Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Why Have One When You Can Have Two? Or Four?

I've got a little bit of a hot topic issue today I wanted to talk about. My previous rant of a discussion book dealt with book shaming and today's topic peripherally deals with this. That topic? Love triangles/ship switching/multiple love interests. Listen. I get it. To an extent. I'm sure there are numerous books out there with love triangles gone wrong or brought about solely for drama and not legitimate character development. I'm not here to talk about those books. What I'm here to talk about is the rabid reaction and proverbial pitchforks that are enacted when *gasp* a character's feelings or circumstances change and she starts to become romantically involved with a man different from the one that was initially introduced. This...is a...bad thing...?


Personally, real life or fiction, who wouldn't want multiple hot, smart, amazing guys to choose from? I volunteer as tribute for this cross to bear! Pick me, love me, choose me! Ok, I'm done with book and TV references...maybe. But for real, superficial reasons addressed first and now put aside, having options is never a bad thing. Relationships, romantic or platonic, change as we grow up. And we do. We grow up. We change. We go through things. We have experiences that change our perspective of a situation. We mature and have different opinions and goals and ideas and ambitions that may or may not align with our 'first love.' So...what? I'm supposed to be stuck with this person for the REST OF MY LIFE because he happen to be the first guy I came across that sparked my interest? Hell to the f'ing no!

Of all the people I've met, I know ONE person who ended up with their high school boyfriend and that is the exception not the rule. How lucky people are to have met their soulmate on the first go. I envy you, truly I do. But real life--for the most part--doesn't work that way. I like my books fictional yet realistic. Most people do not stay with their first love nor do we judge people for breaking up with somebody at 16, 17, 18, 20, 25, 30 or older. You break up because something isn't working and we all deserve to be happy and fulfilled in relationships. So if it isn't working, pull a Frozen and let it go. Do we not give advice to our friends to get out if their partner isn't treating them right?
We wouldn't have those rigid expectations for ourselves or people we know, so why do we have them for book characters? I personally really love books that make situations realistic. It's not realistic to believe we will spend forever and find our soul mate connection with the first person we have feelings for. And if we were stuck with them because they came first?...I would be fucked in the worst way. I don't know about you guys but the first guy I liked treated me like dog shit and I thank fuck for options and the ability to walk away. So why are people so opposed to our favorite characters doing the same? Don't we want what is best for them?

I don't know about you but my feelings are complex, steeped in areas of gray, and ever-changing depending on the situation. Nothing is ever black and white to me so why do we expect our beloved characters to have such rigid and unchanging emotions. The best books to me show character growth and change and maturity. They learn from previous mistakes and situations they've been put in and because of that they need different things in a partner, just like we all do.

Look, I'm-kind-of-not-really-but-a-little-bit-sorry to be a bitch and say this but psh, when has that ever stopped me? Here's my truth: I find the abhorrence of love triangles and ship switching to be really immature, short-sighted and truly crosses the line of slut-shaming. To completely discredit a book you haven't even read based on an assumption of a second potential love interest is absolutely ridiculous to me. To slam a book because the characters have different feelings than what you expected to happen is not your call to make (...in my humble opinion...). I mean, you do you. Let the authors do them and give their characters the justice they need to serve. And let the characters have the ability to make mistakes and grow and choose their own choices, too. I get that some people could say books are still fiction but that is really not the point to me. The point is that I look for characters and books that show strength and fluidity and change, not rigidity, unfeeling, emotionless robots who just do what they're 'supposed to do.' How not fun is that to read?
As with my previous discussion post, if you're offended by this post, I'm not going to apologize because you're probably guilty of above said behavior. You are completed entitled to your opinion but my purpose for writing this is to encourage people to read with an open mind and understand that character's feelings and journeys, like our own, are filled with multiple relationships, mistakes, changing feelings, and growing pains. Give characters and authors the respect you would give yourself or your friends.

What do you think?
Do you like your characters to be realistic and have multiple relationships and growth?

