Love Triangles and Instaloves and Why I Hate Them

Gather round closely, lovely people, and let me talk at you all for a while!

Okay, I’m going to start off this discussion with a little known secret about myself: I used to be a fan of The Vampire Diaries. The show, I mean, not the books (because has anyone actually read those? I have, by complete accident, and I am fairly certain my 9 year old daughter could write better prose than that. Hell, even my cat could write better). It’s actually how I became friends with Amber and Tatum (although they don’t like this secret getting out, so let’s just keep that between us, okay? Okay). Anyway, when the show was first advertised, I actually made a point of avoiding it, because it just did not look like something I would enjoy, but when my little brother (who actually has terrible taste in tv shows now that I think about it – he still watches TVD and refuse to watch Supernatural I mean. Why? What is wrong with you?) told me that the first season finale was amazingly awesome, I sighed and decided to give it a go. And I actually got hooked enough that I ended up a member on a forum and I met Amber and Tatum and Dee and a load of other people who I ended up liking a hell of a lot more than the show because I worked out quite quickly that the show itself was actually a load of terribly written drivel. But yes, that’s my big (but little known) secret.

and then I realised it was watching this shit

So, why am I talking about The Vampire Diaries, the tv show no less? Because, other than Twilight (and really, we all try not to think about that series as much as we possibly can, don’t we, because otherwise we would all be huge balls of rage all of the time if we didn’t), TVD has the best examples of the two of my most hated tropes in fiction: Love Triangles, and Instaloves. Let’s talk about it for a minute, yes? Yes good. So we have Elena, right, this really emotionally strong teenage girl, who has recently suffered the loss of her parents and yet is desperately trying to be the girl she was before, and be the sister her brother needs. Then she meets a dude outside a toilet, and suddenly her entire life is “ohmygod if I can’t have Stefan I don’t know how I’m going to live!” I’m oversimplifying, obviously, because there was also stuff about vampires and drugs and people dying and stuff, but still, they were together from the moment they met outside the loo and Elena was no longer allowed to use her brain unless Stefan gave her permission first. In fact, the scenes in which Elena’s brain was shown were so fleeting it might just have been an accident and she might not have had any in the first place, we just don’t know. So yes, basically, take Bella from Twilight and replace ‘incredibly dull and very irritating girl’ with ‘possibly might have been interesting if she hadn’t met this dick’ and we have the same basic synopsis. Oh and then there’s also Jacob. I mean Damon. Unlike Jacob, Damon isn’t a werewolf-shapeshifter-what the fuck ever-thing, but he does still play the same role: the dude the girl might also possibly love. So there we go, one Instalove, and one Love Triangle, all packaged up and ready to go (seriously, I am never forgiving my brother for introducing me to this pile of crap).

I feel like I may have gotten off track, because what I wanted to discuss in this post was why I hate these 2 tropes so much. I mean, most of us do, right? I don’t think I’ve ever met a reviewer or book blogger yet whose response is ever “ooh yes, give me more of these love triangles” or “who cares why they love each other when they tell us they do? Oh the romance!” We all complain about it, we all roll our eyes and think “dear God, why are they doing this to me again?” I’ve read many a review that talks about how much they hate it, and what they would prefer to see instead. And yet still YA fiction is filled to the brim with these 2 tropes. For example, I want to love Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha series (and I almost do), but I tend to go into a rage over the damn Love Triangle and Instalove aspects (because why is Mal even there? I will never understand this). But I wonder if maybe the reason for the proliferation of these tropes is that nobody has ever explained exactly why these tropes are so hated, so I thought I would give it a go.

I’m going to start off with Instaloves, because the reason why I hate these so much is fairly simple to say, even if it’s not so simple to explain: they make me feel like a very unwilling and slightly disturbed voyeur. When I’m reading a book, I am reading about fictional characters (obviously), but as soon as an instalove turns up, I feel as though the characters have slipped, have been turned into fictional versions of the author and her ‘ideal’. I say ‘her’, because while it’s not an absolute, the vast majority of stories that include this trope are written by women. It’s because there is this thing in society, that tells women that we’re not much use for anything other than a man and his penis falling in love with us. We’re supposed to be floundering around through life until a man comes along with his penis and gives us meaning. We’re supposed to wait until we get given our happily ever after by a man and his penis, and our HEA simply cannot conclude with us finding ourselves, or ending up with a woman who doesn’t have a penis, or any other kind of ending. Nope, we all have to eventually ride off into the sunset on the man’s big white penis horse. And if we don’t do that? It means that we have failed at being women, and as no story ever has their main character fail in the end, it means that someone has to fall in love with us. And that’s where the instalove comes in, because quite often the author has an amazing story that they want to tell that doesn’t have all that much to do with love and romance, and yet because their main protagonist is female, they feel they must also have a man fall in love with them.

