Love Triangles. Are there exceptions?

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Love triangles, a trope most of us really don’t like. Not only can it take away from the plot of a book but it can hinder character development and sometimes it just feels like a meaningless thing thrown in for extra tension or drama. It’s kind of like those filler episodes for tv shows that are added to prolong something. Pointless.

I avoid such books at all cost. If the synopsis of a book even hints at a love triangle I won’t read it. However, there are those books that don’t hint at it in the synopsis that I end up picking up. Sometimes I enjoy them despite it and sometimes I don’t (more often than not I don’t). But the fact that I do enjoy some of them got me thinking – are there exceptions?

Some of my favorite books have a love triangle thrown in at some point. Do these love triangles take away from the plot? Do they screw up the character development? Do they feel completely pointless? Well, they are some of my favorites so the answer to all of the above is no. To me, they didn’t take away from the books.

So, if I have exceptions to a trope I otherwise can’t stand why is it that they are exceptions? What makes them stand out?


*warning possible spoilers for the books pictured bellow*

If you don’t want to be spoiled scroll to the bottom and tell me if you have/don’t have any love triangle exceptions and why.

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  • The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

The Infernal Devices is a very popular series. Does it have a love triangle? Yep. There is a very clear love triangle between Will, Tessa, and Jem. The biggest thing about this particular love triangle, however, is the respect each of the three characters has for each other. It’s never a means for tension or drama. Will and Jem don’t fight over Tessa. Will and Jem are practically like brothers. Tessa loves them both. All of that is why this love triangle works and the majority of people love it. Nothing was lost in making it that way. The plot was fantastic, the character development on point, and it added something really special to the story. 

  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I question whether this particular love triangle is actually a love triangle or not because it never felt that way to me. Gale, Katniss, and Peeta. For this one, there was definitely some tension. But I feel like The Hunger Games was intense in general. The reason why this love triangle didn’t put me off this series is because while Katniss obviously cared for both boys there was the respect Peeta had for that and the fact that over time you start to see the very definite line between who Katniss is in love with and who she just loves. I always saw Gale and Katniss’ “relationship” as being more of a sibling type relationship. I know what you’re thinking, “But they kissed!” and they definitely did. However, I remember Gale saying the only time she paid any attention to him was when he was in pain. Of course she did, they grew up together and cared for and helped each other. It’s easy to get those feelings confused. Plus, everything is so crazy in this series that none of the character’s have a moment to think about anything beyond survival. I’m getting off point here – the main thing is I, again, felt there was respect in the relationship between the three. It didn’t take away from them as characters and it worked so well with the plot.

  • Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Again, I’m iffy on considering this one a love triangle as it never felt that way to me. It isn’t even readily clear at the beginning of the series (i.e. the first book and most of the second) that it’s headed toward the possibility. The romance definitely adds a lot of tension to the series, especially in the second book. It even becomes borderline annoying. However, the biggest reason why I didn’t mind the ‘love triangle’ between Warner, Juliette, and Adam is because of the fact that she was never actually in love with both of them at the same time. She wasn’t with Adam when she fell for Warner. Per Juliette’s character development she became someone who didn’t exactly fit with Adam anymore. People can grow out of other people, there was a very realistic quality to that. The person she became fit so well with who Warner became and they really made each other better people. The above is all reasons why I felt it worked and also why I’m still not sure if I would actually consider it a love triangle. For me, I felt the whole thing really furthered the plot in an incredible and unexpected way.


The running theme in all of the above love triangles is the fact that it didn’t take away from the character development, plots, or ruin the books with too much unnecessary tension (though of course there was some tension in two of them). If anything I felt like it was the perfect companion for the plots and didn’t distract too much from where the books were going.

But that is just my opinion.

What do you guys think? Do you have exceptions when it comes to love triangles? Do you share my opinions? Or do you have a different one entirely?

I’d love to know. 😊


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51 thoughts on “Love Triangles. Are there exceptions?

