Creative resolutions to your standard love triangle

The indecisive girl contemplates a love triangle.

Tired of one girl being torn between two young men in your typical YA love triangle? The love triangle might not be going anywhere, but it can certainly be resolved more creatively. Here are some suggestions.

A popular YA trope that is commonly voted “trope that most needs to die” is the love triangle.

The standard love triangle involves a young woman choosing between two young men, both of whom are yummy and interested in her, and both of whom she gets warm squishies over.

Yes, the typical love triangle is all about female indecisiveness.

Pause for a massive sigh.

There are a limited number of standard outcomes to a love triangle situation:

The young woman gets her act together and picks one. Boring.

or

One of the two young men dies, leaving the young woman with only one option. Problem solved.

But we’re writers. We should be able to think more creatively about how to resolve these most vexatious situations. I have some alternative suggestions.

The young woman gets her act together, realises she’s better off without a man, especially considering she’s only sixteen and should really be focussing on her maths assignment, and picks neither.

The young woman dies, leaving the two young men bereft and probably the best of friends.

The young woman chooses one, they enjoy each other’s company, then that one dies and the young woman switches to the other. Everyone’s a winner. Except for the guy who is dead, but he got the girl first so he’s probably at least half okay with that.

Everyone dies, dragons take over the earth and rule much more sensibly with never another love triangle in sight.

One of the young men turns out to be the villain, so the young woman couldn’t possibly choose him (or possibly definitely does choose him).

One of the young men turns out to be an alien and thus sexually incompatible with the young woman. She is sad for a while, but fortunately she has a back-up love interest, so all is well in the end.

The two young men turn out to be bisexual or homosexual and they end up together, leaving the indecisive girl alone (as she deserves for messing them around so much). The two men bond over the girl’s terrible treatment of them.

Polar bear love triangle.
Polar bears are too smart for love triangles.

The young woman turns out to be an alien and she eats both young men in order to get the strength to lay her eggs that will soon hatch and take over the earth.

One of the young men loses his body, but fortunately his soul is spared and transferred into the body of the other young man, to share with its original inhabitant. The young woman then gets to be with both of them. Score!

The young woman decides to throw out society’s rules and be with both young men. Polygamy!

The young woman rewrites society’s laws so she can be with both young men. They’re fine with this because she has become really freaking powerful.

One of the young men turns out to be the young woman’s long lost brother, so she can’t be with him. Lucky for his rival.

The young woman visits the Great Cat for advice on which young man to choose, and spends the rest of eternity opening tins of tuna. The two young men find worthy partners elsewhere and live happily ever after.

The young woman’s long lost twin sister reappears and one of the young men falls in love with her because she’s almost exactly the same. The original young woman goes with the other guy.

Giant killer aardvarks.

The zombie apocalypse occurs and both young men gnaw on the girl’s arms.

One of the young men is recruited to guard the underworld. Because his work now keeps him away from the young women for such long hours, she picks the other one.

The young woman goes to law school and falls for a sexy lawyer.

The young woman’s parents arrange for her to marry a nice young man with an accent from her own culture and they are very happy together. The two love interests cripple each other in a bar fight.

Out of jealousy, one of the young men kills the other one. He is caught and ends up in jail for life, and the young woman marries a nice school teacher.

The young woman realises what she thought was reality was only a simulation, and neither of the young men exist.

Or the good old classic: it was all a dream.

Okay, don’t use that one.

I hope this post has given you some ideas on more creative resolutions to love triangles. Or maybe we could not write them in the first place… but that might be asking too much.

This post was inspired by Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.

How do you feel about love triangles in YA? Any suggestions on more creative ways they might end?

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Author: A.S. Akkalon

By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where the computers outnumber the suits of armour more than two-to-one. By night, she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper.

16 thoughts on “Creative resolutions to your standard love triangle”

  1. I haven’t written a love triangle (yet!) probably because I’ve barely followed through on adding a romance plot to my novels.

    But I have one more: She chooses one, but realizes she’s not happy with him and felt like she was happier when she was wrestling between choosing one or the other, and so she has an affair with the other. Depending on the genre, there’s a ton of sequel potential in that if the one she chose finds out.

    Or she could kill him. Again, genre-pending.

    1. Ooh, yes! We like sequel potential. Probably more sequel potential in the affair case than the dead case, though maybe the sequel there could be about her surviving jail.

  2. Love triangles are passé. It’s all about the love octagon now. That’s where a whole group of people are in love with each other, and then finally one of the characters snaps and they yank up a stop sign and start whacking everybody upside the head with it.

  3. I hate love triangles. So I don’t write them. In fact, I prefer to kill them with fire (there are a few exceptions, see Jane Austen). The other trope I hate is that of keeping apart the two people who are so obviously supposed to be together (exceptions, as always, but that’s mostly in classic lit. Here I refer to contemporary.). Because it’s legit for no good reason. Ever. And it’s annoying. As. Hell. You know what I like to read, romantically? People who get together, stay together, and WORK TOGETHER THROUGH THE NOVEL. Why? Because that’s what happens (ideally) in life.

    1. Ugh! Yes, I hate it when two characters are clearly supposed to be together, but they don’t get together because [insert stupid non-reason here]. In other words, because if they did there’d be no story. I’m happy for characters to be kept apart if something genuine stops them getting together–and not something that one conversation could fix. I’m not sure about the idea fiction should follow real life–most of real life would make for terrible stories–but people succeeding at things because they manage to work together? That could make great stories.

  4. Dragons would be much more sensible. On the other hand, I avoid any book that hints at a love triangle (I think The Hunger Games was the only one I actually read, but that was enough. I don’t need more love triangles in my life), but I’d read all of these.

    You did miss the one where the young woman becomes a pirate captain and forces both young men to prove their love by fetching her treasure from the far corners of the earth, thus keeping them out of her way so she can continue pirating without anyone making sappy faces at her.

    1. I generally avoid love triangle books, but sometimes you don’t know in advance.

      That’s a great point. It’s hard to do pirating at 100% effectiveness with two suitors making sappy faces at you. And then she gets treasure. Wise young woman.

  5. “Or the good old classic: it was all a dream.

    Okay, don’t use that one.”

    Why not?! That’s how all my novels end. And they start with the main character waking up, looking into a mirror, and bemoaning how ugly she is with her hourglass figure, long shiny hair, full lips, and big blue eyes.

    Am… am I doing it wrong?

    1. There is no wrong, but you missed out the very important detail of whether her hair is black or blond. My first thought was black, because black hair and bright blue eyes is a very striking combination–perfect for gazing soppily into.

  6. I choose: “Everyone dies, dragons take over the earth and rule much more sensibly with never another love triangle in sight.”

    I don’t read much YA. Okay, I read none, so this really doesn’t show up much in the novels I do read. The hero and heroine are well established. Whether you like them and want them to get together is another story. 🙂

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