But Lauren, I hear you say, what does this have to do with being a voyeur? Well I’ll tell you, because while this may not be true for all readers, it certainly is for me. I feel as though when we slip into these instaloves, I’m not reading about character X falling in love with character Y, I am suddenly reading about some random dude falling in love with the ideal version of the author herself.  The reason why we’re not told why these two are in love with each other is because the writer doesn’t know herself, she’s just been told by society that they must, otherwise she has failed as both a woman and as a writer. And so they make up these ridiculous reasons such as “you smell really nice” or “you look like someone I used to know” and they expect the rest of us to know what they’re talking about because of course we all want that too, right? Because in real life, love is messy and hard and it hurts, so the fantasy side of love has to be perfect and easy and happy, right? Except no, it doesn’t, because that’s not what we want to read about. We don’t want to read about perfection and easiness and happiness, we want to know that the mess and the work and the pain that we go through is worth it, that we’re doing this love thing right ourselves. The fantasy is in letting these characters show us that even when it’s messy and doesn’t make sense, even when you feel like giving up because it’s too hard, even when it hurts so much that you can’t breathe, to keep on going, because it’s worth it in the end, look, these two characters can do it, so you can too and it’s so worth it.
Please don’t misunderstand me; I don’t mean to imply that any author intentionally does this, nor do I think that any of them actually want this for themselves, because all writers are readers just like us, and they all want the same things we do. It’s just that society has taught us females that what we want is a fairytale kind of love; we are all Sleeping Beauty, withering away inside a castle waiting for a dude on a horse to come and kiss us and then we can live happily ever after. And so the message that I’m getting from these authors is “maybe I can’t find this kind of love out in the world, but the fictional version of myself can, even if I’m not sure why or how she got it”, purely because society has told us all that this is what we should be striving for. And so that’s why I feel like an unwilling voyeur; instead of a fantastic fictional adventure that is going to make me laugh and cry and want to throw up and then throw myself off a cliff because I can’t handle all these goddamned feels, I feel as though I’m watching someone struggling to fit in with a society that won’t bend to accommodate them by giving into their demands while remaining confused as to why they have to. (Basically, I could have just summed up this entire rant with the phrase “Fuck the Patriarchy!” couldn’t I? Oh well.)
The main reason why I hate Love Triangles however, is slightly more confusing, even though I think it should be more simple to explain. Because on the surface, I guess there’s nothing much wrong with a girl having two boys fight over her, is there? I mean, we all want to feel desirable, right? We all want to feel as though our affection is worth fighting over, yes? And it’s not like it doesn’t happen in real life either (I have once had two men fighting over me, but it quickly devolved into an argument that included fish heads and wooden practice swords and that is a terribly convoluted story for another day, but basically it wasn’t as romantic as one would think even without the added fish parts) so in a way, maybe Love Triangles aren’t all that bad?
Except no, they totally are, because none of them are ever written right. There seems to be only two ways a triangle ever works out; either the girl is a whiny bitch who constantly swoons and cries because ‘oh no, I don’t know how to choose whatever shall I doooooo?’, or we get the slightly grosser ‘everything is the girl’s fault because she just can’t keep her knees together’. I’ve read a lot of YA, and there is literally only one series I have come across that does a Love Triangle the right way, so let me give you a brief overview (it’ll have to remain anonymous though, because Amber HASN’T READ THE BLOODY BOOK): Girl meets two brothers. Boy A is sweet and charming, good looking and generally nice. Boy B is a bit of a dick, and he’s not only a dick but he also scares the Girl a bit when they first meet. But Boy A is perfect for the Girl, and so even as she gets to know Boy B a bit better and starts to understand him, she still feels that Boy A is the one she should be with. Right until she kisses Boy A, and she realises that all along her feelings for Boy B have been growing and now surpass anything she ever felt for Boy A. Boy A runs off, hurt that she’s rejected him. And we’ve all read something similar to this set up before, right? But how many have read about a Love Triangle where Boy A then tracks down the Girl and apologises for being upset, that he never meant to make her feel as though she was leading him on, and that more than anything else he just wants to be friends with her. And then Boy A helps facilitate a hook up for the Girl with Boy B, and is genuinely happy for both his friend and his brother when they finally get together. The Girl is neither slut shamed nor made out to be a victim of those pesky feminine feelings, and nobody ends up being the Bad Guy (TVD, take note of this please, you’re killing me here).
So yes, there is a lot of slut shaming and ‘females can’t control their emotions’ crap going on in Love Triangles, but that’s not the only problem I have with them. It’s more to do with the fact that a main character simply cannot be female if she isn’t lusted after by all the male characters (aHEM, TVD). Because apparently, the only way to quantify a female’s worth is by how many guys want to get in her pants. A female main character can’t just be smart, feisty, kickass, bitchy, empathetic, funny, or any number of things. Nope, she must, first and foremost, be sexually desirable. Because, by society’s standards, this is the only thing that matters in a girl. It’s also the only thing a girl is supposed to be thinking about. Society tells us that all teenage boys think about sex every 6 seconds; society also believes that in the same time frame, us girls are wondering how many boys would like to get a look up our skirt (seriously though, anyone trying that with me is likely to get their eyes plucked out and fed to them). The simple fact is that neither of these things are true. Yes, I’m sure boys do think about sex a lot (I’ve been inside my brother’s room and trust me that is not an experience I want to relive any time soon), but so do girls. And yes, girls do think a lot about what boys (or other girls) are thinking about them, but then boys are also thinking about this (in fact, it’s pretty much a necessity to be thinking about it if we want to get anywhere near having all that sex we’ve been thinking about). But just as boys don’t only think about sex and the quickest way for them to get it, girls aren’t only thinking of how pretty we look and if boys want to have the sex with us. In fact, it’s just one of an entire list of things that we think about, most of which surprisingly enough have absolutely nothing to do with how to get a man and his penis.
So, here is my advice to all authors and aspiring writers out there, especially if they’re writing female MCs: write yourself an amazing character and think up an awesome story for her. Give her as many layers as possible, make her so real that she could step off the page fully formed. Have her story as epic as it is possible to be, make it interesting and scary and funny and painful and terrifyingly real. And just remember this: if she is to fall in love, then it will happen naturally, just as it does in real life. If she has boys falling at her feet, then have it be because she has awed them with her intelligence, with her humour, with her ability to scale hundred foot walls in less than six seconds. Have them all fall in love with her because of who she is and not just because she smells really good or she looks like a cousin they once knew. Instead of giving us supposed perfection, start asking your readers questions. Also,
And believe me when I say this: every single one of your readers will thank you for it.

