Insta-love is such a hack phrase. It’s a substitute for instant love but instantaneous is such a fun word, don’t you think?

Generally, it’s used as a term of derision in the young adult community. Not because they object to the “word” like I do. The term was actually coined to derided the concept; that relationship where he’s so hot and she’s so perfectly beautiful and they just met but they have to be together and will die for each other. I think the problem isn’t necessarily how quickly the relationship happens but how unsubstantiated it is.

LOTR / New Line Cinema
Because sometimes relationships happen fast. Authors only have 300-500 pages to make their whole world happen. And sometimes people do fall in love very quickly especially in very extreme circumstance – as Toklien explained with Eowyn and Faramir. And I totally believe in affection at first sight.

Alethea Kontis reminded me of that in this article about insta-love and love at first sight. Sometimes, when you first meet someone, you kind of love them for no reason at all. It doesn’t have to be romantic love and it doesn’t have to be substantiated on anything other than instinct and that moment – the one where they say or do just the right thing that makes you laugh or was exactly the thing you were going to say or was completely unexpected but perfect. It endears them to you and there’s no going back.

Whether the relationship grows into something substantial, a deep friendship or a wild romance or even just a treasured acquaintance there’s always a soft spot in your heart for that person.

Thor / Marvel Studios
And that, I think, is where insta-love goes wrong (other than how insipid the term itself is). It takes that moment, that instant affection, and tries to convince the reader it is the foundation of the relationship instead of just the spark. It goes with the idea that they’re in love and runs with it instead of letting the characters continue to get to know each other; to build on that first blush of love and give it substance through shared trials and sweet moments and conversations and fight scenes where someone inevitably tries to die for the other person. I mean, it usually has that last part but we don’t really believe it without all the other pieces.

Posted in: Story Courses ~


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12 responses to “Instantaneous love

    • Annie

      totally – and it kind of surprises me how often authors and filmmakers think that we’ll connect with characters without that time.

  1. I really agree with what you’ve said here. I do believe in some sort of ‘love at first sight’ but I don’t think it’s as powerful as some authors suggest where the characters suddenly are completely in love with them and want to be together forever. I’m perfectly fine with characters being attracted to each other at first sight and wanting to flirt with them a little and get to know them a little. But falling head over heels in love already and wishing to spend their entire life with them? Very unbelievable.

    • Annie

      totally. I think authors use the idea of characters completely in love immediately because it’s easier than creating an attraction that grows into a solid, real relationship.

  2. I like this sentiment: “there’s always a soft spot in your heart for that person” because I think this is something which isn’t captured very well in many insta-love situations outlined in books. It’s a quiet sort of loving too often overlooked. Also, your words make for a very quotable phrase 😉

    • Annie

      thank you 🙂

      I agree it’s so hard to find an author that expresses that affection well in books even though we run into it often in life.

  3. I use to be a hater of insta love. But I think it can, and does, work if the situation is handled right. I do believe that you can have an instant SOMETHING with someone, but like you said, it’s hard to find an author that can express that.

    Great post! 🙂

    • Annie

      thanks! I used to not like instalove at all either. It was the article by Alethea Kontis that I linked in this post that got me to rethink it and look at it differently 🙂

  4. Ari

    You are so right!
    I believe too in love at first sight (that’s how I fell for my husband after all), but you used a better word: “affection”. And that feeling needs to grow into love, it’s like a seed that would die if not nourished.
    And that’s the problem with ‘insta-love’ – it never grows, the author puts it there one moment and I have to believe it.

    • Annie

      yes! That’s such a good way to say it, it’s a seed and it has to be nourished to grow into something deeper and more meaningful. Both in life and in stories (I adore love at first sight stories in real life).

  5. Keeping Up With the Blogosphere: April Edition!Pretty Little Reader

    […] is everything I have ever wanted to say about instantaneous love, summed up simply and beautifully. I’ve always been a big believer in instant attraction, […]

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