  1. I hate love triangles, but those like the exceptions you listed above I could tolerate, given that it’s not central to the plot. I made a series of blog posts featuring YA Fantasy books with no love triangles, here is the latest one (the previous posts are all linked in the beginning): https://leonahenry.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/ya-fantasy-books-with-no-love-triangles-part-7/

    I think I could live with a non-cliche, drama-free love triangle so long it’s very minor and not taking up a huge chunk of the plot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I completely agree! I’d never mind love triangles if they weren’t central to the plot and didn’t add unnecessary drama. I’ll have to check out your post! I’m always looking for great fantasy novels that don’t include love triangles. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The all time overly used love triangle trope in YA! its also come to rub me the wrong way smh. Will, Tessa, and Jem are one of my very FEW exceptions for the same reasons you’ve mentioned. Gosh I LOVED that trilogy so MUCH! lol. As for Hunger Games, its funny cuz Gretchen & I were talking about this a few days ago. We just didn’t feel like there was a love triangle cuz we barely got any Glen in the books. I felt no connection btwn him & Katniss except for a childhood/sibling friendship like you mentioned. Great discussion post! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    • Same! Will, Tessa, and Jem are the standard I hold all other love triangles to. I swear if more were done that way I would love the trope haha. After doing this post I actually want to reread TID.
      I completely agree! I never really felt the connection either. I always kind of felt like Katniss was confused and not only using Gale to figure out her feelings but hoping she could love him instead. If that makes any sense. I think the main reason I included it is because I know a lot of people see it as a love triangle and I really struggled with coming up with ones I liked lol. Thank you! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love triangles are good as long as it is well done, with developed characters. One of my pet peeves about love triangles is that it sometimes distract from the story. I hate it when sometimes the story would stop just to address a love triangle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s probably one of my biggest pet peeves reading wise as well. And a big reason why I usually can’t stand love triangles. I think if there is going to be a love triangle it should never become the story but rather compliment the story because, like you said, it distracts from the story at that point and becomes an annoyance.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Loved this post! Sometimes I find love triangles to be so very pointless and others (ex: TID) where it was done flawlessly plus makes sense to the story. Just like you, with Hunger Games, I never saw a love triangle when I read the series because to me Katniss wasn’t really fighting any feelings for Gale and I felt like the thing with Gale was a one time trial and error. Plus they just gave me so many sibling vibes. I find that people hype up this “love triangle” way too much. I am all for love triangles when it’s done well and doesn’t take away from the real plot of the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!😊
      Same.
      That is exactly how I felt. In THG it really was more of a trial and error and the fact that Katniss was essentially fighting her feelings for Peeta. In a way it was like Gale was used so she could figure it out. And then after that it never really breached that line into love triangle possibility again. But yeah I agree it is a bit hyped and that’s why I included it because I know a lot do see it as a love triangle even if it didn’t feel that way to me. Which is a big reason why I like it because it didn’t feel like it was a love triangle even though it was considered one by a lot of people. 😊
      I completely agree. If more were done as well as TID was then I wouldn’t have a problem with them.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I can be very much the same as you, as I think we’ve discussed previously, if a book has a love triangle hinted at in the blurb more often than not I won’t actually pick it up. However there are exceptions to that rule, and there have been love triangles I’ve not minded as well. I think the main thing is it feels like a lot of the time, especially in YA fiction, the love triangle is thrown in to kind of replace the plot in a way. It creates tension because the author realises there’s no tension in the plot itself and that’s just not enjoyable to read.
    I haven’t read the Infernal Devices trilogy yet, it’s on my to-read list, but there are loads of people who love that book and the love triangle as well so I’m sure I’ll enjoy it as well. I definitely agree with you on the Shatter Me series, I wouldn’t call that a love triangle as such because Juliette and Adam were over by the time she realises her feelings for Warner and by that point I don’t think her and Adam would have worked at all.
