Love Shapes in Dramas: Line, Triangle, Square

 Howdy friends, 

Some love them – some hate them: love triangles and other shapes of that sort. I’m one of those who dislike most love triangles, and I often see people ask: How can you dislike them when they are in nearly every romance drama?“

But the point is: there is more than one kind of love triangle. And then there are not only triangles but also other shapes like squares. Furthermore, other factors influence the intensity of those. Some shapes I hate, some I don‘t mind, and some I even like.

So in this article, I want to introduce and – more or less – analyse which kinds of love constellations there are in romance dramas and point out my thoughts and preferences. Of course, this article is completely subjective since this is all based on my own watchlist and personal opinion.

This article contains spoilers about the love constellation of the following dramas: AI Romantic, Barrack O’karma, Jealousy Incarnate, Once We Get Married, Miss No Good, Hanazakari No Kimitachi e, The Tasty Florida, Light On Me, Million Yen Women, and Only Just Married. Be aware.

I’ll leave other characters aside and focus on the Main Leads and Second Leads only. 

Let’s have a look! 😉


(2 people involved)

My tolerance level: ● ● ● ● ●

This one is the easiest and rarest of them all, I guess. There is no love rival in sight at all. Either the drama focuses on 2 individuals only, or the Second Leads (SL) form up to a side couple and leave the Main Leads alone from early on. I honestly haven’t seen many dramas like that; at least no particular drama comes to my mind right now – but they do exist, I know it. Even tho you hardly come across them. ^^

  • Example: Barrack O‘Karma (partly). First, this drama is not only romance but includes a variety of other genres. Then, it‘s partly a line – partly a triangle. Let me explain: There are two timelines. In the present timeline, there is no love rival at all. In the past timeline, there is a boy who has a crush on our Female Lead, but he doesn‘t try any advances. Plus, no one (neither FL nor ML) sees him as a serious rival, lol.

This was pretty simple, so let’s start to complicate things a little:


(3 people involved)

A) The Third Wheel

The third wheel is exactly what it says. There is one Second Lead who has a crush on one of the Main Leads, but it is completely one-sided (like always). Or one Lead has an unrequited love for a SL. This triangle can be divided into 3 variations:

Legend: pink=Leads, green=Second Leads, arrow=Crush, line=Steady, Dashed Line=Possible connection

Option 1: The Main Leads go very steady towards their endgame from the beginning. It can also be hate to love. While a SL tries to hit on one of them tho.

  • Example: The Tasty Florida. The Leads like each other but the SL keeps butting in on them.

Option 2: One Lead has a one-sided crush on the other Lead and has to win him/her over first while being pursued too. This would be one love triangle I consider annoying but bearable. Except they play it well, like in the following drama:

  • Example: Hanazakari No Kimitachi e. If I remember correctly, SL liked the Female Lead (FL), and the FL liked the Male Lead, who seemed to not like anyone at first. There were lots of other girls crushing on the boys, but I’ll just leave them aside since they didn‘t play any significant role.
Option 3: Similar to Option 2 but the other way around. One Lead has a crush on the other Lead, who has a one-sided love for the SL (at first). I don’t remember if I watched a drama like that. Probably I suppressed that.

B) Open Choice

Like the headline already implies, in this love triangle the Lead can choose between two people: one Main Lead and one Second Lead. I also divided this into two forms:

Option 1: The Lead is liked by 2 people. Either the Lead is neutral at first and doesn’t like anyone, or it could also be that he/she starts liking the SL, and later realizes his/her love for the Main Lead. If this is really reeaaally well and interesting made, like in the example below, then I can handle this kind of triangle. Maybe with skipping scenes.

  • Example: AI Romantic. The Male Lead is liked by FL and SFL, and he starts crushing on SFL until he realizes he actually loves FL. Since the drama has other story elements besides the romance, I could easily watch it – and I adored it!

Option 2: The Lead likes 2 people. Both options are quite similar but the behaviour makes the difference. While in Option 1 the Lead crushes on one or the other, in this one he/she can‘t choose between his/her two suitors and leaves them both hanging until he/she made a decision. This is my most hated love triangle and thus, I haven‘t watched many of those triangles either, except for one traumatizing drama:

  • Example: Jealousy Incarnate. The FL is liked by both Male Characters and somehow comes to equally like them both too, so she has difficulties choosing between them and it takes her a while.

