They 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.
In 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?