What becomes startlingly clear is that we like the triangles where there is a single girl. Not two. We prefer seeing a girl fought over by two guys, not a guy fought over by two girls. I would debate the need to fight over another human beings (or alien/supernatural being) affections in the first place but I get sucked in like everyone else. After mulling this gender inequality over, I began to realise that there are a couple of reasons we are drawn to the two guys over one girl scenario more.
I don’t know about some of you but I didn’t have one guy that was really into me during high school, let alone two. It’s a situation foreign to me so it is nice to read a story and experience what it might be like to be sought after that much. It’s contemporary fantasy if you really think about it.
The prime example of this is Bella. The girl doesn’t have a lot going on except that she has a vampire and a werewolf both wanting her limpid self. Take all that away and she’s a klutz with no people skills, no personality and no drive.
When there are two guys fighting over a girl, we get to experience that through the eyes of the protagonist. We are injected into the story and the struggle thus we find ourselves the one being fought over. It played into our need to be liked, possibly loved, enough that a guy would put himself on the line to declare himself. It is a rush because it brings a sense of worth and importance to the reader.
Yet when there are two girls, our perspective is through one of the girls, not the guy in the middle. In this situation we empathise with one more than the other. Usually the other is shallow, mean or promiscuous and is created to act as a foil for the protagonist. It is always clear that she isn’t the one for the guy (in our protagonist’s eyes anyway) and so there is less emotional investment in the choice and more in the other girl’s mean machinations. It’s less about the feelings and more about the shenanigans.
There is an example to this when it is two sisters fighting over a guy. This immediately rankles me, it’s a predicament that reflects poorly on the sisters in the end. I similarly dislike it when two brothers fight over a girl - I think the person in the middle should stop messing with families (with an exception to The Vampire Diaries.)
Girls have to choose between the guy next door and the bad boy but her choices are usually more than the cliché. When it comes to a guy choosing between the protagonist and the other girl, only one of the choices is well fleshed out and the other is a cardboard, slightly evil cut out. Even if the other girl is the protagonist’s best friend, the author tends to make the BF do really nasty things to make the protagonist more empathetic. The wrong choice’s role is to spotlight how right the protagonist is.
As much as we might like a sensitive guy, we like to know that our guy is capable of stepping up to the plate. Seeing two guys butt heads screams testosterone and makes our hearts race. Jealousy usually plays a huge part in the aggression that comes out and with the declaration of true feelings. There’s nothing like a threat to make a dude clear on his feelings for a gal...in YA anyway.
Seeing two girls fight over a guy is less dignified. This isn’t fair but if Jerry Springer showed us anything, it’s that two woman fighting is nasty and a bit of a spectacle. It’s never pleasant and never makes either player look good. There is a general perception that fighting over a guy is lowering one’s self yet we have no problem if it goes the other way. It’s desperate if a girl fights, noble and kind hot when a guy does. This isn’t fair.
You might be thinking that this isn’t true but how often do you see the word team followed by a chick’s name? For me, the last time was in People with Team Aniston or Team Jolie...not even a YA circumstance. Yet we see tee shirts for YA literature and television everywhere. Our loyalties are to the guy heavy triangle.
I don’t want this to become a gender issue. The reason we are so vocal on Teams in YA triangles is for one reason. We want the protagonist to choose the right guy...for her. Sometimes we get confused and like the right guy...for us. But regardless of your team leanings, remember discussion about any literature is always a good thing. But should you find yourself naming your child after your team focus, forgetting he’s fictional or practising signing your signature with his surname...it’s time to get a life!
Team Gale defence here.