28 comments:

  1. This. ALL OF THIS! Just like our taste in books change as we grow and develop as people so do our feelings for people. For me I have no problem with triangles or long interest changes if they have to do with the growth of the character. I may not always love the new love interest but if I feel it takes place organically in a story I'm all in.

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    1. Thank you, Andi!!! You are so right that we as the reader might not like them but it doesn't mean that it's not the best choice for the characters as long as it's done organically! So true!

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  2. This is such a brilliant post, thank you for writing it!
    I am a fan of multiple love interests as long as that isn't all the book focuses on - I like the romantic tension to come with more of a story, unless it's really well written. However, sometimes I think authors have too much pressure from readers about who the character should end up with, so they go with the popular choice rather than the right choice (no spoilers on who she ends up with, but I'm primarily thinking of the Shadow and Bone trilogy).

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    1. Thank you so, so, so much!! I feel the same, I don't want only romance or relationship drama but to come about because of other events as well. Sometimes. Pure romance is also a love of mine so I can't say 'always' lol! I agree! Which is actually another reason I don't hate love triangles that if its right for the character that is what matters. Not popular opinion.

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  3. I agree! Sure, I get tired of seeing love triangles all the time (esp in YA) but to me it's realistic because we CAN change and DO change. I've been with my husband since I was 15, which is rare I know, but I've seen my friends/family move on from relationships from a younger age so why can't characters in books?

    Honestly, I think a lot of this has to do with REAL LIFE things in their OWN life.

    Anyway, great post! I'm glad you put yourself out there!

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    1. First of all, go YOU for having a great relationship for so long! My best friend from college is similar to you, been with her husband since they were freshman and while it's not the norm it does work for some people! I do envy them (and you) for getting it right right away. And YES to the real life things in their own life. I also don't think people like to see life imitate art and it hits a chord. And thank youuuuu! Wasn't easy to write but I felt strongly it needed to be said :)

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  4. I totally get your point about most people not ending up with the first or even second person they fall in love with or have feelings for, it's just not realistic and something that has always bothered me about YA.

    I would like to think I'm neutral about this situation. I only read SJM's first series up to Crown of Midnight then lost interest (not because of the direction of the romance, it's just one of those series I've lost interest in) and I haven't read her other series so I have no 'teams.'

    I don't think there is anything wrong at all with having more than one relationship in your lifetime not at all. The thing that bothers me about this argument of this character (sorry, I don't know her name) being allowed to have options is that I feel it's one sided. I'm curious if readers would feel the same way if a guy was caught up in a love...shape with 4-5 different girls. And not just a book guy, but a real life guy. If a guy in real life told me that he has feelings for me, but might also have feelings for 3 other girls, I would tell him to fuck off. We always give guys that sleep around so much shit for being manwhores, if it's okay for girls to have options then it should be okay for guy to have options too...

    I don't think anyone is saying everyone is stuck with the person they first fall in love with or that they should stay in a relationship even if it's toxic... and I do think that some readers have an extreme reaction when it comes to love triangles...but then again, it's up to them. They have every right to hate love triangles just as much as other readers have a right to like them or love them.

    I don't mind cheating in books, but I of course wouldn't be okay with cheating in real life. I despise kids in books, but obviously not in real life. If people hate cheating in books and love kids in books, then oh well. It doesn't have to be about what you believe in, sometimes it can just simply be about book preferences...

    Like you said, readers should have an open mind when it comes to reading books. We should also have an open mind about other people's opinions on books. :)

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    1. Hey girl! How ya been?! That is a really interesting point to make about the opinion people would have if it was a guy. Personally, I wouldn't care either way. Men are as complicated in their feelings as women and I think everyone deserves to end up with somebody that fulfills them and makes them happy. I used to hate cheating books, too! But all it takes is one book to do it right to change your opinion which is where I was coming from as well. Never say never. Take each book for its own individual story and not judge off the bat. And EXACTLY, an open mind, that's exactly what I was going for. And you can still choose not to read it because of 'X' element but I dislike seeing 'reviews' on Goodreads from people who haven't read it and shun it because of 'X' element. It's not fair to readers, authors, or the book. Don't read it, have your preference, but don't go on blast about a book you haven't read because you think it has some element you don't like.

