One of the (many might say “overused”) tropes of romance novels is two characters meeting and, in the course of a weekend or even just one night, falling madly in love with one another. Often, so much happens during the course of the story that it’s easy to forget how little “real” time has actually gone by. It feels unrealistic to many of us, when we realize this couple just met a day or two earlier.
Recently, however, an acquaintance mentioned on a forum that he’d met his partner of about twenty (or longer—I don’t recall) years and gone home with him that night. They’d been together ever since. Then an interesting thing happened—quite a lot of people started telling their stories of “love at first sight” developing into long-term relationships. I also realized that I was one of those people.
My husband and I met at a get-together in Portsmouth, while I was living with someone I’d been with for several years. No, we didn’t fall into each others arms or do anything else that would have been inappropriate for me to do while I was seeing someone else. But we talked for a long time and he made quite an impression on me. Years later, when my current relationship had finally and utterly fallen apart, I dated for a short time, but my thoughts kept coming back to this guy I’d really connected with years ago at a coffee talk. I didn’t even remember his name.
So I called the friends who’d hosted the gathering. When I said, “Do you remember this guy I was talking to the whole time who knew a lot about Norse mythology?” I expected them to say, “It was years ago? How the hell would we remember who you were talking to?” Instead, they shocked me by saying, “That was probably Erich.”
So they contacted Erich and told him they knew a psycho-stalker who’d been interested in him years ago, and would he like to risk his life by emailing me? Fortunately for me, he was foolish enough to do it.
So, yes, there was that gap, created by circumstances. But I’d be lying if I said our courtship was slow. We met and hung out for an afternoon, after which I said, “Do you want to have sex?” or some equivalent of that, and we did. We had to wait nine years for same-sex marriage to become legal in our state, but the first night Erich and I got together after that, he proposed. We were married the same year the law went into effect, moved into a house together, and got a dog to torment my three cats.
We still seem to be doing all right.
Can relationships begin more slowly? Certainly. In the past, I’ve met men who didn’t interest me until I got to know them. Then suddenly something clicked and I was head-over-heels. Oddly enough, those were the relationships that didn’t work out, ultimately. But of course, for others, that’s the story of their long-term romance.
This past weekend, I attended the wedding of a couple who met at one of the parties hosted by Erich and his housemates twenty-one years ago. Was it “love at first sight” for them? I think it was. At any rate, I think it’s silly to deny that “instalove” happens. It happens all the time. I would argue that it’s embedded in the human psyche—it’s a behavior we’re often prone to.
And it frequently works out well.