Howdy! So, as my first ever post on this lovely blog (PARTY TIME!!) I thought I would start off with a discussion because discussing things is fun and time-consuming so obviously I decided to do that instead of an easier and less stressful post. No shame. HOWEVER, I’m not just discussing something random or even something that has never been talked about before. I’m not THAT original, people. But I did want to put a little bit of a twist on a common subject. How’s that for creativity? Anyhoo, today I’m going to be talking about the feared, the dreaded, INSTA-LOVE.
What Is Defined As Insta-Love?
There are PLENTY of people out there who claim insta-love left and right with a lot of books they read, whether they enjoyed the book or not. And yes, it is easy to determine what insta-love is, it’s pretty self-explanatory. Two characters meet, they know each other for two seconds and then BAM! they announce the wedding. Insta-Love. But what actually qualifies as insta-love versus instant attraction? Because despite what you might believe, there is a very BIG difference. So, what qualities are the signs of insta-love specifically?
1. No basis for feelings other than attraction.
This first one is simple enough: two characters are attracted to each other but the relationship doesn’t move on from there. The relationship is left only to attraction without developing any further. A very important part of a relationship of any kind is actually having something in common with the other person. If there’s nothing holding two people together other than the fact they think the other is hot, then what’s the point of them even being involved?
Just like what I mentioned earlier, insta-love is simply two characters knowing each other for all of three days before they swear to die for each other and speak like Romeo and Juliet, causing some serious eye-rolling from readers and making them feel like they’re watching the cheesiest romance movie ever. You can’t fall in love with someone within a week of knowing them and that’s the last thing I want to see happen between two characters. It makes them appear desperate and lonely and no one has time for that.
3. Doesn’t SHOW how characters fall in love
You know those lines in the book when it ‘claims’ these two characters stayed up for hours talking about anything and everything about each other and yet you only find out that one character’s favorite color is blue and you feel like you missed an important developmental step in their relationship? I like to call that the ‘Disney Princess Effect’. You know, the part in Cinderella when her and the prince dance for hours, talk and walk through the garden yet it seems like five minutes before they want to marry each other. As a reader, I want to see their relationship progress instead of simply being told by the author that it’s moving along. SHOW ME THE DETAILS!
4. Sappy words over actions
There’s nothing more annoying than only reading sappy words coming from each character’s mouth and not getting anything else from them. What happened to actions speak louder than words? I get the whole ‘You complete me’ thing but come on. That’s only going to fly once or twice. Show some ACTUAL signs of love like listening when they need to vent, helping them to overcome their biggest fears, encouraging them to follow their biggest dreams. Give them cake. SOMETHING! I don’t want to constantly hear declarations of love from the characters because it’s going to come across as empty words if it isn’t backed up by actual actions to prove that they care about whoever they’re wanting to be with.
We all know that love at first sight doesn’t exist. Unless it’s pizza or puppies. Insta-love could easily be considered not love at all but rather insta-LUST. There’s a big difference. I’ll elaborate more in just a second on why I think insta-love holds some credibility but for now, take some advice from one of my favorite authors who wrote one of my favorite romances of all time, Veronica Roth:
Most of the time, for me, the problem is “You’re Hot, So I Love You.” That is: the only in-text justification for the intense feelings of the characters is their physical attraction. We get many paragraphs dedicated to description, but none devoted to conversation or experiences that transcend the physical. Maybe the author even tells us something like “they talked for hours about this and this and this,” but we don’t get to see any of it, so we remain unconvinced.
In Defense Of Insta-Love:
1. Instant attraction is a thing
It’s common knowledge that it is actually a thing to be instantly attracted to someone. It’s not just in the movies and it happens every day. Insta-love seems to be built on the instant attraction thing but I don’t think it should automatically be labeled insta-love unless it moves past that stage. However, it DOES count as insta-love if the characters don’t move past the ‘attraction’ phase. Without moving forward, it just gets annoying to see the love interests interact because they’re not actually in love, they’re in lust.
2. Insta-love is juvenile
Everyone knows the old story about kids who fall in love quite quickly since it’s their first boyfriend or girlfriend and everything seems like sunshine and rainbows and all of a sudden you’re living a Taylor Swift song. Insta-love can be considered a bit juvenile because of that. However, there have been plenty of young people out there who have actually fallen in love with each other quickly and ended up just fine together. If it can happen in real life, who’s to say that it can’t and shouldn’t happen in books? I think that’s where the line is blurred. Readers are going to see a relationship grow between two characters and might jump to conclusions that it’s nothing more than insta-love. And maybe it is but if the author makes the relationship believable and takes into account all the ‘ingredients’ of what love consists of, then I think it makes it acceptable.
3. Some fall in love faster than others
Let’s face it, we have issues and so do the characters in the books we read. They’re flawed, some more than others, and sometimes characters just click with each other no matter their ages. I think conflict does make for a more realistic romance, obviously, because no one is perfect. But another thing to take into account before you go and label a romance as insta-love is the fact that some characters will fall in love faster than others. There is no timeline for falling in love, it depends on the author and the pace they choose to take that best fits the storyline, plot, and the characters themselves. It might take a week, a month, maybe even ten years. If the boot fits, then just go with it.
4. What’s the real problem? The romance or something else?
I also want to point out that maybe the insta-love we’re seeing isn’t even the problem with the story. Have you ever asked yourself if it’s the characters or storyline that’s throwing off how you feel about the romance going on between two characters? I’ve read plenty of books in the past that rubbed me the wrong way because of other issues I was having with the book. The romance aspect not even being the problem. Sometimes the characters aren’t developed enough, they’re shallow, whiney, too this, that and the other, the plot is all over the place, the pace is too fast or too slow, it’s not exciting, there’s too much going on to wrap my brain around, the plot is too thin, the writing is awkward, and a hundred other different things. So, if you run into a book that has you screaming out insta-love, take a look at everything else to see if there are some other elements affecting your main problem area.
5. No drama means no conflict
When it comes to romance, it needs conflict and a sprinkling of drama to keep the reader interested in the romance between two characters. If there’s nothing holding the characters back from being with each other or it’s smooth sailing from the get-go, that’s just a yawn fest and the reader can assume that they live happily ever after with the picket fence, two dogs, and a mini-van without having to read the rest of the book. Romance should be interesting, realistic, and hit a few bumps down the road. Personally, I hate a ginormous pile of DRAMA when it comes to a romantic storyline. I can’t stand when there’s too much drama and conflict because at that point I’m saying to myself ‘I wanted a love story, not a soap opera’. I want the characters to have their own obstacles to overcome, it adds interest by making them feel like real people and gives a reason why they might be hesitant to skip right into a relationship with someone.
In conclusion, I honestly think insta-love is redeemable but can quickly become a trope if done incorrectly.
Do you have hard feelings about insta-love or are you neutral?