Miffed Monday: Love Triangles

A brief note:  For anyone who happened to read my first post and happens to recall that this wasn’t my original Monday title…I changed “Monday Monstrosities” to “Miffed Mondays” because the former sounded strange. Well, this sounds strange, too, I guess. Oh well. Don’t be surprised if I change the name again.

Now then. Onto more important matters.

I’ve really begun to loathe stories structured around love triangles. I admit that I was never fond of the concept in the first place. (Do I fail as a girl for having never possessed a desire to have multiple guys simultaneously vie for my affections? Is that really so appealing? Because I’m just not feeling it…) But with each cliche love triangle set-up I ran across, my initially mild dislike deepened, slowly gnawing away at my vague sense of feminine pride. And now, every time I read the something along the lines of, “Which hott guy will Mary Sue end up with?” I throw up a little inside my mouth.

Because, let’s face it, folks: without even opening the book or watching the movie, we know which guy Mary Sue will choose. And it’s rarely ever the one she should choose. Rather than the dear, close friend who would pretty much sacrifice his life for her, Mary Sue would rather spend the rest of her days with the bad boy, the dangerous guy with no future who treats her like garbage a good 80% of the time but really, really cares about her deep down…in an obsessive, somewhat possessive, and frequently creepy way, of course. Fine then, little miss Mary Sue. Fine. Go have fun ruining your life.

Yes, yes, I realize it’s all fiction and nothing I should be getting so worked up over. But if fiction is really rooted in reality, anyway, then isn’t this trend sort of indicative of something? Are girls and women of all ages really that hung up on chasing after bad boys? I certainly hope not. If anything, most (single) girls I know tend to complain that they can’t find any good, decent guys. So what gives? Why do the good guys in contemporary books and movies get slighted so often?

Granted, I’ll admit that not every love triangle works this way. Sometimes, the girl is forced to choose between two good guys. Those are more tolerable scenarios, but I still usually feel bad for the guy who doesn’t get chosen. Well, unless the reader is given some indication that the non-chosen guy will fall in love with another girl or live an otherwise happy life even without doing so. I am then sufficiently appeased, and can count the story as a happy ending.

There are also those love triangles in which the guy who seems to be nice at the outset is actually a scumbag, while the awkward, initially hard-to-deal-with guy turns out to be amazingly kind-hearted and generally awesome. In these situations, the heroine, as soon as she discovers the truth about both guys, wisely chooses the latter without a second thought. Far from disliking these stories, I actually tend to like this set-up.

So I guess I’m not miffed with every love triangle I run across in fiction. Just a certain type. An unfortunately very common type…

Maybe it’s just me, though. Am I the only one who finds it annoying when a fictional heroine chooses the bad boy over the nice guy? Or does anyone else get irrepressibly irked by it, as well?

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4 responses to “Miffed Monday: Love Triangles

  1. “Fine then, little miss Mary Sue. Fine. Go have fun ruining your life.”

    Best quote ever! 🙂

    Also, I get irritated by those types of love triangles too. I don’t mind some of the good ones that you mentioned but I don’t care for the ones when the girl picks the bad boy. The book may have a happy ending but I guarantee that it doesn’t last much longer after it ends. At least not in real life.

    I’m thinking about it and I honestly don’t think I have any sort of love triangle in my WiPs. 🙂

    • Good girl. 😛 Unfortunately, I can’t say the same. The first novel I worked on had a mild sort of love triangle in it…but, in my defense, it wasn’t really a serious love triangle. From the start, it’s pretty clear who she’s actually interested in, and it’s definitely NOT the bad boy.

  2. Jon Huffman

    AHA! I knew it wasn’t just me! I don’t know about romance novels (I don’t really read them), but in EVERY Korean drama this seems to happen (Holding out hope for the most recent one, though….The nice guy may win yet!), though with a twist. In Korea, the ideal relationship seems to be between secretly hurting stuck up super rich guy and tomboy poor girl in a sort of reverse taming of the shrew situation: the guy treats the girl like dirt, the girl kicks his butt for it repeatedly, until the guy finally gets that he shouldn’t treat girls like dirt, and becomes a sensitive, caring fellow. Meanwhile, the nice guy is at first the supportive friend, then falls for the girl, gets rejected or ignored because the other guy is more forceful, and quietly steps out of the picture. As (hopefully) a nice guy, I get a little discouraged when I see the nice guy lose out just because he wasn’t enough of a brute to grab an unsuspecting maiden and kiss her, and wanted to make sure she would actually like being kissed first.

    I’ve also always wondered about the phrase “Love triangle.” Wouldn’t it only be a love triangle if the bad boy wanted to date the good boy, the good boy wanted to date the girl, and the girl wanted to date the bad boy? Isn’t it more accurately called a “Love multiple choice question?” The only real love triangle I ever read was in that Sartre play about hell (forget the name).

    • That’s a good point…it really doesn’t form a triangle, does it? Now I sort of wonder how that phrase started. But unfortunately, “love multiple choice question,” while more accurate, doesn’t flow as nicely as “love triangle.” Too many syllables.

      Anyway, I’ve also run across the scenario you mentioned. Even from a girl’s perspective, it’s aggravating, because the girl usually starts falling for the bad boy who treats her like dirt before he stops treating her like dirt. That being the case, she’s not even falling for the “sensitive” guy he supposedly becomes, but for the jerk he starts out as. It’s irksome.

      That, and from a reader’s/viewer’s perspective, the nice guy who gets neglected usually ends up being one of my favorite characters, and by the end of the story, I can only feel better about the outcome by thinking, “Well, fine then. He was too good for her, anyway.”

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