Let’s Talk About…Insta-Love!

INSTA-LOVE. It’s a term that I never heard before last year, when I started seeing it pop up in reviews of YA novels. Girl meets boy and lightening strikes. The critics are right—it’s all over the place in YA literature. For example:

  • TWILIGHT – Bella and Edward’s eyes meet in that school cafeteria and YA history is made.
  • STAR WARS – one look at Leia’s image projected by R2D2’s faulty disk drive, and Luke’s ready to take on the Dark Side of the Force to rescue her.
  • ROMEO AND JULIET – a fleeting glimpse of each other at a costume party, and they’re practically sprinting to Friar Lawrence’s cell to tie the knot.

Oh wait, sorry. We’re talking about YA novels. Not classic films. Or Shakespeare. But we might as well be, because from WESTSIDE STORY’s Tony and Maria to Arthurian literature’s Lancelot and Guinevere, Insta-Love is a theme that has permeated storytelling for centuries. (Or millennia, even, if I can get Biblical and mention David and Bathsheba.)

So now that we’ve established that Insta-Love is neither a purely Young Adult phenomenon, nor even that new of a concept, let’s take the discussion past TWILIGHT and into real life. Does love-at-first-sight actually exist outside of the minds of writers, filmmakers and musicians?

And what is the difference between Insta-Love and Insta-Interest? I, personally, have never had anyone grow on me, although it has happened to friends of mine so I know it exists. I see. I like. I conquer. (Or fail to conquer, after making a total idiot of myself. Or chickening out after first making a total idiot of myself.)

Some authors give good reasons for there to be an Insta-Attraction. Bella’s a “shield.” Sookie’s part-fairy. But does there even need to be a reason?

Because to those who say, “Love-at-first-sight just isn’t believable,” I have to say…

Really? I mean…REALLY?

You’ve never had that moment where you walk into a room and you see him/her, or even get as far as exchanging a few words, and suddenly it’s crashing down on you like a car wash—buffeting you from all sides? Never?

I’m not saying that love-at-first-sight is the healthiest basis for a long-term relationship. The French call it a coup de foudre—a lightning strike. Which is a good metaphor: it electrifies you, but it sure does leave your hair a mess. (As well as the rest of your life.) That isn’t to say that it isn’t realistic. And might actually, on the rare occasion, work out. But is it to be trusted? That’s a whole other question.

The fact that it is such a powerful and sometimes devastating force is exactly why writers and poets and musicians and artists choose it as a topic. And why we, as readers, listeners and spectators just eat it up. It’s crazy. It’s dangerous. It’s thrilling. It’s tragic. Just turn on WESTSIDE STORY and hand me a box of tissues. I, for one, am not afraid to say that Insta-Love exists and when it comes to well-written love-at-first-sight, I am a complete sucker.

12 Comments to Let’s Talk About…Insta-Love!

  1. by Emberchyld (Carli) - On November 22, 2011

    I’ve never experienced insta-love (uhm, maybe that’s why I’m still single at 33? :P)

    For me, it’s always been “love at first write”– A well-turned phrase in *wow, I feel old as I write this*: Winchat or IM or via e-mail have usually been how the guys I’ve dated wormed their way into my heart.

    Since I come across to many guys as “snobby” “unapproachable” and “out of their league” (not kidding– I’ve been called those three phases by a LOT of my male friends/boyfriends! And that’s just because of how I stand and look,) no one falls for me, either, until they get to know me going back to the “love at first write” thing. I think that may be why there are skeptics out there– because we’ve never experienced anything like InstaLove. Love, for me, comes with time and work and well-written Skype/text messages.

    BUT. My parents were love at first sight, as were a few of my friends, so I know that it exists. And I’m a sucker for those stories. Yay to the occasional Insta-Love!

  2. by amy - On November 22, 2011

    Carli, that’s probably why I’ve fallen for Mr. Wrong so many times! I do love the idea of “love at first write.” Words can be so seductive.

  3. by Ems - On November 22, 2011

    When it’s well-written, I believe it every time! When it’s not, I decry love at first sight forever…until the next one I read that’s well-written. 😀 In real life, I definitely believe in instant attraction. Still waiting on the love at first sight to hit me.

  4. by Daisy - On November 22, 2011

    I’m all about the love at first sight/instant attraction, cause that’s pretty much what happened with me and my boyfriend 🙂 But what bothers me is the instant-soulmate thing that usually goes along in these novels with the insta-love. And yes, I have rolled my eyes at my friends when they were thinking the last guy they kissed was their ‘soulmate’, until it turned out he really wasn’t. And I believe in instant attraction, just not instant LOVE, that’s a deeper emotion than can be gotten by a glance at someone in my opinion.
    I love the Star Wars reference by the way 🙂

  5. by Lori Ann - On November 22, 2011

    Ha! “I see. I like. I conquer.” Great line.
    Let me just say it. YES. Insta-love exists. Yes, it is all kinds of crazy, leaves your head spinning and your hair (or life) in a mess. But it’s real. I completely get the Insta-love in fiction, but only when it’s accompanied by chaos, at least for a little while.
    If you’re an artist, Insta-love is (I’d wager this) genetic.

    I think you just don’t KNOW that it’s really Insta-love until all the madness has passed and you still feel the fierce devotion to each other.
    My partner and I are on year 13, still feeling the Insta-love from day 1. But I suspect we’re kind of rare.

  6. by Celyn - On November 23, 2011

    “Insta-love” is one of the great things that happen in life. I think it’s one of those unexplainable things that makes life great. It exists and just because someone hasn’t experienced it or seen it doesn’t mean it doesn’t. The hardest thing to try and do is to recreate it but when it’s done right it is something that make movies great, books readable again and again, and fantasies so powerful.

  7. by Makayla - On November 24, 2011

    I really like how you took the approach of applying this to real life; I’ve read a couple of articles where the author has talked about developing insta-love and making it believable within the context of a story. But in real life? That’s something to think about, and I must say I believe what you say. Love is one of the most beautiful things about life–it is also the hardest to understand or explain. But with it, anything is possible.

  8. by June - On November 24, 2011

    You make a good point. So many YA writers/stories get slammed for insta-love but it existed long before YA became popular. I think a lot of YA writers end up utilizing it because they want to get along and hit their plot points. Building up to a more logical love story may use up too much time!

  9. by Mark - On November 21, 2014

    Here is a story of inst-attraction you’re not going to believe… It happened to me when I was 15. I was sitting on a bus just looking around and I saw this girl. From that moment on I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I have no idea how pretty she was – there wasn’t a thought left in my head – I was just smitten. I was very shy and had never had a girlfriend, but even so, I was prepared to get off the bus wherever she did just to say something to her, until she got up and I realized she must have been about 10. I was shocked, but remember thinking “If I record the bus stop, day, time, and a description of her, I wonder if I could hire a private eye in 10 years to find her. Then 3 weeks later I was on the bus and it happened again! An amazing girl I couldn’t take my eyes off and can’t think of anything else, until she gets up, and I come to my senses when I realize it is the same girl from 3 weeks ago. These two instances are unique in my entire life. I definitely believe in insta-something.

  10. by Jenelle - On February 5, 2017

    I am a firm believer that in order to love someone you have to know something about them. Because part of love is seeing someone as a whole, their good, their horrible, their beauty and their ugliness. All of it. How can you love someone when all you’ve done is look at them. I’m not saying there can’t be a spark. I can’t even say you don’t care for that person. But love, to me, is too deep to be a on-sight thing.


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