Thursday, September 29, 2016

Why I Love Hate to Love (And a Teensy Rant on InstaLove)

I am so predictable in my shipping predilections.

The moment a character decides they hate another character with every fiber of loathing they possess, I'm like "YEAH. They need to kiss. That's a thing." And the character is like BUT NO, I HATE THEM and I'm like "But no, you're not kissing, get on that." And lo, a ship is born, and I am on that ship, and we are sailing toward the sunset and bantering all the way.

I mean, the two characters don't need to want to blow up the object of their non-affection in a hail of Wildfire right off the bat. Like, there are degrees on love interest antagonizing, I realize. They can have a healthy but friendly banterthing, being adversarial opposites without being straight up adversaries like Luke and Lorelai, for example. But oh, OH my little shipper heart beats a million miles a minute when two characters lock eyes and decide they loathe each other beyond all sense and not even divine intervention can change their minds because HE IS THE LAST MAN IN THE WORLD WHOM I COULD EVER BE PREVAILED UPON TO MARRY. 

lol as if see you in 350 pages when you're legit married

Obviously I have liked and I will like ships that don't open up with sheer elemental loathing, and I have hated ships that get the love to hate thing wrong (too much hate, or the jump is too abrupt, or I just want to throttle both love interest with a necktie) but this post is about why I love it so spectacularly much when it's done right. And the reason why I love it is because it's basically the opposite of instalove.

My main gripe with instalove is in a fictional context. Honestly, I don't care if you in real life met your husband by meeting eyes with him in a picturesque forest glen and the birds flitted around your beautiful heads as you waltzed by the river and the bunnies gamboled about your feet and blessed your love and you got married the next morning and you waltzed again and the whole court applauded your pure love. WELL DONE YAY YOU MAY YOU LIVE A JOYOUS LIFE. We all hate you a little.

tra la la la la go fuck yourself

And yes, teenagers fall in instalove all the time. Pretty sure I had a new 5EVER SOUL MATE ever class period in high school. But narratively, I don't find instalove compelling because not only does it skip all my favorite bits, but it doesn't show me why two characters are in love. It's the definition of telling, not showing. Because if I don't know why two characters are in love, I won't be in love.

the most beautiful progression in history don't @ me

Instalove doesn't show me the process of two people discovering, and choosing, to be in love. It doesn't show me the tiny moments where they learn just the right personality trait, or experience just the right emotion, or learn just the right truth, that tips them from whatever they're currently feeling into luuuuurve. The part where the character has to examine some sort of inner obstacle that has heretofore prevented them from fully understanding that other person and themselves and then slooooowly realize...OH WAIT I WANT TO MASH MY FACE AGAINST THAT FACE PLEASE BRING YOUR FACE TO MY FACE

like, kill me

That's my faaaaaavorite part of a romance done super well. And of course you can write a gorgeous romance where I SEE the building blocks of luuurve fall into place WITHOUT the romantic leads loathing each other first. I've read really awesome books that start with insta!attraction and develop it from there. That is valid.

But starting out with some gorgeously vicious hate to love means those delicate tipping moments are going to be VITAL. They will be INTENSE. They will BE SO INCREDIBLY EARNED. They will cause my beautiful banter babes to ENTIRELY RETHINK THEIR LIVES/CHOICES/PHILOSOPHIES/HAKUNA MATATA etc etc

And legit, that is my most favorite of things. Like...oh my god. Watching two people who hate each other because their personalities have a key fundamental difference slowly realize how beautifully they balance is LIKEEEEEE ALL I LOVE IN THIS GOOD GREEN EARTH

would you JUST MASH FACES OH MY GOOD LOOK AT ALL THAT SMOLDERING TENSION I'm actually having a bit of a crisis looking at Kenneth Branagh there are the bottom dear god man TAKE HER IN YOUR ARMS

Maybe I read too much Pride and Prejudice as a kid. Maybe I watched Beauty and the Beast more than a growing girl should have (it would explain why I am oh so disappointed whenever he changes from a beast to a dweeb with a ponytail). Maybe I OTPed Dimitri and Anastasia a little too hard.

fucking adorable

Maybe I reread Ron/Hermione scenes far more than was healthy. Maybe thinking Gilbert calling Anne "Carrots" and Anne smashing a slate over his head was the cutest thing in the whole world is indicative of deep problems in my life I should probably examine. Maybe I shouldn't have watched Much Ado About Nothing fifty million times as an impressionable youth and decided that Beatrice and Benedick's skirmish of wit/battle of words/perpetual insult-off was really just incredibly precious foreplay.

Whatever. Damage is done. Hate to love is life, banter makes the world go round, let's go waltz in the woods with the bunny rabbits.

now THAT'S an earned waltz


  1. YESSSS. SO MUCH YES! This is exactly why I love hate to love relationships in books, because you see the progression, because it isn't instant we get to see them slowly realize, hey this might not be so bad. :D couldn't have said it better! Nice post, I loved your gifs XD they were perfect.

  2. I want to mash my face with this post.

    And we should watch Anastasia.

  3. Thumbs up! (I also love the reverse - like when your love interest turns out to have been evil all along? - which is a bit odder.)

  4. Gillian, you just get me. Every word from your mouth is golden. I one hundred percent agree on every point you made - both why I hate insta love in literature and I why I love hate to love type of stories. I now really need to read Anne of Green Gables.

    Love, love, love this post girl!

  5. You already know that you are the shipper of my heart (does that make sense? I'm not sure but YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN). I swear if you ship something, 9 times out of 10 I will ship it too. And you are so right about all of this!! The whole problem with instalove is that it skips all the fun bits and is too. much. telling. I want to see the heroine brush hands with the LI and get all fluttery and not know why (hahahah WE KNOW WHY). I want to see them argue, or flirt, or simply get to know each other, in whatever context that is. Although the more bantery, love/hatey, the better. I'll even take accidental attraction aka everyone can see it but the two of them, like Wattscroft. HAHA LET ME KISS HER FOR SCIENCE, THAT'LL SHOW ALL OF YOU. Hate to love will always win, in my book. Perfect post as per usual :D

  6. I 100% AGREE WITH THIS ENTIRE POST :D No, but seriously, it's always so much fun to see a hate-to-love romance happen, just because, as you've said, it racks up the tension AND makes every single touch, look, embrace, kiss count even more meaningful (to us readers or viewers, at least). Love this post!

  7. Oh my gosh, I loveeee this post. Have you read Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini? That has a fantastic hate to love relationship. It's about greek mythology but oh so good. I've always hated insta-love but could never really explain why. After reading this post, I can understand why. Like you said, you don't see the characters choosing to fall in love. You don't get to see the characteristics that made the characters fall in love with each other. Wonderful post (:

    Happy Reading!

    Amber @ bibliomaniacbibliophile

  8. I LOVE THIS POST. Hate-to-love is one of the VERY BEST, and like ALL the ships you mentioned -- Darcy/Elizabeth! Anastasia/Dmitri! Romione! BEATRICE AND BENEDICK! ANNE AND GILBERT MY PRECIOUS CHILDREN! -- are my absolute FAVES. I haven't seen that film of Much Ado but I WANT TO NOW AFTER THAT PHOTOSET. Those are some of my fave lines. Oh and also TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU WHAT A FILM. I have so much love for hate-to-love right now <3333


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