Love Triangles are ‘wreck’tangles

Every time I see you falling I get down on my knees and pray
I’m waiting for that final moment you say the words that I can’t say

New Order, Bizarre Love Triangle


If you’ve ever been in love with someone who already loves someone else, then you’ve actively participated in a love triangle. Maybe you’re in love with someone right now but you’re starting to feel the same about someone else – that’s also a love triangle!

Love triangles are complicated dating scenarios (physical and emotional) which constantly play out in Asian drama and film. Like so many plots, the love triangle is so overused and abused, that I’m in a perpetual state of dread almost every time I start watching something new, especially in the melodrama genre.

I ‘get’ it! The ‘love triangle’ is this perfect storm of angst, melodrama, romance and unrequited love, but surely script and screenplay writers understand that the majority of the narratives in the industry include at least one love triangle? Sometimes audiences are subjected to two or three in one production. It can be overwhelming!

While these two types of love triangles, the one most used is where two people are vying for one person’s affections. The other is when one person is in love with or in a relationship with one person but is also attracted to, likes or loves another person.

Both kinds of love triangles have an equal measure of offenders from both genders, but for the Asian drama and film scene, it’s more common to find two men after one woman or two women after one man. Inevitably, one of the three will end up hurt, broken-hearted, or if they’re wise enough, escape the drama and hurt by bowing out the competition. In many cases, one part of the triangle has to make life-changing decisions and another is totally oblivious to everything going on around him or her.

As I’ve already alluded to, bowing out is perhaps the wisest choice, but it rarely happens in the Asian drama and film I’ve watched. Too often, ‘if only’ pops into my thoughts when I’m watching a love triangle develop on screen. So much drama and heartache would be reduced if one person would be wise enough to opt out. But no, that doesn’t make for a good script or screenplay, apparently.

Personally, I’ve suffered through a few of my own ‘love triangles’ – one or two where I was the object of the affections and if I’m being honest, three or four where I was chasing after someone who was already in love or romantically entangled with someone else.

If I could travel back in time I would tell myself to keep my passions and heart checked. Fortunately, none of these triangles has ever involved a dear friend or the boyfriend of a friend etc. It’s always been with someone I know, but not someone I’m very close to. Not like in the dramas or film I’ve watched – occasionally there is an unknown that arrives on the scene, but it’s normally people who know each other fairly well, maybe they’ve grown up together, etc.

What I’ve learnt from my personal experience is that every single love triangle I’ve been involved in has always been emotionally charged for at least two of the people involved. How I dealt with this was through a lot of introspection and learning how to separate myself from my emotions and remove my ego. Believe me, that’s no easy feat! These are skills you develop with experience and maturity, well at least one hopes you do, otherwise you’re going to be going ‘round that mountain’ a few more times than you’ll like.

To help me reach a decision I’ve sometimes created lists like pros and cons of the people involved, myself included, a realistic and objective look at everyone involved. Basically weighing up my options (good, bad and downright ugly) and once I had made a decision, I stuck with it. There’s nothing worse than being sucked back into the drama!

One of the greatest lessons I have learnt with love triangles is trust in myself — knowing that I made the right decision or choice and accepting the consequences. This comes from the all that introspection I spoke about earlier. In knowing the various roles I’ve played in love triangles, I have seen the flaws in my perception, character, personality etc. When I know what role I am playing in a love triangle, what motivates me to be in the situation, the lengths I’m willing to go (realistically), then I’m able to see things clearer and paint both the best outcome and the worst. That’s where I base my decision. Let me tell you, only once ever had a love triangle worked in my favour. And, it wasn’t because of me and the role I played!

So if you’re involved in a love triangle and are looking for a way out, here’s some sage advice:

Introspection — take some time to understand your motivations, your role, the potential worst-case or best-case scenarios, the benefits of developing a relationship with one of the parties involved, the impacts, the likelihood of success etc. Doing this will help you weigh up the situation and make an informed decision. But to be informed, you have to be honest!

Talk about it — when you understand your role and the dynamics of the other parties in the love triangle, talk to either them (the other parties) or a trusted friend who’ll listen and give you wise counsel. Talking through the love triangle might be uncomfortable, but being open and honest as early on as possible is what I’d recommend.