    Another love triangle I enjoyed was the one in the Splintered series, it was written, and ended, really well so if you start that trilogy I hope you feel the same. Also I think the way Sarah J. Maas writes love triangles (if you can call them that) is really well done as well. It’s not so much about a character trying to choose between two people and more of her outgrowing one relationship due to how her character changes throughout the series.
    Great post Melissa! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep we’ve talked about it previously. 😊 I actually feel like authors should steer clear from hinting about love triangles in the synopsis of a book just because of the fact that so many steer clear if it is hinted.
      Exactly! And the fact that romance plus a love triangle is used to replace the plot in a book is such a waste for the possibility that could have come out of the plot otherwise. There are so many ways to create tension in a book without shoving a love triangle all up in there. It really isn’t enjoyable and it makes me dislike the characters.
      I think you will enjoy TID’s love triangle. It’s so well done! If all love triangles were done as well I’d never have a problem with them.
      Exactly. I think the way she progressed made her outgrow that relationship with Adam. Warner worked better for who she was. I mainly included it for the fact that I know there are those that see it as a love triangle and because I actually had a tough time coming up with ones I liked lol.
      If you enjoyed the love triangle in Splintered there is a big chance I will too. 😊
      I completely agree about Sarah J. Maas! Although I haven’t read Throne of Glass still in a way ACOTAR almost breached the line between being a love triangle and not. The way she wrote it was great and made it into more of Feyre’s development as a character. But I think that’s the perfect way to go about a love triangle – making it more about the character outgrowing one relationship due to how they grow as characters. It’s so realistic because it’s very in tune to what happens to people in real life.
      Thank you, Beth! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think the problem with that is sometimes the love triangle is a big part of the book so it’s hard to remove it from the blurb and still give a proper sense of the story. Also there are books which seem like they’re hinting at a love triangle in the blurb and then when you get around to reading it you find that couldn’t be further from the truth. (Can’t think of any off the top of my head though).
        Also if the development isn’t there for the characters can we really buy into one possible romance, let alone two or more! I’ve read love triangles, and even love squares, that didn’t work because the characters were so flat and it seemed like the love triangle/square was given more development than even the main character!
        Yeah TID love triangle is one I’m not worried about just because what everyone has said about it in reviews and just in general! I guess technically it could be called a love triangle, I feel there are possibly area of overlap between her feelings for Adam and Warner in the second book, but the whole series really is more about her growth as a person rather than anything else and in the end she just fit better with Warner than Adam.
        I really hope so. The love triangle, if you can call it that, in the Throne of Glass series was very much the same as the one in ACOTAR. The story is more about Celaena’s development first, and maybe between one book and another she realises that her relationship with one character couldn’t work anymore so she moves on. If anything I feel that’s the way love triangles in books should work, if there has to be one make it more about the development of the character and her moving on from one partner just because they don’t fit together anymore.
        That’s all right! πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s true. I hadn’t thought of that until I read the synopsis for Splintered earlier and saw that it’s definitely hinted at in that. So, I’m glad you told me that one was good otherwise I probably wouldn’t have wanted to chance it lol.
        Also, that’s true too. Sometimes synopsis’ can be really misleading that way.
        I know right? Romances feel completely one dimensional when the character development isn’t even there. At that point the book becomes a giant drama fest with no connection for the reader. I’ve read the same. There was this one series I read the first book to a while back, that I can’t even remember the name of now, where it turned into this giant love square that made a fantasy novel with a lot of possibility fall so flat in the character and plot department. It was disappointing.
        Exactly! And the character growth in Juliette along with Tahereh’s writing is probably the biggest reason I adore that series.
        That’s good to hear. And exactly! It’s the best way to do them in my opinion. I feel like people can connect more to the fact that someone is outgrowing someone because it’s something we all experience. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s actually a well developed love triangle, and it doesn’t really take anything away from the character development or the plot development which may be one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much. I don’t normally like love triangles like I’ve mentioned more times than not but this is definitely one of the exceptions.
