A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about the pervasiveness of love triangles in young adult literature, and the way that the “drama” they create can be harmful to the narrative and to the agency of the protagonist.
Yet novels must have conflict, and triangles can be an effective way of challenging the protagonist and showing her conflicting priorities and feelings. To show how easy it is to create more meaningful, realistic conflict, here are 30 examples of love triangles that are more than girl + boy + boy.
(I’m using girl + boy here to be consistent and to reflect the vast, vast majority of relationships in YA fiction. All of these would also work for girl + girl).
- girl + boy + the best friend who resents sharing her childhood bestie
- girl + boy + the parents who dislike him/her.
- girl + boy + the desire to go to college somewhere far away
- girl + boy + the government that forbids their love (dystopian novels)
- girl + boy + the schoolwork that takes up most of her time
- girl + boy + the group of friends she stops hanging out with
- girl + boy + fear of being called a slut
- girl + boy + her insecurities that she’s not “good enough”
- girl + boy + his insistance that she’s not “good enough”
- girl + boy + her dislike of his friends (or vice versa)
- girl + boy + the desire to be in any relationship to avoid being a loser
- girl + boy + the pressures of long distance
- girl + boy + jealousy when one seems more successful than the other
- girl + boy + parents who forbid him/her from dating
- girl + boy + his dismissive reaction towards her
- girl + boy + the inability to express what she/he wants
- girl + boy + her/his fear of losing their family and friends (in paranormal YA)
- girl + boy + the need to keep their relationship secret
- girl + boy + his/her ambitions
- girl + boy + the fear of disappointing people
- girl + boy + the stresses of depression or other mental illness
- girl + boy + attempts to use the relationship for a boost in self-worth
- girl + boy + cultural differences that might keep them apart
- girl + boy + differences in their faith that cannot be reconciled.
- girl + boy + historical hatred between their cultures, races, or religions
- girl + boy + different opinions on marriage
- girl + boy + conflicted feelings about pre-marital sex
- girl + boy + his/her beliefs about what an ideal relationship should be
- girl + boy + the desire for adventure, travel and/or new experiences
- girl + boy + his/her changing priorities, personality and desires
There must be many, many more possibilities out there, especially in fantasy and science fiction. So why does it always come back to girl + boy + boy?