I have an issue with love triangles.
Actually, no. I have an issue* when romantic entanglements in YA are labeled “love triangles” when they are, in fact, clearly not.
A love triangle implies that there are two very suitable options, one person divided by feelings for two people instead of just one. That the course of true love never did run smooth (or perpendicular).
But lately, I’ve read a few books where the love interests are divided between Her True Love and That Other Guy that Fills the Void. Void-filler guy? Usually super hot, but he just fills the role of romantic furniture. Something that the protaganist can lay about on, until the path to her True Love opens up again. Maybe there’s a reason she and True Lover can’t be together, and thank god someone’s there in the meantime to take her mind off her troubles.
But try as he might, Void-Filler never compares to True Lover. He’s a source of anguish for our heroine, because she will never, ever care for him half as much as he cares for her.
So why is this?
Sometimes, I wonder if there’s a fear that The Fans** won’t ‘side’ with whoever the character ends up with. That if you’re given two perfectly good options for who to love, that there is a ‘right’ and a ‘wrong’ answer, and so help you god if you choose wrong. That the character needs to ‘move on’ and ‘be independent’ but not TOO independent, because we can’t get in the way of true love.
It just seems like one side of the equation is always lesser defined than the other. So is it really a love triangle if you know all along who the character is going to end up with? If there’s never any question about who she loves, and where her heart will lead her? Wouldn’t it be more of a challenging decision (and thus a more compelling read) if both love interests were BOTH good matches? If they were on equal footing?