Discussion: In Defense of Instalove


A few weeks ago, Fierce Reads proposed an interesting question for the Twitterverse to answer… and for me the answer wasn’t easy! 

There’s a lot of animosity and instant negative reactions towards tropes like love triangles and instalove, especially because I think a lot of us have been inundated with both of these concept and/or seen them done errmmm… not well (to put it nicely) too many times. I know that when I hear a book has a love triangle or instalove, I instantly brace myself, preparing for impending doom BUT I don’t always think that’s a fair snap judgement.

It was really interesting to see the answers to this tweet and I was actually surprised to see SO many answers filled with rage about instalove! When it’s done poorly or clumsily, I’m not a fan of it either, but I don’t think it’s something to be counted out, especially when reading YA (come on. I know I suffered from instalove when I was a teenager). I feel like instalove is a term that can encompass more than just the negative instances so I was surprised to see so many reactions!

Okay, story time. I personally consider the way that I met my husband to be a bit insta-lovey. I went to a party with my friend (she had to convince me a little to be honest haha!) and I met Shane there. We instantly hit it off and he even scheduled his plans just to come out and see me if our groups of friends were getting together. He changed his entire opinion of marriage after we started dating (before we officially even started dating, actually). He never wanted to get married and here we are! On our way to our 1st anniversary.

I guess what I’m saying is that for me, it depends on how instalove is written. Do I believe in LOVE at first sight? No. You can’t LOVE someone instantly BUT I do believe in a genuine connection upon first meeting and an instant attraction which is a ridiculously good assistance to falling in love quickly. I firmly believe in insta-attaction and and instant connection but the love part does take time. I think where we have the most issues lies in books like fantasies, sci-fi, and dystopians where two characters meet and then all of a sudden are willing to do anything and everything for that person. In that case… no. That would be instant dedication and maybe instant obsession and attraction but that’s not quite a spark of love.

I also think that it’s such an issue in YA because we’re reading about teenagers. I can remember a VERY specific time when I thought I was in love… from dating a guy for a week. It’s a tumultuous time and easy for a teenager to think that they’re in love because they don’t quite know what love is and have a very strong attraction. Insta-love may be closer to a teenager truth sometimes but that also doesn’t mean it makes it any easier to read! (I much prefer the stories that feel more natural, even if teens do jump into the “L” word too quickly sometimes!)

I could read several books that could be deemed instalove based on a definition and never consider them to be instalove because the relationship just felt natural. I think we just notice when instalove isn’t written as well that sticks out in our brains, giving the concept a generally bad connotation! When it’s written well, I don’t even notice it. I just call it love!

Which is worse for you — instalove or love triangles? Do you think instalove can be written well? If so, what are some great examples?

Hi, I'm Brittany!
Hi, I'm Brittany!

I'm an avid reader, candle-maker, and audiobook lover! Here you'll find book reviews, fun blog posts, and my other loves of photography & craft beer!

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27 thoughts on “Discussion: In Defense of Instalove

  1. Kay @ It's a Book Life

    I am kind of over love triangles, but if they are done well I don’t mind. The Kiss of Deception kind of has one and I thought it really added to the story because of the mystery surrounding who was who. As for insta-love, not really a fan but you have a point, who hasn’t had a bought of insta-love when they were a teenager? So maybe I shouldn’t always be so harsh. Cute love story of your own! 🙂

  2. Inge @ Bookshelf Reflections

    Insta-attraction is definitely a thing, and I do believe that teenagers believe they’re in love after a week. It’s the fact that these relationships usually work out and they’ll be together forever that bothers me. The fact that they just *know* after three days that it’s true love, and let’s ditch school and family and my two friends because this guy is THE BOMB. And nothing bad ever happens and they live happily ever after. THAT’s the thing about insta-love that bothers me. If there’s true chemistry (other than “wow, this guy is hot” and “this girl is different from other girls) and if it’s written well, then I’m totally on board.

  3. acps927

    I definitely agree with your thoughts on instalove! It’s annoying when it’s insta-devotion, not when it’s insta-attraction. I’m reading The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B and the MC falls into instalove in the first paragraph, but the characters are getting to know each other, plus his obsession with her kind of ties into his OCD and it makes sense. And I don’t think all love triangles are badly done either; Jane Austen threw in love shapes all the time and no one seems to condemn her for it! It’s all a matter of how it’s done!

