Signs & causes of a love-hate relationship

Have you ever loved and hated a person at the same time? You're not alone! Love-hate relationships are more frequent than you might think. In this article, we'll tell you what a love-hate relationship is, what the causes are and how you can deal with it.

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Love-Hate relationships are tough. If you have ever been in one, it is easy to understand that sometimes you hate your partner and at the same time couldn’t imagine living without them. One day you’re madly in love with each other, and the next day, you want to kill each other.

Let’s find out what Love-Hate relationships are all about!

What is a Love-Hate relationship?

Love and hate can coexist together. Researchers suggest that love and hate are two opposing forces that people experience involving positive or negative feelings. Moreover, hate was always considered an imitation of love. 1

A love-hate relationship is a toxic relationship when you love someone, but at the same time, you cannot stand them (from time to time). These relationships can be very frustrating and challenging. Love and hate can be so extreme that sometimes the love for another person becomes a “pretend love”.

It’s completely normal to have mixed feelings in a relationship. However, it becomes a love-hate relationship when the emotions of love and hate start to mix in a destructive way.

Causes of Love-Hate relationships

Causes of Love-Hate relationships

How does it get that far in the first place? Let’s take a look at the causes of love-hate relationships.

1. One-sided love

If you keep asking yourself when you’re finally going to be the center of your relationship, you might be trapped in a one-sided relationship. 2 This can be because you want that person to love you back, but they don’t return the love the same way you do.

This can be very frustrating, which might cause love and hate feelings simultaneously.

2. Bad personality traits and/or habits

Love-hate relationships can also be caused or enhanced by your partner’s bad personality traits or annoying habits. Look out for red flags like manipulation, negativity, passive aggression, anger issues, or controlling behaviors. 3

3. Bad experiences in the past

Bad experiences in the past might be another cause for love-hate relationships. If you had a bad experience with someone before, this could lead to distrust and fear of the same person again. This fear makes you love them at the same time as hating them.

The psychology behind Love-Hate relationships

The psychology behind Love-Hate relationships

Studies show that the cause of love-hate relationships is actually a mixture of frustration, fear, and low self-esteem. It’s possible that people who feel frustrated because they aren’t getting the attention they want from a person might be overcompensating by expressing hating feelings.

In these cases, it’s not really hate that is being expressed, but an overflow of intense emotions that comes from the frustration of not getting enough love and appreciation from the other person.

In other words, you could say that this form of love-hate relationship is actually a revenge type of situation where you have this strong desire to make the other person feel as bad as you do without really meaning it.

On the other hand, if you want to feel better because you are not getting the attention you need, then hate might be a confusing form of self-protection.

For example, if you don’t get what you want or need from someone else, your brain will likely say, “I hate this person”. This way, by hating them instead of yourself, your brain is giving itself the love it needs to get through the situation.

Signs that you are in a Love-Hate relationship

Signs that you are in a Love-Hate relationship

If you’re in a love-hate relationship, it might be difficult for you to see. It might be obvious to all your friends and family, but you might need a little help to realize that you’re in this kind of relationship.

1. You talk less to each other

The love-hate relationship might be caused by a lack of communication. People in love usually talk about anything and everything together. Yet, if you are in a love-hate relationship, you might find that you are not talking as much or avoiding conversations on some subjects. If this is the case, it’s time to sit down with your partner and start communicating with them again.

2. You love the person, but you hate (almost) everything about them.

Another sign might be that you love being together, but when that person decides to leave, your love turns into anger or hate. Or maybe that person makes you love them more because they love someone else, which is very frustrating.

For example, their bad habits might be unbearable for you, so you love them, but at the same time, you can’t stand them because of these same habits.

3. You feel extreme negative and positive emotions

At times, you feel like the love is so big it’s going to crush you. Other times, the hate is so big that you can’t believe it or understand how you could have ever loved them in the first place. All these extreme emotions might be a sign of a love-hate relationship.

4. You have an On-and-Off Relationship

You love them in some moments, but in other moments you want to break up with this person because love and hate feelings are just too overwhelming. Often, this leads to actual breakups, followed by passionate love-making sessions and makeup periods.

The love-hate relationship might be a cycle that seems endless or to have no beginning and end. Studies show that On-and-Off relationships tend to have way more negative aspects than relationships that have never been through a breakup. 4

How to deal with Love-Hate relationships?

How to deal with Love-Hate relationships?

Love-hate relationships are complicated to manage. They are often accompanied by other emotions that make people unable to decide what their feelings really are.

Here are tips on how to cope with love-hate relationships!

1. Be honest with yourself about your feelings

If you were to make a list of love and hate feelings towards the other person, what would happened? Would they both have equal weight, or is one feeling stronger than the other?

If there is more hate than love, you might want to get away from this person because a relationship can’t work when you hate the other person more than you love them.

If there is still more love than hate, it might be time to have a conversation with this person and understand what went wrong.

2. Be aware of your own emotions

What is it that bothers you so much? Is it solely your partner? Or is there anything else in life that causes you stress? Maybe it’s not the love-hate relationship that bothers you but all unresolved problems that cause these mixed emotions.

For example, perhaps you are stressed about money or work, and that is why you hate this person because you take out your anger on them instead of the actual source of stress.

You need to open up to the other person, be honest with yourself and also give yourself time to calm down before actually talking about it.Having an awareness of your emotions and being able to communicate them is going to help you have a healthy relationship.

3. Speak about your relationship problems

If a love-hate relationship ruins your life and makes you lose sleep, then it’s about time to talk with your partner. The sooner you talk about it with your partner, the better.

Talk about your extreme love-hate feelings towards your partner and how much this is bothering you both. Ask your partner to respect your feelings and work together to overcome this problem.

If you both can’t come up with a solution, you might need to seek professional help. Speak to a relationship counselor who can help you understand the problem and resolve it together.

4. Decide your next steps

Do you want to work on your relationship or let it go? Be brave and decide what you want. If love is not enough to make your relationship work, then maybe it’s time to say goodbye.

Write a list of the things you love and hate about your partner. Are these things that might be fixed or not? If they can’t be fixed, then you have to decide if you can live with them or not. If it can be fixed, there is still hope to work it out.

  1. Alford, C. F., & Sternberg, R. J. (2005). The Psychology of Hate. ↩︎

  2. Cavaiola, A., & Lavender, N. (2011). The One-Way Relationship Workbook: Step-by-Step Help for Coping With Narcissists, Egotistical Lovers, Toxic Coworkers, and Others Who Are Incredibly Self-Absorbed (A New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook) (Csm ed.). New Harbinger Publications. ↩︎

  3. Eliminating Toxic Influences. (n.d.). Mental Health America. ↩︎

  4. Dailey, R. M., Hampel, A. D., & Roberts. J. (2010). Relational maintenance in onagain/off-again relationships: An assessment of how relational maintenance, uncertainty, and relational quality vary by relationship type and status. Communication Monographs, 77, 75–101. ↩︎

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Dating Expert

Janet Smith

Janet Smith is a freelance writer who writes about psychology, relationships, and dating. She has always been interested in understanding the human brain and how it affects our …

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