Love triangles in books used to just sort of annoy me, but now I am actively becoming resentful and angry at them and they will cause me to not read a book. So far, this seems to be the case in UF and paranormal romance, but less so in epic fantasy. I’m not sure if this is because epic fantasy broadens the scope of the story to include a larger variety of characters and events, or if it’s because I’m running across it less there. Doesn’t matter. The point is that I’m not real fond of them at the moment and I want to talk about why. This about me and how I approach them as reader, not a general rule for readers. YMMV. Plus I’ve certainly read triangles that I’ve enjoyed, but in general, right now, they make me want to puke.
I started noticing I was putting down novels quickly that had any sort of a love triangle and I began to ask myself why. What’s the problem with them? I think a great deal of it feels disingenuous. Like I’m being deliberately lied to. That’s strange, because what is fiction but a deliberate lie? This is different, though. I felt that the author was deliberately manipulating me to like two characters, knowing only one could get chosen, or luring me to like one character that eventually would turn out to be an ass, while I was supposed to hate the jerk who would eventually become the hero. The author, of course, knows that she’s misleading the reader, pushing me to sympathize with one character only to pull the rug out from me later.
So the second part of the problem for me, aside from feeling manipulated, is that I can’t invest in the characters. Not any of them. Because the central female or male who must choose, is going to be as mislead as me, and then the other two are not at all what they seem and sooner or later I’m going to find out why one is redeemable and the other is not. For variation, the one that is supposed to turn into the total ass may turn out to be the one redeemed, but essentially, one must be an ass and one must be the love interest. But if I care about one and he turns into a bastard, I feel cheated and like I never should have cared. So I start to read with less empathy for the characters and quickly I lose interest in them because I simply cannot force myself to care. Instead I’d rather go read something else.
Does anybody get irritated by it? I don’t mind when a relationship seems to sour because a new person shows up and it’s a natural progression, and I see why the change happens in the feelings and the rug doesn’t get pulled out where original romantic interest suddenly turns into a monster. People change and fall in and out of love and relationships. I just hate it when it feels like I’ve been tricked.