Love triangle

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A love triangle (also called a romantic love triangle or a romance triangle or an eternal triangle) is usually a romantic relationship involving three or more people. While it can refer to two people independently romantically linked with a third, it usually implies that each of the three people has some kind of relationship to the other two. The 1994 book Beliefs, Reasoning, and Decision Making states, "Although the romantic love triangle is formally identical to the friendship triad, as many have noted their actual implications are quite different....Romantic love is typically viewed as an exclusive relationship, whereas friendship is not." [1] Statistics suggest that, in Western society, "willingly or not, most adults have been involved in a love triangle". [2]

An intimate relationship is an interpersonal relationship that involves physical or emotional intimacy. Although an intimate relationship is commonly a sexual relationship, it may also be a non-sexual relationship involving family, friends, or acquaintances.

Contents

Two main forms of love triangle have been distinguished: "there is the rivalrous triangle, where the lover is competing with a rival for the love of the beloved, and the split-object triangle, where a lover has split their attention between two love objects". [3]

History and definitions

"Gianciotto Discovers Paolo and Francesca" by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres ; it depicts the Divine Comedy. Gianciotto Discovers Paolo and Francesca Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres.jpg
"Gianciotto Discovers Paolo and Francesca" by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres ; it depicts the Divine Comedy.

The term "love triangle" generally connotes an arrangement unsuitable to one or more of the people involved. One person typically ends up feeling betrayed at some point (e.g., "Person A is jealous of Person C who is having a relationship with Person B who, in Person A's eyes, is 'his/her' person."). [4] A similar arrangement that is agreed upon by all parties is sometimes called a triad, which is a type of polyamory even though polyamory usually implies sexual relations. Within the context of monogamy, love triangles are inherently unstable, with unrequited love and jealousy as common themes. In most cases, the jealous or rejected first party ends a friendship—and sometimes even starts a fight with—the second party over the third-party love interest. Though rare, love triangles have been known to lead to murder or suicide committed by the actual or perceived rejected lover.

Jealousy generally refers to the thoughts or feelings of insecurity, fear, and concern over a relative lack of possessions.

Polyamory is the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the consent of all partners involved. It has been described as "consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy". People who identify as polyamorous believe in an open relationship with a conscious management of jealousy; they reject the view that sexual and relational exclusivity are necessary for deep, committed, long-term loving relationships.

Monogamy is a form of relationship in which an individual has only one partner during their lifetime—alternately, only one partner at any one time —as compared to non-monogamy. The term is also applied to the social behavior of some animals, referring to the state of having only one mate at any one time.

Psychoanalysis has explored 'the theme of erotic love triangles and their roots in the Oedipal triangle'. [5] Experience suggests that 'a repeated pattern of forming or being caught in love triangle can be much dissolved by beginning to analyse the patterns of the childhood relationship to each parent in turn and to both parents as a couple'. [5] In such instances, 'you find men who are attracted only by married woman but who can't sustain the relationship if it threatens to become more than an affair. They need the husband to protect them from a full relationship...as women who repeatedly get involved with married men need the wives'. [6]

Psychoanalysis psychological theory that was founded in 1890 by the Viennese neurologist Sigmund Freud

Psychoanalysis is a set of theories and therapeutic techniques related to the study of the unconscious mind, which together form a method of treatment for mental-health disorders. The discipline was established in the early 1890s by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud and stemmed partly from the clinical work of Josef Breuer and others. Psychoanalysis was later developed in different directions, mostly by students of Freud such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav Jung, and by neo-Freudians such as Erich Fromm, Karen Horney and Harry Stack Sullivan. Freud retained the term psychoanalysis for his own school of thought.

Oedipus complex concept of psychoanalytic theory; a childs unconscious sexual desire for the opposite-sex parent and hatred for the same-sex parent

The Oedipus complex is a concept of psychoanalytic theory. Sigmund Freud introduced the concept in his Interpretation of Dreams (1899) and coined the expression in his A Special Type of Choice of Object made by Men (1910). The positive Oedipus complex refers to a child's unconscious sexual desire for the opposite-sex parent and hatred for the same-sex parent. The negative Oedipus complex refers to a child's unconscious sexual desire for the same-sex parent and hatred for the opposite-sex parent. Freud considered that the child's identification with the same-sex parent is the successful outcome of the complex and that unsuccessful outcome of the complex might lead to neurosis, pedophilia, and homosexuality.