31 comments on “Love Triangles and Instaloves and Why I Hate Them

  1. Ula (Blog of Erised) February 19, 2014 1:36 pm

    Preach it! I am so sick of instalove. It happens for no other reason that that first attraction. And it suddenly evolves into an eternal love at age 16. Puhlease!
    I had a really big issue with TVD because of this instant obsession with Stefan that was there god knows why… -.- I stopped watching mid-season 1 and never read the books, not even sure I want to.
    And I have the same beef with love triangles as you. It’s hard to explain, and they’re not THAT bad like you said, if only they were done right. It’s a nightmare reading about this all over YA world because it always steals focus of the story and ends up being a moan over who to pick and why, useless ‘fights’ and all other mental shit.
    Great post!

    • Lauren Turtle February 19, 2014 10:50 pm

      It’s ridiculous, right? Like, how can you possibly be in love that fast? I can’t even pick my daily outfit out that quick and yet you suddenly want to spend the rest of your life with this person you just looked at for five seconds? What even.

      I just think that if you’re gonna do a love triangle, then do it RIGHT. If your main character is a girl, then make the story actually ABOUT the girl rather than the GUYS and how terrible it is for THEM that she hasn’t yet made her choice and making her out to be the villain because of it. And for god’s sake, PLEASE don’t let it take over the actual story you’re trying to tell, because then the entire thing just becomes pointless and you might as well give in and rewrite Twilight like you so desperately want to do, lol!

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Cathy Brown February 19, 2014 2:10 pm

    Waaaaaah! So true! Love that someone has put it into words and described it so well. It sounds like a ridiculous comment when reading books about vampires or werewolves or armageddon but these sorts of slushy instaloves and love triangles just aren’t believable to me. I applaud this post! I also laughed a lot at the man (and his penis) part. Very very true.

    Cathy x
    http://whiskshooksandbooks.blogspot.co.uk/

    • Lauren Turtle February 19, 2014 10:45 pm

      lmao ikr? Like, I can take vampires and werewolves and fantasy worlds, but give me an instalove and I’m just like, really? How is that in any way believable?

