[Book Talk] Where's the Line Between Insta-Attraction and Insta-Love?

08:00 Cilla P 8 Comments



Aah, that moment in a book when two characters lay eyes on each other for the first time and something between them sparks. There's interest (for better or for worse), there may be attraction (or friction), and maybe some humour. When done right, a meet-cute is exactly that: cute. But when is it insta-attraction, and when is it insta-love?

I don't quite believe in love at first sight. I believe, however, in attraction at first sight. I think it's entirely possible to look across the room, think 'wow, they're gorgeous/interesting', and be quite enchanted. So, as a reader, it doesn't bother me if the characters have such moments of instant attraction between them. I also think it's possible for that moment to lead to something deeper, if it's followed up by actual interactions between the two people.

I am bothered, however, when the characters decide the other person is 'the one', then proceed to throw out all plans or defy all rules and expectations for each other based solely on that first meeting. It's here that I stop believing the story. Insta-love of this variety - the sort that has Romeo and Juliet getting married after one day of courtship and despite the glaring family history - is not so common anymore. At least, I haven't come across it lately.

However, insta-love is still very much around, though what constitutes it seems to be rather subjective. I've read a review that says a ship in one of my favourite books is a total insta-love, and I never saw it that way. Other times, it may be the other way around.

My definition of insta-love is when the characters decide they are devoted to each other and can't live without each other, even though they barely know each other. Usually it annoys me because it lacks character development, or because I feel it to be a rather shallow love. An example that jumps to mind for me is Twilight. I'm still not entirely sure what prompted Bella to declare that she was irrevocably in love with Edward other than his weird, mysterious behaviour toward her. This is different from insta-attraction, where the characters might be interested in one another right away, but they'll need a fair bit of convincing still before they declare their undying love for the other.

Your view of it could be quite different from mine though, and I'd love to hear about what you think!

What's your definition of insta-love? 
How do you feel about insta-love, or insta-attraction?
Is insta-love ever okay in a story?
What book comes to your mind when you think of insta-love, whether it's badly written or well-done?

8 comments:

  1. I definitely agree with your definitions! For me, looking at insta-love is a bit weird in that I almost never process how much time passes in books. Unless it's really obvious that the two characters have just met, I just assume that more time has passed and that it's not insta-love.

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    1. That's interesting! I usually have a vague mental timeline of what's going on in a story. I've definitely had those moments though where I'm not sure how much time has passed and whether the romance qualifies as insta-love.

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  2. I agree with you completely on this. I wrote a post a couple of years ago about circumstances when insta-love CAN work, and I feel like the major difference is how the author handles the interactions AFTER that first meet. Being instantly attracted to someone is natural---being drawn to them in deeper ways for no apparent reason, not so much.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. Oooh that's a cool post, Nicole! The Anna/Hans picture is a perfect header for it, haha. I'd actually be interested to see an author twists insta-love the way that ship goes.

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  3. Great distinctions! I think of them similarly myself, and I don't mind books with insta-attraction whatsoever. That's actually kind of how my husband I were --- when we first met, we just "clicked." And two years later we got married. Certainly not insta-love (there was a LOT of development there), but I think that counts as a real-life example of insta-attraction!

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    1. That is so cool, Michelle! Definitely counts as a real-life example of insta-attraction :D

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  4. I think you're right that there's a difference between being attracted to someone and insta-love. You shouldn't see someone for the first time and begin planning your wedding. You need time to get to know them without putting those unrealistic expectations on them! It's even more annoying in YA considering that the majority of people don't find their marriage partner in high school. You're allowed to date more than one person. You're allowed to start dating later in life. It's almost like YA is pressuring high school students to find "the one" before they graduate, sometimes.

    --Krysta @ Pages Unbound

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    1. I haven't thought about that particular effect of YA, but you make a good point! It would be interesting to see a YA novel in which the high school sweethearts don't make it to graduation.

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Thanks for reading! It makes my day to hear your thoughts and I will respond asap. :)