Feeling bored of your life, your wife, your boyfriend? Maybe it’s time for a love triangle...
One of my recent emails was about a little love triangle I experienced in college. I was delighted at how many people replied to that email, telling me about similar experiences.
The first love triangle I experienced was platonic. Me and my two best friends in preschool loved each other too much. Sometimes it would make us cry! We would tease boys on the playground, of course, but we loved each other best. The jealousy I felt when I saw my two friends speaking alone motivated me to grow closer to each of them.
In architecture, the triangle is the most stable shape; it is capable of carrying great loads. A relationship between two people is like a karate class test, a board between two blocks of cement: easily broken with enough force. Have you ever tried to break a pyramid with the side of your hand?
A love triangle is only so stable if all three people are connected. That’s why it’s much more fun to flirt with two boys who are best friends. You watch them get a little competitive, balancing their love for each other against their desire for you. If they didn’t love each other, the tension just wouldn’t be the same.
Adding a new person to the mix can be dangerous. Will they be the force that breaks the two of you apart? Or will the three of you bond, stronger than before? Maybe one person wins, maybe the other loses… Or maybe all three of you fuck and you get to watch the two of them exploring each other through you.
There are endless examples of love triangles in pop culture, especially in French cinema. The second Godard film I ever watched was Une Femme Est Une Femme. Angéla, the titular femme, wants to have children, but her boyfriend, Émile, does not. Her boyfriend’s best friend, who has been nursing a crush on Angéla for a long time, says he would be happy to get her pregnant. She plays the two men against each other, with loads of smoldering romantic tension. I won’t spoil the movie, for those of you who haven’t seen it, but it is an absolute classic.
Y tu mamá tambien, a Mexican film from 2001, is another classic love triangle movie. It features two boys, best friends, who are enamored with an older woman. They all go on a road trip together, fraught with tension. The two boys have a friendship that is weighed down by class differences, jealousy, and different life paths… Can their friendship survive the pressure of a love triangle? It is an incredibly sexy movie, beautifully shot.
Intimacy between men is growing less stigmatized than it was in the past, but people still pass judgement when they see men who are best friends. It’s normal for women to have a best friend, a closest confidant. Perhaps it’s the taboo of that masculine intimacy that makes me so excited to penetrate it; I’m never as excited to flirt with two women who are best friends.
I’ve been a part of many love triangles over the years; in fact, I’m usually involved in so many different affairs, entanglements, relationships, and marriages, that it’s not uncommon for me to be juggling three or more love triangles at once! Sometimes they are moody and painful, often they are just fun.
This boy I used to date always knew how to heighten the tension on our nights together. We’d go to a karaoke bar together and he’d start to flirt with the most annoying man in the room, glancing over at me as he did it. I’d walk over, huffy, like a jealous boyfriend, and snatch him away. Then I’d kiss him while he smiled mischievously.
When a love triangle gets competitive, the person at the apex of the love triangle usually has the most fun. It’s hot to feel people competing over you. But sometimes, it’s even more arousing for the people doing the competing. I had a fling in San Francisco with a boy who would fuck me the hardest after I told him he was attracted to one of his friends. After that, I would do whatever I could to invite that friend over, sit next to him on the couch, invent excuses for him to touch me. This same boy would lose it when I came over to his place after an escort booking, the scent of another man still on me. The look he would give me as he came was a mixture of jealousy, fear, lust, and yearning love.
I had coffee recently with a friend in a love triangle.
“I think I’m in love with someone else,” she told me, nervously playing with the ridge of her paper coffee cup, “Or no, love isn’t the right word. Just sexually obsessed. I can’t stop thinking about him.”
“Who is it?” I asked.
“Some guy at work. He was someone I hadn’t spent much time with before, but last month we went on a business trip together. We were spending almost every day together and I felt guilty about how much I enjoyed it. It was just the two of us getting breakfast and dinner together most days. I started daydreaming that we were dating. I thought he was into me, too, but I wasn’t sure. We got drunk together and I almost made a move on him… but the most I ended up doing was resting my head on his shoulder as we took a taxi home. I felt so guilty after, but still get all riled up whenever I think about him.”
She seemed distressed, so I put my coffee down on the table and took her hand.
“Are you ok?”
She started crying.
“I don’t think I am. It’s so painful. I never thought I would be the type of person who would lie to my husband. And I hardly even know this guy. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
“Do you think it’s just because you’re unhappy in your relationship? You did just spend the last twenty minutes complaining about him.”
She sighed and looked past me out the window. I followed her gaze and saw two children hitting each other with balloons and laughing. I looked back to my friend and she was still staring.
“I don’t know,” she said, “It was so intimate. We were just so present together, talking about work or our lives basically the whole time, not looking at our phones or binging Netflix shows. It reminded me of how X and I were when we started dating.”
“Why don’t you just go for it?” I asked and her eyes shot back to me. “If X has been distant lately, maybe you need it.”
“You don’t think it’s wrong?” Her voice was pained.
“It’s not my place to judge,” I said, not telling her that X had been bragging to me just the month before that he was cheating with a girl he met on Tinder.
She took a sip of her coffee and frowned.
“What if this guy isn’t even into me? Or what if he falls in love with me and it causes drama? Or the other way around? He’s got a girlfriend…” Her voice trailed off and she started picking at her cuticle.
“Yeah,” I said, “There’s a lot of ways it could go wrong. But maybe it could just be a fun fling too.”
We looked back outside at the kids, who were sitting on a bench now, restlessly kicking their feet.
“I guess so,” she said.
The instability of a love triangle can eventually bring a relationship to its knees. I think it’s not necessarily the love triangle itself that breaks people apart, but the issues it forces to the surface, like scum on the top of a boiling pot of broth coalescing in the heat. Tread carefully, love openly, and you can bring a beautiful and passionate clarity to your relationship. But be prepared to watch it boil over, too.