zone" as well! :) My one exception MIGHT be Ignite Me. *sigh* I'm still going back and forth. That was sort of a triangle introduced mid series. It didn't seem like Juliette had real feelings for Warner until Unravel Me, IMO.

  9. This post is everything. I feel like you Lauren properly capture the essence of love triangles. I guess they add for good book tension but in all honesty I've only probably liked a handfuls of the one's I've read and agreed with the outcome even less.
    Lily @ Lilysbookblog

  10. This is such a great post Lauren, I loved reading everyone's comment. I have to agree with Jenny, I really do get irritated when a potential love interest pops up in the middle of a series, seriously what is the point? I didn't used to mind love triangles before, but seriously they are so overdone nowadays. Also like I said before I adore Jenny's button! She is so talented!

  11. I loved seeing a compilation of what everyone had to say about your last love triangle post! It's fascinating to see which opinions I agree with (which is basically everything), and I loved the ones you chose to include. Thanks for once again including an insightful, interesting discussion in your post!

  12. I don't even know what to begin to comment on. Just know, this post is fantastic (as well as the original one, which I read, but don't think I commented on, which I might go do and leave you a whole commenting bomb...) and I really enjoyed seeing a compilation of what everyone had to say! I do have to say that middle book tension + love triangle is the WORST. Everyone is so happy or at least happily and slowly going along and then BOOM, the series has exploded into a love triangle mess and frustration. Also, silly blurb writers indeed.

    That button is gorgeous btw!

  13. I think Book Swarm and Starry-Eye Jen's comment that blurb writers think we all just looove the triangle is spot on. I just can't help but wonder why the triangle is still SO prevalent in YA when nearly everyone I encounter in the blogosphere seems to LOATHE them. I mean you would think somebody, the author of the publisher, would at some point think to themselves "Hmmmm. Perhaps readers are tiring of this. It might be a good idea to step away from this trope in the future."

    And you know I think that button is GORGEOUS :)

  14. I always seem to visit on the days of love triangle discussions, I cannot escape them!! You make a really good point about author/publisher wanting you to think there is a triangle even though there isn't; sometimes when authors say, "why would you think that, it's not really a triangle" I quietly think to myself the same thing--"YEAH BUT YOU WANTED US TO THINK SO!" :P Otherwise the second guy wouldn't be there, or around so much, or it wouldn't cause so much jealousy, or whatever whatever.

    One situation I remember being interesting--in SHIVER, Grace briefly runs into an old friend while she's with Sam. (Sorry, I can't remember his name.) Because there is a hint of feeling there from the guy that you could infer, for a moment I thought there was going to be a jealousy situation going on there, but it turns out there wasn't. I thought that was a really nice moment, without going into the ugly and awfulness that a more typical book would get into.

    But you know, I'm curious what the majority of teen readers think about triangles, too. It's a fantasy for some people to want to be fought over (the whole getting into fistfights over a girl thing isn't new), so I wonder if certain series have popularized it so that marketing people (or authors or publishers) are all gung-ho to throw these things in there. I know among my friends and the people I follow it's not a huge like, but I'm not caught up in other outlets where the kids hang out so much. We've got kids whose tastes are more in line with the adults hanging out in the blogosophere for the most part, I think.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  15. Fantastic follow-up post, and the button is a thing of beauty. I LOVE it, Lauren! Thanks for putting all of this together. :)

    I'd say more, but I think everyone here has said everything that needs to be said. "Just say NO to the Love Triangle!" I think this has become the official mantra for the YA book blogging community! GO LAUREN!

    Marlene @ The Flyleaf Review

  16. I feel like it is a love triangle even if the girl knows who she likes because that second guy takes away time that could be spent with her real love and developing that relationship. Very thought provoking points here Lauren!


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