  4. Alicia

    I do agree a bit. Insta-attraction is more reasonable. And sometimes when a book has instalove, it just feels right, like it’s meant to happen, kind of along the same lines as the ‘Chosen One’ trope. I don’t necessarily like it or think it’s the most realistic but sometimes it just works, based on how it makes me feel.

  5. Kristin @ Simply Bookish Things

    I agree with you so much!! It nearly always depends on how the insta-love is written, because I’ve read some really good books that were a bit insta-lovey but they were done right! I think of it more as insta-lust or insta-infatuation. 🙂

  6. Topaz @ Six Impossible Things

    You know, this is an interesting discussion, because while I don’t necessarily detest insta-love (as in, I will certainly consider reading a book even if reviewers have given it the dreaded label), it’s just not my preferred style of romance. I enjoy slow burn attraction so much more – and now that I’m thinking about it, that’s probably because it generally means characters are a bit more mature in that they don’t necessarily jump into loving each other.

    That being said, though, insta-love can be just as swoon-worthy when written well! I certainly agree that it’s possible to feel an instant connection with someone you’ve only just met – but it does have to be handled wisely. I can get behind “wow, I just met this guy and there’s something about him I can’t stop thinking about” – not so much “wow, I just met this guy, am head-over-heels in love, and would likely go to the ends of the earth for him”.

    It’s a fine balance. But it’s there, most certainly. 😉

  7. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I kind of agree/disagree with you on this. I usually really hate instalove in books, but I wrote a whole post one time on why, in certain circumstances, it CAN work. For me, it’s more about how the author builds the romance. If the characters meet and are instantly so in love that they can’t stop gushing about each other before I’ve even had a chance to get to know them and appreciate them, I can’t get on board with the romance. But, if the author shows the relationship building FROM that instant connection, I find myself rooting for them as a couple. It’s not necessarily about the amount of actual time that the characters spend with each other, but about the connection that the author builds between the characters during that time. I DO know that people sometimes meet and feel pretty strongly about each other right away IRL – it happens. Oh, and my husband and I met in high school (when he was only 15), so I DO believe that high school love can last!

  8. Kathy @ Kathy Reads Fiction

    I used to never have a problem with insta-love because my husband and I decided to get married after dating only a week, and it lasted! I’ve always liked a touch of realism in my fiction and to me, insta-love was real enough. But over the last year or so, it has become so overdone and unbelievable that I just don’t like it in my books. I don’t mind love triangles at all, but I know a few readers who shun from them. With so many different kinds of books that out there and the violence that is in them, I’m pretty much immune to a lot of things in books anymore because it seems that anything goes. But, if I had to choose one over the other, I can pass easily on the insta-love.

    1. Kathy @ Kathy Reads Fiction

      Oops! I have to add this. I think there is a difference between insta-love and insta-attraction that is confused a lot in books. I can easily go with insta-attraction that becomes love over time. When You Don’t Have a Choice by Wendi Cassel had insta-attraction between Andrew and Hailey for me, but others thought it to be insta-love.

  9. Valerie Pennington

    I agree! Insta-connection is often confused with insta-love. I totally believe that you can see a guy and feel something. The exciting part is figuring out what that something is. I am a fan if it’s written well, if the readers can feel the connection (which is hard to do). Fun post!

  10. Lauren @ Bookmark Lit

    I totally agree! Especially this part: “You can’t LOVE someone instantly BUT I do believe in a genuine connection upon first meeting and an instant attraction which is a ridiculously good assistance to falling in love quickly. I firmly believe in insta-attaction and and instant connection but the love part does take time.” — Falling in love takes time but it’s very possible to be instantly attracted to someone and have a connection happen quickly. The biggest thing I don’t like about instalove is when the word love is actually used. I’m happy reading a contemp where the characters REALLY like each other by the end, but usually am pretty turned off if they say they love each other. I mean, lots of those books happen in like one month’s time. It’s a bit quick and unnecessary to jump right to love by the end of a standalone!

    1. Lauren @ Bookmark Lit

      Because I apparently didn’t include everything… I think in high school I definitely said I love you to my boyfriend after like a month. It DOES happen that quickly as a teenager, in a lot of situations, but it’s not as fun or developed to actually read about. I prefer seeing some chemistry and banter.. a little build-up and time spent together. Saying that they’re destined to be together but having that be the ONLY thing supporting their “love” doesn’t work for me.

