4 years ago, I tinkered a bit in Witcher 2, but couldn’t get used to the combat at all and did not get far. I then also read the short stories (in which Yen is weird), watched the series on youtube (in which Yen is even weirder).
This autumn, I had the sudden urge to play Witcher 2 again and followed this urge. I got used to the combat, replayed it a lot, and took Triss as a given - though the bit about “you get magic resistance if you refuse her in the elven bath” seemed quite odd. As if the game was telling me that something was off, and that I shouldn’t pursue bath activities at that point. Anyway, then I rewatched the series (Yen is so weird in there), and finally plunged into Witcher 3.
From this background, it’s pretty clear that I was in a state of “Yen is weird, Triss is probably going to be the choice”, and Yen’s first impressions in White Orchard and Vizima did not change that state at all. I followed the “normal flow” of the main quest (Velen -> Novigrad -> Skellige), made love eyes with Triss - until (thanks to me doing Redania’s Most Wanted and recovering the megascope crystal at a point when Triss was not available for talk anymore, except about Now or Never) I decided to “prematurely” travel to Skellige. I wanted to try if I could give the megascope crystal to Yen if Triss didn’t want to talk about it.
I think I am somewhat extremely receptive for acoustical cues. Ard Skellige’s soundtrack did throw me off my track completely at that point. As I was standing on Ard Skellige and listened to the music and thought about how beautiful this place was, something opened up in me, and I became willing to at least give Yen a chance after that bad first impression and the negative background. I then went and met Yen for real for the first time. Again, acoustic cues, as well as the body language. After their first interaction on the pier, about what I had found out in Velen and in Novigrad, I realized that this was the one and only woman Geralt was in love with. He had been nice to Triss, but he was in love with Yen.
At this point, I decided to go with Geralt’s feelings instead of my preconceptions. And boy, was that the right choice ever. The romance between them was really beautiful. I did question her motivations and decisions whenever the dialogue options allowed it, so it was (contrary to the love eyed talk I had done with Triss earlier) a bit bumpy, but that was absolutely okay and actually made me feel that these two characters had a really deep understanding with each other, no matter what.
By now, I have read the fan translations of the books, have tried the Triss romance in one (awful) playthrough. I’ve also finally dabbled a bit in Witcher 1, which I totally missed out on all these years.
Anyway, from this perspective, I can only say that for me: There can only be one viable choice for a longterm romance for Geralt. And that is Yen.