Scenario #1: A woman loves her husband very much but they have become comfortable. She meets a man on a work trip and becomes embroiled in an affair.
Scenario #2: A girl has been with her boyfriend for 3 years and they are the best of friends. New boy starts at school and she fancies the pants off him.
Which of these scenarios is a love triangle? Both, or only the YA one? Books for adult readers never really have the love triangle insult thrown at them, and yes, it has become an insult of sorts. Somehow the presence of a love triangle ruins an otherwise fantastic book for many readers. Personally, I think a bad book is a bad book no matter the romantic arrangements of the characters.
This morning I walked in on the tail end of a conversation on Twitter. Someone wasn’t going to see a film they otherwise thought interesting because it was based on a YA book and there was a love triangle, because all YA has love triangles obviously. There were several people who responded in confusion, because they couldn’t remember a love triangle at all. Oh, maybe it was that boy, the one who fancied her, but wasn’t the boyfriend?
Cast your minds back to high school. It might be a little foggy, but try. I’m pretty sure you fancied more than one person. Maybe you were even naughty and snogged someone who wasn’t your official partner behind the bike sheds? I’m also pretty sure no one called these liaisons love triangles. They were just part of figuring out what you wanted and also bad judgements. Some people were just plain promiscuous.
Multiple love interests are so prevalent in YA because they’re kind of prevalent in life. At my age, it’s hard to find someone single who is also a decent human being and on the same wavelength. When you’re a teenager, the pool of available partners is huge in comparison. And those bonds aren’t really bonded yet, so even if they’re together, there’s a good chance they will break up before graduation.
As Hannah pointed out this morning, most chick-lit has love triangles. They’re not usually described as such. There’s the good old Pride and Prejudice plot (which I love, it would be my guilty pleasure if I felt guilt over reading); woman likes man who seems perfect but turns out to be a nob and is probably lying about stuff, woman never liked the man who actually turns out to be perfect for her once they’ve got past that whole misunderstanding (probably spread by man number one). You stick this plot in a YA book and everyone would be screaming, LOVE TRIANGLE, YUCK in minutes.
Before Anita Blake got bad, there was an ongoing love triangle between her and Jean-Claude and Richard. It was part of the anticipation of picking up the next book; would she choose? Who will she end up with and can they remain friends? Will she change her mind?
Have certain books turned us against YA love triangles? There’s a lot of Twilight fatigue going on, which has already turned many people off vampires, no matter what the book is like. Having a huge franchise pushed down your throat is tiresome, but not every book should be compared against it. It’s plain unfair. If you’re going to blame your dislike of a book on the love triangle, take a step back and consider if you don’t like it because it’s just not very well written.
Melodramatic teenage love is out in general. If your character can’t decide between two people they haven’t known very long because they will just die without them both in their life, you’re probably going to receive eye rolls and yawns. Your girl from scenario #2 is only going through normal teenage life. Adding a supernatural element to scenario #2 does not make it melodramatic, the writing and plot does.
So are you a lover or hater of love triangles? What do you consider a love triangle to be? If the love triangle is an aside to the main plot, will you let it slide? And more importantly, do you give different standards to different genres?