  3. bibliotropic February 19, 2014 2:49 pm

    Insta-love is one of those things that will forever turn me away from a book. I can get attraction at first sight. I can get lust at first sight. But love is a complicated emotion that has many layers, and if one feels LOVE at first sight, without getting to know that person first, then chances are they have some serious skewed idea of what love and relationships are supposed to be. But girls get spoonfed that drivel all through their lives with stories like that, being told that they’ll know it when they see the guy of their dreams, and the idea that relationships are messy things that require communication and compromise just don’t come into it. Half the time I see fictional relationships portrayed as involving occasional arguments and differences of opinion and sometimes having to make compromises on both sides, they’re usually portrayed as unhappy relationships… and then a perfect one will inevitably come along, some alpha male who makes the woman feel amazing and they never fight, they agree on everything, and THAT’s the real person she’s supposed to be with. So many unrealistic expectations.

    Love triangles can add tension to a story, but my biggest problem with them is that half the time they’re used, they’re the only tension. Honestly, if an author can’t figure out a way to create tension and conflict in the story without bringing in a secondary romantic interest, then there’s something deeply flawed with the story they’re writing.

    But hey, someday I’d love to see a love triangle that resolves with all three of them hooking up in a stable triad relationship. Now that would buck the trend!

    • Lauren Turtle February 19, 2014 10:43 pm

      I really HATE the concept of a girl ‘waiting for the right guy’ and love at first sight, I think it puts way too much emphasis on the GUY being important and nowhere near enough on what the girl might want out of life. I mean, I have 3 girls, one of which is nearly 14, so relationships and sex are a thing we have to talk about these days. And I’m constantly telling her to FORGET the idea of ‘waiting for the right guy’ and concentrate on when SHE feels ready, when SHE wants to move to the next level. And if there’s a guy around at that point, well then, that’s all good, and if not, just wait until the next time SHE feels ready. I also tell her not to judge how a guy feels about her based on how her fights with others over her, but how he fights WITH her. I don’t know if this is the right thing parent-wise, but I’m damn certain it’s better than any ‘wait for your prince to sweep you off your feet’ nonsense tbh.

      OMG yesssss OT3 for the win amirite??!!?

  4. Natalie Crown February 19, 2014 9:55 pm

    This post SPEAKS TO MY SOUL. Your thoughts on insta love and love triangles are SPOT ON.

    TVD was how I first got involved with fandom to be honest. It’s why I started a twitter, why I started a tumblr. What forum were you guys on? I was on FF. I even modded the TVD board for a short while. Honestly, I LIVED in the DE thread for a good few years. I’m not even joking. Do you know Marie? I know Amber and Tatum know Marie…Marie will vouch for how much I used to post. I actually still get pretty sad about how GONE TO SHIT that show is these days, and I pretty much have nothing to do with it anymore (apart from lingering love for certain characters and HUGE LOVE for all the friends I made in that fandom)

    Woah. I got off track too!

    Triangles are dumb regardless. But I can handle them to a certain extent. Take the Grisha trilogy…it’s not QUITE a typical love triangle in that she hasn’t loved them both at the same time, kind of thing? HOWEVER. I anticipate that it might become that way. And that is a huge fear of mine for the next book. Why can’t Alina realise that the thing with Mal is done, the thing with the Darkling is hot but won’t go anywhere in the long run…AND WHY CAN’T SHE JUST HOOK UP WITH STURMHOND AND BE DONE?

    I went off track again.

    What I’m saying is, I don’t mind a love triangle initially. I would rather it never happened, but if I can clearly see the character in the middle switching from one side to the other, ackowledging the switch and sticking to it – then I’m good. (This is why I stuck with TVD so long – stupid writers). The triangles that I can’t even bother to start are the ones where the character is TORN. Where the character ANGSTS about having to CHOOSE because the character loves BOTH love interests. Ugh. Shoot me.

    Insta love just makes no sense to me from any standpoint. If I’m going to get invested in a romance, I have to understand where it came from. I have to anticipate it happening. I have to throw my book across the room metaphorically because of the odd almost kiss, and then FINALLY it happens….and then angst… I need build up. I need a slow burn. Insta love just makes everything fall flat. And then, if the female character, ends up having no agency and caring for nothing other than her insta love…I just want to stab things.

    Dumb. Dumb. Everything you said is perfect. I wanna print this post on a t shirt.

    Ugh. TVD.

    Captain Swan, don’t let me down.

    (It’s bed time and my eyes are half closed. I hope this makes some sort of sense?)