Common themes

A common love triangle is one in which the hero or heroine is torn between two suitors of radically contrasting personalities; one of a girl next door or nice guy type, and the other as a physically attractive but potentially hazardous person. Alternatively, the hero or heroine has a choice between a seemingly perfect lover and an imperfect but endearing person. In this case, the "too-good-to-be-true" person is often revealed to have a significant flaw, such as hidden insensitivity or lecherousness, causing the other person to become the more desirable partner.

Girl next door archetype of a cute, kind, unassuming, and honest woman or girl, often in a romantic story

The girl next door is a young female stock character who lives right next door to the protagonist. They are often used in romantic stories.

A nice guy is an informal term for an adult male who portrays himself with characteristics such as being gentle, compassionate, sensitive and vulnerable. The term is used both positively and negatively. When used positively, and particularly when used as a preference or description by someone else, it is intended to imply a male who puts the needs of others before his own, avoids confrontations, does favors, gives emotional support, tries to stay out of trouble, and generally acts nicely towards others. In the context of a relationship, it may also refer to traits of honesty, loyalty, romanticism, courtesy, and respect. When used negatively, a nice guy implies a male who is unassertive, does not express his true feelings and, in the context of dating, dishonestly uses acts of ostensible friendship and basic social etiquette with the unstated aim of progressing to a romantic or sexual relationship.

Physical attractiveness degree to which a persons physical traits are considered aesthetically pleasing or beautiful

Physical attractiveness is the degree to which a person's physical features are considered aesthetically pleasing or beautiful. The term often implies sexual attractiveness or desirability, but can also be distinct from either. There are many factors which influence one person's attraction to another, with physical aspects being one of them. Physical attraction itself includes universal perceptions common to all human cultures, as well as aspects that are culturally and socially dependent, along with individual subjective preferences.

Eternal triangle

'In geometric terms, the eternal triangle can be represented as comprising three points – a jealous mate (A) in a relationship with an unfaithful partner (B) who has a lover (C)...A feels abandoned, B is between two mates, and C is a catalyst for crisis in the union A-B'. [7]

It has been suggested that 'a collusive network is always needed to keep the triangle eternal'. [8] This may take a tragic form – 'I saw no prospect of its ending except with death – the death of one of three people' [9] – or alternately a comic one: 'A man at the funeral of a friend's wife, with whom he has been carrying on an affair, breaks into tears and finally becomes hysterical, while the husband remains impassive. "Calm yourself," says the husband, "I'll be marrying again"'. [10]

Homosociality

It has been suggested that if men 'share a sense of brotherhood and they allow a woman into their relationship, an isosceles triangle is created' automatically, as 'in Truffaut's film Jules et Jim '. [11] René Girard has explored the role of envy and mimetic desire in such relationships, arguing that often the situation 'subordinates a desired something to the someone who enjoys a privileged relationship with it'. [12] In such cases, 'it cannot be fair to blame the quarrel of the mimetic twins on a woman....She is their common scapegoat'. [13]

Marital breakup

When a love triangle results in the breakup of a marriage, it may often be followed by what has been called 'the imposition of a "defilement taboo"...the emotional demand imposed by a jealous ex-mate...to eschew any friendly or supportive contact with the rival in the triangle' [14] The result is often to leave children gripped by 'shadows from the past...they often take sides. Their loyalties are torn', and – except in the best of cases – 'the one left "injured" can easily sway the feelings of the children against acknowledging this new relationship'. [15]

As to gender responsibility, evidence would seem to indicate that in late modernity both sexes may equally well play the part of the "Other Person" – that 'men and women love with equivalent passion as well as folly' [8] and that certainly there is nothing to 'suggest that a man is better able to control himself in a love triangle than a woman'. [16] Stereotypically, the person at the center of a rivalrous love triangle is a woman, whereas for a split-object love triangle it is a man, due to the same reasons that polygyny is far more common than polyandry.

