Let’s Talk: Insta-Love (They Won’t Last Three Weeks)

shelatitude-instalove

You know what I’m talking about. Two people meet, and BAM! They instantly fall in love. There are sparks flying, angels singing a beautiful chorus, whispers saying this one, THE ONE… and they might not even know each other’s names yet!

Love at first sight (colloquially ‘insta-love’) is so popular across pretty much all genres and formats that it’s impossible to consume some type of media and never accidentally encounter this particular trope. Some quick examples:

  • Shakespeare’s very own Romeo and Juliet is the poster child of insta-love relationships. It’s inspired a whole world of other insta-love couples in popular media, including various Romeo and Juliet remakes and its gnome version, Gnomeo and Juliet.
  • Disney is a particularly big-name repeat offender, with a huge ransack of love-at-first-sight animated films, including but not limited to Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and even Frozen (and essentially TWICE too in one movie!).

sleepingbeauty

  • Movies are their own ball-game, but I can also name a few off the top of my head: 500 Days of Summer, Enchanted, West Side Story…
  • The YA genre is rife with books where the main relationship is an insta-love relationship: Twilight (of course), Shiver, The Mortal Instruments, Clockwork Prince. I heard the newer Tonight The Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales also suffer from a bit of insta-love, but I haven’t read it myself so I can’t say for sure.

A confession: I’m not a big fan (or at all a fan) of insta-love. I think it’s unrealistic, unconvincing, and most of the time, it’s done in a way that throws me right out of the story and makes me want to shake the character(s) in question and tell them they’re being dumb.

I don’t even like it when it somehow makes sense for insta-love to happen, for example in cases of reincarnation (i.e. they were together in their past lives and now are reborn again), which can be romantic but often plays up the meant-to-be-together plot quite a bit.

I love this GIF. Don’t you?

The reason is simple. Insta-love removes my favourite parts of a love story: the why and the how two people fall in love.

I can kind of get why authors, particularly YA authors, do it. I remember being a teenager and crushing on ~*ALL THE BOYS*~, but I never ever thought for one second that I’ll spend the rest of my life with ’em. Often what happens is that I’d find out something petty about them that I don’t like, and whoosh goes my crush.

quotationmarks“I could not tell you if I loved you the first moment I saw you, or if it was the second or third or fourth. But I remember the first moment I looked at you walking toward me and realized that somehow the rest of the world seemed to vanish when I was with you.”

— Clockwork Prince , Cassandra Clare

It’s often frustrating reading about a girl who sees a guy from across the room, meets his eyes, and falls in love with him so much that she devotes her entire life story (i.e. the rest of the book) to try to get with him. It’s even more frustrating when she can’t really explain why she loves him—just that he’s super hot/charming/handsome/<insert complimentary word>, or my personal (least) favourite: there’s just something special about him… No thanks.

Now, if it’s attraction she’s talking about, I can completely get by that. Sometimes you meet someone in real life, find each other attractive, and just ‘click’. You have conversations that go for hours on end. You can tell each other anything and not be judged. You feel like you’ve known them for much, much longer than you actually have.

That doesn’t mean you love them though, and while I’m no expert, you probably shouldn’t love someone you just met thirty minutes ago… right?

What do you think about insta-love? Are there books (or movies, I’m easy!) out there that do insta-love convincingly? Have you ever personally experienced love at first sight? Know anyone who has?

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19 thoughts on “Let’s Talk: Insta-Love (They Won’t Last Three Weeks)

  1. I have mixed feelings about insta-love. Sometimes, when the timing and the chemistry is right, I tend to approve it. Sometimes though, when the insta-love feels awkward and off, that’s the time when I roll my eyes and get annoyed. Lol

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  2. Although insta-love is completely unrealistic, I still love reading about them simply for the purposes of being entertained. Watching our two MC do stupid things purely for the sake of “love” is entertaining. Insta-lust, however, is something that is far more realistic simply because people can be instantly attracted to someone based on physical appearance, it’s why we have one nigh stands, lol.

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    • You must be veeeery patient! I get very frustrated when people do stupid things, for me ‘love’ just doesn’t cut it as a reasonable excuse. 😛

      I do enjoy insta-lust, though, and I love it when they recognise it for what it is instead of trying to pass it as love. I definitely agree that you can be instantly attracted to people based on how they look!

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  3. It’s rare that I enjoy a insta-love story. I agree it is very unrealistic. Attraction is one thing but to be madly in love is silly. Disney, as you mentioned, is one of the biggest culprits of this. Which of course makes things unrealistic for a lot of young girls and women. Relationships take work and you have to get to know someone. A deep lasting love takes time and effort. I wouldn’t say me and my boyfriend had love at first sight, but love came fairly quickly after meeting. We both knew this is it after the first date, so I wouldn’t call it insta-love, but I have heard of couples who claim love at first sign and stayed together for years. I guess it is possible.

