The Origins of a Love Triangle

The famed love triangle can turn people away from a book in an instance. Even the mention of the two words can send people fleeing for the hills…

running for the hills

Personally, I don’t mind them all that much when they’re done right. But what makes them so horrific?

The cliché? The unnecessary angst? The silly indecisive protagonist that usually accompanies it?

There seem to be soooo many reasonings behind why love triangles are the death of a book.

However two of the biggest supernatural shows contain love triangles. Admittedly I am an addict of one.

Have you guessed what they are? I’ll give you a little clue. Fangs.

The Vampire Diariestrue-blood-season-4-sookie-bill-eric

The Vampire Diaries and True Blood.

So what makes these so immensely successful if people hate them so much?

The fact that most adults in Western Society claimed to have been involved in a love triangle? Quite a surprising figure really. Does it mean we can relate to them? Or is it that human nature is tempted by something we can’t have? Will we always want that one thing that continues to elude us so?

Not only do we have two highly successful TV shows, we also have two HUGE film series. Oddly, these are both from the young-adult genre that contain love triangles.

Clues: Sparkling. Death. Bow and Arrow.


The Hunger Games and Twilight.

In some ways, I don’t think you ladies can deny that you wouldn’t want two hot men chasing after you. However it seems that YA heroines are increasingly having the need to have not one, but two men chasing after them to raise their self-esteem and give them character. Oddly I thought that books should be encouraging good self images and acceptance without the need for men in YA heroines particularly when women authors are writing this.

Now that’s not to say, every YA book or book that contains a love triangle is terrible. The Hunger Games, Everneath, The Vampire Diaries are a few from the top of my head that I’ve enjoyed despite the love triangle. However I don’t think it needs to be a requirement, especially if its trying to keep the audience interested.

On the other hand, one of the most famous writers of all time had a love triangle in his works. Shakespeare. Anybody familiar with Romeo and Juliet? Well remember Paris? The third element of the love triangle…

See, it seems that love triangles have been an inherent part of the literature culture since the 1600s. Somehow I don’t think we are about to escape it any time soon. However I don’t think this means we should stand idly by and let the bad ones pass through.

What do you think?



Filed under Rambles

50 responses to “The Origins of a Love Triangle

  1. Great post! I’m with you. I don’t mind them if they’re done well. In my own writing, if I do a love triangle, I always try to make it clear who the heroine is leaning toward. I think that’s the thing that bugs me most is when she can’t make up her mind. I totally understand having feelings for more than one person, but you’re gonna like one more than the other, so I tend to make two people with feelings for her so the readers can ship for their favorites, but without all the indecision and angst.

    • Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

      Yeah, that sounds like more definition. I mean I hate all the indecision of back and forth, but I don’t want it really obvious either.

      Thanks for dropping by! 🙂

  2. You know, the love triangle in Hunger Games didn’t really bother me. It actually seemed like a pretty natural chain of events, so I never got annoyed with it. Many others, though? Yeah, I hate when they pop up because they often just seem so unnecessary! Great post!

  3. “Oddly I thought that books should be encouraging good self images and acceptance without the need for men in YA heroines particularly when women authors are writing this.” YES! I absolutely agree with that statement. What really gets me in a book–with or without a love triangle, really–is if the MC only gets confidence/changes/actually shows some character just because of a guy (or 2). If done right, I actually don’t mind love triangles because I think they could add an interesting aspect to the book. 2 major red flags for me, though, are if 1) You already know who the MC is going to end up with on the first page, because one guy is an absolute jerk, and 2) The MC really leads them both on a lot (because that’s pretty cruel). Great topic! 🙂

    Alice @ Alice in Readerland

    • Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

      Thank you, Alice!

      Yes, I have to agree, even without love triangles, it’s annoying when a girl ends up changing just because of a guy.

      I think I have to agree with your two red flags! Thanks for dropping by! 🙂

  4. It’s weird, I don’t mind a well-done love triangle, but I get tired every time I hear mention of one. I think it’s just because it’s so common, like authors are putting them in just because they’ve seen how successful they can be. But just by doing that, they’re not making their story their own, they’re only emulating others – and mostly it turns out to be unsuccessful. The Vampire Diaries is one of the love triangles I DO love; I think part of what’s made it so successul for me is that I love both the brothers. Maybe I love one more than the other, but I don’t want either of them to be hurt, and the only way I can see it resolved without one left hurt is for one of them to die. Cruel, I know. The love triangle in The Hunger Games did not work for me – the relationship with Peeta just felt so forced. As far as Twilight goes, I blame Jacob way more than Bella. It’s true about Romeo and Juliet, we all forget about Paris. It’s certainly a thought-provoking concept. There are definitely some good triangles out there, but it seems like a lot of the time the protagonist is weak and pathetic, and/or spends too much of her time obsessing over a boy rather than what’s going on at the time.

    OK, so this has turned out to be more like a mini essay than just a comment lol, so I’ll leave it there. But this is an awesome post, Livvy! 🙂

    • Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

      Thank you, Aa’Ishah. I was interested to read your thoughts so don’t worry about the mini-essay. haha.