Those who find themselves tempted to become the Other Man may, however, still find a cynic's advice from the 1930s pertinent on 'the emotional position of the adulterer, and why to avoid it...Did I know what a mug's game was? – No. – "A mug's game," he told me, "is breaking your back at midnight, trying to make another man's wife come'. [17]

In entertainment

Love triangles are a popular theme in entertainment, especially romantic fiction, including opera, romance novels, soap operas, romantic comedies, manga, tabloid talk shows, and popular music.

Fiction

Eric Berne termed that conflictual aspect of the love triangle "Let's You and Him Fight"; and considered "the psychology is essentially feminine. Because of its dramatic qualities, LYAHF is the basis of much of the world's literature, both good and bad". [18]

Young Adult literature has seen a rise in the popularity of the love triangle story structure (such as Twilight or The Selection ). But the love triangle story structure has been around since before early classic writers like William Shakespeare and Alexandre Dumas. Shakespeare's famous play Romeo and Juliet featured a love triangle between Juliet, Romeo, and Paris. Although more subtle, Dumas's classics The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers also feature love triangles strong enough to seek revenge and start a war.

Love triangles can either be relatively balanced, in which the two candidates each have a fair chance of ending up with the protagonist, or they can be lopsided, in which the hero or heroine has an obvious romantic interest in one of the candidates, and considers the other candidate as "just a friend", but withholds a confession to avoid hurting feelings. An example of this is in the Broadway hit musical Wicked, in which dim-witted Fiyero first displays affection for Glinda the Good Witch, but then falls for Elphaba, the supposedly Wicked Witch. But in this latter case, to provide necessary tension and drama, the second platonic candidate is also very often the hero or heroine's long-term boyfriend or girlfriend.[ citation needed ]

A less permanent love triangle occurs when a former lover of the main character makes an unexpected appearance to win back the character's heart, provoking feelings of jealousy from the main character's steady partner. However, this situation is usually not considered an actual love triangle since there is little possibility of the main character breaking up with a longtime partner to pursue a just-introduced character, and it is often used as only a test of the true depth of the main character's devotion to their partner. In these cases, the long-term partner has usually been guilty of neglect toward the main character and in the end the relationship remains intact with the long-term partner having learned some valuable lesson.

Television

Usually, a love triangle will end with the hero or heroine confiding their feelings in the suitor they feel is most virtuous or has the most interest in them. (As in Twilight .) The other suitor usually steps aside to allow the couple to be happy, or comes to terms with their feelings, often claiming they could not love the main character as much. Sometimes they are written out of the love equation entirely by falling in love with someone else, or being killed off or otherwise eliminated. While love triangles can be accused of being clichéd, if done well, they provide insight into the complexity of love and what is best to pursue in a romantic relationship.

In television shows, a love triangle is often prolonged, delaying final declarations of love between the pursued character and suitors that may prematurely end this dynamic or displease fans. Some examples of these include 90210 , Friends , The O.C. , How I Met Your Mother , The Vampire Diaries and Grey's Anatomy . Love triangles also featured prominently on soap operas, and can span more than a decade, as famously shown by Taylor Hamilton, Ridge Forrester and Brooke Logan on The Bold and the Beautiful . Another famous soap opera love triangle was the one that occurred on General Hospital between Luke Spencer, Laura Spencer, and Scotty Baldwin. Similarly, romance films also sustain this set-up until near the film's end, although they tend to establish a more clear-cut conclusion to the romantic entanglements than in long-running TV shows.[ citation needed ]

The love triangle has been a recurring subject in many popular songs through the years. These "love triangle songs" include, but are not limited to:

Bob Dylan provides a violent outcome to "the sexual intrigues of Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts, in their various ménage à trois manifestations". [19]

Real life

Ménage à trois

A love triangle should not be confused with a ménage à trois, a three-way relationship in which either all members are romantically involved with each other, or one member has relations with two others who are reconciled to the situation instead of being in conflict. Ménage à trois is French and directly translates to "household for three" meaning it is usually composed of a "married couple and a lover...who live together while sharing sexual relations". This differs from a love triangle because each participant is equally motivated purely by sexual desires. The ménage à trois may be considered a subset of 'The Sandwich...a straight three-handed operation...which may be operated with any assortment of sexes: three men, three women, two men and a woman ("Ménage à trois"), or two women and a man ("The Tourist Sandwich")'. [22]

