The real love triangle no one is talking about in this season of Bridgerton.

Bridgerton's third season (well, the first half of it) has left viewers blushing, giggling and kicking their feet thanks to the tropey love triangle between Penelope Featherington, Colin Bridgerton and Lord Debling. 

But I found it hard to buy the tension between Penelope and Colin when she clearly only had eyes for one person this season — Eloise Bridgerton.

Season three follows Penelope and her quest to find a husband before she "expires", which proves to be quite a task not just because of her awkwardness and inability to flirt, but because she feels so utterly alone after the harsh falling out she had with Eloise, her best friend. 

Drawn to each other because of their feminist values in a time where these ideas were still new, the two clutched at each other to keep afloat in the overwhelming social politics of the balls they reluctantly attended. However, while Penelope secretly enjoyed the events and dreamed of finding a husband, Eloise never wanted one — instead, she fantasised about living her days out as an unmarried feminist, with Penelope always by her side. 

However, at the end of season two (if you need a spoiler alert by now, where have you been?) Eloise pieced together that Lady Whistledown — the anonymous writer who publicly dragged the Bridgertons — was actually Penelope. 

Watch: Bridgerton Season 3 Trailer. Post continues below.

Video via Netflix.

This revelation resulted in a bitter showdown between the two, with Eloise furious at the betrayal — not just because of Penelope's secret, but because she had ambitions and desires outside of their friendship, even at the expense of it. If you had an intense and complicated relationship with a girl best friend in high school, their earth-shattering breakup will feel painfully familiar. 

It's perhaps unsurprising then that, despite the scandalous scenes with Colin, all the truly toe-curling moments of tension this season actually revolved around Penelope, Eloise and Eloise’s new bestie/Penelope’s bully Cressida — the real love triangle of this season.

Despite Penelope and Colin's love story, it becomes obvious when watching that it was Eloise that Penelope's eyes immediately searched for when she entered a new ball or wandered a sunny garden, adrift in the sea of people and in desperate need of a lifeline. 

It was Eloise that Penelope stole yearning glances at, that she so desperately wanted to talk to, but when she did, she fumbled her words or was shunned away by Cressida’s cruel comments. 

It was Eloise that Penelope couldn't stop thinking about when she snuck into the Bridgerton house to meet Colin. And it was Eloise that Penelope was most heartbroken by — even though Colin also betrayed her last season.

Even when Penelope began courting Lord Debling, she competed with Cressida — and after some time, it became unclear whose attention she was fighting for: Debling, Colin… or Eloise?


There's a lot about Bridgerton season three that people disagree on, but what it nails is the potency of a friendship breakup, and how in many ways they can hurt more than a romantic one.

Friendships in your teens and early twenties have a beautiful and sometimes terrible intimacy that creates a bond that is hard to describe — "friend" genuinely doesn’t seem to encapsulate the closeness of the relationship when it feels like you know each other down to the marrow of your bones. 

Perhaps soulmate is a more accurate term, but this has romantic connotations — as does pretty much any word that comes even close.


But the thing about these friendships is that their all-encompassing nature is not always something that’s sustainable — along with the closeness and love often comes jealousy, possessiveness, insecurity. These friendships burn so bright that when things fall apart, they do so so spectacularly, so magnificently, that it feels like your skin is aflame and your chest is cracking open and the sky is about to cave in on you. They are, truly, breakups — in every sense of the word. 

I had an intense friendship breakup recently, and much like Penelope, I also felt listless, alone and unanchored afterward. So it was surprising, and perhaps cathartic, to watch Penelope and Eloise’s storyline heavily mirror my own.

Like mine, Penelope and Eloise's friends were also forced to either choose a side or sneak around with them, their families were also desperate to know what went wrong, and like me and my ex BFF, they also had to awkwardly navigate a social landscape where they were no longer a duo but still had to exist in the same space as each other. It’s painful, and it sucks — and maybe a part of you kind of wants to see them, too, to know what’s going on and who they’re hanging out with now.

Penelope and Eloise were jealous, they were furious with each other… and yet they couldn't get enough of each other, they couldn't stay away from each other.

Whether you think this is a sapphic love story or a platonic one, it's a love story all the same — and one that clearly is the diamond of this season, Colin and Debling be damned.

Feature Image: Netflix/Canva.

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