Tuesday, April 2, 2024

B is for Best Friend's Girlfriend (Romance Tropes in Folklore)

This year, my A to Z Blogging Challenge theme is Romance Tropes in Folklore! For each letter, I will pick a popular trope from romcom movies and romance novels, and see if I can find the same trope in folktales and legends. Because it's fun. Here we go.


Best friend's girlfriend (boyfriend) is pretty self-explanatory: it's about a protagonist who falls for the love interest of their best friend. The excitement, as far as I can tell, comes from the tension between love and loyalty. Or finding out that the person you thought was right for you is actually not the one you are with.


Technically, I guess, a lot of famous stories would fall under this trope: Tristan and Isolde, Lancelot and Guinevere, Sigurd and Brünhilde, Herburt and Hild - since the younger knight that seduces the princess is usually a close friend / loyal companion of the king. But I wanted to go in a different direction with today's post.


Kelea, the surf-rider (Legend from Hawaii)

This story features a princess from Maui named Kelea who loves to surf. To her royal brother's exasperation, she doesn't show any interest in marriage, claiming that she prefers her surf-board as her husband. Lolale, a chief from Oahu, is looking for a bride - her previous bried drowned, so he abhors the sea. (Obviously this is not a great match at first look). Lolale sends out his cousin and confidant Kalamakua to find a suitable wife for him. Kalamakua makes a daring promise that if the bride he finds won't suit Lolale, then he will marry her himself. Eventually he ends up in Maui and selects Kelea as a bride - impressing her with his maritime skills. Kelea and Lolale marry, but their marriage flounders, given that she loves to spend time on the beach surfing, and he hates the water. Eventually, everyone recognizes that Kelea is a much better match to Kalamakua, and the two fall in love. Lolale lets Kelea go, and she marries Kalamakua, living (and surfing) happily ever after.

Huryo and Kabacalaf (Somali folktale)

A girl called Huryo ("Ugly") elopes with a young man, because her parents don't approve of the marriage. They are accompanied by the groom's best friend, Kabacalaf, who is helping them on the way. Huryo decides to test the intelligence of her groom. She keeps making curious comments that he doesn't get, and Kabacalaf keeps explaining to his friend what the bride means. When they arrive to the priest, Huryo refuses to marry the groom, and chooses the clever best friend instead. Even after they are married, they play good-natured tricks on each other.

Hiiaka and Lohiau (Legend from Hawaii)

More of a "sister's boyfriend" situation. One of the most well known Hawaiian legends, an entire epic in itself. The volcano goddess Pele falls in love with a mortal man named Lohiau while she visits him in spirit. Once she wakes up from the spirit journey she sends her sister Hiiaka to fetch him (in other versions she gets bored of him, but then wants him back). Hiiaka goes on an epic adventure, defeating monsters and saving people, and brings Lohiau back. However, Pele in her impatience decides Hiiaka must have cheated her, and burns her gardens and her lover in her absence. There are different versions of the story, but in some, Hiiaka and Lohiau fall in love on the way back, or fall in love after Pele's rage. Either way, Hiiaka brings the man back to life, and they end up living together. 

Do you have favorite romance stories that feature this trope?

What do you think of the folktale versions?

Don't forget to leave a link in the comments so I can visit you back!


  1. Got me thinking about The Cars' "My Best Friend's Girl" and Rick Springfield's "Jesse's Girl." And Eric Clapton's "Layla."

  2. I don’t know any folk tales, not even guinea pig ones. Perhaps we don’t get to hear our mythology before we are rescued. It’s very interesting, though.
    Locksley @ George's GP World

  3. Nice choice of topic. Linking tropes with folk tales. I like it. The third one gets my vote here. I'm sure I'll find your articles entertaining and inspirational. https://dacairns.com.au/blog

  4. Huryo is a smart girl, lol. Thank you for sharing unknown (at least to me) tales from the folklore.

  5. Jamie (jannghi.blogspot.com):
    I began hearing "My Best Friends Girl" by the Cars in my head after reading the title of this entry!

  6. wow, loving this A to Z so far.

  7. This is a fun theme! I love the best friend's brother/sister trope a lot. I loved each folklore, but there's something about the one with Hiiaka and Lohiau. I'm choosing to believe that they fell in love on the way back. <3

  8. Make for fun stories, and movies, however, in real life those are big no-nos!

  9. Well, they all have a strange uniqueness to them. I'm not even sure which one I like best. Though I'm quite intrigued with the last one ;-)

  10. Kelea the Surf Rider is my favorite. Perhaps Lolale's logic was that someone who was such an accomplished surfer would not drown as his first wife had. In any case, I like the fact that he lets her go o that both she and Kalamakua can be happy. But in so many stories, the person who intercedes for their friend is the one who ends up with the friend's intended. I suppose if you like someone you ought to reach out them yourself and find out whether you are suited to each other.

  11. When we lived in Ireland, one of my best friends was a surfer and fisherman (sport fishing) ans his girlfriend was the Irish woman's champion surfer and also love fishing - a marriage made in heaven! They decided not to have children and spend as much of their lives pursuing their joint hobbies as possible - the first story reminded me of them...