Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fast moving YA relationships

I want to tell you a story. Let me know if you've heard this one before:

There's a girl - a little bit shy, a little bit nerdy, the type of girl that the guy at school look over. Then along comes this new guy, who is instantly popular. He's bad-arse, has a tattoo and seems to be more mature than the "boys" at school.

Shy girl is infatuated, but bad-arse boy is cold and aloof towards her. He rebuffs her attempts to strike up conversations, and leaves her feeling confused cause she knows she's got the hots for him. Then suddenly he admits he likes her and they start going out - and kissing...a lot. Shy girl knows that he's "the one" and hates it when he doesn't turn up to school, only wants to be with him, ditching her friends.

Does it sound cliche? One minute he's giving her the cold should and the next minute they're making out. Shy nerdy girl gets the popular jock and falls hard and fast.

I've been reading a lot of reviews lately and the biggest complaint I've been reading is fast moving relationships, how a guy and girl fall for each other so fast. Now I'm all for making stories realistic, but my beef with these reviewers is a lot of relationships do move fast for teenagers. Girls are scratching into desk's the latest guys that they "love", wishing these guys would notice them. Not all teenage girls are like this, but a lot of them are.

When I went through high school a lot of couples would become couples because they kissed at a party, and then they start going out. Others do form relationships though friendship, dating and taking it slow. New guys or gals are particularly exciting to teenagers as they've got this X-Factor about them.

If authors have a fast moving relationship in their stories, for me they are depicting a stage of life that a lot of teenagers go through. Admittedly, relationship and dating dynamics change in the "real world" and that could be why reviewers who are in this "real world" judge fast-moving relationships harshly, or because they think writers have an obligation to get girls to tackle relationships in a more mature and responsible way.

Looking at a show like GLEE, plenty of kids hook up quickly on the show without that developing friendship. But if a paranormal element is thrown in, people will criticise it for moving too quickly.

Think about your high school (or if you're no longer in high school, think back to when you were) and the relationships in them.

Was there relationships that seemed to pop up out of nowhere? Did you ever kiss a guy or girl before being in an official relationship with them or after only being going out after a short amount of time? Where there girls that were just SO in love with their boyfriend?

AND - tell us your favourite literary couple.

Share them with us, cause I've already shared mine with you. That cliched story at the top of this blog, that's how I met my husband.


  1. ha ha, funny. I remember the hormone rush big time. I don't really like the geek and joc combo though, that is a cliche that I can do without. Yes, relationships can be fast, but they don't have to all be the same. Bonus that it worked for you!

  2. LOL. Killer ending to this post. Everyone hooked up fast and furious at my high school. Some overnight and some over a period of a few weeks. The odd couples were the ones who had liked each other since grade school and still stuck together. I wonder what ever happened to them?

  3. It's funny. The girls who kiss and get all hot into a dude before they are fully commited, typically were "loose" when I was in school and in YA we have the purest of the pure turning floozy bc of one dreamy boy. And yeah in real life teens - super hormonally driven - but rarely can they stand the sight of the person the next week. As a high school teacher, i get a lot of good story ideas because of those hormones. W Why won't she play hard to get? I would love it where the boy in a paranormal, YA, is a bad boy and the girl really makes him work for it.

  4. I don't have a problem with people hooking up/going out after short periods. However, when they call it true love immediately...that's the problem. (And I am a teen.) I mean, freshman year I was hooking up with someone before the year started, four days into a weeklong backpacking trip. But there's no way I wouldn't've been able to live without him, which is what I see too much in books.

  5. My favorite literary couple is Peeta and Katniss from The Hunger Games. But maybe it's because she's totally not shy or awkward and he's not aloof to her at all. Different from the 'normal' teenage romance.

  6. I think the thing about fast-moving relationships in YA is that there is never any acknowledgement that it is a fast-moving relationship. Suddenly it's "forever," and neither partner in the relationship ever thinks "hey, this is moving fast and it's probably temporary." And no one ever gets bitten in the ass by their hastiness like they do in real life. Real life? Bad things sometimes happen if you devote yourself to the wrong person in a crash-and-burn hookup relationship. In YA? Not so much.

  7. Excellent post, Sharon! A while ago, Veronica Roth did a post about insta-love in YA that took a similar stance. Namely: teens experience a barrage of emotions very quickly. And you know what? So do some adults, as well. Initial infatuation is very, very powerful emotionally (and physically) and is easily mistaken for love.

    But I do agree with Becca. My issue isn't how fast the relationships move. It's that they're fast, and the author maintains that the relationship is "true love." And while I've seen many teens who think that (he/she is "THE ONE!"), the relationships in real life generally end very, very quickly.

    So while there's this realistic notion of quick love, there's the unrealistic idea that it's somehow destined, or forever lasting. And that, more than anything, is where I simply can't suspend my disbelief, and why I prefer something a bit slower moving.

  8. Thanks so much for sharing guys. It's great to have the debate fleshed out like this. I know I'll be taking note for my relationship developments.

  9. Yay for the twist at the end, Sharon!

    *agrees with Elizabeth May on all accounts*

    In real life, things always went from "crush" to so-called-"love" very quickly for my friends and I. But in a book I prefer a longer build-up. Good romantic tension is key for me as a reader. I don't always like to read about "real life" pacing. At the same time, I think making relationships seem "perfect" in books is boring, too. Once a couple gets together, I don't want everything to be so smooth that the tension dies away abruptly. I like a blend of reality and fantasy when it comes to literary love.

  10. Yes and No.

    I'm a little with Elizabeth and Becca on this. Yeah, I definitely saw a boy in high school and immediately wanted him, but I think the difference is, that it's not instant attraction in books. It's instant true love.

    Now, I'm a romantic. I might have mentioned that a time or two ;) so I love a good romance, I have to believe it. There are some instant attractions that totally got to me. Some that I've rolled my eyes and wondered when the heck they fell in love with each other. I think it depends on how the author writes it.

    And sweet story...Love it. My husband and I have been together since we were teens too. We were best friends first for about a year.

  11. Awww, that's cute. ^_^

    As others have said, the problem isn't fast-going so much as the implication of permanence. That rarely works out for the young, especially if it's one or both's first serious relationship.

    On the subject, my favorite couple is Kitty and Ben from the Kitty Norville books, which actually handles this very well. They meet each other early on but are just friends throughout the first two books. Then Ben gets bitten by a werewolf and Kitty winds up giving him a crash course on the lycanthropic lifestyle. Their wolves bond as mates after less than a week, and they've been together ever since. But for several books Kitty is noticeably angsting about whether they moved too fast and if they would even be together if not for lycanthropy.

    Shooting for the Moon