In Consideration of Insta-Love | Discussion

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A few weeks ago, I asked people on Twitter for their general thoughts on insta-love. (Insta-love, essentially, is when a character makes an immediate romantic and/or sexual connection to another.) I asked them, could insta-love be plausible? Can it be written well? Here’s a few responses that I received.

The majority of them said that insta-love couldn’t be done executed well or realistic.

But why not? Is it unrealistic to go through some tough shit with someone by your side and then want to pursue a deeper relationship with them? For a character to go through a tough time and to grasp onto someone to pull them out of a dark hole, that’s wholly possible. S. Usher Evans offered a really interesting point:

So does that make insta-love acceptable, per se? This particular character needs someone to hold onto and to help them in times of stress, and perhaps this initial relationship can grow into something larger.

Yes, insta-love can be used as a plot-filler. And yes, insta-love can be used as something to propel drama in a novel. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that insta-love is absolutely impossible. I always hear about these sweet stories about how grandparents got together (for better or worse) through insta-love. There are always stories about how people start relationships through a mutual attraction and then a development of something greater. If it can happen in real life to a smaller extent, is it totally implausible to say that it could happen in young adult literature?

Futhermore, I’m sure you’ve all read The Great Gatsby. If my mind serves me right (I read this book last year), wasn’t Gatsby absolutely in love with Daisy although he barely knew her? If a classic novel that is praised by literary critics can contain aspects of insta-love and deemed a piece of literary art, why can’t insta-love be deemed even slightly plausible or well-written in young adult literature? Not that I’m condoning Jay Gatsby’s actions (because he was quite the creep). I definitely think that a healthy relationship transcends any trope in literature, including insta-love, to be completely honest.

So, yes. I’m not totally against insta-love. I’m not a huge fan of it (I’m more into the slow-burning type love, but I do think it has potential to cause lots of angsty romances, and if you didn’t know, I’m a huge sucker for drama-filled love stories. I feel like insta-love can bring out the inner personalities and the weaker vulnerabilities of characters, and perhaps that can be developed into a great aspect of a novel.

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There are a couple of different ways you could stand regarding insta-love. So what are your views? Let me know!

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27 thoughts on “In Consideration of Insta-Love | Discussion

  1. I’m with the majority here: I don’t like insta-love usually, because it’s done so badly. I’ve never thought of the point you mentioned here though – if someone is in a really bad place, they would get attached to people more easily! I think it has such bad rep because it’s done so badly, and so unrealistically. I think I could enjoy it, maybe! 😀

    Denise | The Bibliolater

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  2. I think insta love in real life happens. It happens with friendships and relationships all the time. There’s an immediate connection with someone as soon as you talk to them whether you’re interested in them, judgemental, repulsed, etc. etc. But I think the problem with a lot of YA is that it seems like a shoe horn most of the time. When I read insta love, most of the time it just seems like it’s there because there NEEDS to be romance in a YA novel (not true, but this is what ‘sells’) so the authors put it in and then you get the typical “he’s nothing like I’ve ever seen” cliche which, ugh. I think if insta-love was written way more sincere than it is more of a marketing ploy, I might like it more. It just always seems so shallow and half hearted. I think you can be attracted to someone by looking at them once, but it seems like “we’re in love. This is it. There’s no journey. We’re ready to die for each other even though we’re three chapters into the book”.

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    • That’s a really good point. I haven’t really thought of it as a marketing ploy but now that you mention it, I really see how a genuine relationship can be hindered by a need for romance in a book that would be fine without it. Thank you for your input, Alexa!

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  3. As long as it’s not too cheesy or done in a dumb way, I usually love it. I’m not the type of reader who dislikes when romance is unrealistic, because for me personally I don’t read to get a taste of real life–I read to live in a dream and a fantasy for a bit, and I love when dramatic things happen!

