February 7, 2012

I Hate Myself For Loving You

So we've already talked about InstaL♥ve and whether or not love at first sight can actually happen (My verdict: 'no' in most instances). We've also mostly agreed that there is something to this notion of love at first interaction. But what about the complete opposite? It's just as frequently employed in fictional romances as love at first sight. In fact, I'd even go so far as to suggest that it's used more often. I'm talking about:
I Can't Stand Your Guts
to
I Love the Heck Out of Your Guts

Let's call it InstaLoathe, shall we? When I first started thinking about this InstaLoathe thing, I set out to compile a list of literary and/or film examples of love/hate relationships. Faster than you can say 'insufferable' I had a legion of couples that started out strongly disliking one another before falling head over heels in love. Here are only a few: (Caution: Blatantly Obvious Spoilers Ahead)


(Clockwise from top left)  
1) Ron Weasley & Hermione Granger (Harry Potter)
2) Belle & the Beast (Beauty and the Beast)
3) Fitzwilliam Darcy & Elizabeth Bennett (Pride and Prejudice)
4) Han Solo & Princess Leia (Star Wars)
5) Katharina & Petruchio (The Taming of the Shrew) or Kat & Patrick from (10 Things I Hate About You)<--- a much cuter example than Zeffirelli's version with Liz Taylor & Richard Burton

And then of course, there's one of my favourite love-hate relationships of all time:

6) Anne Shirley & Gilbert Blythe (Anne of Green Gables)

And I'm sure we could come up with a whole bunch more. So what is it about these types of relationships that holds appeal? The sparks. Definitely the sparks. Not only do we get sparks between two characters in love, but we get all of the sparks from two characters who can't stand one another. It's twice the sparks for the price of one. It's tension, an obstacle in the path to our couple finding love. Sure there may be chemistry, but we get to take the journey with these characters to realizing that it's actually there, and has probably been there all along.

I don't know about you, but from the very first sparks of animosity between two characters, I call a love match. There is probably no bigger giveaway that two characters will end up together than the two of them clashing right from the get go. Ron and Hermione? Did you honestly think for a moment that it would turn out any other way? Harry and Hermione shippers were delusional at best (no offence intended, of course). From the very first time Ron referred to Hermione as a 'nightmare' in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, you had to know they were ending up together. 


There are a few common ways that this rivalry turns to romance:
  • some sort of misunderstanding is cleared up and suddenly there's nothing in the way
  • similar to the first, a character realizes that the rival in question is not who s/he originally thought they were -- kinder/better/more heroic and so on than first perceived
  • they are thrown into a situation where they're forced to work together, they grudgingly start to become companions, and then it progressively moves toward romance
  • one of the two falls for the other first and becomes so persistent in his/her pursuit of the other that defences begin to crumble and are eventually broken down entirely
  • the two are somehow separated (or there is the threat of separation) and one or both realize that all the things they despised in the other are the things that they will miss

In the case of InstaL♥ve v. InstaLoathe I have to say that I prefer InstaLoathe. When that pendulum swings from dislike to like -- perfection! It makes the love feel so much more hard won, you know what I mean? Plus, it's just a whole lot of fun watching these two people battle it out before they succumb to the chemistry. This type of relationship is usually more believable than its opposite, less sappy, and more engaging to the reader (in my humble opinion).

What do you think? Does InstaLoathe appeal to you more than InstaL♥ve in fiction?

21 comments:

  1. Another scenario is where the "couple" argue and antagonize each other to the point that it's obvious they have a deep affection for each other. This fact is apparent to us and everyone else, but not to them until, one day, in the middle of a screaming row, they kiss. Their differences are never really resolved, and there's not ever a "dawning moment" (i.e., a tragedy, or a separation) that makes them realize they love each other. It's just an unspoken given from that point on.

    The example that comes to mind that best seems to fit this is Heathcliffe and Catherine in WUTHERING HEIGHTS--though that's not a perfect example due to all the tragedy associated with their relationship and that story. But it's the closest that comes to mind.

    I certainly think, as a story concept, this is a more entertaining approach to romance. :)

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    1. I think when this type of situation happens it's often one where the characters have been in denial all along as to how they feel about one another. And usually we have some clue that this is the case, so their sudden liking each other isn't all that sudden after all.

