Thursday, November 09, 2006
Love rectangle is a somewhat facetious term to describe a romantic relationship that involves four people, analogous to a love triangle. Many people use this term for a romantic relationship between two people that is complicated by the romantic attentions of two other people, but it is more frequently reserved for relationships where there are more connections. Minimally, both male characters usually have some current or past association with both female characters. These relationships need not be sexual; they can be friendships or familial relations. Both males and/or both females can also be friends, family members (frequently siblings) or sworn enemies. The addition of bisexual or homosexual characters can add complexity.
The term "love rectangle" can imply that the arrangement is unsuitable to one or more of the people involved whereas an arrangement that is agreed upon by all parties is sometimes called polyamory.
The word "love" can be added to the front of other shapes to reflect romantic relationships involving more people, e.g. "love pentagon".
In William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, there is a love rectangle between the characters Lysander, Demetrius, Helena, and Hermia. Demetrius is granted Hermia's hand in marriage by her father, but Hermia loves Lysander, and the two flee, intending to elope. Demetrius pursues the couple, and Helena pursues Demetrius, whom she has always loved. The fairy Puck, in trying to use magic to resolve the situation, temporarily transfers both men's affections to Helena. Further tampering restores Lysander's love for Hermia. Demetrius, now in love with Helena, withdraws his claim on Hermia, and both couples are wed.
See also: love triangle, polyamory.