        Yeah, I do look at reviews because sometimes you get reviews that say whether there’s a love triangle or not, reviews are always more helpful in that regard than blurbs are.
        There was one book I read where it felt like one of the romances came completely out of the blue. There was no character development there at all, probably to make room for the love triangle tension, and I swear when the characters kissed for the first time I was like ‘what?!’ because it made no sense in my mind that these characters had been building to that. I think before you include a romance, be it a love triangle or just a normal romance between two people, there needs to be enough character development to make the individual characters stand out.
        It’s very rare that people stay with one person there whole life, just because you do change and sometimes find yourself growing apart from people you were once really close to. It happens, more often than one person falling in love with two people at the same time anyways! πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well I’m glad that it is. 😊
        True. Before I started blogging I would actually go on Goodreads when I was searching up new books and read a few reviews straight away to find out if there was a love triangle or not. Back then every other book, for me, had a love triangle and I got so tired of it. The funny thing was they were all dystopias and that might be another reason why I sort of gravitated away from that genre for a while.
        I completely agree with you. I feel like if you want to make a romance believable or likeable then you have to make each character stand out, like you said. And then once those characters stand out and have developed then you create a connection that makes sense. Just throwing two characters together (or even three) is worse than insta-love, in my book.
        Exactly! Now if only all β€˜love triangles’ were about the growth of the character rather than drama lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I feel like since I’ve started blogging I have been reading more books with love triangles, actually giving them a chance instead of just passing them by. But I know what you mean about them being in dystopian novels a lot. I got a little tired of that genre a while back but honestly I’m thinking of maybe adding some dystopian books to my to-read list soon.
        I think that’s why a few love triangles in YA fail, the author is so keen to make a love triangle or force a relationship that the actual character development is pushed to one side for the sake of a love triangle.
        I’d settle for just a few more! In an ideal world they’d all be like that though! πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m thinking of doing the same. You don’t see a lot of people read the genre now but I’ve noticed a few here and there that I might want to read one of these days.
        Exactly. If only author’s saw the major flaw in pushing aside character development for the sake of a love triangle.
        Same and I agree! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hopefully taking a bit of a step back from the genre will mean when we go back into it we’ll really enjoy the books we have in our to-read list. Some of them sound quite interesting.
        Sometimes I think it’s about what sells. If love triangles were a major trend a while back then they would have been in a lot of books, regardless of whether they were a good fit or not!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hopefully! I actually have so many dystopian books on my TBR from way back when.
        True. The funny thing is I don’t think I ever ran into books with love triangles, aside from Twilight, until I was in the online bookish community. So, they have to have been popular at some point.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It probably was. Or at least made it a tad more sought out in books for a while. I actually loved Twilight to the point of my copies of the books being worn out from reading them so often but I couldn’t stand the love triangle.
        I probably have too. From now on when a love triangle is hinted I’m going to check reviews to see if they’re more good or bad before I decide to read it. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • I used to love Twilight when I was younger, my copies were the same, worn out from reading them so much. But I think as I’ve read more and more my reading tastes have changed and now I highly doubt I’ll enjoy Twilight as much as I once did. Especially the love triangle part which I was never keen on.
        That’s a much better way of doing things. I’m always going to prefer books without love triangles but that’s not to say there aren’t some amazing books out there with love triangles in them! πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I really disliked TID and hated the love triangle, but that’s my own opinion πŸ˜… I think the love triangle in THG is a classic example of how it can be done right. The love triangle in Shatter Me had faults too but I’m just trash for the characters πŸ˜…

