The Love Triangle. A Cliche That's Getting Out of Control?


Boy likes girl. Girl likes boy. Then, a third boy saunters into the picture. Sound familiar?

A Love Triangle is formed when a person in reality or fiction deals with the dilemma of choosing between two equally attractive romantic opportunities. Has this been done to death? Yes, yes it has. It appears in Young Adult Fiction (Hunger Games and Twilight) and even great classics like Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet or Alexandre Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo and basically every form of media that features romance (Friends, How I Met Your Mother, and Grey's Anatomy are some television examples). 

But the question is: Is the cliche starting to get out of hand, borderline out of control?  

My answer:  No, at least if done correctly.

The Love Triangle is a staple in most romance genres because it adds a layer of depth between the central characters and provides and obstacle that will put love to the ultimate test. The fuel for conflict is essentially choosing between two great options, a problem I'm sure most people would welcome (who doesn't want to have multiple people vying for their affection?) Not only that, but the interest factor of the "will they make it?" or "who is he/she going to choose?" is enough to most satiate readers for a few books or television addicts for a few good seasons. To tell a story, especially a romantic one, often times the Love Triangle is an added bonus to the overarching themes and serves to spice up the drama in a fun and interesting way. If done correctly, the Love Triangle cliche will divide readers/viewers with controversy and draw debates among the fandom, both of which is a mark of great romance writing.

However, the cliche becomes a problem when it is done poorly. Many times there are characters written with an obvious endgame choice for their romantic affections, making it boring and predictable. Also, some sitcoms and novels incorporate the Love Triangle for the sake of injecting some melodrama because it seems like the right thing to do. When in doubt, don't add another love affair. The reason why the triangle works is because it is fluid and organic, not just another plot contrivance to play when you're washed out of ideas. 

Long story short, the Love Triangle cliche can be quite effective in engaging an audience if done correctly, but should be avoided by all means if it seems to be slapped on for the sake of being considered the standard.

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