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!).
- 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.
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.
“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?