    • Lauren Turtle February 19, 2014 10:19 pm

      I’M CRYING I WAS READING THIS COMMENT AND MY DAUGHTER WAS LIKE “YO THIS GIRL SOUNDS EXACTLY LIKE YOU HOW DOES THAT EVEN WORK?”

      High fives all round to the mods in the TVD fandom – me and Amber were on VD.net. Like you, I have some fantastic friends from my time in that fandom, a lot of them fic writers who I just adore tbh. and YES I KNOW MARIE!! She convinced me to sign up for FF but I don’t remember doing much there. I was pretty much over DE by the time I got there tbh.

      I agree with everything you said; if you’re gonna do a Love Triangle, do it RIGHT, with less of the back and forth and none of that slut shaming shit I am so not here for that ever. And I am always just gonna NOPE the fuck out of any Instalove, slow burn for the win t b h.

      I have no worries about Captain Swan; as much as I occasionally side-eye the writing choices of that show, they do seem to at least always put in a lot of effort when it comes to the relationships.

      Thank you for the most awesome comment (word vomit is the BEST)! Gonna get started on that t-shirt printing business now brb…

    • Natalie Crown February 20, 2014 9:04 am

      THIS IS BEAUTIFUL.

      Awwwww. I still get a little bit wistful for the days of thread killing, 24 hour stints, the excitement before episodes, the excitement when new people joined, and the emoticon making out *weeps* MARIE IS THE BEST. I haven’t spoken to her in a while actually! Aw, if you popped in I was probably there – little old foxyfreds. Good times. I posted on VD.net a few times as well! But I never really got sucked in. What was your username?

      Yes, precisely. Slut shaming is the actual grossest. A girl isn’t a slut if she falls out of love with one guy and in love with another. That’s just LIFE. And a single girl can sleep with, or kiss, or make googly eyes at whoever she damn well wants.

      Yes! The difference between the writing on TVD and the writing on OUAT is that the TVD writers clearly gave up and started writing purely for shock value. Plot (lol) comes first. OUAT writers, though they are not always perfect, write for the characters. The plot follows the characters so it all makes SENSE.

      Then there’s the fact that TVD only cares about relationship drama. OUAT has actual OTHER plots going on, and a huge emphasis on family. The best romances in my eyes are romances that can take a back seat to other plots. They don’t always have to be front and centre.

      ANYWAY. I’m glad you enjoyed my comment. I will buy the t-shirt.

    • Lauren Turtle February 20, 2014 11:22 am

      I was always just lauren on the forums. Did you ever read the episode recaps in the DE section? Because if so, those were mine (and Tatum’s at first, but then she stopped because she’s a lazy cow). Also I apologise if you ever stopped in during a Stelena gif war in the main DE thread, occasionally me and Tatum liked to behave like complete trolls. Oh how I miss those days, lol!

    • Natalie Crown February 20, 2014 12:47 pm

      I DID READ THEM. That’s awesome.

      Ahahaha. I think I did see some of those as well! Apart from the early early days where we could say what we wanted, we weren’t allowed to engage in any naughty behaviour over at FF, so I would get my fix elsewhere 😛

  5. Kate Bond February 19, 2014 10:06 pm

    A couple of things:

    You are right about Mal in the Grisha Trilogy. He really is The Worst, capital T capital W.

    And what bothers me about the love triangle in Vampire Diaries is that DAMON RAPED CAROLINE IN SEASON ONE. CAROLINE IS ELENA’S BEST FRIEND. WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK.

    I am not generally bothered by literary love triangles, though, because I was in them a lot as a teenager–you know, I’m friends with a dude who likes me but I have a boyfriend, or I like a guy with a girlfriend, and we’re all attractive and teenage hormones, blah blah blah.

    • Lauren Turtle February 19, 2014 10:34 pm

      I don’t even really understand the point of Mal?? I mean like, okay cool, he was her friend before everything happened yes, but WHY IS HE STILL HERE GO AWAYYYYYYYY OHMYGODDDDD.

      And the Damon/Caroline thing… yeah I see what you mean but then, none of the relationships on that show make much sense, you know? Like, Caroline and Klaus, after the dude murdered Aunt Jenna (and also Elena except she came back because of her magical hoo-ha). Or even Stefan/Elena or Damon and his friendship with Alaric or even his friendship with Jeremy (kinda). Basically, erryone on that show is fucked up and they should all be sent to different parts of the world forever more tbh.

      As to your love triangle comment, I get it, I was in several of them myself (even a love quartet at one point, which was seriously confusing). However, how many of those teenage love triangles were EPIC? Like, none, amirite? And like, it’s fine if the story reflects that fact, but when the story is supposed to be the stuff of legend and yet all we’re getting is angst over who the girl should choose like THAT’S the most important part of the story? Then nah, I’m good thanks, you can check your objectification of females at the door, you know?