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  5. I prefer to have one couple to stand behind and ship and love and all that. But logically I get that most couples don't get that HEA post-high school/teen years. The exception being my parents (started dating at age 17, married at 19 and this December will be 45 years they've been married).

    I like that idea of a HEA. It's what I prefer to read. But raking an author over the coals because a character changes and grows out of a fictional relationship is beyond crazy to me.

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    1. Congrats to Mom and Dad! That's awesome! And that's my main point in what you said second. Fine, don't read it. But don't judge it and publicly shit on it just because it's not something YOU want to read.

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  6. I LOVE this post, and completely stand by every point you make. How can an author show character growth WITHOUT these kinds of things changing? Relationships are something in your life that you have total control over, so if a person--or character--has a change of heart about something or someone, why wouldn't the person they're with change? Why wouldn't they listen to their own hearts and/or minds?
    Of course, HEA's can be just as realistic and normal, and I love those just as much. I really do. All I am hoping for when it comes to relationships is that they feel organic, make me swoon, and add something of value to the story and to the characters around them. In real life, one of the most satisfying things personally is to find your PERSON after lots of searching. Fictional characters deserve this too! And authors certainly don't deserve to be crapped on because they include it in their books.
    Understanding that relationships change over time and appreciating that feelings are complicated doesn't make me stupid, as I've seen triangles called just today, or full of bullshit (ditto). Don't get me wrong: sometimes I hate when this happens, and sometimes I struggle. But it's LIFE, so I'll deal with it, and keep reading with an open mind.
    xoxo

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    1. Yes to all of this! We all go through so much in our lives and experience so much it's not only difficult to find a partner who fits but its completely logical to take a few tries to find that person who you can fit and fits you WITH all your own experiences and POV into it.

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  7. "A few weeks ago I saw some distressing tweets shaming people for their reasons for reading. Acca-excuse me? No, seriously. There was a discussion I saw that basically shamed people for reading and enjoying books based solely on the romance/relationships in the book. Are you fucking kidding me? What the fuck is it to anybody the reasons why people read or love a certain book. If you wanna read solely for the romance, you rock on. If you only want to read non-fiction historical books, do your thing. I cannot even tell you the red I saw when seeing tweets about this because how dare anybody try to put another person down for their reasons for reading. It's rude, classless, and a shitty thing to do to somebody.

    You don't have to defend your reasons for reading."

    Whether or not it was your intent, I feel like you are trying to shame me for avoiding love triangles, in the same vein that you felt upset by the tweets you refer to above. I actively and unapologetically avoid love triangles and ship switching doesn't work for me either. I've tested both out with numerous books and have had disastrous results. I feel ill when I encounter either, and to me it’s not worth the pain of experiencing more of them.

    But even if I had no experience with triangles, it's my right to read or not read whatever I want. When I read your post above, it seems like you're telling me that my choice not to read about triangles means that I am "immature and slut-shaming" as well as "sexist." (does this mean that me not wanting to ever be in a love triangle makes me that way too?) I respect that you love love triangles and ship switching etc. That is your right and there are lots of books out there that offer that, but then what is wrong with me wanting to avoid them? Why can't we have different opinions and still like and respect each other? I know this isn't a personal attack on me, but as someone who has a blog that is called Love is Not a Triangle, it starts to feel that way. I would love for you to clarify what you mean when you say I am slut-shaming by my personal choices of what to read or what not to read.

