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Discussion Post: Insta-love vs. Love over Time

As I mentioned in a post last week, I’m getting a tad frustrated with characters who fall in love almost instantly. As NC @TrulyBookish said in the comments: “I can understand seeing a person and becoming attracted to them but falling so in love that after two days of knowing the person you would give up your whole life for them is getting old.”

Fallin in Love

I think that’s my real beef with “insta-love.” It’s not just that the characters fall in love so quickly- it’s also that they make life-altering decisions that affect the rest of their lives. I mean, I guess that’s sort of part of the romance, but still…

Thinking about all of this brought me to a couple of  relevant questions: How long does it typically take people in real life to fall in love? How long should it take book characters?

For me, I knew within one month of dating my then boyfriend (now husband) that we were meant to be together forever. I didn’t tell very many people that because…well, that’s sort of crazy! Although we knew early on that we were a perfect match, we didn’t act on that right away.

That’s probably the most important part – we dated. For a long time. Like 4 and a half years. We were in college, so it was probably an unusual length of time to date before getting married, but I didn’t want to get married while I was still in school. I think the average amount of time is closer to 10 months to 1 year and a half.

As for book characters, I would just like to see a gradual build-up of romance. Time in books can be confusing, so it doesn’t have to be a year, but how about longer than…let’s say….10 seconds after seeing the other person for the first time!! Is that too much to ask?

Books that have had a great romantic build-up are:

How long should it take book characters to fall in love? What books have you read that showed a gradual romance?

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • What a fun question! Insta-love is getting a little old for me, too. Especially when the characters are willing to give up so much/change their whole lives after a few days. I like it when it takes most of the book or the series for characters to get together. Or at least several conversations…. 🙂
    (I’m not the best real-life example, though. I met my husband in Jan. of 2006 & we got married in December of that year)

  • Jessica S,

    I’ve always been frustrated with this! Personally, it took a few months for me to fall in love (after dating, not just being interested). I think some stories just need romance more than “falling in love”. I mean, not every story needs to be love–it can be more like “I really like this person and I might fall in love with them someday” situation that they end on.

    Thank you for the links to books with build-up! I’ve been looking for some. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I’m not one to say anything, either. I knew after my second date with Mark that I’d marry him. Funny how that works out.

    But for gradual relationships, what about Ron and Hermione? That definitely took a while …

  • Amanda Copulos

    I prefer love that builds over time (Poison Study) etc. I have a hard time finding instant love believable.

  • Ems

    I totally agree. I’m so done with insta-love. For me and DBF, I also knew within the first month of our relationship that we were meant to be together. But like you, we didn’t immediately jump. We worked on becoming friends first and the romance naturally followed. I like that progression a lot more than the immediate jump into ‘I will die for you right now’ that we see so often.

    Agreed on your books with awesome progression. I also think the Glass series (also by Maria V. Snyder) is great, as well as the Hannah Swensen books by Joanne Fluke.

  • Kate

    Other than this being one of the MANY reasons why Poison Study kicks most other books butts…
    Insta-Love is all good and well and lovely, but there’s a REASON everyone else in the book complains and vomits when confronted by the insta-love couple. Its annoying.
    I think one of the most exciting parts of a relationship are when you’re trying to figure out your feelings. Like many people, I’ve known my partner was “it” for a long time, but those months when we were first getting to know each other and falling in love were some of the best months of my life. I feel sorry for anyone who misses out on that good stuff 🙂

  • I agree, insta-love is not very realistic, thus breaking the illusion you have while reading the book. But, in real life, everyone falls in love at different times, so it’s hard to say just how long it ought to be in fiction. Certainly, love-at-first-sight does happen, but is rare.

  • Insta-love is kinda annoying! Insta-attraction I get, but love? Not so much. I like a slow build.

  • I can’t stand InstaLove and unfortunately it seems to dominate a lot of YA. I think it’s normal to get crushes on others in a short period of time — instantly, even — but falling in eternal love??

  • Chelsey @ Starry Sky Books

    I’m also getting a little tired of insta-love. Although I’ll be interested to see how the insta-love will work out in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. But usually, depending on the timeline of the book, I’d rather have it happen after a few weeks maybe, months preferably.

  • Truly Bookish

    Hey Lisa! Unfortunately, I’m now reading yet another book with insta-love and it’s really bugging me. My own love in real life could be considered fast (my husband proposed 11 months after we met and we were married five months later) so I do believe that intense, lasting love can be developed in a relatively short period of time. It’s just that in some of these books, it seems like lust and infatuation is being confused with love. Poison Study is definately a book with great romantic build up. Valek is awesome…..
    Truly Bookish

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