Discussion: What Exactly Is Insta-Love?

Posted January 13, 2017 by Anissa in Features, Have I Gone Mad? // Discussions / 21 Comments

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?

2. Fall too fast, too soonmuchholyverytrinity

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.

5. Unrealistic

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.
Basically, this is just wisdom at its finest. Love is defined by not just words but actions and experiences that lead to love over time. If the reader isn’t seeing any of that, it’s not convincing at all. It just comes across as a bit of cheap way to throw in a romance without having to first introduce it at a realistic pace. Sure, it can be fun and entertaining to read, but only every once in a while and under certain circumstances.
Now, I don’t want to just bash insta-love. I also want to throw in some points that might make you question what you originally thought insta-love was. Allow me to confuse you about everything you thought you knew about life. You’re welcome.

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 everfunny-gifs-10 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?



21 responses to “Discussion: What Exactly Is Insta-Love?

  1. I’m not a fan of insta-love at all! But I do agree that instant attraction is completely different and I quite enjoy that. I mean, you can be walking down the road, a hot guy passes by and you can feel instant attraction. Quite normal, actually. It’s the insta-love without showing why/how they are falling in love that bothers me a lot.
    Love this post, Anissa!
    Genesis @ Latte Nights Reviews

    • I’m so glad you could agree on some of the points in this post! Especially when it comes to the fact that insta-love is more defined as an unseen relationship development. Glad you enjoyed!!

  2. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of insta-love, mostly because I love to watch the characters slowly fall for each other and I think that’s more fun to read and to write than to rush things with instant devotions. I don’t have problem with instant attraction because that’s rather normal and it can be used as a step towards love. Also, I don’t like when the characters are just using strong words and cheesy phrases to describe their love. I’d rather see how much the characters love each other than hear over and over again how they won’t be able to live without each other and blah blah blah. That’s just cheesy and a little bit cheap. Though I love that you gave reasons in defense of insta-love and it is true that we’re all different and some people might find it a lot easier to fall in love with someone than other people. 🙂

    • Seeing two characters fall in love slowly is one of my favorite things to see in a contemporary! I agree that it’s the fun part of any romance. And I know how you feel about those cheesy phrases!! I thought it was just me who rolled my eyes at the constant reminders of their undying love for each other XD So glad you enjoyed this post!!

  3. Cait @ Paper Fury

    Oooh, I really like your thoughts on this! And I agree that insta-attraction IS very different, and it can almost be unavoidable for some people? So I don’t mind when in books two characters are instantly attracted to each other. But that IS a shallow thing and if it progresses straight to “Your are fated to be with me” (which I legit read in a book recently after a ONE DAY romance *rolls eyes*) it’s just ridiculous. Relationships are hard and they need much much more to work and stay together than a bit of attraction and lust. ??

    • That line was seriously in a one day romance?! Talk about a major eye roll! I’m so happy you liked my thoughts, though! Insta-love can come across as a complex thing if not properly broken down to basic points so I’m really glad my discussion on the subject seems to be appreciated 😀 Much love!

  4. This is an awesome thought for a post 🙂 Great discussion! I’m not a HUGE fan of insta-love myself, but it’s not always an instant turn-off from a book for me. I definitely think that the instances where insta-love REALLY bothers me are more related to the fact that the characters themselves really get on my nerves — either they don’t feel developed, or I just don’t like their personality.

    There ARE times in real life that things akin to insta-love really do happen. I’ve known some people who went from strangers to engaged within a month, and while it seemed really weird to everyone, they’re happily together to this day. It’s crazy, but it exists, and sometimes it’s nice to think about that kind of stuff happening when we read 🙂 But only if it’s done well.

    It’s definitely critical to show, not tell on that one. Nothing bothers me more than when characters just keep talking about loving each other but there’s nothing else going on to give credence to that fact. Blagh. Include some body language or something at the VERY least!

    Great thoughts!

    • Yay! I’m happy you liked the post!! I think that’s the biggest problem most readers experience, the underdevelopment of the characters or bad personalities. I know I’ve run into characters that I didn’t like and ended up not caring about the romance because I couldn’t get past my dislike of the characters. Especially when we’re not able to SEE the characters’ chemistry, as you said, there needs to be more than just words to really sell the romance aspect.

  5. This is a great post! I completely agree that there’s a difference between insta-love and insta-attraction or lust or interest. It’s believable to be drawn to someone upon meeting them and even to want to spend a bunch of time with them, to be upset if it doesn’t work out, etc., but the problem is when they start getting all, “I can’t live without you and I would die for you!” after like a week.