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    1. Thanks for checking out my other post, Lauren! However, I stand by both my posts and I don't believe I shamed anybody in my post today. To quote myself once again I also said, "You are completed entitled to your opinion but my purpose for writing this is to encourage people to read with an open mind" as well as "you do you." The previous quotes are from today's posts. You can read whatever books you like and not read whichever books you choose and that's great. My problem and foundation for writing this post comes from this paragraph with "To completely discredit a book you haven't even read based on an assumption of a second potential love interest is absolutely ridiculous to me. To slam a book because the characters have different feelings than what you expected to happen is not your call to make (...in my humble opinion...)." because seeing people 'review' books on Goodreads before they're out or when they haven't even read them and continue to talk about them and discredit them for an element they personally don't like is wrong to me. It's unfair to the book, the author, and potential future readers. You don't want to read a book because it has 'X' element, fine, don't read it but also don't publicly debase the book based on something you personally don't agree with when for somebody else it could really work for them. Please note I used the word publicly there as to not be confused with me shaming you personally.

      If you took it as a personal affront that is your perception and I cannot change that. I'm not slut shaming your personal choice, I'm simply saying that characters, like real women, are allowed to have changing feelings and emotions and relationships. You continue to read and not read what you like and I'll do the same. My post was about being more open-minded and understanding of character and if you find offense in that, that wasn't my intent.

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  8. I really do get tired of love triangles, but that's because I see them in books ALL THE TIME. I want to see a different dynamic every once in a while. I loved the way the love triangle was handled in the first Selection Series book. She flat out says she won't choose one or the other right away, because she needs to do something FOR HER. Heck YES. Recognize that feeling something for two people at the same time and not understanding it is normal, and you SHOULD think of yourself first. How can you commit to someone as much as you should with an undecided heart?

    Have you read One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid? She tackles the emotions behind how relationships change and evolve as WE change. It's beautifully done.

    But seriously, I love everything you said here. I didn't end up with my first boyfriend. He wasn't a bad guy, we just grew up at different speeds. The guy I did marry is the BEST one. (I mean, obviously.) But it doesn't take away from my past relationships and the effect they had on me as the person I was at those times of my life.

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    1. Yes! I LOVED The Selection and how it was handled and I ADORED One True Loves! Have you read Maybe in Another Life by her? It's a similar theme and it is so, so good! And I feel like I need to point out I don't seek out love triangles, lol, but if they happen and it's organic to the story, I don't hate it. I just love character growth and either seeing people grow together or each find somebody who fits them better.

      Yesssss to what you said about your own relationships! It doesn't diminish that first love, it's still special and real but we grow and more likely than not while growing up, grow apart sometimes. Life happens! Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment!

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    2. Um... Yes. Haha. I'm a total TRJ fangirl. I've read everything by her!

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  9. I understand the frustration of love triangles and ships and everything about this post; like I feel ya. But to say that not reading a book because of a ship change is WORSE than slutshaming? now that's a little too far. The way I see it, not reading a book with a ship change is a personal choice. I'm not doing harm to anyone by my actions whereas slut shaming, well, obviously you know what that means. Honestly, to put them on the same level is actually quite hurtful to people like me, who just want to read what we want to. I respect this post and agree with a lot of it! I just don't think it's fair to say "you're wrong!" For someone choosing/not choosing to read a book.

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    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comment! Nowhere did I say it was worse or you're wrong. I say that I would like people to read with an open mind and not discredit a book because of a rumored 'x' element. I say 'you do you' in this post and I stand by it. Read what you want and don't read what you want. I just don't like to see people publicly slamming a book they haven't read because of something they think happens in it.

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    2. I definitely agree with Nova here. I don't mind love triangles and changing relationships in my books, but I find the bold sentence in paragraph six (that you find disliking triangles and switching ships to be immature and slut-shamey) problematic in that it's shaming specific readers for their preferences. We all have our tastes, and while yes, real-life relationships are complicated and evolve (and so do book 'ships), sometimes you really want two characters to be together and that's it. It's GOOD to have books that reflect reality, but it's also good to have books that provide an escape from that reality. There's a billion dollar industry based on romantic escapism, and it's worth that much because there's so much out there tailored to readers' tastes. I want to add that if the books you're reading that contain a romance without a triangle feature emotionless robotic characters, we need to find you some better books! There are great books that contain romances between two characters and great books that contain romances with multiple characters. I've read many of each, but I can't be upset at someone else for wanting to read one or the other. It's like I love both cheese and pepperoni pizza, but I can't fault someone for preferring one over the other. At the end of the day, what they eat is their business and so is what they read.

