Insta-Love vs. Slow Burn Romances // Which Makes For a Better Love Story in YA Contemporary?

Romance. An element that’s almost always present in YA contemporary.

Me being me, I spend most of my time reading YA contemporaries. So naturally, I also read about a lot of romances, which are divided into two main categories: they’re either insta-love or slow burn.

Recently, I started thinking about how both of these categories create such different storylines and really dictate the plot as a whole. Of course, that led me to wonder- which is better? The potentially overused insta-love or the occasionally boring (but sometimes wonderful) slow burn romance?

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In this post, I’m going to talk about the pros and cons of both of these, compare them, and then give my final answer to the question guiding this whole post.

Let’s get started!✨


For no particular reason other than I wrote it in the title first, let’s start by talking about insta-love.Β Oh, insta-love.

As a general rule, insta-love is defined as a romance in a book (and I guess in real life? but we’re talking books here) where the two characters in question fall in love immediately upon meeting. (Or even just immediately upon eye contact.)

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Think “Call Me Maybe.” Definitely thinkΒ Romeo and Juliet, although please don’t get me started on my opinions of it. That’s a whole other post. πŸ˜‰

While insta-love is looked down on by many readers, as unrealistic and as an overused trope (both completely valid points), it isn’t just comprised of cons. There are some pros to insta-love as well!

The Pros of Insta-Love:

  • Sometimes, love at first sight can be romantic. I mean, a lot of people (myself included?) don’t believe inΒ love at first sight, but that’s not to say it can’t be really cute to read about in a book.
  • It’s exciting! You’re only on page two and they’re already desperately in love? Now you can’t put down the book until you know exactly what happens.
  • It makes the reader invested in the relationship. When the meet cute happens right away, the reader has an entire book to become invested in a relationship. These feelings will make them want to read the rest of the series (if it’s a series) or ask for more if it’s not, as well as break their hearts even more if something goes wrong between the two characters.

With these positive aspects, I also have to list the downsides…

The Cons of Insta-Love:

  • It can be unrealistic. Not that I have experience, but it’s hard to believe you could fall into more than insta-like just from looking into someone’s eyes. It can be difficult actually see happening, making it seem unrealistic.
  • It often ends inΒ heartbreak for the character and the reader. I don’t remember the last time I read a book where the love interests were together the whole time. With insta-love, there is probably going to be a break-up.
  • It’s overused. After reading so many books with this, it’s easy to understand why bookworms are shying away from it. No matter what the trope is, too much is sometimes too much.

Insta-love is complicated. It can be unreliable, unrealistic, and off-and-on.

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However, it does have its upsides too. It usually makes for an interesting story, although the dynamic is much different than that of a slow burn romance. The real question is, does that make it a better component for a love story or a worse one?


The second option for a romance is a slow burn.Β This type of romance in a book is where the relationship takes time to finally reach its full potential. Think Katniss and Peeta in the Hunger Games, or America and Maxon from the Selection.

I was actually inspired to write this post after reading three of Emma Mills’s novels, all of which feature a slow burn romance. I won’t say anything more, but reviews are coming soon. πŸ™‚Β The more I read YA contemporary, the more I notice this type of romance popping up, and it definitely has its pros and cons.

The Pros of Slow Burn:

  • The relationship has time to develop. The characters aren’t rushing into anything. They’re taking their time and letting the relationship go from strangers (this one is on a situation to situation basis), friends, to more than friends.
  • It likely results in a strong relationship. Since they didn’t rush into it, our dear characters might actually stay together?? For books at a time??
  • It’s reminiscent of a realistic relationship. Slow burn has the awkwardness of a real relationship and the questions and confusion that comes along with that. Not that I would know…but I feel like it’s an accurate portrayal of real life.

Like anything, it also has negative aspects.

The Cons of Slow Burn:

  • The reader can become impatient.Β After 200 pages of back and forth, the reader’s patiences has likely been tried. It’s possible they would put down the book or even (gasp) (even though I do this all the time) flip to the end to see what happens.

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  • The reader doesn’t get to witness a lot of the relationship.Β It’s always slightly disappointing when your OTP finally admit their love for each other on the very last page of the novel and you never get to see what they’d be like as a couple.
  • It moves slowly. The story tends to move much slower than it would in an insta-love, which can cause boredom and lack of a thrill.

A slow burn romance presents a whole new dynamic for the story as far as pacing, character development, and the plot goes. Does that make it the better way for a love story to occur?


Now that I’ve discussed both options, the only question remaining is, does insta-love or a slow burn romance make for a better love story?