Think about the why — all relationships we have, serve a purpose, even an unhealthy one. It’s very important to not only determine why you participate in this kind of situation but also understand and recognize if this is habitual. If you’re seeing a pattern then you might need some counselling to look at what psychological needs you have are not being met.

Once you have all the information you need, honestly reflect on it! You need to consider all the options, all the benefits and assess the potential risks and impact.

Then you must decide.  And when your decision is made, own it! Live it! Breathe it! Be it!



Here are some examples for you to wrap your head around.

1. Alice wants both Bob and Charlie, but cannot decide which. Both are unrequited or their wishes are unimportant at this point.

2. Alice wants Bob, Bob wants Claire, and Claire wants Alice. Sometimes referred to as a Bizarre Love Triangle. It can involve as many people as you like, turning it into a square, pentagon or more, but ultimately the love remains unrequited.

3. The classic love war set up. Bob and Charlie want Alice. Alice is neutral toward, or not initially thinking in romantic terms of Bob and Charlie, or thinking about them at all. Not a bad situation to be in, if you are Alice, though obviously a bit less so for Bob and Charlie. Some Alices will be tempted to see if there is any Type 7 (below) potential in the situation.

4. Alice wants Bob, who is already in a relationship with Claire. Bob is unaware/neutral (leaving Alice as a hopeless suitor), or is aware of the interest and can’t/won’t reciprocate (leaving Alice in the “friend zone”). As the most complicated set of relations which is compatible with both monogamy and heterosexuality, this is very common.

5. Alice loves Bob, but Bob loves Claire. Claire doesn’t have feelings for either. Alice might try persuading Bob to give up on Claire. If Alice is axe-crazy (or otherwise extremely jealous), she might attempt to murder the hypotenuse. Alternatively, Alice might just want her beloved to be happy, and try to set Claire up with Bob. This is the smallest situation directly involving at least three characters where all love is unrequited. This can potentially involve more than three people.

6. Alice wants Bob and Claire, who are already in a relationship. In this one, the “want” may or may not be sexual in nature—this could just be a platonic thing.

7. The classic “affair” set up. Alice is in a relationship with Bob, but she’s also in a relationship with Charlie. Either Bob and Charlie don’t know about the other’s involvement at all or Charlie knows he’s the secret lover and acts accordingly. Much of the drama/comedy comes from all the work needed to make sure that the space between B and C stays free from any sort of information flow. A lot of geography between the two helps, or maybe a good social divide.

8. When all three parties are devoted to each other in some manner. This needn’t be sexual, but this is the type that’s the most compatible with polyamory in its various forms. The most obvious example is a straight-up threesome: Alice, Bob, and Charlie are happily in a relationship together. Or two of them are in a relationship and the third is a friend with benefits that they occasionally fool around with. Or Bob is in a relationship with both Alice and Charlie, while the latter two are friends but not intimate, possibly due to incompatible orientation. This last one can also involve polygamy rather than homo/bisexuality, say if Bob has multiple wives who all share a sisterly bond.

9. Bob and Charlie are attracted/loyal to each other but are also attracted/loyal to Alice. Bob and Charlie might be best friends or siblings, and much of the conflict comes from wanting to pursue Alice but not wanting to hurt the other.

10. Alice and Bob are in a relationship, but Bob is attracted to Charlie. How sympathetically Bob is played depends on their gender. Similar to Type 4, but with a different point of view.

11. The classic affair set up with a twist. Alice is in a relationship with Bob and Charlie, but Bob becomes attracted/loyal to Charlie. Bob and Charlie may or may not know about the other’s involvement with Alice. This situation is clearly the fault of Alice, who failed to control the information flow properly. Bad philanderer! No biscuit!

12. Alice and Charlie are in a relationship, often married, but Alice likes Bob and Bob likes/is loyal to Charlie. Depending on genders this can be a hilarious or very tragic set up.

13. Alice must choose between Bob and Charlie, but Bob is also attracted to Charlie. Could arise in a gay/bisexual situation, or could be non-sexual in nature. The non-sexual setup might be something like a boy (A) wants to please his dear old Mum (B) and wants to do naked things with his girl (C). Dear old Mum likes the girl, and monopolizes her attention with shopping trips and general girl-to-girl socializing stuff that greatly reduce C’s naked-fun time.

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