I was reading a book recently and found myself irked by the “so-called” love triangle. I’m not comfortable mentioning the name of the book and don’t try to figure it out by looking on my Goodreads “currently reading” list because I did not add it!! While the novel itself was generally entertaining, the love triangle bothered me because one man was written to be the obvious “winner” and the other the clear “loser.” One man was the safe, corporate type and the other was the dangerous, rugged type but the “safe” guy was also “boring”, “controlling” and “selfish” while the dangerous guy was not only sexy but also fiercely protective and a big teddy bear on the inside. Had the safe guy also been drawn as funny, loving and great in bed (and “safe” and “good in bed” are not mutually exclusive), there might have been a real competition, but because the safe guy was not written with any redeeming qualities, I felt gypped of tension. Even if the heroine did not fall in love with the dangerous guy, it was in her best interest to dump the safe guy anyway because he was a jerk. This was not the first novel I had read where one man was written as cold and dispassionate or a liar, making the protagonist’s ultimate choice either obvious from page one or too convenient, and it is sort of pet peeve of mine.
I’ve often thought about writing a book about a woman who is torn between two men but, if I do, I aim to create two equally attractive contenders (both on the inside and out) for my character’s heart such that readers might actually have opposing views on who is right for her. I want my character to do some heavy lifting to figure out, not who is the better man, but who is the better man for her. I know this will be difficult which might explain why none of the books I’ve written so far (and I’m on my third) feature true love triangles! In my opinion, Emily Giffin did it really well in Love The One Your With between Leo and Andy. While I knew Andy was ultimately the right guy for Ellen, part of me yearned for her to choose Leo. Good ‘ole Boy Andy was not fatally flawed in any way and Leo, while more brooding, was not painted the villain – they were just two very different men vying for the affection of one woman who ultimately followed her heart and made the right choice for her. Movies that did it well, in my opinion, were Sweet Home Alabama and Maid of Honor. While Reese Witherspoon’s character in Sweet Home Alabama ultimately picked her first love from high school, it wasn’t because her NYC boyfriend played by Patrick Dempsey was phony, selfish or really in love with someone else. Reese’s character chose the man played by Josh Lucas because, in her heart, she knew she’d never stopped loving him. In Maid of Honor, Patrick’s Dempsey’s character ultimately won the heart of the leading lady, but it wasn’t because her betrothed Colin was a jerk, it was because she had loved Tom all along. Fans of The Hunger Games created “Team Peeta” and “Team Gale” for a reason – because there was no obvious right or wrong choice; it was a matter of who Catniss deemed to be the better man for her. You know a love triangle is good when there are opposing views – Pacey vs. Dawson (Team Pacey), Peyton vs. Brooke (Team Brooke), Kelly vs. Brenda (team Brenda).
It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed novels with predictable or convenient love triangles, but I much prefer riding shotgun on the heroine’s journey as she figures out what she wants rather than being three steps ahead of her because the author has spoon-fed me the answer.
What are your feelings on love triangles? What have been your favorite or least favorite love triangles?