Why Does Insta-Love Still Exist in Books?

In case you don’t know, insta-love is when a girl meets a boy, has two conversations with him, and then declares her undying love for him. Then the reader leans back, wrinkles up her nose, and thinks to herself, “WTF just happened? She doesn’t even know the guy!”

It’s commonly known that readers don’t like insta-love. I see SO many posts and reviews that say things like:

  • 10 reasons why I hate insta-love
  • This book was great except the romance because it was insta-love
  • The insta-love really brought this book down
  • etc.

And oftentimes I read a book and I’m REALLY enjoying it, then we get a dose of insta-love and it turns me off the whole thing. I could have loved that book, but the insta-love ruined everything! It could easily bring a four star book down to two stars.

The point is, people clearly don’t like insta-love. It’s not a romance we can get on board with and it’s something we readers often complain about in reviews.

So why does it keep happening???

You’d think that if there was something readers CONSTANTLY spoke out against, authors would take note and stop doing it, right? But insta-love is something that keeps appearing again and again. It makes me wonder:

  • Does the author not think their romance is insta-love? Do they just not see it? Or;
  • Do they know it’s insta-love and not realize people hate insta-love? Or;
  • Do they know it’s insta-love and deliberately put it in anyway, knowing that people won’t like it?
  • Are there people out there who actually do like insta-love?

I seriously just DON’T GET IT. What’s going on here? Why can we not move past insta-love and properly develop relationships? Do we need to host a little pow-wow and chat together about what insta-love is? Do we need to lay down some ground rules?

Why do you think insta-love still appears in books? How do you feel about it?

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58 comments

  1. InstaLuv is the #1 main reason I cannot read YA books. Seriously. As soon as I see in the blurb…”…and during her hybrid werewolf-vampire shift that happened in the middle of her physics class at Creepy School For Non-Human Teenagers, Blade Riverstone’s violet eyes met the bright luminous green eyes of Baron dellVeccia and fell utterly and instantly in love..”..that’s it, I can’t even read the first page. I loathe instaluv. Absolutely loathe it. InstaLust I can get behind. InstaAttraction that slowly leads to a genuine feeling I can enjoy. But the instaluv that is SO prevalent in YA has turned me off the entire genre. I would dearly love to interview a YA author who uses it all the time and just ask WHY???????????????

    Jaki recently posted: Outlander – Diana Gabaldon
    1. Yeah, or, “She is instantly and inexplicably drawn to [main male character]”. To be fair, that does imply insta-attraction, but I find that insta-love often follows insta-attraction. It’s like “Instantly attracted” then the next day: “I love you”.

  2. I don’t like insta-ove too. I like my romance to slowly develops over time.
    I don’t know why authors still use insta-love in books so much. I discussed this irritating problem with my husband one time and he claims that they are trying to imitate teenagers. How when you are a teen one glance is enough for you to have a crush… I don’t know. *shrug* For me it was never quick, so I never believe it when it happens in books. It never feels like it’s true love.

    Dragana recently posted: Book Review: The Jewel by Amy Ewing
    1. That’s a good theory, too: Someone believes teens have to fall in love like this… Yeah, right, like they could still fall head over heels for someone from their neighborhood when they have hot and sexy VIPs all over the place (TV, magazines) to crush on. Duh.

    2. I guess that’s true. I wish less people would focus on that though because not all teenagers are like that! I may have been a bit like that in middle school (like MG years) but not in my “YA”/teenage (16-19) years.

  3. The infamous insta-love.. I know there are so many ppl raving about it, but nothing changes. But I have a theory!

    I think since lectors, and thus publishers, do have a say in the matter, author’s can’t change it, even if they wanted to. Why? Because although all bloggers are hating on the subject, we buy the books anyway, and I believe the publishers only look at the sales. They see the sales numbers, and they know what elements are in the books, so they always want this kind of love story in anything new that is submitted by authors. Why switch out a horse that wins you races? You get my drift.

    However, what I don’t get is: Why do indie authors do it, too? Because this is what some sales/promo blog entry marketing stragetigst wrote somewhere? They go with the same statistics as the publishers, and while there might be lots of good info in there, there’s just enough genre crap in between, I think.

    Aside from that, I also think that most authors don’t realise they romance is insta. I think they all have this overly romantic notion about love at first sight, although we reader’s would be totally content with a second, third, or fouth glance by now.

