It’s July and Paola and Alix’s are hosting the Love Triangles 101 event over at A Novel Idea. Clearly, there’s an abundance of love triangles, especially in the world of YA. So why not educate yourself about them and have fun while doing it? (Psst, there’s a giveaway, too!)
WHEN LOVE TRIANGLES HURT
One of the first love triangles I ever encountered was Archie-Betty-Veronica in Archie Comics. It always seemed odd to me that in all the time of Veronica stringing along a lovestruck Archie, Betty always got pushed away. I liked Betty more and wanted to shake Archie so he’d see that too. The situation was more complicated due to the fact that Betty and Veronica were best friends but that didn’t make Betty’s hurt any less. Yes, she hurt more than Veronica, who hardly ever gave enough thought to Betty’s feelings. And yes she hurt more than Archie, who did see that Betty had feelings for him. This is probably not a good example seeing as Betty played the role of a third wheel and nothing was really at stake here but this is where Betty and I first encountered hurt.
LOVE CONQUERS ALL?
In The Hunger Games trilogy, I liked Gale more earlier on because he connected with Katniss on so many levels. The hunting, the food problems, going out of your way for one’s family. But then as the story progressed, he wasn’t the one who felt what Katniss felt during the games, who knew what it was like to have to kill even when not wanting to, who was brave enough to survive the games, who understands better than anyone else. That was all Peeta and Katniss ultimately had to choose what world she was willing to live in and how she was going to overcome life. She could have picked Gale and run off with him but that wasn’t her. Katniss goes through such a dramatic change that she had to cut Gale out of her life one way or the other.
In fact, Katniss, Peeta and Gale all go through the worst things that could have happened to them. What I’m trying to get at is that love doesn’t conquer all. There’s always a gaping hole because you once choose a person, you’ve to let go of the other person. It cannot work any other way. Sometimes however, you don’t want a love triangle to work out as they’re the epitome of selfishness. A titillating tragedy waiting to happen.
WHO DO YOU SHIP?
Here I’d like to talk about The Vampire Diaries because it relates well to what I want to say. Sometimes the characters are done so well that it is impossible to choose who to root for. I’m pretty much Stelena all the way but I cannot help but want Delena as well. I go through double the emotions watching the show because while I’m happy for Stelena I’m also sad for Delena. As a part of the audience, there is so much work put into feeling for the characters and their stories that it makes the triangle worthwhile. It also takes out the possibility for not liking one of the angles (?).
Shipping basically means willing someone in the love triangle to lose. Badly. There is so much angst put into the character you don’t want the main character to pick that a lot of negative feelings sprout. The character probably didn’t ask for it. He’s in love and you can’t blame him for trying now, can you. So yes, from time to time, I tend to observe the triangle mess by looking at it from the point of view of the non-rooting party. Then I feel bad as is in the case of Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy. Xander didn’t do anything wrong, hell he’s trying to make it all work out but I just can’t help and ship Cassia and Ky. (Here I should probably mention that I’ve yet to read Reached).
IT’S ABOUT MORE THAN JUST THE CHARMER AND THE BROODER.
The other day when I commented on Asti’s post about whether love triangles are realistic or ridiculous, I said, ‘If there is a enough good reason for the existence of a love triangle, I’d understand but if it’s a battle between the charmer and the brooder then I’m sorry that’s just ridiculous. Some books do that, some people do that and I feel incredulous because that’s probably just attractiveness mixed up with infatuation and not love.’ Then Asti came up with the term Charmer vs Brooder which got me thinking.
Choice is power. But stupid choices are just that stupid. I’ve read books where the main character swoons over the brooder who is pretty much aloof, stiff and mysterious, while the Charmer is bending backwards trying to get the attention of the main character. Isn’t that just the worst? Love is much more than the hotness being exuded so to speak. Yes, I like a little mystery myself and who can resist a charmer, but it’s not really the point is it? Dude, you have to choose between two people! Where’s the depth, the stakes that are supposed to be high? Where is the consciousness that someone is going to end up hurt?
Love triangles as these are just unbelievable and hard to get into. They seem something the author added as a second thought, something to revel in. It also gives the main character an excuse to string along (usually the Charmer) which is just so wrong on so many levels.
What are some of the love triangles do you feel convey what I’m talking about? Do love triangles really have to hurt? How do you react to hurt in love triangles?
