Friday, June 1, 2012

Insta-Love, Love, Lust - What the hell are you talking about?

What Is Love? The dictionary entry says it's an intense feeling of deep affection, a deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone, or affectionate greetings conveyed to someone on one's behalf. But how can we know that we love another. You see two people holding hands, walking on the beach and kissing and think aww, they love each other. But is it love or lust? How do you tell if you love with someone or if it's just lust?

Some people believe you have to first have a very long courtship, dating for a long time, then do all the "right" steps, eventually moving into the stage of living together in the same house as the person you love for it to be real. That a relationship lived differently than the traditional norm isn't real. That everything has to be two people, living together as a family for the love to be real love.

But love doesn't work that way. As a romance writer I create stories of love, putting two or three people together who find something special, that others may see as wrong, but it's their relationship and their love. In the romance-writing world there is this notion that love isn't possible in the first few weeks of a relationship. That two people can't be instantly attracted to each other. Even when the author delays the L word till the end of the book, if two characters fall for each other in the first few meets then it's declared "insta-love" and the whole book is invalid. They declare that two people can't find love quickly, that they won't experience deep attraction, and that they won't say anything about a possibility of relationship until a long time has passed, months and months, and months of dating. But real life doesn't work that way. Real life is messy and complex, strange and crazy at time.

I've known many people who fall in love quickly. Some find love on the first date, running off to get married in Vegas and they are still together years later. Sometimes when two people meet, they hit it off so quickly; the chemistry is just right, so explosive that they know the other person is right for them. Other people date for years before they know. But every person is unique, finding their love and their life outside of what is the "norm." Saying that fictional characters can't fall in love quickly is a fantasy that doesn't really fit real life. People find love when they find love, not based on a timetable set in stone.

For me, I met my husband on a Thursday night at 6:32 in the evening on October evening in 1989. I knew by 7:45 that we would be married. You might think it was lust, but trust me, my husband wasn't the type of guy I lusted after. He didn't have the same body type, the right hair, the typical face or any of the other things I picked out on guys that I wanted to have a fun time with. No, when I met my husband and shook his hand, something passed between us, an undeniable attraction that had me instantly thinking of love and marriage. He was dating my roommate at the time so I had to wait for them to break up. By Thanksgiving we'd finally started dating. In January I moved in with him. We've been together every since. It took him longer to admit that what we had was love, but now he admits that he fell in love with me that first night but was too afraid to admit it, thinking that love couldn't happen that fast, but now wishes he would have been open to see it.

You see, Love knows no bounds. It doesn't adhere to your parameters and play by your rules. Love just is...And in romance books, however the author decides to write it, that's how they saw Love for their two characters, not the way you think it should be, but the way those characters demanded it to be.


Becky Black said...

Good post. You're right, that people are complicated and messy and definitely do crazy things. I totally agree that people can fall for each other quickly, and don't have to date for six months to know. The know right away. Which doesn't make everything easy of course - at least not if it's going to be fun to read about. They still have a lot of stuff it work out. I'm happy to read that sometimes instead of the more conventional long slow buildup.

I was actually thinking about this today as a reader had shelved one of my books on a shelf she had called "insta-love". I didn't mind (for one thing there were some damn good books on that shelf! :D) and for another, it kind of is that way. In the story, the two guys meet and if nothing strange had happened to their world, they'd have had the conventional sort of courtship you describe there, dated for a few months and eventually made a commitment. Sweet, but nothing exciting to write about.

But suddenly they're forced to deal with a crisis and it accelerates their relationship into fast forward. They get to know each other much faster than they would have, they face danger together, they hurtle at breakneck speed through stages of a relationship that would otherwise have taken months.

So within about three weeks of meeting, they are in love and wanting to stay together, but I hope in that story it works. It sure was fun to write. :)

Sara York said...

I'm beginning to think that the label of Insta-love really isn't that bad. What's more special, people who know that they love each other, or wishy-washy people who piddle around for years and never commit.

Tali Spencer said...

I like insta-love, and insta-lust even more. Maybe I'm a diehard romantic, but I also know people for whom this happened. Me, for one. The moment I saw my now husband in the airport (we did know each other through correspondence first), it was "Oh wow!" and my panties melted. They still melt. He says the same. Chemistry can be really hard to explain.

I have a friend who married her high school sweetheart. He came in as a transfer student, she saw him and it was over. 30 years later, they're still head over heels. How do you explain something like that? You can't say it isn't real.

I do agree crises can accelerate passion. You learn a lot about another person fast that way. That's part of what makes such relationships more exciting. Maybe a slow, gradual relationship is more representative of "real" life, but are they as fun to read about? Some are. I enjoy books about the protagonist falling in love with the wrong person and eventually realizing who the right one is, for example. But I confess to liking a faster, hotter kind of love.