Love Triangles: Love Them or Hate Them?


I first learned about love triangles in Charles Shultz’ cartoon, Charlie Brown. My heart ached for Peppermint Patty’s unrequited love for “Chuck”. Her awkward attempts to move them out of the friend zone made me want to call him a Block Head! Yet I still cheered on Charlie, hoping he and Patty’s BFF, sweet-natured Marcie (such a great foil for the aggressive Patty) would finally get together. The hopeless situation was endlessly fascinating and equally painful. Kind of like growing up… and in contemporary Young Adult novels, that’s what it’s all about. Love triangles in novels work well when they represent a deeper conflict for the main character- figuring out who she or he is in order to know whom he or she loves.

In CAMP BOYFRIEND, our main character Lauren, has always identified herself as a lover of science, an outsider, and Marvel superhero fan- well… Spiderman to be exact. Don’t even get her started on why he kicks every other superhero’s butt. You’ll never win that argument… trust me. She’s found acceptance with her quirky cabin mates at Munchies Manor at Camp Juniper Point and love with her best friend and fellow science nerd, Seth. Yet his wish to avoid long distance relationship problems means he’s convinced her to end things at the end of the past two summers. So far she’s accepted that, but now she wants more… especially after a year spent in a new school where she lost her braces, glasses and catapulted to popularity by dating the school’s star quarterback, Matt. She’s come to realize that she’ll never truly fit in with that group and breaking up with Matt is the first step to returning to her old self… only it’s not that easy when his parents’ divorce means he gets to ask them for what he truly wants, to attend camp with Lauren.

In this way, CAMP BOYFRIEND’s love triangle is more than just a conflict of a girl deciding between two hot guys; they each represent a part of herself. Deciding between them isn’t just about knowing her heart, it’s about discovering who she is- part of her journey in the summer of CAMP BOYFRIEND. Some might say, why does she have to choose which type of girl she is- geek/outsider vs popular/insider… and that’s the heart of the book- the understanding that labeling is a stop sign on realizing your true self. Lauren needs to accept that she can be all things, even if her friends and the boys in her life are slower to come to those conclusions than her. Ultimately, this summer read is a fun romance that also speaks to issues of self-acceptance and not judging one another or ourselves.

Here’s an excerpt in which we see Lauren struggling with this issue:

How ironic that I’d come back to camp to get back to the things I’d loved, especially Seth. But Matt had stopped that chance and, suddenly, I was glad he had. What was so wrong with liking dance and astronomy? Cheering and the science club? The popular and the outsider cliques? The problem was, I hadn’t realized I could do both, be both. If I’d gone back to Seth right away, I would never have learned that.

I looked over at my drying wedge sandals by the fireplace. They were awesome, even if they had slowed us down. And yeah, I was the girl who worried about weather-induced hair frizz.

So maybe I had changed. And Seth had a point about letting my dreams lapse. But why couldn’t he see through the make-up and clothes to the person who still thrilled at the site of a meteor shower and drew constellations on her notebook covers?

I laid back, tired of justifying myself. “That girl’s gone, Seth. I’m different now.”

Seth stretched beside me. His amber eyes searched mine in the shadows between us, a wistful smile lifting the corners of his mouth.

“It’s not a bad thing,” he agreed, his fingers toying with my curls. “I just miss the old you sometimes.”

I closed my eyes and enjoyed his touch, knowing it wasn’t going any further. After all, he cared about someone else, someone I’d never be again.

“Sometimes…” I edged a little closer to ease the empty ache inside. “…so do I.”

I hope you enjoyed the excerpt. To learn more about CAMP BOYFRIEND, check out our website at or at Love triangles can be great, but- for me- the choices need to be more than just about the boys. Please share your thoughts on love triangles in the comments section below and be automatically entered to win an autographed copy of CAMP BOYFRIEND, currently available on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles. Thanks so much for stopping by Scene 13!


30 thoughts on “Love Triangles: Love Them or Hate Them?

  1. Love triangles are hard. They have to be done well or else I can’t stand them. I want to see the struggle of the main character, not just a wishy washy I’m not sure who I want type of person. I need to have that MC learn something. I loved your love triangle. I think Lauren really struggled and wasn’t sure what to do but mostly b/c she needed to grow as a person and needed to know what SHE wanted for herself. I think Cassie Clare did a good job in her Infernal Devices series for the most part. Although, I did lean towards one person more than the other, which I know most do. In your book I really was so totally torn b/c the guys were SO different and both had such great qualities!

    • WOW! Thank you so much 🙂 I completely agree that love triangles are the Bermuda triangle for writers… When Joanne and I wrote CAMP BOYFRIEND, we were careful to make sure that we gave our readers more than a girl confused by her feelings for two guys- but a story about a young woman figuring herself out and each boy represents a part of her personality. Agreed that the Cassie Clare did a great job, though Jace…. *sigh …. there really was no other guy for me!

    • You’ve been in a love triangle, Kelly? I definitely want deets 😉 Your comment is so spot on. I heard a saying once- we accept the love we believe we deserve. I think love triangles can be like that. We fall for the person that is the most reflective of ourselves and who we are or want to be. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  2. I’m not a big fan of love triangles (I’d rather see two characters get to know each other really well), and yet they’ve crept into my work. Characters develop feelings for each other when I planned on pairing them off with other characters. Sometimes relationships are just messy, I guess. 😉

    • I love how organic your writing is, Sandra, and that you allow your characters to make choices for themselves- even if it’s a love triangle. Relationships are as messy and flawed as the people in them and I think that’s why they are worth the risk, and the read 🙂 Thanks for your comment.