There is also the possibility of 'a ménage à trois powered by the passion of hatred'. [23] [ further explanation needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

Love encompasses a range of strong and positive emotional and mental states, from the most sublime virtue or good habit, the deepest interpersonal affection and to the simplest pleasure. An example of this range of meanings is that the love of a mother differs from the love of a spouse, which differs from the love of food. Most commonly, love refers to a feeling of strong attraction and emotional attachment.

Romantic comedy Film genre

Romantic comedy is a genre with lighthearted, humorous plot lines centered on romantic ideas, such as how true love is able to surmount most obstacles. One dictionary definition is "a funny movie, play, or television program about a love story that ends happily". Another definition suggests that its "primary distinguishing feature is a love plot in which two sympathetic and well-matched lovers are united or reconciled".

Deanna Troi fictional character from Star Trek

Commander Deanna Troi is a main character in the science-fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and related TV series and films, portrayed by actress Marina Sirtis. Troi is half-human, half-Betazoid and has the psionic ability to sense emotions. She serves as the ship's counselor on USS Enterprise-D. Throughout most of the series, she holds the rank of lieutenant commander. In the seventh season, however, Troi takes the bridge officer's examination and is promoted to the rank of commander, but continues as counselor. Deanna and Riker were the last Star Trek: The Next Generation main cast members to appear on television in the 2005 finale of the later Star Trek: Enterprise TV show, until Patrick Stewart announced he would return to the role of Jean-Luc Picard in 2019 in Star Trek: Picard. Deanna appears in all four TNG theatrical films, and also in three episodes of Star Trek: Voyager.

Threesome sexual activity that involves three people at the same time

In human sexuality, a threesome is sexual activity that involves three people at the same time. Threesome can also refer to a love triangle, a three-way romantic relationship. Though threesome is most commonly applied to a casual sexual activity involving sexual activity among three participants, a threesome may also be found in a long-term domestic relationship, such as polyamory or a ménage à trois.

Romance (love) Type of love that focuses on feelings

Romance is an emotional feeling of love for, or a strong attraction towards another person, and the courtship behaviors undertaken by an individual to express those overall feelings and resultant emotions.

<i>Ménage à trois</i> Romantic relationship with three partners

A ménage à trois is a domestic arrangement in which three people have romantic and/or sexual relations with one another, typically occupying the same household. A form of polyamory, contemporary arrangements are sometimes identified as a throuple, thruple. or triad.

Troilism refers to sexual activity in which three persons take part simultaneously.

Infatuation or being smitten is the state of being carried away by an unreasoned passion, usually towards another person for whom one has developed strong romantic or platonic feelings.

The triangular theory of love is a theory of love developed by Robert Sternberg, a member of the Psychology Department at Yale University. During his time as a professor, Sternberg emphasized his research in the fields of intelligence, creativity, wisdom, leadership, thinking styles, ethical reasoning, love, and hate. In the context of interpersonal relationships, "the three components of love, according to the triangular theory, are an intimacy component, a passion component, and a decision/commitment component."

Non-monogamy is an umbrella term for every practice or philosophy of intimate relationship that does not strictly hew to the standards of monogamy, particularly that of having only one person with whom to exchange sex, love, and affection. In that sense, "nonmonogamy" may be as accurately applied to infidelity and extramarital sex as to group marriage or polyamory.

Verbal abuse is the act of forcefully criticizing, insulting, or denouncing another person. Characterized by underlying anger and hostility, it is a destructive form of communication intended to harm the self-concept of the other person and produce negative emotions. Verbal abuse is a maladaptive mechanism that anyone can display occasionally, such as during times of high stress or physical discomfort. For some people, it is a pattern of behaviors used intentionally to control or manipulate others or to get revenge.

"Ménage à Troi" is the 24th episode of the third season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the 72nd episode of the series overall.