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  10. I love when stories are realistic and the love triangle feels like a natural progression, like the ship-switch in ACOMAF! I just finished reading today and can't even deal with how much I love Rhysand. ANYWAYS as much as I love YA books, it's hard to think that the teens are going to be together forever. More power to them if they are! But you're right - people absolutely change and grow, especially in those years, and people should read what they want. I have no issues with love triangles when the guys appeal to different parts of the girl's personality. It makes sense to me that you'd be exploring all of your options! Cheating doesn't bother me much either. I love a good HEA but I also can love a character's personal growth/development MORE.

    I prefer reading books that feel real. Sometimes the triangles can hurt if it's not the person you're rooting for but the main character is really the one I want to be happy by the end of it. I was involved in love triangles in the past and sometimes you just can't help how you feel!

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    1. Thanks so much for your incredibly thoughtful comment, Lauren! I agree with everything you said! If it works for the book and the charcters, I am all about it! And when it deals with character growth (ACOMAF!!!!!!!!!!!! I DIE I'M SO EXCITED TO HEAR YOU LOVED IT!) it is on another level of amazing to me! Totally sucks when you're ship doesn't prevail, happened to me a bunch of time but upon further thought I agreed with what was best for the character, and hey, leftovers for me! :)

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  11. I honestly do not mind love-triangles. Actually a recent favorite read had a huge love triangle and I loved every single bit about it.

    I totally get that some people don't like them and why... what I DO NOT like is when people find out that there is a love triangle and totally pan a book that they haven't even read simply because of the direction a plot or relationship will go. That totally makes me see red.

    I can admit I'm a HUGE Shipper... Like don't even get me started on some of the books that have crushed my soul lately because I don't want to admit that these couples have moved on, but I also understand that life isn't stagnant and it happens as much as I don't want it to.

    My takeaway here - we as readers should be more open-minded an accepting of an author's path for their characters. (FINE Kelly I'll read those books I was waiting on because my ship sunk!LOL)

    heart you~!

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    1. "what I DO NOT like is when people find out that there is a love triangle and totally pan a book that they haven't even read simply because of the direction a plot or relationship will go. That totally makes me see red."<---Yes, this! Actually, ban the book mentally and choose your choice but don't go on Goodreads and rate and then ruin the book for potential readers. It should be a case by case basis. READ THOSE BOOKS JAMIE I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT!!! ((((HUGS)))

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  12. While I respectfully disagree with you that disliking love triangles is borderline slut-shaming, I do agree with you point that it's totally fine to have love triangles and multiple love interests. I especially think this is true if there are multiple love interests *across* a series, such as in the Throne of Glass series. As you said, it can be used to show how much a character has grown, changed, and developed if done well. I think what most people dislike is the tacky, shoddy love triangle a la Twilight that comes to mind when someone says "love triangle." But many people who say they hate love triangles will contradict themselves in the same breath by saying "except for the *good* ones, like in The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare." So maybe we don't all hate the *thing* itself so much as the *idea* and more so the idea we, ourselves, have *created.* Anyhoo. That's just my two cents. Thanks for getting me thinking!

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    1. Hey, that's cool! Thanks for being respectful, first of all! Totally agree with you about the Throne of Glass series, the progression and direction that series goes is so brilliant to me and I love everything about it! Yeah, I really didn't want to point out bad love triangles because I KNOW they can go so, so wrong and ruin the reputation of other ones that are done really well or handled realistically. Lol to 'I hate this!...but..." I just like to take every book by a case by case basis and never say never! I am SO ecstatic I got you thinking! Main purpose of my post was to get people thinking about being more open-minded if they fell into that ban of certain books. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! :)

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    1. Thank you so, so much, Nicole!! I'm glad you enjoyed reading it :)

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