Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Society's Obsession with Love Triangles

My name is Emily, and I have participated (both ironically and unironically) in love triangle "team so-and-so" crazes.

And no, I do not see a problem with that—up to a point. Love triangles are a bit annoying, often unrealistic, and usually a lazy way to create romantic tension, but if a book does feature one, I make the best of it. I pick a "team" and talk to other people about theirs. I have fun.

Like I said, there is nothing wrong with this behavior—up to a point. But a problem arises when people obsess over love triangles so much that they entirely overlook a story's plot, messages, or any other non-romantic elements.

I see this behavior frequently, especially with extremely popular YA books that have been turned into movies or even entire franchises. Take The Hunger Games, for example. The book is about a society meant to seem dangerously similar to ours. It is about characters who do what they have to do to survive. Yet some people seem to think it is primarily about whether Katniss will end up with Gale or Peeta.

It is ridiculous. Anyone who does not believe me should watch this sadly, satirically relevant movie review of Catching Fire, which proves my point in a more entertaining way than I ever could.

I can list a few reasons why society's obsession with love triangles has become so savage. Perhaps it is because many popular YA books feature a teenage girl protagonist and possess a fandom comprised largely of teenage girls, so how could the books be about anything but romance? Perhaps it is because love triangles are easier to think about than the deeper elements of a story, and many people do not feel like looking past the attractiveness of various male love interests. Or perhaps it is because companies know that love triangles sell, so they push the ploys into people's faces. 

Whatever the reason, this love triangle infatuation is an issue because when people focus on a protagonist's romantic struggles, they deprive themselves of all the other wonderful things a story has to hold. Yes, it is entertaining to bond with fellow fans over shared support of two characters' romantic relationship, but any good story has other elements equally worthy of attention. I hate seeing brilliant stories reduced to a small, barely-important aspect while everything else is tossed to the side.

The next time you find yourself in a conversation about a popular book, remember that the story's love triangle is a topic worth discussing, but far from the only topic worth discussing. Do not be afraid to introduce another element to the dialogue. The discussion will be better for it.

Let's discuss: Do you think society and the media focus too much on love triangles? What are some other books that push love triangles a little too much?


  1. People definitely focus on love triangles too much, particularly in the books where it's just a subplot.

    Coincidentally, I went to an author event tonight and she talked about how people claim there's a love triangle in her book when the romance is barely the main focus.

  2. I must confess that I love reading about a character's relationship struggles- especially love triangles- but if it is not the main focus then it does get annoying to hear other people saying it is. I personally loved Hunger Games, and my opinion would certainly not be different if there was no love triangle: the whole idea is fascinating and I don't understand why people obsess about the romance if the society the characters live in is ten times more interesting.


  3. This discussion is really insightful Emily! I have a love hate relationship with love triangles and I think they're way over done in YA. But I guess there will be more to come since there's a demand for it. It's interesting to me when you say people sometimes focus more on the romance than the actual very good storyline in books. I think we have this incredible need to pair x character with so and so and sometimes we try to find links that are even non-existent. I haven't read The Hunger Games, but I saw the first movie and I know a lot of people seem to ask each other if they're Team Peeta or Gael. I think the actress who plays Katniss' sister got asked that question and she said "I'm team Katniss" and I loved that answer.

    Great post!
    Savindi @ The Streetlight Reader

  4. I absolutely love this discussion because I've noticed the same thing. I do join in some love triangles even though I hate when they're added. But to have the love triangle and the romance drama be what the media focuses on is crazy. And just wrong. It's not a love triangle, but I even think of TFiOS and it's "one sick love story." I wish the media and society would pay attention to the more important elements. The Hunger Games is a GREAT example. It's a shame for the non-readers to watch the movie and think that maybe the love triangle is the biggest issue Katniss might have. Very thought-provoking, Emily!


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