Now let’s add another character to the mess:


(4 people involved)

A) A Whole Mess

Here it’s like this: everyone likes someone else until the square is closed. One Lead likes the other Lead, who likes the SL, who likes the other SL, who likes the first Lead. Did you get it? If not, just look at my graphic. xD
Maybe you know the openings of those kinds of dramas, where everyone looks sadly at someone else because they all have an unrequited love – until the Leads end up together, that is. I’m sure I’ve seen a drama like that, but I really can’t remember. So if you know one, share it in the comments!

B) The Intruders

At least one SL has a crush on a Lead, and then to complete the square, there could be another SL involved. I think this is the most used and most common form of love square.

Option 1: Both Leads are liked by the SLs.

  • Example: Once We Get Married. The Main Leads come to like each other and are additionally liked and pursued by both SLs.

Option 2: Only one Lead is liked by a SL, and another SL is involved in any kind of way.

  • Example 1: Light On Me. One Main Lead is liked by the SL, who is liked by another SL lol.
  • Example 2: Or, like in Only Just Married (Konin Todoke ni Han wo Oshita dake desu ga), where at first, one Lead is liked by a SL, while the other Lead likes the other SL. This Option can basically be anything.

I think those squares are hard to avoid. Here it really depends on the intensity, screentime, and how delusional the SLs are. 😉 If this square is not too “heavy” made, then I can tolerate it. Confusing much? Can you still keep up?^^

C) The Toradora-Effect 

This is my absolute favourite love shape! Sadly, there are not many dramas like that. To the headline: Before watching dramas, I watched animes. Maybe (or not) you know Toradora – this anime predicted my love for the following kind of square: Both Main Leads like someone else at first, form up as a team to help each other get their love interest and end up falling for each other instead! *aww*. Ok, this was pretty detailed. Another option would be that they love someone else, the love gets returned, but they still end up with the other Lead at the end. Something like that, but psht.^^
  • Example: Miss No Good. The Male Lead likes the SL, while helping FL to get pretty for her own Mr. Right. But instead, the Leads fall in love in the process.

D) Harem

One Lead is liked by 3 people (or even more, expanding the shape to pentagons and hexagons). It’s the typical Harem or Reverse Harem you find in the tags with the same name. I actually avoid those dramas. They are not my cup of tea.
  • Example: Million Yen Women (100-manen no Onna-tachi). The Male Lead is kinda liked by the 3 other women he is cohabiting with. This one was tolerable for me tho since the main plot didn’t actually revolve around the romance only but about the mystery.

And so on… The more connections you add, the more complicated it gets.

For this article, I assumed the Main Leads end up together. Of course, there are also a few dramas where the Main Leads end up alone or with someone else. But I don‘t really watch those. I’m also aware that there are other kinds of relationships, but, for this article, I focused on monogamous ones only, since they are common in dramas.^^

Furthermore, there are probably a lot more shapes. The more people involved, the bigger the shape gets. And also, the shapes don’t necessarily stay the same throughout a whole drama. They can also change or mix. But in the end, the principle stays the same: 2 people will end up together, while the rest will be crying in a corner, lol.

To end this on a very positive note: I do not completely hate certain love triangles. They sure have some important use, like making the Main Leads jealous and/or realizing their feelings. They for sure can also spice things up. If they are not too “heavy” and frustrating, then I welcome them with open arms. Well, with one eye closed maybe. 😉

To sum it up: No matter the shape, what matters to me at the end is the intensity of the triangle/square and the behaviour of the Main Leads and Second Leads.

That’s it! Thanks for reading! I hope you liked my article. 🙂
Have you seen all these shapes already or do you know other ones? Feel free to recommend us some of your favourite shaped dramas!


© Credits: I don‘t own any drama pictures. They are taken from MDL or are screenshots of the dramas. Credits to the respective owners.

Edited by: Cookie (1st editor), devitto (2nd editor)

love triangle
asian dramas
love shapes

Related posts

Maki Horikita Retires From The Entertainment Industry!


Forum Issue (FIXED!)


Introducing Thai Lakorns


Leave a Comment