My personal opinion is that a slow burn romance is overall more enjoyable to read. Not only do I get to watch the characters develop, I truly feel as if the relationship was meant to be and was properly awaited.Β At the end of a book, I feel more comfortable “leaving” my characters behind because I really felt like I knew them and their relationship.

However, I do see the appeal of insta-love, and I have read books with insta-love that I, well, loved. I also think a delicate balance is needed of insta-and-non-insta love in order to appeal to everyone’s tastes.

After all, at the end of the day, you’re the one reading the book, and you’re the one who gets to decide what you’d like to read. It’s all up to personal preference!


Thank you all so much for reading this post, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it.☺️ I also hope that you’ve all had a lovely start to your 2019, and that it keeps getting better from here!

I want to hear your thoughts! Do you like insta-love or slow burn better? Why? I’d love to chat with you all in the comments.

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P.S. In this post I tried something new with some font-size-changing-coding?! I know the new editor allows this much easier, but oops, I’m still using the old one. Anyway, I’m having a lot of fun with it. XD

Photo byΒ Daria ShevtsovaΒ onΒ UnsplashΒ >> Credits for the image I used in my featured image, thank you to the photographer.

76 thoughts on “Insta-Love vs. Slow Burn Romances // Which Makes For a Better Love Story in YA Contemporary?

  1. AHHH I AGREE WITH YOU LIV!!! Although sometimes I want to yell at the characters to FIGURE IT OUT ALREADY THEY LIKE YOU YOU LIKE THEM HURRY UP AND KISS. Like Inej and Kaz. Or Vi and Cece. Loved the post and can’t wait to see what you next have in store for us!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great & thoughtful post, Olivia! πŸ’• I agree with you, haha – I love slow-burns and usually prefer them over insta-love. Obviously there are exceptions, like Autoboyography by Christina Lauren. 😊 Anyway, even though slow-burns can be frustrating, it’s really fun to read, and it’s usually worth it in the end, hehe.

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  3. Slow burn is what I prefer. I would hate a book just because it has insta-love, it’s one of my bookish pet peeves. Slow burn makes me feel excitement because I can’t wait until my characters get together.

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  4. I think I’m team slow burn! I like to know that the characters can stand on their own before they get together. With insta-love, I often find that the characters only redeemable qualities are the fact that they’re in a cute relationship. So, yes, team slow burn! This was a fun post to read. πŸ™‚ I read Emma Mills’ Foolish Hearts and This Adventure Ends, and I loved them both! I’m about to start First & Then this afternoon and I’m ready for the cute banter and slow romance.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Awesome post!! You really laid out the points well. I’d say that slow burn is more to my liking, however, I feel like I almost like a mix. Like a couple meets and they can kinda feel something like destiny in the air, but they aren’t in love and then later on, it grows slowly into something more.

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  6. Both insta-love and slow-burn annoy me XD. If they fall in love at first sight, I have to rant about the perpetuation of unrealistic romantic relationship ideals (while inwardly I can’t wait to read about the next time they meet), and if it’s slow burn I’m like “fall in love already!!!” I don’t read a ton of romance, but when I do, I like to read both right after each other, so they can balance each other out.
    Wonderful post! Thanks for giving us an opportunity to rant, as that’s what all bookworms do best!

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    • Haha, well, I understand your feelings. XD It can be hard when both aspects have irritating aspects! Your plan to read one after another in order to balance it out sounds like the best course of action. πŸ˜‰
      Thank you so much, Grace, I really appreciate it and I’m so glad you enjoyed this post! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ok I love this post. As a reader, I prefer insta-love to slow-burn because it does make for a good romance story. I think if you’re going to have your couple experience hardship later in the story/have their love tested, insta-love is more functional than slow-burn. With that said, I love to write slow-burn romances more than insta-love because I haven’t figured out how to write it without it feeling like a cop-out.

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    • Ahh, thank you so much, Annie!πŸ’›Oh, that makes sense, I completely see what you mean. When reading a book, it’s sometimes more fun to read the insta-love version! I also don’t know if I could pull off insta-love as a writer?! That’s an interesting challenge, though. Thank you for the insightful comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Cool post! Loved the gifs. πŸ™‚

    I always rate the slow burn as better, especially when it’s friendship to romance, BUT, it does annoy me to no end with fantasy books (and TV series) where the writer will just fling more and more ridiculous events out there to prevent characters getting together that you’ve been shipping for what feels like a LIFETIME – I feel like this is when someone wants to write a slow burn but doesn’t know how, so they just build a plot wall, LOL.

    There are some good insta-lusts out there though. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Becky!πŸ’—

      Ahh, friendship to romance can be so amazing. *basks in the glory of it* Okay, yes, that is annoying! And I’m just left here screaming because…there’s no way this would ever happen in real life? Why can’t they just get together already? Haha, slow burns = great, plot walls = please no.