Great post for Love Triangles 101! I agree, love triangles do often hurt! I had a similar topic about being on the losing team, and shared some of these same sentiments. I think I've decided denial of the books' existence is the best way to cope… if only I could actually remove it from my memory… It looks like you and I have opposite opinions on guys though, at least when it comes to The Hunger Games and Matched!
Paola L says
Such a great post Sana! Thanks for being part of our event!! Love that you chose to talk about the very real fact that love triangles are PAINFUL and not just a free-for-all in which one girl gets to pick between two possible romances. It's definitely a choice between two different worlds and two different lives. And choosing one way DOES mean giving up the other!
Sam (Realm of Fiction) says
You make a lot of great points! Vampire Diaries is a great example for when I'm actually genuinely torn between two love interests. Although in books I generally have a preference almost immediately (in which case, I come to despise the love triangle altogether), I find that they work far better for me on screen. I'd say some pain and hurt is sometimes inevitable. After all, one or more of the characters aren't going to get their happily ever after, and it's difficult not to worry about that while watching the triangle run its course. I can't actually think of any right now where the outcome has been a positive one from all angles.
Great post! I agree especially with your points about the triangle in The Hunger Games. Peeta was there in the Arena with Katniss, seeing first-hand the horror of the games.
The Archie Comics love triangle was one of my first too. I could never understand why Archie couldn't just make up his mind, especially when Veronica was so prone to stringing him along.
I completely agree with TVD. You can tell when love triangles are done well because you're confused about who to ship. I liked her with Stefan when she was human, but vampire Elena definitely fits better with Damon. Gale, I always saw as Katniss' older brother. They just had a sibling relationship to me, so I never really considered it a love triangle, even though it was one.
Alise (Readers In Wonderland) says
Great 101 post! Oh gosh I was obsessed with TVD before this season, which I didn't care for too much. I am the opposite, I am Delena and occasional Stelena. I'm glad they are together for now 🙂 Although I heard they broke up in real life?? I prefer Gale over Peeta, actually. For some reason I always pictured Peeta really… large and overweight in the books xD
Shannelle C. says
I've read Reached! Haha! 😀
And thanks a lot for the such an in-depth analysis of shipping. At first, I thought it was just rooting for a certain couple, but turns out, it's actually not that simple. I really learned something new today.
And the Charmer and the Brooder thing? I'm frustrated by how either one or both of those types appear in a love triangle.
Reem Ibrahim says
I really like this post! I've always thought love triangles where a selfish thing in on itself. There's the girl who is hurting someone in order to be with another, and there's the guy who wants to be with her even though she loves another one. But if you take THG for example, I don't think Katniss choosing Peeta over Gale was selfishness. Like you said, Katniss changed drastically after the first and second Hunger Games. While Gale was her friend for a long time, and he went through a lot for her and her family, their ideals changed by the third book. I don't remember what is was that Katniss said (something about how she didn't need Gale's fire in addition to hers, but someone to balance her out.) and it made sense. you know?
Christina @ Christina Reads YA says
I'm linking to this post in my round-up tomorrow. Yes. Yes. Yes. Part of the reason why I dislike love triangles is because if I was ever in that position, no. It's intensely painful, and I think that aspect is often downplayed in order to romanticize the idea of having two interests (we always want extra choices, but we never want them stripped from us; when is there ever a triangle where the MC is not chosen and all is not well and the other characters are still *good* people?). What this discussion on hurt reminds me of is the love triangle in the Infernal Devices trilogy – that is a love triangle where everyone hurts. It makes me flinch to even think of it, and honestly I'm a bit hesitant to read the last book for that reason. TVD is another great example of that, and I like your point about shipping. Rarely do I ever actually "ship" one team in a love triangle because I know that it would hurt, because each interest is generally suited for the MC. (Unless there's just one really crap love interest). Charmer v. Brooder triangles? As you said, there's often not enough at stake to ship one or the other.
I preferred Gale over Peeta, but I agree with you why she choose him over Gale. They both went through the same thing and knew how bad it was, so it's normal that they'll want to stick together and get through this.
As for TVD… the last season (with the exception for Klaus) was just boring for me. I used to like Elena, but not so much. I've never wanted her to be with Damon; I loved her and Stefan together. And I used to like Damon when he was evil 😀 Now all he's about is Elena-Elena-Elena and it just bores me. Their love-triangle didn't work for me because, despite all he did, Damon did kill Elena's brother.
Anyway, back to the original topic (I have a habit of straying). I'm not much for love-triangles and I agree with all your points. Everyone is always happy when two characters end up together, but few think about the one that was just played and left high and dry. I don't remember ever liking a love-triangle…