  11. Alexa S.

    While I’ve definitely been burned by past experiences with love triangles and insta-love, I don’t necessarily think that it isn’t a realistic concept in some contexts. Instant attraction and connection can certainly exist; I felt that way about my husband when we first starting hanging out together. I do think love – the real kind – takes time to grow and get strong. But from a teen perspective, because the feelings are so central and new, I can definitely see lust mistaken for love, or feelings being interpreted that way. I’m not really fond of either, but if I had to pick, I’d be more open to reading about love triangles. But if an author does either concept well, and if it fits the characters in a story, I’m usually fine!

  12. Kayla @ The Thousand Lives

    Love that distinction! Insta-attraction is definitely real, and I feel like it’s perfectly normal to include in YA books. But insta-love, especially when the characters are in the middle of life and death situations like The Hunger Games or something, it edges on ridiculous.

    Personally speaking, love triangles are worse. I hate the back and forth, especially since I usually fall to one side entirely, with zero sympathy for the other party. But there are the few rare triangles that work – I guess it’s all about where the MC’s priorities lie!

  13. Cassi @ My Thoughts Literally

    This is great and really thought-provoking. I am not vehemently against insta-love but I have such picky tastes when it comes to romance and when it’s poorly done I get incredibly frustrated. I think in general we’ve probably hate moments of “love at first sight” or an insta-crush from a person we think is particularly attractive. I mean that’s just hormones and yes, very true to the teen experience with the hormonal overload.

    I also think that when you meet someone who you have that connection with you can tell yourself “I think I’m in love” but is that actually love? Maybe, maybe not. My problem with insta-love is that characters tend to fall hard and fall deep. Despite any number of obstacles you’ve met your soulmate and that’s it, nothing more to see here, together forever. That’s the unnatural part for me. Love is sometimes messy. You fight, you break up, you get back together or you don’t. I sometimes wonder if these OTPs truly did get their HEA or if three years later they break up because they went to different colleges and grew apart.

    Like I said, for me romance is tricky. To me the really well done romances are ones where you are attracted to the person right away but over time you really grow to love them. And I would just like to see more challenges to romance. And I don’t mean love triangles because that’s another can of worms.

    Great post Brittany!

  14. Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook

    Oh my gosh, Brittany, I agree 100%. I definitely believe in insta-connection. Not love at first sight, but connection. A feeling that we get when we meet someone and we know there is something there, and that there could be a lot more in the future.

    I don’t have inst-love if it feels natural. And if I can see, throughout the story, how these two people are becoming closer and closer together. That I actually feel their connection too.

    Of course there is bad inst-love out there. But that can be said about any kind of theme or trope.

    Love triangles, on the other hand, are just so not for me 🙂

  15. Lisa @ Lost in Literature

    EXACTLY! I completely agree!!! I loathe insta-love… but I don’t mind insta-attraction at all. I think an instant attraction at first sight is extremely common and very realistic. What I don’t like is when two characters meet and are immediately planning their future together and can’t live without each other, etc. I’ve only seen this done a few times, but it completely ruins the book for me. If they are immediately attracted to each other and want to spend more time together, I totally love it. But what I would consider to be REAL insta-love is when they are head-over-heels in LOVE with each other at first sight. I just can’t stomach it. As far as love triangles go, I really don’t mind them one bit. Every once in a while there’s one that annoys me, but very rarely. I’m a fan of them, honestly. 🙂

  16. Valeria @ A Touch of Book Madness

    I have to agree, I’m also a firm believer in insta connection or insta attraction. I had a somewhat similar experience with my boyfriend. We immediately felt something, and 3 + years we still feel that way. But it has to be done correctly. You have to feel the connection between the characters, otherwise it doesn’t work and it all just feels like a big cliché.