      Oh, that’s very true. XD


  9. This is SUCH an interesting post, Olivia, I really love it ❀ I've always been a slow-burn romance kind of person. I don't really fall for insta-love, because it doesn't seem quite realistic to me, but I have to say that if I'm reading a really fluffy kind of read and in the mood for it all, it can be cute, that's for sure. Yet, I never fall as hard for insta-love as I can for slow-burning romance. I just LOVE it even when it's slow and you have to wait FOREVER for the two characters to get together, I just love the development of the relationship and feelings and everything SO much, it is THE BEST. ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww, thank you so very much, Marie!πŸ’˜So true, insta-love can be so unrealistic, though like you I can occasionally take it in small doses in a fluffy contemporary. XD Ahh, slow burn makes for an amazing read! Thank you for your kind comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I IMMEDIATELY CLICKED once I saw the title for this blog post!!! (but also it’s your blog so of course I’ll still read it πŸ˜‰ ) ANYWAY I love this topic so much because I love romance ❀ I definitely agree with you and prefer slow burn more. It's just so fun to read and definitely more realistic. I think insta-love is cute, but often times isn't done right either. I think it's more realistic for someone to think another person is cute then start pining after them, but then that also becomes a slow burn in a way?? IDK BUT I love this discussion and we just need more cutesy contemporaries and romance ❀

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    • AHH, TIFFANY, YOU ALWAYS KNOW HOW TO MAKE MY DAY. ❀ Thank you so much for all your sweet words! Oh, what you said about insta-love failing when it's not done right is so true, it can really mess up the whole rest of the story. YES, I think that scenario would be the perfect combination of an insta-like turned slow burn. Balance is everything!πŸ€—

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  11. Ohhh yes I totally like your points on both lists. I was actually just thinking about this while reviewing a book where it was a slowburn (which I usually adore) bUT the characters literally only got together on the last 2 pages and then the book ended?! Like…??! I felt really cheated and like I’d invested a lot and didn’t even get to see how well they worked (or IF they worked) together. 😭But then instalove often feels like just rushed and unbelievable writing. Agh. Although if it’s done right it can be cute to see two people learning how to be a couple. I liked how it was done in What If It’s Us with that insta-love-connection at the beginning, but the book developed their romance throughout!!

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    • Thank you so much, Cait! ❀ Agh, I hate it when that happens too?? I just read a couple books like that where you never even get to see the actual relationship, just the build up, and it's SUCH a let down…but also semi worth it for the slow burn? I don't know, it's a delicate balance. XD I really want to read What If It's Us soon, and I'm excited to see their instant connection and relationship! *squeals* Thank you for your comment☺️


  12. This is an interesting post but I refuse to talk about the cons of slow-burn okay how dare you insult it. (Juuust kidding) Slow burn relationships are usually my OTP. It’s torture but it’s WAY more squeal-worthy when the characters FINALLY kiss – that’s wayyyy better than reading a couple that kisses two chapters in. Anyways, SLOW BURN WINS. FOREVER. CUTE. WARM. FEELS. NOT ADMITTING YOUR FEELINGS. DOING SMALL THINGS LIKE TOUCHING THE OTHER PERSON’S HANDS. BUILDING UP THEIR INTERACTIONS. I am trash for slow burn okay.

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  13. You know, insta-love and slow burn are BOTH good depending on what the plot line is. For example, if a character needs to change and develop before entering the relationship, and the change and development is highlighted throughout the story, then a slow burn makes sense, and the romance is like a sigh of relief. For characters where love needs to take place early on to move the story forward, like the movie ZOMBIES, for example, insta-love is super cute. Funniest thing, I was listening to “Burn” when I read this post.

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    • Oh, that’s such a valid point! I love what you said about the romance being a sigh of relief, I’ve had more than my fair share of sighs of relief when the characters finally get together. XD Insta-love can be so cute! Ahh, that’s so funny- though “Burn” is anything but funny. Thank you for reading and commenting, Hazel! ❀

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  14. okay wow this post is so creative and fun!!

    honestly I don’t mind either if they’re well written (though I usually tend to lean more on the slow burn side) but youre so RIGHT on how meet cutes can get a reader invested in the relationship right from the start (im a sucker for love okay) and some of them are just so darn cute, but definitely if theyre ridiculously cheesy or only brought together in order to have them breakup later on, i’ll pass

    omg YES!!! with slow burn romances we NEVER get to see the ‘after’ when therye together and that always makes me craving more bc WE WAITED ALL THIS TIME AND ONLY GOT SO LITTLE

    I seriously love this discussion post and wow you covered pretty much everything, fantastic post!! ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahh, thank you so much, May! Your comments are always so sweet and they make my day.πŸ™ˆ

      Okay, that’s such a good point! If they are well written, I’ll take either, haha. Aww, meet cutes are my FAVORITE! There should be more in books.

      I KNOW, RIGHT?! I stuck around a whole book waiting for this moment, and all I get is a couple of pages of a relationship. *cries*

      Thank you again, I’m so happy you enjoyed it! ❀


  15. Ohh, I’m excited for your reviews for the Emma Mills books. I saw your instagram story about the ending of First&Then and I want to say that I don’t remember exactly what I thought but at the end, I did want it to keep going and to jump into the world. Yes, between the two choices, I’m for slow burn- specifically hate to love slow burn romances. That is a trope that I fully am for.

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  16. I am TEAM SLOW BURN ALL THE WAY as well, but I can see both sides to this argument, and I really like how you laid them both out! I feel like I might like this trope more because personally I don’t see myself ever falling in love with someone right upon meeting them (although, like you said, I don’t have very much experience lol), so it feels more realistic to me, but there are probably some books I’ve read with insta-love in them where I didn’t mind it. (Also, I really like the font size changing you did in this post, it looks super nice!)

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    • Thank you, Annie, and thank you for reading! πŸ™‚ Ahh, Team Slow burn for the win. I definitely agree, I think it might be because I have such a lack of experience and don’t believe in insta-love that I lean towards slow burn, haha. Thank you again!

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  17. You brought up some pretty sensible points, Olivia! Personally, I prefer slow-burn in books, but I’m okay with insta-love with dramas or movies. The thing is, with books, we know what the main characters are thinking. Everything’s directly stated. When there’s insta-love, I get bothered by how irrational the characters end up thinking. With movies/dramas, we don’t get a look inside the characters’ thoughts, which is much better. Although I do have to admit that slow-burn does get me impatient at times. πŸ˜‚

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    • Thank you, Aimee! ❀ That is such an amazing point, I really agree! It's so much easier for me to see insta-love in movies or tv shows and simply focus on how cute it is, rather than all the issues with it. Haha, yes, slow burn can be, well, very slow! It's usually worth it though. πŸ˜‰


  18. I LOVE THIS POST SO MUCHHHHH, i definitely feel this debate in my very soul. it’s just? i know not many people like insta-love, but it’s SO AESTHETICALLY PLEASING IDK. + i’m impatient af, so sometimes it’s hard for me to emotionally handle? waiting for the slow burn to burst into flame? but at the same time, there is nothing more beautiful in this world than slow burn (for all the reasons you mentioned)

    i love this post as always,,,,u are so good at discussing these things lsdkjflk

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    • AHH, MALANIE, THANK YOU. I love YOU so much. ❀ Haha, I do see your dilemma, insta-love can be so satisfying to get right away! But then slow burn is beautiful…it's so hard to get the right balance. Like with Gansey and Blue, that was the slowest burn that ever did burn, but I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT. I haven't thought of Gansey in a couple of weeks and now I am getting emotional remembering how much I love him, MY HEART.

      Aww, thank you again, and thank you for your comment!

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  19. I like slow burn romance so much better than insta-love. For example: Keeper of the Lost Cities. One character is like ‘insta-love’ and the other in it is like ‘slow burn’. I’m shipping the slow burn and hoping that the one that was insta-love will die in the next book. (Though I’ve been hoping for that to happen for a few books so it probably won’t happen again πŸ˜› )

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  20. Oh, I really love this post! I think I get frustrated with both. I like a slow burn only if the relationship gets to start for real at least halfway through the book, 2/3 of the way if I’m being generous. I do think that I’m more forgiving when it comes to insta-love, since at least I get a romance then, and I love reading about romances. But I do think that each have their pros and cons, and a lot of what I enjoy reading has to do with my mood at the time that I read the book.

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  21. I love a good slow burn and I hate insta-love, so it’s an easy choice for me haha. Insta-love isn’t always THAT bad, but in general it frustrates me so much haha. Slow burns can be frustrating too of course because you just want them to get together, but they’re also just so much fun to read. I love seeing the relationship develop. Though I agree that it’s disappointing that you usually barely get to see them being in a romantic relationship, but you still get to see a lot of their relationship in general πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, yes, yes! Both have frustrating aspects, but at the end of the day, slow burn wins for me too. πŸ˜‰ Like you said, it’s so nice to see the development of the relationship, even if the actual relationship is cut off a little. Thank you for your comment, Michelle!

      Liked by 1 person

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