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s okay! Opinions are welcomed. Plus, not everyone likes the same books and all of that. 😊
      Exactly. I feel like the biggest thing that made the love triangle in THG work was the fact that it never felt like a love triangle.
      Oh Shatter Me definitely had it’s faults in the love triangle department but I’m the same as you and loved the characters a lot lol. And I think that is the biggest reason why it didn’t bother me and I felt it worked well with the character development. Also, Tahereh’s writing is incredible so there’s that. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I LOVE this post! Love triangles are such a divisive trope in books. I totally agree with you – if they work in the confines of the plot and they don’t take away from the story or mess with the development of the characters and there’s a REASON for them to be there then I’m all for it.

    The love triangle in the Infernal Devices is one of my favourites – it’s a great example of it done well and really differently from a lot of other books. I don’t like the love triangle in the Hunger Games as much, but I can see why Suzanne Collins put it in there. I think it’s there to help you see the difference in Katniss pre-games and post-games and also like you said, to show the difference between being in love with someone and loving someone. A really good one that I came across recently was in a book called Haunt Me by Liz Kessler, but then I read Stealing Snow and there’s this ridiculous, badly developed, boring, messy love square in it. Avoid that one at all costs!

    Great post. πŸ™‚ x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! πŸ’•πŸ˜Š
      Exactly. I feel like people would steer clear of books with love triangles far less if they worked within the plot like that. It’s sometimes hard to know which ones will work and which ones won’t. This whole discussion has actually made me want to put away my steering clear because of hints in the synopsis judgment. Who knows? Maybe I’ll find more love triangles that do work?
      I’ll have to check out Haunt Me! And as far as Stealing Snow goes I’ve read so many horrible reviews for that one that talked about how terrible the love square is that I will definitely be going nowhere near it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome! πŸ™‚ ❀ Absolutely. I think they've got a pretty bad rep because they've been done terribly so many times. Haha! I'm sure there are more than a few golden ones out there that do work, it's taking the chance on them that's the problem! Sometimes the gamble doesn't pay off. You should, it was a really cute read. πŸ™‚ Hahaha I don't blame you – steer well clear! x

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      • True. I feel like most of the time the gamble on a love triangle book doesn’t pay off, sadly. Although at the same time looking at reviews can be helpful, like with Stealing Snow. Either way, I think I’ll start giving them more of a chance. Haunt Me sounds really good so I’ll definitely have to give it a read one of these days! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • Totally agree. Sometimes it completely overpowers the book, which is a real shame. For sure! I hardly ever buy books now without reading a few reviews from some of my trusty bloggers and checking out the rating on GR beforehand. πŸ™‚ ARCS are usually the only exception to that and are always a bit of a gamble anyways! I hope you like it if you do, I’d love to hear what you think. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Interesting question. When it comes to romance in books (and shows) I prefer something that is realistic, and for some reason love triangles just aren’t to me, at least not very. I mean, I have never met anyone who was in a love triangle, unless they all didn’t know about it. I think a good romantic storyline is already so difficult to find, why complicate things? I think they are just often included to up the intrigue and drama, which I guess does work for some genres.

    Anyhow, I’m reaching out to ask if you’d be interested in sharing your thoughts and opinions on Creators. We’re all about helping writers increase their audiences, taking their writing to the next level and sharing their work with other enthusiasts. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail for more information, I’d love to hear from you. My contact details are on my blog.

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  9. The love triangle The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han had me soooo confused, because for once I could actually understand the conflict. Both boys were so good for her in different ways, and I loved both of them. So this triangle I have conflicted feelings on, because while I have to respect that it was a very well-written love triangle, I hated what it did to my feelings. In P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han, though, I thought the love triangle wasn’t even a contest, and just added unnecessary drama. So I agree with you: generally hate, but there are exceptions!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t read any of Jenny Han’s books yet but I’ve heard a lot about the sort of love triangle in her To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before books. A lot of people told me they were cute books but I’ll definitely keep that in mind when I read them. I always hate unnecessary drama and since love triangles and I are iffy it could go either way for me lol. But yeah there really are exceptions. It’s just a matter of finding the right book. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

      • To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is probably one of my favorite books because I really relate to Lara Jean, the main character. And while I didn’t like the love triangle, it didn’t really take away from the book because there just wasn’t any competition for me.

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