    Caro @ The Book Rogue recently posted: Me, my Shelf, and I
  4. Honestly, I think it’s because Insta Love is easy. You don’t have to “work hard” on progressing the relationship, on showing the readers what they love about each other – and sometimes I’ve got the feeling the author himself doesn’t know how to make them love each other naturally. It’s so much “simpler” and shortens the whole process to just have them lock eyes and fall in love, don’t you think? Regardless of the effect it has on the reader (I’m an avid Insta Love hater).
    It’s like stereotypes. Everyone hates them, but people use them anyways because it’s a shortcut.
    Or maybe they think THEIR insta love will be one of the rares we will enjoy (because, yes, I will admit that even as a hater, there are some romances I realize are insta love only much later, when I’m writing a review, because I enjoyed them so much I haven’t even noticed).
    Either way, it’s a trend I hope will stop – ESPECIALLY in romance books. It’s easier to ignore the insta love if the romance is not the focal point of the story, but when it is… kill me now, is all I’ll say.

    Nitzan Schwarz recently posted: DNF: Ink by Amanda Sun
  5. A writer’s perspective (for the most part): I believe, and hope, my writing falls more on the side of Insta-Attraction, because this is a natural thing. That being said though, I suppose you could say there are hints of Insta-Love with them but it’s apart of the theme of the novel. It’s about the reincarnation of a Greek God’s soul inside mortals and their struggle with fate. So they feel the love their Greek souls had for one another but the mortals fight these feels because their resistance to the idea of Insta-Love…

    But anyways, for those who write Insta-Love I think this stems from a deeply rooted belief in hopeless romanticism. Everyone, deep down, at some point in their lives, wants to believe in a love that is instantaneous. You see someone and you just know: “this is it. This is that person I’ve been searching for all my life.” It’s that longing for a soulmate, that other half who completes you. The concept of soulmates isn’t nearly as thrilling if it takes years to realize that a certain someone is /the one/. So I think Insta-Love stems from a good place, a genuine well-meaning place, that wants the reader to have a kind of cathartic experience to reinforce those hopeless romantic aspirations we all feel.

    I know, personally, I did feel a sort of Insta-Love with my fiance. Within a 48 hour span we were telling each other we love each other and 2 continent moves and many years later we’re planning our wedding. So it happens, I’m sure it’s rare and I might be an exception to the rule but it does happen. And I think writers, with their desire to bring fantasy to their readers, use these small occurrences to encourage the rest of the population.

    Wow, this was long. I should’ve made it a responsive blog post. But I love these kinds of discussions so thank you for sharing your thoughts and starting a great dialogue!

    Kyleigh Castronaro recently posted: Book Review – The Dead Game by Susanne Leist
    1. I guess that’s true. The problem is that I think insta-love is a lot more fun when you’re living it than when you’re reading about it. As a reader, you’re introduced to two characters. You have barely gotten to know either of them that well because it’s still early in the book. Then suddenly they’re declaring love for each other. Well, that’s good for them, but it’s REALLY hard to be all fangirly for a romance when you have a hard time understanding why they’re in love in the first place.

      I can’t really back this vague idea of “soul mates” or “love at first sight”. I can only back a romance when I know both characters well enough to understand why the guy loves the girl and vice versa. But if I know nothing about a guy, I’m sitting there thinking, “Why does she love him? She doesn’t even know him. I don’t even know him enough to like him.”

      If you’re the girl in that situation, you may not care. You may love him anyway. But as the READER (objective third party), it’s just so much harder to connect with a romance when you can’t relate to it or understand why it’s there.

      That’s why my favourite romances are ones that develop slowly over time. Those are the ones that I fall head over heels for and rave about in my reviews.

      1. Oh yeah absolutely. I understand that perspective completely, it’s harder as the third party to accept what is going on because the role of the reader in general is to understand and be absorbed by the world. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you must swallow a pill you don’t know what it’s for, what it’s about, etc.

        And don’t get me wrong, I’ve read my own fair share of Insta-Love stories that absolutely leave me scratching my head and asking why. I guess if I’m gonna defend the writers at all I would say this: Insta-Love would work better in stories told from third omniscient narrators because the reader can relate to both the guy and the girl even if the characters themselves don’t understand each other. First person narratives where the guy is “mysterious” (and let’s be honest in this situations this is the stereotype) it doesn’t work because the readers are constantly questioning it and resisting the dosage the author is trying to give them.

        And I totally get your feelings. I think my favourite romances have also been the ones where they’ve grown and developed over time that by the time they get together you’re crying on relief because you’ve been experiencing second hand romantic tension for them 😉

        Kyleigh Castronaro recently posted: Book Review – The Dead Game by Susanne Leist
  6. I like insta-love. I believe in soulmates and love-at-first-sight (I’ve experienced it and been happily married for 9 years) and I believe that love is the most important thing in the world. I relate to insta-love and I believe that some souls are made for each other and that it can be sensed instantly.