      I have to agree I ADORE both brothers, but I love Damon more and if he dies, I will cry. I mean it. And yes, I didn’t really like the relationships in The Hunger Games. I rooted for Gale, but then I didn’t like him by the end so I found that I liked Peeta, and then he changed and it went all bleh.

      Yes, suppose you are right about Jacob. But Bella does become the weak pathetic protagonist.

      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  5. artsymusingsofabibliophile

    I’ve been reading a lot of YA lately which has made me wary of love triangles. However, I generally don’t mind them as long as they are well done and the girl is not the most confusing character in the book. I mean you just have to know who you want and not get all mushy with both the heroes.

    I’m pretty addicted to TVD (I’m team Stelena by the way even though I adore Damon to bits). The Hunger Games love triangle well not much of a love triangle but I didn’t mind it. Twilight’s love triangle was just meh and I hated Jacob’s part in Breaking Dawn. He got so whiny! Recently, I enjoyed the new spin on the love triangle in Pivot Point.

    • Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

      Oh, I’m team Damon all the way. Just Team Damon. haha.

      I have to agree with you about Jacob being whiny. And I haven’t read Pivot Point so I am curious to that one now! 🙂

  6. I actually really love well-done love triangles. Some are actually amazing and make my heart ache and all that good stuff! But what I can’t stand is when it’s too stereotypical. Like, when the two options are nice guy/friend vs new guy/bad boy, and the girl is so indecisive for no good reason. That’s when I can’t take it. But otherwise… the more, the merrier? Haha!

    • Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

      I think that is definitely the time when I hate love triangles with all the indecision and cliché, it becomes too annoying. I wouldn’t say the more the merrier because then they’ll be overdone, but time appropriate! 🙂

  7. Oh My Gawd I am obsessed with the Vampire Diaries. It’s the best show ever!!!! I love it. I also love love Hunger Games and Teilight. Thanks for sharing 😀 I’d love it if you checked out my blog. Thanks

  8. I am one of those people who despise love triangles on general principle, but even I have to admit that there are some cases where it totally works. Not many, but they exist. Or at least, not all of them are painful and angsty and downright obnoxius. There are few that actually make sense and that are written very well. Still, if I just smell a love triangle in the book blurb, I’m likely to run the other way.

    • Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

      I think love triangles very much depend on personal taste if I’m honest. And I have to agree that there are some that aren’t painful so I tend not to run and try first for now! 🙂

  9. I didn’t really care for the Vampire Diaries books, but I do enjoy the TV show. Watching it has become sort of a weekly guilty pleasure for me, mostly because of Damon. 🙂

    What’s burned me out about love triangles, particularly in YA, is so many of them feel labored to me, like they’re just there because they’ve become some kind of requisite these days. It also bugs me when one guy obviously has no chance; I would have much rather seen no triangle at all, then. Great discussion topic!

    • Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

      Yes, I got fed up of the Vampire Diaries books, but I do love the TV show, like you mainly because of Damon!

      Thanks! I definitely agree with you there to the pointlessness of a love triangle or the authors need to just throw one in there for the sake of it.

  10. I actually dislike them for the mere fact that a person cannot be “in love” with two people at the same time. That’s not saying that all love triangles suck, some of them (although this is very rare in my opinion) are actually good.

    • Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

      Hmmm, I suppose you are right in some sense, but I do think it’s capable to be close to “in love” or love somebody and see it as being “in love”… Great thing to debate though! 🙂

      • I know right? I love discussing love triangles (well ranting about the anyway), because I don’t understand why people love the drama, I can appreciate a good one like the one in Clockwork Prince but then you have the messed up ones where they just seem like something added on for more drama. :/

        • Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

          Yeah, definite things to get things heated up in discussion. No, I don’t particularly like all the angst of them. I like the love triangle in Everneath. It is honestly one of the books where I really like the dynamic because it’s not overly angst but it works to how the main character is. I haven’t read Clockwork Prince, but I’m glad that one works! 🙂

        • I actually didn’t read Everneath because of the Love Triangle. I plan to read the book after all three are out.. that way.. I can spare myself the heart ache of waiting to find out who she ends up with and instead focus on the plot 😛

        • Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

          Ahh, I don’t think it’s that bad to be honest to tearing you apart. I think she’ll go not the way I like if I’m honest.. But who knows. I just picked up Everbound, so hopefully I’ll get closer to an answer when I get around to reading. However you probably made a wise decision there! 😛

        • Hmmm the long waits to the next part in a book don’t usually bother me unless it has a love triangle because I am weird like that.
          I know what you mean though.. that happens to me all the time and I usually drive myself thinking about it. That’s why I avoid them of course and a lot of the times they just get messy (I forgot the series I was thinking about but over the course of 5 books the girl couldn’t make her choice and kept on going back and forth b/w the two).
          Hopefully…. 🙂

        • Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

          House of Night? Although that extends beyond five books… Hmmm… Can’t think of anything myself.