  17. Hannah @ So Obsessed With

    I liked your thoughts on this, Brittany! I agree that instant attraction can exist, and I even think that instalove can be realistic in YA for teenage relationships. I think you make a great point about how it’s usually more frustrating when you’re in a setting where that kind of devotion/sacrifice/etc. doesn’t seem to fit. I also like to look at whether the “instalove” relationship seems to be in character for the hero/heroine. I think some people and certain personalities get more swept up in relationships right away, so it sometimes doesn’t bother me as much if it seems to fit what I know of the character already. I think it’s funny how passionately people react to both instalove and love triangles. I’m more open to love triangles than instalove (in general), but so much of it depends on how the author handles it. I’ve read stuff before that I never thought I’d like but the author just won me over!

  18. Kate @ Mom's Radius

    I’m not opposed to instalove (when it’s written well). And I actually enjoy a good love triangle! What I cannot stand is unhealthy “love” in YA books. Any time characters are crazy jealous or possessive or too absorbed in each other, I cringe. I hate to think of teenagers reading books like that and thinking that’s what love it.

  19. Chelsea @ Books for Thought

    I think of it as insta-lust instead of insta-love because that’s what it is! But there’s nothing wrong with that right? You have to be attracted to a person in order to fall in love with them. That’s just how it works. I’d rather instalove instead of love triangles any day. They can get so confusing! Great post 🙂

  20. Brittany T

    I Instalove this post. (I know awful pun but I had to do it!) I also love the fact that you pointed it out in your relationship and your teen years. I feel very much the same way. My hubs and I met at work and it was undeniable spark at first site and we’ve been together since. Also, I agree teens are sometimes impetuous and are all in when it comes to thier relationships. I know my guys I had as BF’s when I was a teen were like that. I swore they were my one true love and we would live happily ever after. Lol to that. Anyhow we are also talking about a book where the relationship has to be established pretty quickly. Some people say well it’s setting a bad example to this I say let’s put a little faith in our teens that they can tell fiction from reality, I doubt you worry about them thinking they are vampires or that they can go to a schoo for wizards so eh worry that they can’t decipher the relationship in a story for reality. I think that if either one of those things is done properly, they can add to the story. As for love triangles, again the right ones are perfection. Let’s look at the a Raven Cycle with Adam/ Blue/ Gansey dare I say Ronan, yes I do dare! That is a triangle that was pretty lovely. How about my favorite love story of all time. Tessa & Will & Jem from Cassie Claire’s Infernal Devices series. That is one of the most beautiful triangles that I have ever seen and a perfect ending to boot! As long as the girl doesn’t flip flop a ton between the guys and make herself smutty I am all for all the love!!! Never understood the animosity really. It’s all for fun and I think if you cut out all this love stuff one could miss out on some awesome books!
    ❤️Britt @ please feed the bookworm

  21. Amanda @ Nellie and Co.

    To be honest Brittany, I agree, there’s a difference between Insta-attraction and Instalove and I’m on the side of attraction, because lets be honest, you see a hot guy and BOOM, you think he’s hot and start googly eyes, that’s fine. When things get a little ‘I love you’ after a few weeks, then I’m going to question because can you really after such a short amount of time? Hm. I do think your own story is sweet though, and I’m pleased you’re anniversary is coming soon, celebrate it wonderfully! 🙂

  22. Stefanie

    I’m definitely on board with insta-attraction. Because that’s something that can totally happen, just loving the general vibe you get from someone. Insta-love is pretty unbelievable because you don’t know a person well enough to love them that soon after meeting. So I definitely agree that there is some truth to this matter and that it doesn’t deserve this much hate. But on the other hand I have read multiple books where they do write the whole situation as insta-love. Right away the protagonist knows she/he can’t live without the other. And that’s just not realistic. Wanting to spend a lot more time together, working to see each other more after barely having spoken: yes; love forever based on some across-the-room- eyecontact: no. I wish more books would be about insta-attraction than insta-love because the courting and the getting to know each other parts are so much fun!

    Another redeeming point for insta-love is that in YA it’s about teenagers. I don’t know about you guys, but when I was a teenager I was pretty much in love with someone new every second week. Obviously they were just regular crushes, but to me they felt really serious. And obviously looking back on those times I was never actually in love with these people. But at that time I thought I was because my teenaged mind loved the drama and the idea of beging in love.

  23. Briana @ Pages Unbound

    I can believe in insta-attraction. I just think a story is more exciting if there’s a bit a of courtship, a bit of uncertainty. I like to see relationships grow. Although I am a little more forgiving of instalove in standalone novels, as a opposed to a series, just due to space constraints.


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