“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
A love-hate relationship can be passionate, thrilling and exciting, however, it can also be filled with explosions, chaos, drama, fireworks and extreme emotion.
This type of relationship can bring out the best and worst in us. Love-hate relationships seem to thrive on either conflict or the dizzy heights of passion.
How is it possible to love the one we hate and vice versa?
Sometimes, we can love a person, but not love being in a relationship with them.
Or, we can love the feeling a relationship gives, but hate the person we are in it with.
It is difficult to define all love-hate relationships.
However, we can look a little closer and figure out some reasons why these types of relationships occur and what can be done to improve them.
Love and hate are entirely differing emotions and yet they can become so bitterly entwined. This is mainly because there is no definitive beginning or end to either of them.
Often we can love the outside of something, but hate what’s on the inside, or value what’s on the inside, but pick faults with the outer shell.
Love and hate are both strong emotions and can be destructive to ourselves and to others if the feelings get out of control. We can become addicted to the highs and lows gained from this type of relationship, and perceive anything stable as uninteresting and boring.
The vicious cycle can cause temporary euphoric feelings of bliss and happiness when everything is right, but can quickly transcend into arguments, frustration and anger within no time at all. Then, all can be quickly forgotten and back to loving again.
Nothing is stable and nothing lasts for long.
We are never attracted to someone because of hate. It is like and love that bring people together, so it is difficult to see where the hatred seeps in.
If a relationship is to be healthy and succeed, there are a few changes that can be made to help it work.
Communication: this is the key to avoiding a disagreement turning into an emotional confrontation. When we talk to one another calmly, we are much more able to communicate how we feel. For good, clear communications to be effective, both partners must be willing to be open to it.
If we discuss things before we feel resentments kicking in, there is a far higher chance that we can reach resolve without an escalation. If talking is hard at first, jot things down, we don’t always remember everything we want to say and when we write about things, it can give us a far clearer perspective on the situation.
Change: unconditional love is a great concept, however, for two partners to be mutually compatible we have to accept that we may have to change certain aspects to reach a peaceful compromise and conclusion. If something is going wrong, discuss it together, figure how things can be done differently in the future. Look at measures to ease the changes. Change isn’t always easy, so being patient and not expecting miracles can also help.
Change doesn’t have to mean changing who we are inside, we all deserve to be loved for who we are, however, none of us are perfect and we are all capable of making small changes on the exterior so that we can compromise and reach agreement on certain aspects of our relationship.
Communication again, is the key to making the changes happen. We must be open and honest in our discussions if we have any hope of things improving. Change is good for us, so try not to let the communication turn into criticisms, if the requests for things to be done differently are viewed as positive ways for the relationship growing, rather than as demands, there will be a much higher chance of reaching a mutually beneficial resolution.
Blame: when we start to point the finger at the other person, it will usually result in them going into a defensive mode or attacking back. We need to both work together. In a loving relationship one is not right and the other wrong. There are just two entirely different people with different ways of doing, saying and thinking. Take a shared responsibility. Accept that we all go make errors somewhere down the line and so work towards fixing things rather than arguing over fault.
Acceptance: sometimes the most difficult thing to do in a relationship is to completely accept the other person for who they are. There are always ways we would like to change them and things we would do differently. When we are calm and think about all the reasons that we love someone and the reasons we hate them, we will notice how differently we feel about those things compared to when we are in a high or a low.
We need to remember that the person we are with is going to make mistakes, just like we will, when we try to accept our humanness and stop trying to create someone into the perfect specimen, we are far less likely to find ourselves so frustrated and irrational when they mess up slightly. We all go wrong, we all make mistakes, sometimes they are slightly worse, sometimes not as bad, but none of us are perfect.
Ego: love-hate relationships often happen due to a clashing of egos. Of course, anyone with a highly elevated ego will never admit this! Which is why their ego is trying to control things in the first place.
Retaliation: notice how we retaliate, how we speak, our actions or noise levels. When we really stay present and recognise how we appear when we are retaliate it will help us to accept and change certain parts of how we respond. Raising our voice and saying hurtful words will only fuel the fire further.
However difficult it is, if we try to stay calm and composed and wait for an opportunity to discuss things once a cooling off period has taken place, we are in a far better place to be listened to, really heard and it is more likely that changes will happen. If we viewed ourselves when we are responding angrily we possibly wouldn’t like what we see. Calm and rational communication is a huge step in the right direction to alleviating drama from our relationships.
Criticism/Belittling: Often in relationships one or even both partners can get into the habit of talking down or belittling the other person as though they think they know best. This kind of behaviour is harmful and can cause resentments. There is no one better than the other one. Just two entirely different beings coming together in what should be a form of love and for the good of the relationship. There are many ways to relay how we think or feel about things without resorting to put-downs and criticisms. They just leave one partner feeling powerful and the other one feeling small—a relationship should be about achieving a balance.
Apologising and Forgiveness: the sooner we forgive and move on from past hurts, the easier it is to let go of any emotional baggage associated to it—and the less chance of resentments building—the same with saying sorry. Apologising can be difficult to do as it means accepting part or even most of the blame, however, when we are in the wrong, the quicker we accept it the quicker we can resolve things.
Saying sorry and forgiving someone comes from understanding and admitting that we are aware that no one is perfect, even ourselves.
If fundamental changes are required and one or both parties are not willing to work towards them, then we need to either learn to accept that part of who they are or accept that we are likely to continue along this love-hate road for some time to come.
Sometimes it is just the case of different personality types that cause a love-hate relationship. If two people are not compatible with one another and have entirely opposing lifestyles, views and behaviours, obstacles can cause the relationship to stumble and eventually halt if they are not removed.
There are some things that can make a love-hate relationship difficult or even impossible to work out. If one or both partners have or are cheating, if one person is controlling the relationship, one or both have deep rooted jealousies and insecurities, if the relationship is abusive in any way or aggressive, if the relationships is built on co-dependency and also there are other many other variables. When any of these things are happening, quite often outside help or some counseling may be required.
Love-hate relationships don’t just affect the two people involved in them, they affect everyone and everything around them too. Other relationships will likely suffer, we will be far less productive in all that we do and our outside work work take a hit too—all because our energy is being sucked right out of us.
A stable balanced relationship is not stale or boring, it means that we can focus all of our energies into creating a deep loving, bonded relationship with a sense of security for the future, rather than energy being absorbed through drama.
Stable love can also be wild with passion, desire and exhilaration, especially when we put all our focus onto the love and care for someone, rather than the opposite.
We are all a mix or positive and negative characteristics, explore and celebrate our differences and find ways to improve and remove depending on our needs.
For all that love-hate relationships may have incredible highs, the lows they offer are often painful and destructive. It is often a game of wills whereby neither party really wins nor loses.
“People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite…” ~ Nelson Mandela
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Rachel Nussbaum