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30 YA Love Triangles (that don’t involve two boys and a girl)

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?


Rhiannon Thomas is the author of A WICKED THING and KINGDOM OF ASHES. She lives in York, England.

One thought on “30 YA Love Triangles (that don’t involve two boys and a girl)

  1. Never been a fan of love triangles. I prefer reading about one relationship, either getting stronger or falling apart. With love triangles I usually end up getting annoyed with the main character for not being able to choose. Maybe its because I never liked/loved two people at the same time, but I keep thinking thinking that maybe the main character doesnt really like either. For the most part in love triangles at least one of the three people involved is just being selfish or a jerk. Either trying to be with both, or fill different needs from both, or doesnt want to admit that the 2 others are in love.

    And why do the two love interest have to be complete opposites. It seems like a cheap way to explore different sides of the character.

    If its a book series, it would be nice if the main character experience different relationships and learned from their mistakes instead of going back and forth between two people or doing the will-they-wont-they thing for several books.

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