True confession: I'm not a big believer in love at first sight. I enjoy stories about love and romance, and especially like a good RomCom ... but I'm just not into "epic loves" that take place over the course of one meeting. West Side Story is one of my favorite musicals because I love the songs and dancing, but Tony and Maria kind of bore me. Titanic was a great movie and beautiful to look at, but Jack and Rose barely knew each other. Call me a cynic. But I'm more into a When Harry Meets Sally-type love -- one that changes and matures, and endures over time.
I was thinking about this today because I saw the movie version of Les Miserables with some friends. I thought that it was a wonderful film: it was beautifully shot, the acting and singing were fantastic and the I adore the music. But I just couldn't get into Cosette and Marius' "great" romance. I mean, they briefly saw each other across a crowd and then had ONE little conversation before declaring the other the love of his/her life. Huh? I just don't understand it.
I guess I feel this way in my real life, too. I believe in lust at first sight -- I certainly think that you can be attracted to someone whom you've first met -- but wanting to see someone again is very different from wanting to die for that person. I first saw my husband in a photo that my now sister-in-law had with her in college. I thought that Jon was cute and asked if I could meet him, but I wasn't ready to race across continents to find him. He and I were then friends for several years before we decided to date. Come to think of it, I've always been friends first with a guy before dating him. So I'm consistent.
I know that some people really do fall in love at first sight and I say, good for them! If your love is true and it works out, that's rare and wonderful. Enjoy it. But for the sake of entertainment, I prefer TV, movie and book couples who take their time. For me, the romance is in the build up of the relationship. I love when a couple whom I'm rooting for finally goes on a date and then finally kisses and then finally sys the L word. Where is there to go storywise if the couple is instantly bound together for life? I want to savor those milestones and feel that when a fictional couple hooks up too quickly, it's robbing me of one of my favorite parts of a storyline. Granted, it can be difficult to take the time with a couple in a 90-minute movie, but you can still move things along a little bit more slowly.
When writing my own novels, I try to take my time in building up my characters' friendships/romances. In BAND GEEK, most of the story centers around Melinda and Josh's friendship; it takes them a very long time to reach the next stage. But readers are treated to all sorts of fun situations between them and I hope that they're cheering by the time my characters move to the next level. My work in progress follows the platonic relationship between a straight girl and gay guy, but it's still a love story of sorts ... and I'm still taking my time with them. They don't become close friends right away. While they do share a connection, their closeness comes later on.
Of course, for me the most romantic couples are those who've beaten great odds and have stayed together for years and years. Love at first sight may seem like a romantic ideal, but those couples will have a long road ahead of them -- and that's when things get interesting.
Please read and review my young adult romance REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.