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    • Have you ever enjoyed an insta-love story? I’m sure I’ve read a good novel that involves insta-love, but I don’t think it was the insta-love that was good, it was probably the novel itself. I completely agree that relationships take work (and sometimes a LOT of work), and I don’t really believe that you can know someone 100% ever, I think.

      That’s very cute about you and your boyfriend! I’m very skeptical by nature and it’s impossible (I think) for me to be 100% certain about anything. How long have you been together? 🙂

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      • I have read and enjoyed insta-love stories in the past. I haven’t read any recently, but do occasionally like them. I just find the love aspect a little unrealistic sometimes, but the good ones often have other redeeming qualities that make me like them. I definitely agree you will never know someone 100%.
        I can honestly say I was like that about relationships, very skeptical. We have been together for nearly a year now.

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  4. With few exceptions I’m typically not the biggest fan of the insta-love trope. Like you said, insta-love removes the how and why they fall in love and to me that’s my favourite part of the journey. I love getting to see the progression of a relationship and see them work on it and build up the connection between them. Relationships are not all hearts and flowers and a lot of work goes into them and I feel like we don’t see enough of that in YA literature. Great post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • What are the exceptions? I’m open to being convinced. 😛

      That’s my favourite part of the journey too! I agree that we don’t see enough of that–not just in YA but across other genres, too. It saddens me actually how many stories focus on getting the characters together and that’s it–happily ever after. Getting together (I think) is the easy part, haha.

      And thank you! ❤

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  5. There are many things involved in this concept, and many ways of discussing this topic. First thing being that love is not perceived equally by everyone. “Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love” by Helen Fisher explains a bit of this. Love itself is not palpable, or measurable. What is not love for me, might feel as ‘love’ for a 14yo teenager. Even adults have different perception of what love is. So, in that sense, I think in YA, sometimes this concept makes a bit of sense. The characters are immature, and even if it’s not realistic for us, sometimes it’s realistic for the characters involved. (meaning, it’s what they ‘believe’ in)

    Am I a fan of insta-love, or insta-attraction portrayed as love? Well, not particularly. But then again, this is why I’d prefer novels with grown up characters. On the other hand, when it’s that type of ‘insta-love’ associated to that innocence, that age of innocence when all it matters is ‘their eyes, their scent, and holding their hands’, there’s something sweet about that innocence that I can’t quite explain. It’s part of the process of growing up too. And the ‘they won’t last three weeks’ is pretty realistic too. They won’t last three weeks indeed, but that’s not what they believe in. Then, of course, there’s the fact that YA is often associated to fantasy settings or settings with strong conflict / tragedy, which puts the characters in the Romeo / Juliet position. Conflict accentuates the emotions, even in real life. But you know, this would be a very long debate, because this would involve debating how people feel about insta-love in real life too, and you’d be surprised how many actually believe in that concept. While others, on a complete extreme opposite, actually consider attraction, lust, love all of the same, as they are all about ‘chemical reactions’ and that’s it – only different stages. So talking about ‘love’, can’t imagine anything more difficult than that:) Good post

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    • I completely agree that it makes sense at a YA level, but I do wish it was a little less widespread. Even novels with grown-up characters, I think, typically focus on the getting together and not the relationship-building part (i.e. where you have conflicts, encounter incompatibilities etc. and try to solve them). More philosophically, I do agree that love is different according to the person–and even with one person, you can feel different kinds of romantic love throughout the years.

      YA fantasy is different, yeah–when it’s a matter of life and death, emotions are heightened and it’s ‘easier’ to fall in love (i.e. the suspension bridge effect). I think that’s why I’m actually more alright with fantasy characters falling into insta-love than contemporary characters; there’s normally a level of risk and danger involved.

      I think insta-love in real life does happen, and although I don’t know anyone who’s in it, I’ve heard stories about how sometimes “you just know they’re the one”. I’m a skeptic by nature and I second-guess ALL of my life decisions, though, so I think more often than not it’s not something that I can effortlessly understand. 😛

      Thanks for reading, Nya, and thanks for being so thorough with your response! You seem to have a very well-thought out view on this and it’s great to read it. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Really well-written piece! I agree with you, instalove doesn’t do much for me in any genre of books. The most recent offender I read was Everything, Everything, in which the love interest and MC make eye contact through a window and BOOM love.

    I honestly think instalove is lazy writing a lot of the time. The author knows he or she wants two characters to be together for plot purposes, but doesn’t want to be bothered with creating the backstory/courtship/chemistry of the relationship. But it’s so much harder for me, as a reader, to root for a relationship when I don’t see what draws the characters together. Great discussion topic!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading! A confession: I’m actually quite accepting of the insta-love in Everything, Everything because of the protagonist’s circumstances. I’m not in love with their relationship, but I can kind of understand why she’d fall for him (i.e. he’s honestly the only one available). I don’t get why he would go for her, but you know. 😛

      You brought up a good point about insta-love being lazy writing. Many authors I think create their characters with an end pairing in mind, so that tends to be their guiding line instead of the characters themselves, if that makes sense. I do agree that it’s hard to root for certain relationships when you don’t know why they’re in a relationship in the first place, though!

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