|Picture by the genius Allie Brosh, aka Hyperbole and a Half|
Love triangles are one way to make relationships complicated, but are they the only way? I’ve read a few love triangles recently where it seems like the main character just has to choose who to be with – and often the ‘right’ choice is obvious to the reader all along. It’s a long agonising path for the main character to realise who the ‘right’ choice is, but once the main character has made it, the other guy dies. Or turns out to be evil all along. Or dies. Or falls in love with the main character’s vampire infant. Or dies. And meanwhile the main character and her ‘right’ choice destroy the antagonist, then get their hard earned happily ever after, and you just know that their relationship will be absolute dreamlike perfection from then on.
Love triangles easily create external struggles. But what about the internal struggles? What about the difficulties of merging your life and dreams with another person’s? Because that’s never a tidy process. There’s the ugly stuff where one thing makes one person happy, but the other person wants something completely different. What if one person wants to travel the world, while the other person doesn’t, or can’t? Or hey, what if one half of a relationship is a supernatural creature, living a supernatural life, while the other half is human, and likes being human, and wants to stay that way?
Don’t get me wrong. There are some fantastic love triangles out there, ones which have kept me guessing all the way through, and left me pondering for days. But my question is, does there always need to be a third party? Could two people be enough to generate interesting conflict? Does YA paranormal fiction need so many love triangles?