I’m taking part in Insta-Love 101 hosted by A Novel Idea – a two week long event spread over many blogs (view the schedule) to discuss this ever so common feature of fiction today! If you know me, you know I don’t like romance novels. And I scorn insta-love. But now I want to explain just why I don’t like it…
Why Insta-Love Just Doesn’t Work
Imagine you are sat in a coffee shop, having your usual cappuccino and reading a book. You take your eyes off the page for just a second, and cast your gaze across the room. Immediately, you stop and stare at this breathtaking person, who in turn is staring at you. You can instantly feel the chemistry and right there you know you want to spend the rest of your life (or at least a large part of it) with this one person. You don’t know them, their name, their interests, story, anything. That latte they’re drinking may not even be their coffee preference. But still, you feel this overwhelming desire to be with them.
If that was me, I’d be completely and utterly freaked out.
Wouldn’t you? Why do our protaganists not think this feeling is weird? Why is it more acceptable or possible in fiction? Look, I get the whole star-crossed lovers, destined to be together thing – but I don’t think you can really come to that conclusion until you actually know someone (which rules Romeo and Juliet out…).
So why doesn’t insta-love work for me in books?
It is generally always based on appearances.
It often tends to happen when the protagonist has seen someone for the first time, not spoken to them or had an all night in-depth conversation. Which to me just screams ‘shallow!’ and doesn’t really put the main character in a good light. Of course you can be instantly attracted to someone, physically at least, but how could you fall in love with them if you don’t know a thing about them?
You miss the soul-crushing excitement of having a possibly unrequited crush.
Or is that just me?? Not knowing whether that person that you really like likes you back, feeling those butterflies every time you see them or talk to them, getting super excited when they contact you first. In most books I’ve read lately where there has been a budding romance, there’s been none of this. No big build up, just one little moment where both characters declare their feelings – and they NEVER get turned down! What is this magical world where everyone is instantly attracted to the ‘right’ person? Where’s the excitement in that? The sheer terror of your feelings being thrown back into your face? Pssh, who wants soppy perfect romance when you can have possibly unrequited love!
Characters tend to ignore everyone else in their life for their new ‘love’.
Okay, so you’ve known Mr. Smouldering Eyes for all of two minutes. It’s TOTALLY OKAY to now abandon and ignore everyone else in your life. Yes, I’m looking at you, Bella Swan! Just forget about those people who tried to help you ease into life at your new school. Just forget about your poor neglected dad who is trying so hard to make you feel comfortable in his home. Just throw all your cautions to the wind and go off with this guy, who on one of your first meetings looked as though the very sight of you was going to make him puke. Yeah. Good choice. *two thumbs up*
It takes time to fall in love.
Maybe this is more of a personal thing – but I do not believe in love at first sight. Sure, you can be really attracted to someone’s appearance when you first see them, but you don’t know the person inside. And you won’t until you spend time with them. See, Hades knows how it works. You get to know someone first – you go on dates, you chat, you share interests and passions.
From past experiences, I’m not particularly optimistic in relationships. Things happen that you don’t expect, they can be hard to maintain, you can lose interest, one person can want more than the other – they are hard. And I don’t think just loving someone is enough to keep it going, so insta-love as a device and answer for the perfect relationship seems like a bit of a laughable idea to me. And as much as I love the idea, I don’t think there is a ‘The One’ for everybody – so two people can’t be ‘destined’ to be together. It’s just a matter of finding someone attractive, both internally and externally, enjoying spending time with them, feeling yourself with them and feeling happy.