<i>The Berlin Affair</i> 1985 film by Liliana Cavani

The Berlin Affair is a 1985 Italo-German film, directed by Liliana Cavani and starring Gudrun Landgrebe, Kevin McNally and Mio Takaki. Set in Berlin, 1938, it sees the wife of a rising Nazi diplomat fall in love with Mitsuko Matsugae, the daughter of the Japanese ambassador and an artist. Her husband finds out, and moves to break up the affair. However he soon falls in love with Mitsuko himself, leading to the intervention of officials higher in the system. The film is based upon the novel Quicksand by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki.

A girlfriend is a female friend or acquaintance, often a regular female companion with whom one is platonic, romantically or sexually involved. The analogous male term is "boyfriend".

Unrequited love love that is not openly reciprocated or understood as such

Unrequited love or one-sided love is love that is not openly reciprocated or understood as such by the beloved. The beloved may not be aware of the admirer's deep and strong romantic affection, or may consciously reject it. The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary defines unrequited as "not reciprocated or returned in kind".

Courtship in the Philippines

Traditional courtship in the Philippines is described as a "far more subdued and indirect" approach compared to Western or Westernized cultures. It involves "phases" or "stages" inherent to Philippine society and culture. Evident in courtship in the Philippines is the practice of singing romantic love songs, reciting poems, writing letters, and gift-giving. This respect extends to the Filipina's family members. The proper rules and standards in traditional Filipino courtship are set by Philippine society.

<i>Ménage à 3</i> (webcomic) webcomic published since 2008

Ménage à 3 is a webcomic published by Pixie Trix Comix and created by artist Gisele Lagace & Dave Lumsdon, known as Giz and Dave Zero. It was started on May 16, 2008, and ended on April 9, 2019. Set in Montreal, Canada, the webcomic follows the lives and adventures of three roommates in their attempts to find love, success and the pleasures of life. Ménage à 3 is consistently rated amongst the top 50 webcomics annually and has enjoyed success in print in addition to online.

Color wheel theory of love conceptual model in psychology illustrating a theory of love

The color wheel theory of love is an idea created by Canadian psychologist John Alan Lee that describes six styles of love, using several of the Latin and Greek words for love. First introduced in his book Colours of Love: An Exploration of the Ways of Loving (1973), Lee defines three primary, three secondary and nine tertiary love styles, describing them in terms of the traditional color wheel. The three primary types are eros, ludus and storge, and the three secondary types are mania, pragma and agape.

References

  1. R. P. Abelson/R. C. Schank, Beliefs, Reasoning, and Decision-Making (1994), p. 223.
  2. A. Pam/J. Pearson, Splitting Up (1998), p. 149.
  3. Deidre Johnson, Love: Bondage or Liberation (London, 2010) p. 6.
  4. David Cooper, The Death of the Family (Penguin 1974) p. 49
  5. 1 2 Johnson, p. 6
  6. Robin Skynner/John Cleese, Families and How to Survive Them (1994) p. 268-9
  7. Pam/Pearson, p. 148
  8. 1 2 Pam/Pearson, p. 166
  9. Rose Macaulay, The Towers of Trebizond (1990) p. 66
  10. G. Legman, Rationale of the Dirty Joke Vol II (1973) p. 400
  11. Rebecca L. Copeland ed., Woman Critiqued (2006) p. 228
  12. René Girard, A Theatre of Envy (Oxford 1991) p. 4
  13. Girard, p. 323-4
  14. Pam/Pearson, p. 168
  15. Virginia Satir, Peoplemaking (1983) p. 181-4
  16. Copeland, p. 47
  17. Legman, p. 432-3
  18. Eric Berne, Games People Play (Penguin) p. 108
  19. Neil Corcoran ed., Do You, Mr Jones? (London 2002) p. 55
  20. Hermione Lee, Virginia Woolf (London 1996) p. 381 and p. 540
  21. Quoted in W. Isaacson, Einstein (2007) p. 361
  22. Eric Berne, Sex in Human Loving (1970) p. 173
  23. Belinda Sterling, The Journal of Dora Damage (London 2007) p. 190