    Aside from that, look at how well Twilight sold, despite how much crap people talk about it.

  7. I’m not sure if I’m fully functioning yet (I’ve had half a coffee and it’s like 9am) but here’s my take – Instalove can work in a paranormal-type setting (I think) but in “real life” scenarios it really can’t. I’m all for insta-lust, cuz that shit’s real, but love? No. Just no. I wonder if authors sometimes think it will make us swoon, because it’s all so romantic and Disney-esque, but really it becomes annoying because it’s so unrealistic (and if I’m honest because it’s never going to happen to me! Said tantrum-style!). I think it can be tricky for authors to show a sincere relationship develop over the course of a novel, depending on its length. Rarely do I see a “proper” relationship develop, but when it does, it usually blows you away. I think the brothers-best-friend story-line is used a lot, because it’s obviously not insta-love if you’ve been childhood friends since you were 6 and then woke up at 18 in love… ahem. Does anyone have any great examples of books that don’t feature insta-love?

  8. I think that a lot of times authors don’t realize it’s instalove because these characters are so much more in their heads than they are to us. The authors know the characters like the back of their hand and maybe they’ve had more moments that brought them to this moment that didn’t actually make it into the book.

    That being said… that’s what agents and editors are for. To catch things like that that translate okay to someone who really KNOWS their characters, but not the same to someone who is just meeting them. I don’t understand why it keeps showing up in books. Nobody likes it. Grrr….

    Rebecca @ The Library Canary recently posted: Top Ten Books I Really Want To Read But Don't Own Yet
  9. I do think that there are some teens out there that you could say fall insta-luv..like I remember in school..girl meets guy for first time and is all like OMG..I am so in love and then they are writing I love so and so on there notebooks, etc….but there are also the more complex go on dates, etc before falling for the guy…but when I am reading a book I want to gag at insta-luv just like I use to want to gag at the clueless girl who fell in love five times in one week!!! LOL. I don’t know why they keep writing it but I hate it.

  10. Actually, there are plenty of people that do enjoy insta-love. Otherwise books like Fallen and Hush, Hush and Twilight would never have been so successful. But since the insta-love hate is so strong in the blogging community, I don’t think any of those people would be very comfortable saying they do like it.

    Celine recently posted: Release Day: The King by J.R. Ward
  11. I really don’t know why authors still write it, I much prefer a relationship developed over time, it feel more real. I think that some don’t realize it, but that others do and want to keep riding on that success with teens.

    Kelsey recently posted: Showcase Sunday (70)
  12. I don’t think insta-love is a thing that will ever go away. A lot of people don’t like it, but some people do, and maybe some authors do too. It seems harsh to tell them to stop writing the way they want just to please a group of readers (even if that group is huge).

    There are also other definite possibilities you’ve written in: do they not see it? It’s sometimes likely, as I’m personally not a fan of anything in a book that includes insta-love. Just plain bad writing.

    Plus one of the comments here, it probably is a lot easier to write, especially if an author doesn’t want any romance but needs to add it in for some reason. (Are there YA books that sell well that don’t have at least one major plot line of couples?)

    And the third: Teenagers. A lot of teenagers, and I’ve suffered it myself, think liking someone so early on is love. (To clarify: not anymore, I am no longer a teenager). Teenagers think they know everything about everything. Though this version of insta-love could be written this way if an author was intending such a thing. (But it could possibly read as a parody of YA…?)

    I just think it’s a book-by-book thing, and shoving all insta-love books into one group of explanation is kind of unfair. I’m 100% sure I’ve enjoyed many books with insta-love and hated others, it doesn’t ruin books for me. Sometimes it just works for a story, especially bleak ones. “You’re falling in love rather fast…. but idk, your whole family was murdered on page 5 so I’ll let it slide.” (I’m reading a book right now where the whole family was murdered in the first chapter so we’ll see where this goes).

    Kaniesha @ Deux Lectrices recently posted: Heather Reviews: Tithe by Holly Black
  13. I’ve never really thought about this, until now. I’m not sure I’ve decided I didn’t like a book because of just insta-love or that plus several other things combined. Kyleigh Castronaro mentioned above about insta-attraction. I think that is more believable than insta-love especially with YA novels. I’m just trying to think about all the books I’ve read and I can’t pin point one book with insta-love although I’m sure I’ve come across them. Maybe it didn’t bother me at the time. I’m not sure, but now I know I’ll be more aware of it.

