Are You in a Love/Hate Relationship?

A couple in a love hate relationship kissing in front of the sunset.

They’re one of Hollywood’s favorite tropes. She hates him. He hates her. And all that hatred fuels palpable sexual tension and the movie ends with their hate turning to love. While Hollywood may love it, so do we, whether we want to or not. We like seeing it on the big screen and we just may love it (and hate it) in our own lives.

Did life imitate art or did art imitate life? Like the question of the chicken and the egg, we will likely never have an answer. Either way, love/hate relationships are a part of our society. We’ve all joked about “angry sex” and only been half joking. We’re all had a few out of the blue thoughts about sleeping with our nemesis at work.

There’s a fine line between love and hate. Yes, that is a cliché, but it’s a cliché because we all know it to be true. When you hate someone, you’re feeling very passionately about that someone. They occupy your thoughts enough that even the thought of them makes you angry. When you love someone, you are feeling very passionately, but the thought of them makes you feel more positive feelings.

The kicker is, though, that when you think of someone you hate and when you think of someone you love, your brain is lighting up the same circuits. It doesn’t mean that you secretly love everyone you hate. It actually means that our brain is pretty primal. The portions of the brain that are affected by seeing the person you hate are the more aggressive portions. Those aggressive portions are the same ones that light up when you see someone you love. Which can explain some of our baser instincts kicking in when we see a lover, ie. the desire to rip their clothes off.

Both are feelings of passion and passion is primal. As advanced as society may get, those baser instincts are still going to exist in us. But that doesn’t mean that we’re slaves to our primal desires and destined to sleep with every person we hate. It just means that passion is a part of our lives, in both the negative and positive way. We have the mental capacity and free will to tell ourselves that we’re not going to sleep with our work foe.

But sometimes love/hate relationships aren’t that simple to see. You may have entered one before you knew what it was. If you think you’re in one, ask yourself these questions.

1. Are the quirks you used to love driving you crazy?
He tries to outdo you in everything. You never get a word in edgewise. He’d rather go out with his friends than ever spend time with you. These are potential dealbreakers. And you might have sort of known that from the start. Those passionate feelings you may have had in the beginning might have either been things you passionately hated or the love that you had was so overwhelming that it quieted the hate enough that you didn’t care about the dealbreakers.

2. Are you stressed when you think about your partner?
Hatred causes you stress. It takes a lot of energy to feel that strongly, but especially when you feel strongly negatively. Long term negative feelings can really take a toll on our minds and bodies. If your partner is causing you a lot of mental stress, there may be some underlying feelings of hatred that are working their way to the surface.

3. Does being around your partner turn a good mood sour?
If just seeing your partner is enough to make you angry, you’re definitely deep in the hate side of a love/hate relationship. But on the other hand, if it’s little things that are triggers to your anger, you’re likely more in the middle, bouncing on either side. Maybe it’s hearing his laugh that you used to love but now you find grating. Or maybe it’s how she plays with her hair, which you used to find cute but now drives you nuts.

4. Do you feel like your mood just doesn’t ever stabilize with them?
One minute you’re laughing and feel like you’re on top of the world with them. The next, you’re screaming so loud the neighbors have threatened to call the cops. One of the biggest marks of a love/hate relationship is the fighting. You feel two very passionate feelings which yield passionate result. You don’t want to fight or scream and yell unless you’re feeling someone. Indifference doesn’t make you fight. It makes you walk away.

But love and hate, especially when they are bounced between very often, leads to fighting. It can also lead to a cycle of break ups and make ups. You hate each other when you break up and then you feel that intense love and can’t imagine living apart. It’s an all around unhappy cycle.

We often have this idea that to love so passionate that you can’t see anything but your partner is the best thing we can ever have. The truth is that such a passionate emotion can be tied to its counterpart. And bouncing between the two will make you feel like you have nothing to hold on to.

Pay attention to what your mind and body is telling you if hate might be taking its toll. Although it’s scary to walk away from a relationship where you love someone so strongly, it might be the best choice for you.

Jacqueline Gualtieri

Freelance Writer

Jacqueline Gualtieri is a writer and blogger whose best friend once told her to quit her job and become a couples and sex therapist. Since she’d miss writing too much, she figured writing for The Date Mix would be the next best thing.

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