      Thanks for commenting!

  6. Sydney N February 20, 2014 12:11 am

    This may or may not (definitely may) be the BEST DISCUSSION I HAVE READ ALL WEEK.

    I’ve still watching TVD *head desk* even though I absolutely hate it. (Personally, The Originals is SO much better and has a much more interesting storyline. That’s besides the point, but I thought I’d throw that in there.) Here’s my biggest problem with the show: Elena. Never. Saves. Herself. She’s always depending on Stefan to swoop in and rescue her, or Damon, or maybe even Caroline. But she NEVER SAVES HERSELF. And it frustrated me in the first seasons, even though she was only human and it was somewhat understandable. It just really angers me that she is like this. Then there’s the constant indecision about which brother she wants to be with. This week it MIGHT be Stefan, but next week it MIGHT be Damon. How about you pick A brother and ride off into the sunset with him?! I’ve pretty much given up on the show and am only watching it for the sake of continuity. I’m hoping it’ll eventually just…finish. Kind of like The Walking Dead.

    My biggest problem with instalove is that it really makes no sense whatsoever, just like you said. I have never looked at a guy and thought “Wow, you smell delicious. It must be true love!” so when I see FICTIONAL CHARACTERS do it I get so frustrated! I really enjoy the slow burn romances that take time — I want to see the characters grow into each other, and realize their affections first. I don’t want to see them clash together at 100 miles an hour, and then go through all of these ups and downs. My favorite relationship of all relationships is definitely Levi and Cath from Fangirl. I’m not sure if you’ve read it (if you haven’t, you should), but their relationship is one that I would be so happy to have. Just…hands down. No instalove. None at all. And it makes me so, so happy! *shakes fists angrily at instalove*

    Oh, love triangles. I can definitely say that there are 3 love triangles I approve of, and think were done right: Bash + Mary + Francis from Reign on CW (Bash + Mary, ftw), Chaol + Celeana + Dorian from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Chaol + Celeana DEFINITELY), and Will + Tessa + Jem from The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare. What I love most about all 3 of these love triangles is that each side of the triangle is explored, and all the boys in the triangles are ~bad boys~ with ~bad intentions~. For example, Bash is the bastard son of King Henry of France, and Francis is the legitimate prince, but Bash has loved Mary from a distance just because he’s seen her vulnerable, and just fallen for her as he sees her. So when they get together it’s like fireworks. Plus, he’s GOOD for her. He makes her a stronger person, and allows her room to grow. I just…I love that. I like being able to see both sides of the triangle, for the girl in the middle to logically think out her options. Will Boy A make me happier in the long run, even though Boy B is definitely making me happier right now? Because neither boy is going to whisk you away — you have to pick one, and be ready to give up the other, and if you can’t, well… Also, love triangles aren’t entirely realistic. Sure a girl might have 2 guys fighting over her, but that doesn’t end as well in real life as it does in books. Most of the time the guys are pissed the girl even allowed 2 guys to want her, and both end up leaving her. *sigh* But this doesn’t mean I want to read about love triangles in books! It means I want to see love, like you said, in its rawest and truest forms. I want to know that love is worth it all in the end!

    I feel like that last paragraph might not have made too much sense… who knows.

    GREAT POST. I approve.

    • Lauren Turtle February 20, 2014 11:16 am

      The issues I have with TVD could probably fill a book tbh I have so many. I kept watching for a while, but then there was that episode in season 4 (I think?) where Stefan and Damon torture Elena to get her to turn her humanity back on, and that was the point I realised I had to stop before I gave myself an aneurysm due to extreme rage. I mean what even was that? These 2 boys torture the girl they ‘love’ into behaving how THEY want her to, and in the end she THANKS THEM FOR IT?? I mean, that’s not even a distasteful relationship by that point, it’s pretty much full on Stockholm Syndrome. Ugh.

      You’re right, love triangles can be written well on occasion, and although I always side-eye the fact that all these boys want to get in this girl’s pants simply because she’s the main character, if I can at least /see/ where both sides of the triangle are coming from then I’m not as averse to it as I would be otherwise. I can sit there happily shipping my side of the triangle without being turned into a massive ball of rage whenever the other dude is also on the page or screen. It definitely ups my enjoyment of the story, lol!

      Thanks for commenting!