    Carrie recently posted: A View To A Thrill, Lexi Blake
  14. Sometimes insta-love can be like a cautionary tale. Especially if you follow the characters who have jumped into this love fest and see that their lives eventually implode, because they discover that their love interest is not who he seems to be. In fact, he could be abusive, controlling, and all kinds of awful. And then, perhaps, the character (and readers) can see the point of this “life lesson.”

    Laurel-Rain Snow recently posted: AUTHOR’S HOME PAGE
  15. I think because, in the end, the books still sell. I think authors look at those numbers and still have the idea that we don’t mind if there is insta-love? But I don’t know.. I really don’t understand why they think it’s a good way to write a romance. There are also many YA books out there who get it right – and who have a good line between love and attraction. I just wish they all realized this is not what we want.

    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted: Bout of books Updates.
  16. I think it’s mostly that they don’t realize it’s insta-love. I’ve always been a writer, and so I do realize how difficult it is to establish a connection between the characters that feels realistic. I’m pretty sure lack of pacing is usually the problem, but it’s sometimes harder to see things like that in your own work. I do wonder why more editors and publishers don’t catch it, though.

    I don’t mind insta-love as much as most people seem to, actually. Sometimes a book just goes overboard, but most times it’s not something I notice a whole lot. I do feel like I’m in the minority on that one, though 🙂

    Katie recently posted: Top Ten Tuesday
  17. I do wonder if perhaps authors don’t think their romance is instalove. They know their characters and their characters’ relationships in a lot more detail than their novel allows readers to know them, I would imagine, so perhaps all of the necessary background that the author knows in his/her head means the romance makes sense to them, while without that context the readers interpret it as instalove. Then again, editors should be picking up on that, because they should know the audience doesn’t like instalove either.

    I also think authors can get mixed up between instalove and insta-lust or insta-attraction, the latter of which is definitely a thing that happens. Maybe they try to show insta-lust for the chemistry, but it’s actually instalove?

    Nikki @ The Paper Sea recently posted: Review: Ruin and Rising
  18. I will never EVER undestand why instalove exists in books still. It can ruin a book. Where are the beta readers? How many reviews does there have to be where people say they hate instalove? Do authors and publishers not pay attention to reviews? Do they not care? This is so common in YA 🙁
    I do believe in love at first sight but its very rare…I like reading about the slow burn romances.

    Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed recently posted: Audiobook Review: Finding Cinderella by Colleen Hoover!
    1. Yeah, even if love at first sight exists, I feel like it’s not fun to read about. I sort of touched on this in reply to an earlier comment, but love at first sight is something only the MC can understand. Even if the reader knows that’s what it is, it’s hard for a third party (like the reader) to understand it or relate to it. It’s not fun to read a romance when you don’t feel the same thing the MC does.

  19. I feel like I can actually contribute to this conversation because I’ve started finding myself not thinking a book has horrible insta-love and then being confused when I see a lot of reviews complaining about the insta-love (The Jewel is the biggest example I can think of currently). I’m not really even arguing that those books don’t have insta-love, but more that it is much more subjective than it at first seems. I’m finding myself understand when teenagers who have never had romantic interests before mistake puppy love since that’s realistic. I also find myself understanding in the case of The Jewel that a slave would have stronger feelings than normal when she finds someone who understands her. In short, it seems likely that an author doesn’t realize that a romance comes off as insta-love because they know they’re characters so well that it seems obvious two people would fall for each other. Writing slow burn but convincing relationships seems pretty hard given how few I approve of instead of just don’t care about 😉

    Anya recently posted: Top Ten SF/F Books I Need to Buy
  20. Oh man, insta-love, the thing that can make me want to chuck a book across the room. :/ Honestly, I’m not 100% sure why authors still insist on putting insta-love into stories. But, I have a few theories. One is that they’re doing it on purpose to show how unhealthy insta-love is and to tell the reader “SEE? Look how shallow the MC is being for falling in love with this person they barely know because the person looks SOOOO gorgeous!” Applause to the author who pokes fun at the insta-love trope, and shows that it isn’t something that makes a good romance.

    Or that for everyone who dislikes insta-love, there are still a multitude of people who absolutely lap it up and rake in the sales numbers for books featuring insta-love. If it’s what sells, others are more likely to jump on the bandwagon as well. :/

    Ana @ Read Me Away recently posted: Review 101: Book of a Thousand Days (Shannon Hale)
  21. I have a theory:

    When I had more time (sometime before sophomore year), I used to write stories on Wattpad. The plot development of my earliest stories were disasters. I never finished those stories because I’d dig myself plot so deep that I couldn’t climb out of them. The romantic development in those stories were no better. I wasn’t sure how to pace it or make it seem realistic but not boring. My Wattpad phase wasn’t a complete loss. Through my mistakes, I realized how easy it is — even for published authors — to make the mistakes that drive readers like me crazy.