      I've never read WUTHERING HEIGHTS. I'm kind of avoiding it like the plague because I know the story. I much prefer Charlotte over Emily in the Bronte family of writers :-)

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  2. I also prefer InstaLoathe to InstaLove because of the inherent conflict. InstaLove tension/conflict usually seems campy.

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    1. I agree. I think that hurdles in the way of love are great, and like I said, they make the love feel hard-won in the end. Not so easy-peasy :-)

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  3. Carrots! Also one of my faves.

    I love tension and clashing between two characters - even if it's InstaLove, I still like to see that spark and fight.

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    1. I like InstaLove too, but it has to come with some kind of tension or hurdles in the way of it all working out. After all, "The course of true love never did run smooth" :-)

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  4. InstaLoathe is aweomse. Who doesn't love the sparks and the sexual tension?! It's what keeps us sometimes laughing, sometimes cringing, sometimes on the edge of our seats, and always wanting more.

    And now I'm going to go watch Anne of Green Gables.

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    1. I couldn't agree more. Definitely my preference when it comes to the many ways that couples get together in books :-)

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  5. I must be in the minority here but instaloathe can bug me a lot more than instalove. I guess it's the way the characters just argue and argue, almost kissing here, almost kissing there and like Colin said they finally kiss in the middle of a heated argument. Sometimes the characters seem to hate each other so much I can't see how they can suddenly change and start finding each other attractive. Maybe it's naive of me to say so but if a character have that much conflict with another person is it really best to be in a relationship? Sure couples argue and get to each other sometimes but when there's more temper than TLC a relationship probably isn't a good idea for those characters. It's never been believable for me.

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    1. I'm more in favour of the couple not really hating each other and being in denial about their actual feelings for each other. I think often a character will maybe have feelings for another but there's something big--a misunderstanding, for instance--in the way that crowds out any chance of succumbing to their feelings. Once that misunderstanding is cleared up, there's nothing left blocking the path to love. That's more what I mean. Or sometimes the little annoying things turn out to be not so big after all compared to their feelings for each other. Of course, all of this has to be believable though. Having two characters hating one another with no real reason for a switch to love is just as unbuyable as love at first sight with no reason other than looks to justify it :-)

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  6. I'm not a huge fan of InstaLoathe; it feels too cliched unless it's done really, really well. I want more InstaMeh! In which people are pretty meh about each other until they get to know each other better.

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    1. I agree that it should be done well, but I do like those sparks of annoyance, usually when a character is just in major denial that they like another :-)

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  7. I definitely prefer InstaLoathe over InstaLove! Although, I don't think it works with every couple. Some it just isn't natural to have the InstaLoathe, but their way can be just as much fun!

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    1. You're right about InstaLoathe not suiting every couple, just like InstaLove doesn't suit every couple either. Different formulas work for different couples and no single formula is the right one. I do prefer the build up to love in an InstaLoathe kind of scenario, though :-)

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  8. I'm a total sucker for InstaLoathe. Even though I know no real-life examples. There are just so many sparks!

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    1. Yeah, me too! I think it's because we know where it's headed and the getting there is just so fun :-)

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  9. I think what we love the most about the instaloathe is the 'spark' Melanie spoke about. Some authors use this spark to keep us reading if the book otherwise flops. And I think that's a completely awful way to do it.

    I really liked the relationship between Anne and Gilbert too. But instaloathe makes a lot more sense when the MC and her love interest are children and they annoy the heck out of each other. When the two characters are old enough to know better, it just seems like one or both of them are jerks. And I REALLY have issues with girls ending up falling for a jerk!

    My favorite love has to be the kind that sneaks up on one or both of the characters. Unexpected love rocks hard. This sometimes is paired with the instaloathe, but sometimes it's more of a "well, there just isn't anything there... is there?" Unexpected love works in love triangles really well, but I'm not much of fan of love triangles unless the characters are compelling on all sides.

    I'm going to have to weigh in on this in my own blog, you know it!

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    1. I can't stand when girls fall for jerks either. I like when two characters bicker but are secretly in denial that they have a thing for each other. I agree too that unexpected love is awesome in a story :-)

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    http://clairelouisereads.blogspot.com.au/

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