Love triangles in film are unnecessary & unhealthy—change my mind


I’ve never understood the excitement around love triangles in film. Although the hype of cheering for Team Gale or Team Peeta can be contagious, it overshadows the unhealthy message sent to real-life couples.

When I was seven or eight years old, I remember flipping with delight through Archie Comics on my bed. In one story, Archie would be dating Betty in one issue, then swooning for Veronica in the next. Even at that young age, I felt that something wasn’t right about the situation.

It’s only when I started to write a love triangle of my own that I truly recognized its flawed structure.

Imagine a couple happy together. Then imagine an attractive third wheel. One member of the couple cheats on their partner with the third wheel. The cheated partner is devastated, the third wheel is confused and jealous, and the instigator of the scandal can’t choose between the two.

The result? Pain for everyone involved.

How romantic.

Initially, love needs certain key ingredients to work. Love needs trust: the knowledge that your secrets are safe with your other half. Love needs respect: admiration for your partner’s character and their actions. Finally, love needs devotion: exclusive care and support between both parties.

Love triangles throw these ingredients out the window. It’s difficult to trust and respect someone who has shifted their devotion from you to someone else.

Sex Education, Cobra Kai, Shadow and Bone—the abundance of love triangles compared to healthy relationships in popular media promotes an inherent presence of instability, cheating, and drama in romance. With rare exceptions, love triangles also exist unpunished within the plot, implying that this kind of behaviour is okay.

If they had no other source to learn about relationships besides popular culture, a first-time dater would expect their future partners to be untrustworthy. Constant paranoia could become the accepted standard, while peaceful, healthy relationships could become automatically suspicious.

Let’s consider another played-out love triangle scenario. A is happy in a long-term relationship with B until old flame C rolls in from the past on a shiny motorcycle. Smitten by old memories with C, A ruins their own proposal to B because of a sudden unexplainable attraction to the past.

The inability of A to move on from their previous love interest means they are indecisive and are inconsiderate of the relationship they’ve spent time and effort to develop with B. Regardless, viewers are expected to cry tears of happiness when A and C reunite at the end of the film after a passionate proclamation in the rain. 

I’m not convinced.

The contentious ‘true love’ achieved in love triangles makes commitment seem undesirable, instead emphasizing selfish decisions ignorant of another person’s feelings.

Especially in these turbulent pandemic times, knowing you can depend on your current partner is important. Unfortunately, the damaging patterns in popular media fail to deliver.

Scriptwriters, please give me a boring, happy relationship. When I turn on the TV, I want to relax—not watch for red flags.

Anna is a fourth-year Life Science student and The Journal’s Editorials Editor.


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