    Anyway, I’m getting to the point now: sometimes, you honestly don’t realize the mistakes you’re making until someone points them out. Sometimes, you try really really hard to write chemistry and you honestly think the couple in your story has chemistry. You don’t realize that what you really have is insta-love. Your intentions may blind you from the actual nature of the story you wrote.

    I’m certainly not an established author, so my theory could be completely false. But it makes sense, doesn’t it? Nonetheless, even with good intentions, I still think insta-love is inexcusable in a published novel, especially if your story was published by a major publishing company. Sometime between the first draft and the press, a writing partner, editor, agent, etc. should’ve said: “Fix this insta-love before it gets printed!”

    Dana @ The Nerdy Journalist recently posted: Introducing a new feature… Multimedia Monday!
  22. For the most part, I am anti-instalove. However, on a rare occasion, I think it works. For example, in Dark Lover by J.R. Ward, Wrath and Beth pretty much fall for each other instantly… BUT they fight against it at first, making it a little bit more believable. I think, overall, instalove works better in the paranormal genre, for some reason.

  23. I am a firm believer in instant attraction, in that “something” that sparks interest, but I don’t believe in inta-love. It’s just now realistic, although it might be more common and understandable for younger audiences (often confusing attraction or “like” with love).

    True and enduring love is something that takes time to develop, understand and grow and depending on the book, there might not be enough time to dedicate to that growth within the pages of said book.

    When it comes to insta-love I proceed with caution 🙂

    Liza @ Reading with ABC recently posted: Top Ten Books I Really Want To Read But Don’t Own Yet
  24. As a writer, I see the appeal of insta-love. It’s like a plot shortcut. Author’s don’t have to spend the pages trying to make two characters fall in love when it’s easier and faster to just write in an instant attraction/love.

    However, I don’t know why it keeps happening when most readers hate it. It sometimes bothers me but not always. It depends on the book.

    I also know that even though I know my reader may not like something I put it in my book anyways because I want to. Yes, we write for the audience but we also write for ourselves.

    Jennifer Bielman recently posted: Review: Burned by Ivy Simone
  25. Wow! There’re lot of comments here.

    In general it does bothers me that we have this couple that doesn’t know each other and are just saying “I love You”. However, I’m 50-50 in this because there are few books that have insta love but it doesn’t screw the reading for me. I can let it pass for those book where are love fates and all that, though I would like that there’s more relationship development, I think that they’re in love/attracked to each other since the first sight and we already know that they would end together, so I care more about the how they aproach the situation than the love declaration out loud or in the mind.

    Also, I can let it pass on those books when the story is just in three days, and the characters spend lot of time and past through lot of life and death things. So I think that is just depend of the book. I mean, for me, isn’t about if I like it or not, but how it fix into the story.

    I can say that there’s a book that have the insta love but it doesn’t seem like it: Lost Library by Kate Baray (I really like this book).

  26. Part of me wonders if insta-love happens because the characters are underdeveloped. I think of Twilight, where Bella and Edward are really bland characters. Do I really understand how Bella and Edward love each other? I get the Edward looks like Adonis, but is that enough of a reason to love someone? No. It’s not like they have anything in common either, so what do they even talk about when they’re together? We don’t really get to see the development in character or relationship throughout the entire series either. The only way for the author to convince readers that these two characters love each other is to repeat that they love each other and think only of each other every other page.

    I don’t really understand why YA authors are so caught up in writing a story where the protagonist finds their one true love at the age of 16, which is also what inevitably leads to insta-love. That just doesn’t happen. And I understand that romance is sometimes about being swept up in the fantasy of that idea…but what about the anticipation for your very first kiss and awkward flirting and butterflies in the stomach and wiping sweaty palms off on jeans before holding your boyfriends hand for the first time? I was a late bloomer when I was a young adult, so those were my kind of romantic fantasies.

    Jackie recently posted: A Mid-Year Resolution
  27. well, people say insta love isnt realistic but neither are hate to love relationships or things like that… at least,ive never seen a hate to love thing happening irl. on the other side i know of many guy friends who set their sights on a girl from the beginning when they saw her and later got to date them. i think insta love, like epic undying love, feels very rushed, but just an immediate attraction is fine.

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