  7. Catherine February 20, 2014 2:11 am

    This post is pretty much perfect. SO perfect, in fact, that I don’t have anything to say that wouldn’t just be restating what you said and agreeing with it (so glad other people speculate about authors writing their ideal self. I really don’t want to assume that’s the case in most books, but come on. It’s a semi-safe bet.)

    Okay, so maybe I have one thing so say: I’m currently reading Romeo and Juliet in class, and I don’t know of another story that is more Insta Love-ish than this play (Also, Romeo whines a lot, but that’s irrelevant.) One of my biggest problems with it is that it turns love into something that’s frivolous. It’s spreading the message that love means being sexually attracted to someone, when it’s not. Love is knowing someone else, liking who they are as a person, and caring about them (and about a million other things, too.) Attraction is a part of it, sure, but not the whole story. In Romeo and Juliet, there are two teenagers who meet and kiss five minutes later, and then they get married the next day so that they can have sex. When they talk with each other, their conversations are all about pronouncing their love and poetically explaining their feelings. They don’t know each other at all. In YA books, the same thing happens. Two people meet, are attracted to each other, and are suddenly in love because they “feel” like they are. What kind of message is that?

    • Lauren Turtle February 20, 2014 11:06 am

      The thing that almost everyone misses about R&J is that it’s NOT a love story, it’s a TRAGEDY, and that it was never really about the relationship to begin with. Romeo was meant to be about 15 years old, and Juliet was meant to be about 13, and their ‘feelings’ for each other were meant to be seen as frivolous and ridiculous (the way Romeo drops Rosalind so quickly was a big hint to this fact). The tragedy wasn’t the fact that these two oh so in love people couldn’t make it work, it was that these two families cared so much about this war between themselves that their two youngest members took it so seriously that their teenage hormones led them to their deaths. It was never really about LOVE, it was about the mistakes that old men make and how pride has repercussions for their following generations. The whole of the play was basically saying “look at these 2 stupid kids, if it weren’t for your fucked up war between your families, they would have moved on to someone else within a week and NOT WANTED TO KILL THEMSELVES OVER IT ohmygod.”

      But people seem to miss that very important fact, and tout R&J as an amazing love story, and then other writers try to emulate that and hey presto, we get Instaloves. It’s really quite ironic that the Bard pretty much invented this trope to talk about pride and war and then it gets used for love instead. Poor Will is probably rolling in his grave.

      Thanks for commenting!

  8. Danika February 20, 2014 5:57 am

    Thank you so much for this post! Not only was it completely spot on (you wrote this PERFECTLY – honestly, my exact thoughts), I also laughed so hard while reading this! The gifs really completed it.

    I just finished reading Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi *gags* and it was just awful. I absolutely hated the insta-love/developing love triangle, and as you mentioned in your post, everyone immediately looks at Juliette as “desirable” because she’s physically attractive even though she can kill you with one of her fingers (by the way, she is not nearly as awesome as that sounds if you’ve read the book. she frustrated me even more than the insta-love). Anyways, everything that you said in this post really made me think of Juliette and this book so thanks for articulating it so perfectly!

    Tell me if you ever come across one of those rare YA novels where the story comes before the romance – or the female main character doesn’t have a love interest at all *gasp*!

    Anyways, best blog post I’ve read ever so thank you SO MUCH for writing what we were all thinking!

    Danika @ Books to Dream
    loveliterature713.blogspot.ca

    • Lauren Turtle February 20, 2014 10:55 am

      Haha I’m glad I made you laugh, I wrote it at like, 3 in the morning so I was a bit loopy and wondered if any of it even made sense, lol! If you do fancy a YA series where there’s an amazing love story and yet the story is the most important thing, then I suggest you check out The Darkest Powers by Kelley Armstrong because it’s fantastic tbh (I made Tatum read it and now she hates me for introducing her to such a life ruining OTP).

      Thanks for commenting!

  9. Nara February 20, 2014 10:17 am

    I’m a bit of a black sheep with this topic because I must confess that I actually don’t mind love triangles if they’re done well. The ones where you’re kinda rooting for both teams- The Infernal Devices, Shatter Me, Shadow and Bone lol (I’m actually kinda Team Sturmhond. I’d rather she not end up with either The Darkling or with Mal lolz). Of course, if they’re ones where a random love interest is just introduced to create drama or whatever, I normally hate those…

    But I hate instalove in any shape or form so that trope can go die.

    • Lauren Turtle February 20, 2014 10:51 am

      You see, this is the issue I have with love triangles, because /sometimes/ they can be written quite well. It’s just that for me, that happens so rarely that these days even when I come across one that works I’m /still/ rolling my eyes over the fact of its inclusion. (I am also Team Sturmhond tbh, although I wouldn’t mind a Sturmhond/Alina/Darkling OT3 tbh) I just think, either write it /well/, or bugger off, you know?