  3. I actually really enjoy love triangles, 9 times out of 10. Unfortunately, I always prefer the guy who doesn’t get the girl in the end… Then I am always heart broken!

    • My heart gets broken too, Kendall! Plus, as a writer, you create these characters and it hurts even worse to make them so sympathetic, so worthy, so likeable, and ultimately tragic. But the silver lining is if you have a series, like Joanne and I do, we can give the guy who doesn’t get the girl his own book and a love story as great as he is 🙂 Thank you so much for commenting!

  4. I’m not a total lover of Love Triangles to be honest – the only one I’ve liked is Bad Rep by Meridith Walters 😦

    Having said that though, a good book will hook me, regardless of love triangles


    • I agree- a good book will hook me and I don’t read by tropes- “friends to love” “love triangles” stuff like that… My best advice for writers using a love triangle is to focus on the story and to tell it well 😀 Thanks so much for commenting.

  5. I don’t mind them, especially if they’re done well. One in a recent mega-hit book/movie combo really ticked me off because I felt like it was forced. The girl didn’t even like the other guy like that until he started pressuring her about it, forcing his desires on her (for more than friendship) and she was weak enough to let it happen. Before that, he was just a really good friend. I like triangles that start out on equal footing and are not forced on the reader or the characters.

    • Your comment is so insightful, Margay, thank you! A forced love triangle feels manipulative to me as a reader. When it develops naturally, or the ingredients were already in place (as is the case for CAMP BOYFRIEND) then it feels natural and is ultimately more powerful and moving.

      • I totally agree. I hate to feel manipulated like that as a reader. I feel, in the example I gave, that the author may have done it just to create tension because there wan’t enough in the rest of their story. I don’t feel like it enhanced the story at all – it just made me feel frustrated and angry whenever the manipulative character was on the page. That was another thing, the character came off as kind of abusive in the way he forced himself on the girl, like he was bullying her into loving him. That is not healthy, at all. I think in order for it to work, it has to be something that originates from each character individually. In other words, they make the discovery themselves and no one is forcing their own love onto someone who was so obviously in love with someone else, she never gave him the time of day romantically. Does that make sense?

      • Huh- weird that I can’t actually leave a reply to your reply to my reply, Margay- lol… oh well. I hope you can see this- but everything you said makes total sense. Authors need to respect the intelligence of their readers and not force a conflict that feels unnecessary or even distracting. Even worse- if the other protagonist in the conflict comes across more as an antagonist, it will only antagonize the reader into wondering why such a negative message is being portrayed as a viable love choice for the heroine. If I ever write a book where a heroine is in an abusive relationship (and I’m not saying I won’t) it will be because she has issues she needs to overcome in order to see that she doesn’t deserve that kind of love- she deserves better- starting with (as corny as it sounds) loving and respecting herself. Did I just sound like an After School Special? Then again- I loved some of those- lol.

      • I grew up on afternoon specials, so I appreciate the reference! And the message they provided.

  6. This has got to be the best post I’ve ever seen about Love Triangles. I’ve written a book with one too, and it really helped clarify some things for me. Especially this part:

    “In this way, CAMP BOYFRIEND’s love triangle is more than just a conflict of a girl deciding between two hot guys; they each represent a part of herself. Deciding between them isn’t just about knowing her heart, it’s about discovering who she is- part of her journey in the summer of CAMP BOYFRIEND.”

    I’ve realized that I already have the same elements in my story, but they just need to be fleshed out a bit more and now I’m inspired. So thank you very much J.K. Rock for illuminating the key to a well-written YA book. Coming of age and self-discovery. What a beautiful thing!

    • Awwwwww! Thanks so much, Cindy 🙂 Your comment means a lot! I can’t wait for Joanne to see it. Blogs like this are such a wonderful way for us to connect with both readers and writers (and aren’t we all both?!) and to share and inspire one another. I can’t wait to read your book!! I love it when I get those ah-hah moments and I’m so happy that it happened for you today.

  7. I really don’t think I mind love triangles that much. I’ve seen lots of people complaining about them, and they are in a lot of books, but I like what it creates. For one, it makes me wonder throughout the book(s): who will be chosen (if anyone)? Love triangles allow me to think who I think would be best for the person at the tip of the triangle, and it also creates tension: “No, I want you with Person A, not Person B! Next scene, please!” It keeps me guessing. When there’s not a love triangle, it’s easy to assume who the MC will end up with. Love triangles add a bit of a guessing game to a book, and I’m not so sure that they bother me.

    • Such a good point, Rachel! Love triangles do introduce an unexpected element to the traditional love story in that not only are wondering how the couple will achieve their HEA… but exactly who will be a part of it! I hadn’t actually thought of it that way- thank you 😀

  8. I don’t like love triangles that much, they make me suffer and I find it a bit hard to believe in them but in Camp Boyfriend it works, because it’s more about reconciling parts of Lauren’s life.

    • Hi Gaby! Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on love triangles and the one we used in CAMP BOYFRIEND 🙂 You are absolutely right in that the love triangle is about bringing the pieces of who Lauren is together so that she can understand who she is and wants to be.

    • Hi Colleen 🙂 The aren’t common in real life that’s for sure! I think that’s something to be careful of when using them in contemporary romance… to make sure that the situation is a natural one and not forced. Thanks so much for commenting!

  9. The winner of my autographed CAMP BOYFRIEND giveaway is Margay! Congratulations 🙂 and thanks to all for participating in this terrific discussion. Margay- please send your mailing information to my email address- and I will mail out your prize ASAP!

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