Love Triangles: The Double Standard

Last week I was able to see the new movie This Means War which stars Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine and Tim Hardy. It not only left me laughing until my sides began to hurt, but it also got me thinking about books. (Figures that a book nerd would connect a romantic comedy movie to books, but I just can't help myself!) Anyways, I started thinking about love triangles in YA literature and how they are almost always one girl and two guys, never one guy and two girls.

I started to brainstorm reasons why there seems to be this trend of one girl love triangles and it kind of hit me full force: How accepting would we be of a guy who dragged along two girls unable to make up his mind about which one he wanted to be with? I don't know about you, but I would definitely not find him swoon-worthy or probably a character that I'd find it fairly easy to like.

What would Personal Demons be like if it weren't for Frannie, Luc and Gabe a.k.a the perfect trio? The book definitely wouldn't have been the same if it was Luc with his girls Frannie and Gabriella. I also don't think a lot of Luc's many charms would have been there, like his fierce love for only Frannie.

So I guess my question is, What makes it okay for girls to be in two-guy love triangles without being judged? I mean as unbelievable as it may seem guys do have feelings too and isn't the ring leader of a love triangle leading others on and taking advantage of the other two's feelings? Is there a double standard for letting it be alright if a girl can't make up her mind for who she loves, but a guy is just expected to immediately know?

-Would you read a book with a one-guy love triangle?
-Are there any YA books out there that have this type of love triangle? 
-Why do you think it is that there isn't more two-female one-male love triangles? 


  1. I would read a book with a one-boy love triangle just because it would be something different. I would also like to see if the author could write this character in a way that wouldn't make him seem like he was taking advantage of both the girls who are in love with him.

    1. Yes, exactly! Effectively reversing the sterotype would be a challenge for any author; I would have a lot of respect for someone who could do it well!

  2. In The Blood Train I write about a guy who's in love with both the fiancé he boarded the train with in the 50's as well as my MC. I write it from the new girls perspective though, so you see more of her struggling with the situation than him thinking about how he's stringing them along. (I should also mention that the fiancé went crazy on the train so it's not like my MC is stealing her future husband or anything lol.)

  3. Oh my goodness, this is so true! COUGHtwilightCOUGH... I don't think nearly as many people would be swooning over an Edward or Jacob who wasn't obsessed with Bella and Bella alone... BARF.

    I guess it might be a manifestation of typical gender sterotypes: girls are "flirts;" guys are "players." Also, since in the archaic ideal the man is always the pursuer, having two men pursuing one woman fits this sterotype whereas two women pursuing one man doesn't.

    There are one-guy love triangles in fiction, but they are often a totally different angle. Usually the main character is a girl who is trying to compete with "the other woman" for one man's affections. I would definitely be interested in reading something from a guy's perspective!

  4. There's somewhat of a girl-boy-girl love triangle in The Maze Runner. The books aren't really romantic at all, but the tension is there. Great post!

  5. I actually had never thought about this Katie .. I've never read a book with a love triangle composed of one guy and two girls and just like you I don't know if I'll be able to apprecitate the male character that much if he coudln't make his mind about who he wanted to be with .. I have no idea why that makes it more acceptable to read one-girl love triangle :) ...
    Great post Katie !!

  6. I'm not a big fan of love triangles to begin with. I don't really respect characters (male or female) that think they can have it all and not have to choose. I would be interested in reading one to see how it was done. Love triangles can be done in a way that still makes the main character seem sincere.

  7. You bring a fascinating point.
    I think it's because in general, men don't mind battling for a girl's affections.
    Women on the other hand don't usually allow themselves to be in a triangle.
    Women will walk away, go lick their wounds, and start over while men are more likely to stick it out and see if the better man wins.
    Excellent question.
    Thanks for making me think.

  8. I think 2 girls-1 boy would FOR SURE not work in YA lit. Even though it's not so uncommon in real life. Why? B/c primarily girls read YA. And I know I speak for a lot of us when I say that I wouldn't consider 2 girls fighting over a boy to be pleasure reading! Ick. I hate it when girls do that. But for some reason 2 boys fighting over a girl seems romantic. Double standard? Absolutely. But, what can you do? Great discussion topic Katie!!!

  9. I wanna see This Means War! :)

    I'm trying to think if I've read a book where it's one boy and two girls...I did read a book were it was a guy and his love interests were a boy and a girl ...if that makes sense. Hopefully it does. (Hushed by Kelley York)

    You make a point about a guy dragging girls along, never thought of it that way. Yep, there always are double standards...there seems to be no getting passed them at times.

    I would read a book with a guy as the head of the love triangle. Now I'm really curious about them...I need to read through these comments to see if there are any out there that commenters have recommended.

  10. Ehhhh I wouldn't say the girl in the mix is necessarily a ring leader whose just leading the guys on. I mean look at The Hunger Games: Katniss didn't have a choice when it came to Peeta. Yes, in Mockingjay she is kissing Gale and all that but that was mostly because she thought Peeta hated her forever. Or maybe I'm just making excuses for Katniss because I like her so much...

    I guess the thing is that girls are really indecisive. Much more indecisive than boys. That being said when a girl is given the choice of choosing between two guys her indecisiveness kicks in and she has a hard time deciding. Not only that but girls are notoriously fickle and a lot of them love the idea of being liked by multiple guys.

    Guys on the other hand aren't as indecisive. They know what they want and if two girls like them they're much quicker to decide which they'd prefer to be with. I think it's less a double standard and more reality. On top of that most of the time guys are the ones pursuing the girls. If a girl is all out pursuing a guy it can either come off as desperate and awkward or outgoing and sexy. It all depends on the guy.

    Maybe it is a double standard but there are situations where it's a guy with two girls love triangle. It's just that for those its normally not called a love triangle. Instead it's called: THAT GUY IS A PLAYA!!! :P

  11. Honest I probably wouldn't read a book with a guy love triangle. You have to take into consideration that I can barely stand love triangles. I think Julia got it right when she said that it makes the guy look like a player which is why there aren't many out there.