        • Wait.. that’s not it. It was the….. *goes on goodreads to hunt the series down* It was the Shadow Falls series.
          (I read the summaries and reviews to each book in the series because I am paranoid when it comes to love triangles.. been hurt by too many)

        • Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

          Ahh I haven’t heard of that series. Yeah I haven’t read too many love triangle books, but now I’ve probably jinxed it!

  11. Aidan Brack

    Awesome post! I agree there are definitely some books where the triangle totally works and enhances the story (one of my favorites is Our Mutual Friend where it ends really very badly) but I think it often is used clumsily and with little thought. It shouldn’t just be two utterly dreamy boys (or girls) that inexplicably fall in insta-love with the main character!

    • Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

      Thank you.

      I haven’t actually heard of that book. Yes, I find that it tends to be those things that are there for the love triangles which grate on my nerves!

  12. I am generally not a fan of love triangles (which you may have probably already guessed given how much I complain about them in my reviews!), but, now that I think about it, love triangles on screen frustrate me a whole lot less than love triangles on paper. TVD situation, for example, I actually kind of LIKE. In a book, however, it’s nearly always inevitable that I’ll hate it. It’s strange. 🙂

    • Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

      Oddly I am in agreement there. In the books I wanted Elena to pick one, but I’m more agreeable to her stringing the two along on the TV show. How bizarre. And I do certainly know you are not a fan of them! 🙂

  13. I’ve had quite some love-triangles I really enjoyed, but I don’t like the cliched ones. The one where you can see that she really need to pick THAT guy instead of the other, because he is just a douche. Doesn’t mattter that he is hot and mysterious, he is acting like an ass. Example of one I like; Everneath. She is in love with Jack and she is totally going for him, but she has this connection with Cole. I love how she is trying to ignore him and it definitely makes it a good love-triangle.

    • Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

      Exactly how I feel about Everneath. You picked a perfect example of one I like there. Neither are douches and neither are obvious choices. I am in total agreement there! 🙂

  14. LOVE this post! I am not sure what makes one work and not work for me..I think when it doesn’t seem to push forward the plot or is added in just create tension..when it makes sense for the characters I am fine with it..but it general I prefer the author find some other way to add tension..and usually I tend to like the bad boys anyway LOL

    • Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

      Hmmm. I think that’s a good point about it being useful to push forward the point. Yes, I like the bad boys too! haha. Thanks! 🙂

  15. Wow, I have to admit I haven’t actually thought about the origins of a love triangle, though I have wondered why it appeals to people so much. It’s interesting that most people say they’ve been involved in a love triangle. I can’t remember if I myself have been. I’m inclined to say no, unless it was just such an uncomfortable and stressful experience that I blocked it out of my memory. I feel like love triangles are absolutely NOT as glamorous as they seem: when it actually happens that one or more people like you, but things get in the way of you being with either of them, my reaction would be (or is) that of frustration, stress, and discomfort.

    • Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

      I am sure you would realise if you’d been in one…

      That definitely seems like a more human reaction whilst most love triangles are happily ever afters with a little bit of angst to increase the plot.

  16. veganyanerds

    I don’t mind all love-tris but I do dislike most of them. I think a lot of authors throw them in because they think they have to, but then the book only focuses on that and it gets boring. If the book has a more important plot, then it’s not so bad!

  17. I typically don’t mind love triangles as long as they work well, some of my all time favourite reads contain love triangles: The Host and The Unearthly series. But I only loved them because they had me completely torn over which guy I would pick and they didn’t make me want to pull my hair out! But I agree love triangles don’t need be requirement of a book in order for it to work, there are many successful books out there that have no love triangle in the first place! Thanks for sharing this awesome post with us Livvy! I <33333 it! 🙂

    • Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

      Well tearing your hair out is not good, so I will definitely be curious to read both of those books now! 🙂

      Thanks Jasprit!! 🙂

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  19. Oh, the dreaded Love Triangle! In general, they’re just annoying, but it seems people love to hate them. Usually, it’s pretty clear who the heroine will choose, but every so often it’s not. For example, my current obsession, Sarah J. Maas’ THRONE OF GLASS, I’m not really sure who Celaena will choose and I’m going absolutely nuts with worry! 😦

    • Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

      Oh, I haven’t read that one, but I do like the ones where it’s less obvious and you have to sit on the edge of your seat until you find out. I hope for your sake that you do find out soon! 🙂

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  21. This a really great post- I don’t really mind love triangles when they’re done seemlessly and really well generally, but I’ve read so many that frustrate me or are just too predictable to immediately be pleased at the prospect. When I read THG I didn’t know much about them, and when I heard that there was a love triangle in the books I was incredibly confused because I just hadn’t seen it and never felt like that, what turned out to be a triangle, was up for discussion. It seemed obvious to me what would happen. It’s an interesting thing to think about. ( :

    • Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

      Thank you. It most certainly is and I think everybody responds to the love triangles differently in books.

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