    It’s tricky since, as you said, people do fall in love at different speeds. And who am I to say two people can’t fall in love in X amount of time? Where exactly is the cut-off? Is it only possible to love someone after two months? If someone declares their love in one month, one week, and 6 days, does it not count? So yeah, I think part of the problem sometimes isn’t just the amount of time, it’s how everything is written, how well we’re shown the characters actually getting to know each other and falling for each other, etc. I’ve read books with characters who fell in love in a week that were more believable than other books with characters who took months to fall in love simply because of how the relationships were written and how well I felt like they knew each other or clicked. Also, I think it’s a lot more believable for characters to be in love but not overdramatic about it right away vs. those characters who act like they’re literally going to die if the person they met a week ago doesn’t feel the same. There are, like, different types and phases to love and relationships. So yeah, it all just depends on how it’s written!

    • Oh my goodness, YOU HIT IT RIGHT ON THE NAIL!! I couldn’t agree more with everything you just said!! Especially on the topic of the characters feeling like they’ll die should so-and-so not want to be with them or feels nothing towards the other person. It feels way too dramatic at that point! I’ve also read books in the past where the characters fell very quickly for each other but the development between them was so strong and perfectly written that it didn’t feel like insta-love AT ALL. It really does all comes down to the writing on all levels

  6. I LOVE this topic- I think you are SO spot on, insta-LUST is totally different than insta-LOVE. And it DOES make a difference in the story, too! Like, I get insta-lust, everyone has had those moments of attraction that are like, “OMG”. But I think it crosses a line into insta-love when the characters are like, blindly willing to give up their own lives and safety and interests (depends on the plot/genre haha) to be with someone who they don’t even know. Like, if you’re risking your life for some dude you just met two days ago because you’re “in love”… NOPE. Not good, friend. And I TOTALLY agree with you about there being no reason for the “love”. Like if they know nothing about each other, just met, and have literally nothing else but the physical attraction? That isn’t love! And I always end up questioning whether the author wants US, the reader, to think it is love, or if we are supposed to be yelling at the characters 😉 Great post!

    • Yay, I’m so glad you love it!! AND YES, I can’t stand when a character knows someone for like two seconds and already they’re willing to give up literally everything for that person when they BARELY know them! It does seem like the authors actually want us readers to scream at the characters XD Like it’s an expectation and part of reading their book!

  7. I’m not a fan of insta love, then again I’m not a fan of romance, either. It’s so over used. And single teens are seen as strange. Insta love can really ruin a book for me because it usually happens on the1st day which makes no flippin’ sense. I have been attracted to a guy when I first saw him (but that was only once) so I can understand that but this lame insta love thing needs to chill.

    • Yeah, I’m pretty hard on romance in books, especially fantasy and action-driven novels. If it doesn’t fit with the rest of the story then I get annoyed with it very quickly.

  8. Olivia-Savannah

    I think insta love is the cliche I like the least, although I can see why some books have it. Personally, I’m not really the kind of person who falls for people easily, or just on sight. Not gonna say never, because I have plenty of years ahead of me. But yeah, it’s just not something that has ever happened to me, or that I have really seen happen. Which is why I find it so unrealistic, and yet it happens in books all the time 🙁

    • Oh yes, the most cliche of all cliches. It’s normal to see someone in passing and think they’re good looking but when a character claims they’re in love with that person a week later, that’s highly unrealistic. Hopefully one day, insta-love won’t be as big of a thing in books!

  9. This is a good outline of what Insta-love is and how it works. I’m okay with it when the characters are young or immature, or if they’re in a vulnerable place and meet someone that makes them feel better. But, I think that the relationship should develop even if they fall in love “instantly.” Maybe it’ll work out, maybe it was just circumstances. My husband and I fell pretty hard pretty fast, but when we took a step back to analyze it, we realized that we actually have values and beliefs that line up well with each other, and our relationship has developed so much since then. I think that some authors need to realize that love isn’t the end-game; it’s very much a process that develops ALL THE TIME. When characters stagnate, especially in their relationships with each other it’s boring.

    One thing that’ll make me rate a book super low is if the characters are portrayed as being super mature and adult and together and then the insta-love nonsense happens. If a character is super analytical and cautious, but is making a wedding announcement a few hours after meeting someone — no. Just no. It has to be believable and not simply convenient because the author wanted to avoid thinking about how to develop a relationship and make it interesting to the reader.

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