The #1 Reason Women Love Triangles in Romance

by Keira G on August 23, 2011 · 6 comments

in About, Love Triangle

lovetriangleThey are always two men and one woman.

I have never come across a Love Triangle in romance involving two women loving one guy where it’s a matter of serious deliberation for the hero. If there are two women, the non-heroine woman is easily distinguished by being a nasty piece of work. She’s possessive, catty, whiny, and more. As the scorned woman she almost always tries to get the heroine back for stealing the hero from her.

The question I ask and attempt to answer today is why is that the case?

The most obvious answer of course is that it is women who predominantly write romance and the two men/one woman plot is a common (enough) fantasy. The Love Triangle when set up this way is one of those type of plots that appeals to a number of our gender.

What (heterosexual/bisexual) female hasn’t at some point wished to be intensely desired by not one but by two gentlemen? You might be uncomfortable with the situation in real life, but the idea fuels your imagination in private. Their possessiveness, jealousy, and male posturing are a big turn on and the angst of having to choose the right one, of hurting the other is one, of messing everything up is secretly thrilling.

The other answer on why we prefer our Love Triangles to have the ratio they do is because we’d rather have two heroes over two heroines. For you see, the hardest part about reading a Love Triangle is that we didn’t write it ourselves. We don’t know who the main lead will end up with and it drives us batty.

lovetriangleIn the two men/one woman triangle set up the biggest challenge as the reader is choosing the hero the heroine will pick. We hold different opinions on what makes a good partner or the perfect hero. It’s quite possible as readers we’ll be split down the middle. Half will pick one hero and half the other.

If you pick the one the heroine doesn’t go for in the end you’re literally tearing your hair out and cursing the author as you turn the pages. If you pick the right hero and the heroine deliberates too long and too much you’ll be cursing the heroine for being a blind ninny and want to throttle her to get her to stop whining about having to choose being two great catches.

If the triangle was reversed with two women/one man we would struggle in a much different sense. As a reader I tend to identify with the heroine (other times I identify with the hero, read Bosoms to find out why). With two potential heroines to pick from, I would most likely choose the heroine that was closest to my own personality. Now suppose the author picked the other heroine for the hero… we get upset when we think the wrong hero is chosen, what would be our feelings if it was our chosen heroine who got thrown over? Yikes! Run and ducks for cover!

That’s why I think it takes a strong and gutsy writer to create and establish a feasible Love Triangle. It is easily the plot that causes the most wallbanging, head thumping, and under your breath muttering. Not to mention the death threats in the mail… ;)

What are your favorite romances involving a love triangle?

Photo Credits: nurun, Steve Wampler

Leave a Comment

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 RKCharron August 21, 2009 at 3:18 AM

Hi :)
What a fascinating blog post on the love triangle.
The two men 1 woman is one of my favorites.
Although I often wonder in these triangles why they can’t all resolve it together. Threesomes aren’t taboo anymore.
:)
All the best,
RKCharron
xoxo

Reply

2 Liz April 1, 2010 at 7:03 PM

No, that’s not why women read love triangles. I’ve read a lot of romance novels and you have obviously read none. There’s a million romance novels where the main character is a girl going after a guy who already has a girlfriend. Two girls and one guy in those love stories.

In fact, I can name two movies off the top of my head that are this way that are also very famous girl movies. In Clueless, the main character has a crush on this guy and she finds out her friend who she just gave a make-over to likes him too and the two of them fight over it. Or in mean girls, the main character again, gets a make-over and gets a crush on the guy one of her friends like.

Haha, more things are coming to mind (and I’m not even thinking that hard.) Like the movie, Cruel Intentions. Sebastian is falling in love with Reese Witherspoon’s character throughout that movie (I forget what her name is), but his step sister is jealous about it because the two of them have a romance together and keep trying to destroy their relationship.

Love triangles with two girls and ones with two guys are actually just as common as one another.

Reply

3 dereck May 26, 2010 at 3:16 PM

Actually Liz, you just proved her point. All the movies you mentioned has a female character that is really good, and another that is really bitchy. This make it a no brainer to pick the right girl. But in the two males one female dynamic, the choices are always harder, making it a much better read or viewing. Ie. Aiden vs Big Sex in the city, Or the Vampire vs the wolf Twilight, or my favorite Jack vs Sawyer Lost. In one girl and two guys, the males are almost evenly matched and that plays well with women’s decision process. (ie – a women’s prerogative to change their minds) Guys process is more straight forward so when he can’t decide between two chicks He’s usually just straight out greedy, and want to have it all.

Reply

4 joana July 11, 2010 at 11:09 PM

i really love “love triangles!”
especially the ones in which you wouldn’t immediately know who will end up together..

i love SUGAR DADDY by Lisa Kleypas! I love GAGE TRAVIS! can’t get enough of him!
;)

Reply

5 Sharon S. August 25, 2011 at 7:35 AM

No one has mentioned the most famous (or obvious) one…Twilight! It is fun to pick Teams.

The Hunger Games is an emotionally exhausting triangle. I felt bad for everyone involved.

Reply

6 Amanda October 30, 2011 at 2:52 PM

@ Dereck plus in those movies and even books mentioned the viewer or reader meets the heroine or hero first. This is about rom-com screenplays, but he explains it better than I can.

http://www.screenplaymastery.com/RomanticComedies.htm

Reply

Previous post:

Next post: