Recently, I had the chance to discuss the MM trope of “Instalove” with the wonderful Ana Sofia, who is a consummate professional and expert in the field of human behaviour and interpersonal relationships.
I’ve received some comments regarding this “Instalove” concept in the books I’ve written. It appears some people have strong feelings about this subject and I’d like to explore the topic.
I welcome the chance for healthy debate and it’s always fascinating to get other people’s opinions. From my understanding, “Instalove” is a purpose-written trope designed to elicit squishy good feelings of love in a reader, without any of the tension and heartache of a long chase between the main characters. In my case, though, I feel that describing what I’ve tried to depict in my novels as “Instalove” is too simplistic a conclusion to draw.
I always aim to delve into gay relationships with as much depth and sensitivity as my li’l old brain can muster. A lot of authors are all about the fantasy, and that’s really, truly awesome—we do love a bit of escapism, myself included. But I also think that, seeing as we are writing about relationships between two or more men, there’s also a place for romance books that promote realistic understanding of their issues.
Case in point: characters like Angus in “The Lookout.” We all know someone who’s constantly saying they’ve found “the one”, even after just a weekend fling. The reality for a lot of gay men is this: it’s dead easy for them to find sex, even great sex. What’s hard for these guys—where their tension and heartache actually lies—is in trying to develop something more significant AFTER the initial euphoria of an explosive physical connection.
Men in this situation can develop obsessive patterns of behaviour: constantly chasing this elusive relationship, yet constantly dumped by their potential boyfriend because there’s always a hotter, fresher piece of action waiting in the wings for him. The anguish for these dumped men is real, it’s painful. Imagine having your hopes dashed time after time, your heart broken regularly with no respite to heal in between.
What I tried to achieve with Angus, Tommy and Patrick in “The Lookout” is an extreme case of this initial elation. Angus feels he has finally found his forever men. For all three, this once-in-a-lifetime connection lasts several months before there’s any sign of trouble. This means that there is so much further to fall when things eventually go wrong.
(It’s also worth mentioning that, in “The Lookout”, the “L” word does not cross any one’s lips till well after the halfway point.)
Instalove has its place in the MM world. So do the concepts I’ve talked about here, even though I argue they are different altogether. There’s room for all of us. Heck, romance author Bronte Meredith has just revealed to me the 1,000 Facebook members who like reading MM stories about people who have intimate relations with octopus tentacles (oh, how naive I am.) Bring on the mollusk smut!
(A special shout-out to Nadia Mack for the wonderful artwork!)