Two men are technically fighting over a woman, or making up deals about her. Either they are rivals, or one has her as a Love Interest while the other plays the role of the protective father figure. However, the whole thing is really about the relationship between these two men. The woman is not really one of the players in this social game. It is strictly between the men. It's really about their relationship with each other and their feelings for each other. Their relationship doesn't have to have sexualized overtones. They may be, or pondering becoming, Heterosexual Life-Partners. Sometimes used as a way of portraying the development of an Arranged Marriage. While this trope is usually about two men using a woman as playing field for their relationship, it can also be about two women using a man in the same way. The number of players may also be larger than two. In either case, it's about heterosexuality as a social dynamic between individuals of the same gender. Contrast with Friend Versus Lover, where neither the friend nor the lover really want to be friends and genuinely are fighting over the mutual interest.
Examples:Anime and Manga
- Bakuman。: The Ashirogi Muto team decides they do in fact want Kaya hanging out with them at college to deflect suspicions of gayness arising from two hot young men who are constantly together.
- In one Ernie arc, the local beauty queen suddenly takes a romantic interest in the protagonist. What he doesn't know is that she wants him only because he is his girlfriend's boyfriend: The sudden romance is a ploy in a competition between these two women, and he is merely a pawn.
- Wolverine and Cyclops. So much. Occasionally they have honest to downright heartwarming moments, but it's rare. Even when they are in danger, or have more pressing things to fight about, and even though she's dead, you know, for now, it's always about Jean. Right down to the morning Logan finds Scott in bed with Emma Frost. Remember, Jean's already dead at this point. Her *memory* is reason enough for Logan to take a personal interest in Scott's... personal interests.
- In Fiddler on the Roof, the traditional Arranged Marriage custom is portrayed as an emotional and social affair between the groom and the father, the bride hardly being relevant to the process. And thus the plot is setting up for a massive backfire.
- Sweeney Todd is playing the Destructive Romance version of this trope with Judge Turpin. Mutual bonding in the scenes with the "Pretty women" song, and on the surface helping with the plan to force Todd's daughter to marry Turpin. However, the one Todd plan to sacrifice is not his daughter, but secretly Turpin instead.
- The entire plot of This Means War is this trope turned on full blast.
- Played with in The Court Jester when King Roderick prepares an Arranged Marriage between Princess Gwendoline and Sir Griswold, over the princess' strong objections:
Roderick: If it pleases me, you shall marry Griswold!
Gwendoline: If it pleases you so much, you marry Griswold.
- In Lady Audley's Secret, the Ho Yay between George and Robert Audley is "resolved" or redirected when Robert falls in love with George's sister, Clara.
- In Nicholas Nickleby, Madeline Bray falls in love with The Hero after developing a Romantic Two-Girl Friendship with his sister.
- In the Book of Genesis, Jacob's only daughter Dinah is raped by the prince of a local village while going out to visit her girlfriends. The prince decides he actually loves her, and asks his father to go see her father to make marriage arrangements. The king brings over large sums of whatever passed for wealth in that barter economy, and tries to persuade Jacob to allow the marriage, saying that intermarriage between the Shechemites and Jacob's tribe would increase the wealth of both. Jacob himself neither agrees to the terms nor disagrees, though, and deliberates with his sons, who persuade him to accept the terms. They do add the condition that all the men of the Shechemite village cut off their foreskins, which the Shechemites accept. And three days later, while the men are still recovering, Jacob's sons slaughter the men of the village, rescue their sister (who was a hostage of sorts in the prince's tent or hut), and take the Shechemite women and children as slaves. Jacob says they shouldn't have done this, on the grounds that they would be considered enemies to other local peoples, at a time when they are just a nomadic tribe. His sons reply that the prince shouldn't have defiled their sister. Not once does Dinah get a say in all of this.
- In the backstory to the A Song of Ice and Fire series, the War of the Usurper basically happened because both Robert Baratheon and Rhaegar Targaryen loved Lyanna Stark. Whether Lyanna herself reciprocated either's affections isn't known for certain, but was ultimately a moot point.
- In North and South (Trilogy), Madelyn is manipulated into an Arranged Marriage based entirely on his friendship with her father. This scenario is gradually rolled up retroactively after the protagonist loses contact with her only to find out that she's suddenly getting married.
- Adding this dynamic was the reason for the inclusion of both Aunt Harriet and Batgirl in the 1960s Batman Adam West series. Not for nothing are Batman and Robin considered the original ambiguously gay duo.
- Skins has this dynamic between Cook and Freddie in their fight over Effy.
- Wicked has a Rare Female Example with Elphaba and Glinda. They're caught in a Love Triangle with Fiyero, but the story is more about the relationship between the two women than it's about Elphaba/Fiyero or Glinda/Fiyero.
- In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Hermia's father is trying to force her to marry Demetrius, leading to this exchange with Lysander, the man she really loves:
Demetrius: Relent sweet Hermia, and Lysander, yield thy crazed title to my certain right.Lysander: You have her father's love, Demetrius. Let me have Hermia's. Do you marry him!Egeus: Scornful Lysander, true, he hath my Love; and what is mine, my love shall render him. And she is mine, and all my right of her, I do estate unto Demetrius.
- Cyrano de Bergerac is a classic example. To some viewers it seems clear that Cyrano and Christian come to care more about each other than either do about Roxanne.
- In the first Kingdom Hearts I game, Riku and Sora are supposedly in a love triangle with Kairi, but Kairi herself actually has very little screen time, spending the vast majority of the game off-screen and in a coma. The real point of the story is the boys' relationship with each other — specifically, the way aimless competition with each other turns a once-healthy friendship into something bitter, broken, and increasingly violent. When you get right down to it, Kairi is just one thing among many for them to fight over.