Insta-love. The hyphenated word that induces such reactions as:
If you’re an avid romance reader, you’re well aware of this term and have probably seen it in multiple reviews or used it yourself to degrade a book. I, too, am not a fan of insta-love, but something strange has been happening lately.
I feel like I’ve seen more and more insta-love shaming that has spawned out of ridiculous accusations. I’ve seen this in reviews for books I love, books I hate, and even books I’ve written. For some reason, there seems to be a trend of readers calling out insta-love in situations where I don’t believe the term should be used.
Now, I know insta-love is in the eye of the beholder, but to me, there are a certain amount of things that need to happen for this term to be used. For instance, couples saying “I love you” after knowing each other for one day in a book.
Or meeting one time and having inner monologue about how their whole world has suddenly shifted to revolve around that person.
THAT is insta-love – you know, the kind of stuff that makes you gag and roll your eyes and want to throw your Kindle. The “I’ve only known him for two minutes and thirty-eight seconds, but somehow I feel like I’ve known him forever. He completes me.” bullshit that causes you to scratch at your eyeballs. Yeah, ew. No one likes that.
But, here’s the thing…
Books are being bashed for “insta-love” for stuff that is true of “real” love.
Now wait a second. Just hear me out…
Boy and girl meet and there’s an attraction there? INSTA-LOVE. Boy and girl meet and girl can’t stop thinking about boy afterward? INSTA-LOVE. Boy and girl smile and say giddy things to each other in the first two weeks of dating? INSTA-LOVE. Boy and girl drop the “l” bomb before dating for five years? INSTA-LOVE.
Okay, I’m being dramatic – but seriously, there’s an issue. I’m not saying we need to slack off and not point out insta-love when necessary, help authors grow and let them know the kinds of stories we love and we hate, but what I want to know is…
Where the heck did we get this obscure notion of what insta-love is?
I want you to think about your significant other. When did you meet them? How long did you wait before you slept together? Before you said I love you? When did you start having feelings for them? After you met them, did you think about them and get excited for the next time you would see them?
I asked these question on my author page and found that over half of my readers said they loved their significant other in a month or less. (see all responses here)
So then why does our community have such a hard time reading love stories where love happens quickly?
Again, I am NOT and advocate of insta-love. However, think about it… the average romance novel is around 80,000 words. Some stories cover years, some only days. There is only so much time for these characters to “fall in love” and often we jump in right when they meet each other. Of COURSE there is going to be some stuff missing. We’re not going to see them together every day. But, we DO get to see the major moments they have together, the moments that define their relationship and what they mean to each other.
So, to me, if we read about a couple that met and within a three month span happened to fall in love, I think that’s believable. I also think it’s believable that after meeting one time, there can be feelings. Now, am I saying they’re already professing undying love? No. But, thinking about the other person’s smile? Getting butterflies? Wondering what they’re up to? Absolutely. I fell in love young, but I remember all those feelings. I was a sick puppy after meeting my husband only one time. I didn’t see him again for about a week yet I thought about him every day.
So, what’s the point of this post? Simple: I’m asking the insta-love critics to think twice before using the word. Don’t insta-love shame every book you didn’t like – not unless that’s exactly WHY you didn’t like it and it has those elements. I’m asking you to do this not to save some author’s feelings or to be “nice”, but to remind our community what the word means.
I have talked with many authors who are afraid to write the story they want to because of the ever present insta-love rain cloud.
It’s a romance book.
Two people are going to fall in love.
Probably pretty quickly.
Authors reading this, do not take this as your green light to go ahead and make your characters fall in love after one date inside the first three chapters.
A reader owes you an honest review of your work, an open mind when reading your book and an open heart for your story. But YOU owe them a well-written, well-developed story where insta-love is the last thing on their mind because they are so wrapped up in your love story they couldn’t imagine a world where these two characters weren’t together. Like, picturing one of them leaving the other literally guts them because they are just as in love with those characters as you are.
So, take my words for what they are – an opinion. I’m well aware that not everyone will feel the same about this subject as I do. But next time you’re reading a book and the characters have a little chemistry, remember how quickly that little stinker called Love sneaks in and the power it can hold over us. Remember that with love, there really are no rules.
But if it is true insta-love?