I hate love triangles. Aside from oversimplifying the incredible difficulty of sorting through one’s feelings, love triangles are overused, cliche excuses to “stir the pot.” Not to mention, a majority of love triangles promote the idea of competition in the pursuance of affection. They idealize and romanticize the belief that people should be made into options and that in the end, it’s only the chooser’s feelings that matter. While this outdated trope is incredibly harmful to the expectations of relationships for people across all gender and non-binary identifiers, for this post, I will be focusing particularly on the role of women in love triangles and how that formula breeds intense competition between women.
Growing up, I remember thinking that if a boy wasn’t choosing me over another girl or, that if two boys weren’t beating each other up over me, I wasn’t doing this whole “love” thing right. Love was supposed to be a competition; there was always someone who had to be won or won over. It was a game of who could fight the hardest for the attention of the object of their affections. As I’ve gotten older, as I’ve been dragged into the mix of triangles I had no desire to be a part of, I’ve realized why they make me so uncomfortable.
My biggest issue with love triangles is that I hate the idea of having to fight against another woman for the attention of a boy who, in reality, probably doesn’t like either of us very much because, if he did, there’d be no choice to make. Women are too often pit against each other over everything from men to VMA awards. We live in a world that would much rather watch women tear each other down than support each other and I think love triangles play into that negative energy. When a woman’s value to a story becomes directly tied to her male counterpart (think women as love interests), she is much more likely to fight tooth and nail to avoid being written out. It’s a form of patriarchal manipulation— forcing women onto opposing sides— because when, we can’t find solidarity within each other, we feel as though we are fighting alone. It’s ridiculous and archaic and when we alienate women from each other, it is harder for us to find the sisterhood we so desperately seek.
My other issue with love triangles is that they look at lovers and relationships as in the light of objectification and ownership. We often look at relationships as a transactional exchange of property. When two people are dating, they’re taken or spoken for. It insinuates that there is no choice, that one person is completely content with being an object owned by the other. This is a common theme when we’re talking about a triangle in which two male characters are fighting over one female. She’s often treated like a prize to be won rather than as a person who has every right to make a choice about which person she’d rather be with.
While there’s so much more to be said about the issues of love triangles (Love is Not Geometry Pt. 2?), I’m going to leave you with this thought— we are too old to allow people to treat us like we’re disposable and we are far too young to be wasting our love on people who treat us like we are.
Featured image here.