      Thanks for commenting!

  10. Renu February 20, 2014 11:16 am

    So much love for this post, Amber! I tend to avoid books with love triangles, and I know people say that if you’re a YA reader that can’t be done. But, it can! Out of all the YA books I read last year only one of them a love triangle, and that was a sequel so I had no idea it was coming (another thing I hate: introducing love triangle in sequels! *cough* Unravel Me *cough* I mean WHYYYY. There are ways to create romantic tension without bringing in a damn LT!) I also remember watching the advs for TVD and thinking yeah, no. But my cousin insisted I watch so I did, and honestly the first few eps, imo, weren’t half bad. But then to me, Elena become this annoying mc, and so did many of the other characters. In the end the only characters I actually liked were Klaus, Caroline, and Elena’s brother. Suffice to say I no longer watch it.

    The Grisha trilogy has a love triangle of sorts, but it’s one that I don’t mind because she’s not torn by who she wants. Although, I must admit that I am kind of worried about book 3 still. I do hope Mal is the one she ends up with. I will probably break down in tears otherwise. I don’t think I can handle it after the mess that was Ignite Me.

    • Lauren Turtle February 20, 2014 11:32 am

      I’m like you, I try to avoid all love triangles wherever possible in YA, because I’m just not here for that nonsense. And I agree about TVD, we now only ever watch an episode when there is a high chance of seeing Jeremy shirtless, lol!

      I’m pretty certain you won’t be crying by the end of the Grisha series. I’ll probably be a little bit mad over it, but then, I can carry on happily shipping Sturmhond/Darkling over in my little slash corner 😀

      Thanks for commenting!

  11. skyduck February 20, 2014 3:38 pm

    OMG I wanted to write something this because I’m reading a book with this combination, but thank God you’ve already told every annoying thinhs that I felt. I think triangle love becomes a trend. Many many YA author seem to need that to appeal their books. But the fact for me, it usually ends up to be annoying girl who makes out with the 2 boys because she can’t choose. I do enjoy some triangle love (I like Unearthly series) when it doesn’t consume the book like all that matter is with who she ends up.
    For instalove, it’s also annoying although sometimes I can take it, but it makes me care less about the couple. I don’t care if they are separated in the end, I don’t care if one of them dies, I laugh when someone cheating. I just lose the feels for them.

  12. Lauren Turtle February 20, 2014 4:51 pm

    You’ve just explained everything I was trying to say in less than 100 words, lol, so kudos for that! Instaloves and triangles DO make you care less about the characters and their relationships, and it really is a trend that needs to go far far away and never bother us again

    Thanks for commenting!

  13. Books Glorious Books February 20, 2014 5:40 pm

    I love you so much for this post. Not only do I agree with every point you make, but I laughed so much while reading it.

    • Lauren Turtle February 20, 2014 9:25 pm

      Glad I made you giggle while reading, I wondered if it might be a bit too much for some people after writing while extremely loopy, lol!

      Thanks for the comment!

  14. laurafergs February 20, 2014 8:20 pm

    I love this post. :-) You totally hit the nail on the head. I hope authors take note.

    I think I can guess the awesome series you referred to aswell! (did you hear there’s going to be a novella about them released in April?!)

    • Lauren Turtle February 20, 2014 9:23 pm

      YES I DID AND I’M SO EXCITED OHMYGOD! It’s like, literally the only YA OTP I have (that’s canon anyway, lol) and I can’t wait to see them again! I’ve been trying to force Amber to read them, but she’s stalling, mainly to make my eye twitch, probably – my rage tends to amuse them all for some reason.

      Thanks for commenting!

  15. Mel@Thedailyprophecy February 22, 2014 10:39 pm

    So first of all, ALADDIN GIF <3

    I used to like Vampire Diaries too. I must admit that I’ve only been watching the show for so long now, because I like how Damon looks, haha. And The Originals are cool. Hahaha, the penis part cracked me up :’)

    Insta-love is the most worst thing, because it’s completely unrealistic and annoying, because sometimes it makes me think ‘what did I do wrong all those years?’ Haha. The girls are always shy, loners and ‘not the most prettiest in school’ and yet they have the first hot guy drooling all over them..

    Love-triangles are always the same like the example you gave. They can be made so much more interesting.. I COULD see this happen in real life, but it’s just no fun anymore. Almost every book you start has one and ug. I’m tired of them.

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