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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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