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  4. I am not totally against insta love either. I mean a person can get attracted or fall for someone for their personality (I mean an act of kindness or something like that which the opposite person notices to make him/her fall for the other) instead of their looks alone. But love triangle is definitely something other, I loath that but I’m somewhat okay with insta love.
    Great post! 🙂

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  5. I believe in insta-love. Happened to me and my husband. I think the cynics who don’t believe in insta-love have probably never been in love, or forgotten what it’s like to be a teenager. Teens don’t have filters or wisdom and they feel everything so strongly that for every sixteen year old, it’s always real love. Anyway, I think a lot of people mistake attraction for insta-love. It’s almost as if no characters are allowed to notice each other or find each other attractive unless they’ve been platonic friends for years, but that’s another trope altogether. I think people judge insta-love too harshly.

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  6. I don’t believe instalove or love at first sight is a true thing, but that’s just me since I’ve never experienced it. I know a lot of readers sort of hate it when it’s featured in books but I don’t mind it one bit if its made believable or fits in with the romance. For example, Everything, Everything is a perfect example of why it’s sort of okay. I mean there was no other way the relationship to start unless it was instalove (Maddie couldn’t leave her house you see). However, there’s very few scenarios where instalove is acceptable so I like insta-attraction a lot more normally. Because that is more realistic, I think. I mean I have seen guys and thought: “wow, he’s good looking!” 😉

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  7. I’ve been thinking about insta-love a lot lately, and Liv makes an interesting choice about insta-love being a gendered thing. On that though, I know a friend (who is 65 or so, mind you) who fell in love with his wife of many many years the moment he saw her. He said it was love at first sight. So, although I don’t think I’d ever feel that way about a person, I don’t think it’s impossible. Just generally a) unlikely, and b) doesn’t always play out well in the end.

    I think insta-love to an extent can happen. It really depends on the person. I know people who feel strong attractions towards people to the point that they get infatuated (which is often misinterpreted as love). I think the problem with these insta-love relationships in YA is that they’re lazy and there’s no development just because. If the insta-love and its spontaneity has a point to the story, then it would serve a purpose. Unfortunately, it more often doesn’t. :c

    Great discussion though, Ali! I’m glad I read your post; it highlighted a lot of great points, and stuff I have been thinking about myself!

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  8. MOST of the time I hate instalove and it ruins a book for me, but I would argue that there are cases where an author has pulled it off. I think it actually can be done well, but the stars have to be aligned and the author has to have a lot going for the story in other ways. A long time ago, I actually wrote a post about why instalove actually DOES work sometimes. You can read it HERE if you’re interested. 🙂

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  9. I think the problem with instalove in general is that it’s often a result of the writer just not thinking it through. Especially in YA, where romance is a very common element, sometimes it feels like the author’s just following a formula: Add 1 hot guy, with a soupçon of secrecy and a dash of Dark and Troubled Past, and voilà, true love! The other problem with it is that by its nature it can leave you feeling cheated; the reason I like romance in my books is because I like to see the characters grow together and their relationship develop, and when they meet and instantly fall in ‘love’ I don’t get that.

    I think instalove can work when the narrative makes it clear these feelings are not a deep, abiding love. If one or both of the characters is lonely and desperate for a connection with another person, for instance, then that can be an interesting piece of character development that may or may not end with them still wanting to be with that person. Likewise, I’m okay with instant attraction being the start of a relationship, as long as there’s still opportunity to see the characters get to know each other. I don’t even mind the instalove in Romeo and Juliet, because the whole point there isn’t that Romeo and Juliet are desperately in love, but that their families’ feuding means they have to hide their feelings (which are most likely infatuation, IMO) and take desperate steps rather than be open and honest about it all. It’s when the characters go from meeting each other to dying for each other – without any indication from the wider narrative that this behaviour is not normal – that it bothers me.

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  10. I think there is a difference between love and lust/attraction. You can love quickly, but sometimes books just do it TOO quick. Like the girl is ready to die for that person after 10 days, and that’s not realistic. But you can be interested in someone quickly and advance the relationship.

    Molly @ Molly’s Book Nook

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