Discussion: Insta-Love

If there’s one thing I hate about YA (and depending on the day, there are multiple things) it’s the fact that all of the main characters seem to fall in Insta-Love.  There is, of course, no formal definition for Insta-Love so I usually define it as: “A type of attraction in which the main character becomes obsessed with another character within a short amount of time, usually in under a week.  Can result in ridiculous declarations of being ‘soulmates’ or some other variation of the word.”

Okay, I get that you can be very strongly attracted to someone you just met.  It’s happened to me before.  However, you can’t proclaim ‘love’ on the basis of someone’s looks alone, as seems to happen in YA so much.  The (usually) female main character will look at a boy and immediately think of him as ‘cute’, ‘hot’ or ‘handsome’ and spend the next few days mooning over him and generally making a fool of herself.  Then, when the boy seems to return her interest, she proclaims that their love is real and everlasting.

Yuck.

Teenage love can be more than a little obsessive because of hormones and a general lack of life experience.  But really, not all teenagers are immediately going to fall in love with the nearest good-looking person.  That’s why it baffles me why Insta-Love seems to occur in so many YA novels.  Of course the polar opposite of Insta-Love is the now cliché Slap-Slap-Kiss when main characters hate each other and then suddenly start making out and proclaiming their love.  But that’s a discussion for another time.

Now I want to hear from you: What do you think of Insta-Love?  Is it healthy for novelists to portray this as a legitimate type of love when their books are aimed at a teenage audience?  Are you as tired of Insta-Love as I am?  Or do you think a little Insta-Love is okay?

9 comments

  1. jcckeith

    For the purpose of YA I think a little insta love is warranted. I mean if the author took the time to list all the details leading up to two people falling in love it would be boring and would take away from the main story. So I think it is completely appropriate, in such novels, to skip over the falling in love and just go straight to setting up the all consumming, instalove, overly emotional bond between two people who just met. I can’t say I like reading such novels, I try to avoid reading them to avoid the instalove phenomena but I am not their targeted readership.

    • Carrie Slager

      For some YA I think Insta-Love (or Insta-Attraction) is fine, but portraying it as a healthy relationship foundation is a little unrealistic. And I think people don’t give teenagers enough credit when they say they’ll be bored about the details of falling in love. If it’s done right, I think a slow increase of romantic tension can be far more interesting than declarations of love in Chapter 3. It all depends on what you’re looking for in a book, I suppose.

  2. Tammy Sparks

    I think authors are becoming more and more aware of “insta-love” because bloggers are complaining about it! We did make up that term, after all:) I can see why authors use this device, however. I remember being a teenager and having super intense feelings about boys that *felt* like love. But reading about it, it’s not that interesting, and I have yet to read an insta-love story that I liked.

    • Carrie Slager

      That’s so true. Teenagers are prone to Insta-Love, but it’s really annoying to read about it. I’m glad that authors are finally becoming aware of the problem, though. I wish it would become a Dead Horse trope already.

  3. literaryvittles

    Haha I love your names for these types of nonsense romantic plots that pop up in YA lit. This describes what was wrong with Twilight and also with the movie “Titanic.” When I was a teen, I generally avoided books billed as romance or with pictures of attractive people embracing on their covers. I understand why the genre is poplar–because a lot of people do want to fall in love, and really fast–but I think Insta-Love sets people up for disappointment and is a pretty unhealthy, unrealistic relationship model overall.

    • Carrie Slager

      I can hardly take credit for the term of Insta-Love; that belongs to another blogger. And Slap-Slap-Kiss is a name from TV Tropes, actually.

      I agree with you. Insta-Love is just setting teenagers up for disappointment and places some pretty unrealistic expectations on relationships at such a young age. For once I’d like to see some gradual attraction in a YA novel.

  4. Grace

    The love stories in most YA novels are vomit-inducing. Generally I’m willing to overlook insta-love as long as there’s not a love triangle. At the same time, I’d like to see books explore love in a more realistic manner. Maybe have two characters spend some time together and then gradually realize that they have feelings for each other.

    • Carrie Slager

      It really depends on the quality of writing for me if I can ignore Insta-Love or not. If the writing is otherwise good I’ll overlook it but if the writing is poor, the pacing sucks and the characterization is pathetic than I hate Insta-Love all the more.

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