I Love You and I Hate You Too!
Why do Love-Hate Relationships Last?
Or Do They?
Love and hate are as opposite as two emotions can be, yet couples often can relate to both extremes when describing their romantic relationship. How can this be? How can you feel extreme adoration for a person then loathe them minutes later?
Many couples, even happy ones, experience the extremes of love-hate emotions now and again.
As it turns out, love and hate may not be such different emotions after all.
A Fine Line Between Love and Hate
Some of the nervous circuits in your brain that are responsible for producing feelings of hatred are actually the same ones used to produce the feeling of romantic love, according to a study published in the journal PloS ONE.
And when you think about it, love and hate do share some similarities. Both are extreme emotions, and both can lead you to do irrational, heroic or even evil things, pointed out Professor Semir Zeki of University College London, who led the study, in The Independent.
"Hate is often considered to be an evil passion that should, in a better world, be tamed, controlled and eradicated. Yet to the biologist, hate is a passion that is of equal interest to love," Professor Zeki told The Independent.
"Like love, it is often seemingly irrational and can lead individuals to heroic and evil deeds. How can two opposite sentiments lead to the same behavior?"
The study found that parts of your brain called the putamen and the insula are both involved in feelings of contempt and disgust, along with being activated by romantic love.
Viewing Your Relationship as All Good or All Bad …
Interestingly, the up-and-down rollercoaster ride experienced by those in a love-hate relationship may be quite normal. On the other hand, viewing your relationship as all good or all bad could be a sign that you have low self-esteem, according to Yale researchers.
"Those low in self-esteem are chronically concerned about whether or not their close relationship partners will or will not accept them," Margaret Clark, a professor in the University’s department of psychology and senior faculty author of the study, told ScienceBlog.com. “In good times, those low in self-esteem tend to idealize partners, rendering those partners safe for approach and likely to reflect positively upon them. At the first sign of a partner not being perfect, however, they switch to focusing on all possible negatives about the partner so as to justify withdrawing from that partner and not risking vulnerability."
So in all actuality, it could be completely normal, and healthy, to have a bit of love-hate emotions in your relationship.
Your Relationship is Constantly Changing
Emotions fluctuate on a daily, hourly or, at times, even more frequent basis. So it’s not surprising that your attitudes and perceptions of your partner fluctuate as well.
As Aaron Ben-Zeév, President and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Haifa, wrote in an article in Psychology Today:
“People describe their relationship as a love hate relationship when the circumstances are such that the focus of attention changes under different conditions; hence the change in the emotional attitudes.
When the lover focuses his attention on his partner's wisdom, he loves her dearly. When he thinks about the humiliation she brings upon him, he hates her guts. Thus people can say: "I hate you, Then I love you...Then I hate you, Then I love you more" (Celine Dion); "Sometimes I love you, sometimes I hate you. But when I hate you, it's because I love you" (Nat King Cole).
Such cases can be explained in light of the fact that emotional experiences are dynamic and different external and personal circumstances may often change our emotional attitude toward the same person.”
For those of you wondering whether the more turbulent times serve any useful purpose in a relationship, there’s some good news too. According to Ben-Zeév, feelings of hatred can actually increase communication and feelings of closeness; but they can also result in disastrous outcomes committed in the “name of love.” He writes:
“Love can become a fertile ground for the emergence of hate. When the intensity and intimacy of love turns sour, hate may be generated.
In these circumstances, hate serves as a channel of communication when other paths are blocked, and it functions to preserve the powerful closeness of the relationship, in which both connection and separation are impossible.
Consider the following testimony of a man convicted of killing his wife (cited in the book, In the Name of Love): "You don't always kill a woman or feel jealousy about a woman or shout at a woman because you hate her. No. Because you love her, that's love." No doubt, love can be extremely dangerous, and people have committed the most horrific crimes in the name of love (and religion).”
How to Harness Intense Emotions for a Stronger Relationship
If you're having serious marital problems, seek help right away. The average couple waits six years before seeking marital counseling, which means they're living unhappily for far too long.
You should also become aware of the certainty vs. uncertainty principle, which is a hidden cause of many divorces and may also help explain your emotional variances of love and hate.
When we have great "certainty" there is an urge for most of us to seek “uncertainty.” In the case of marriage, your “certainty” quotient is filled, your relationship steady and secure.
Yet, for many of us this potentially good feeling turns into boredom and staleness, and invokes a sense of not being fully alive or excited any longer. This then drives us to seek the other end of the spectrum, or look for “uncertainty.”
When you realize the dynamics of certainty vs. uncertainty -- and the fact that we often seek out that which we do not have -- you can take steps to remedy the situation before you engage in an activity that harms your marriage.
To find out those steps, along with many tips to get your marriage back on solid ground, please read our past article Are You at Risk of an Unnecessary Divorce? The Secret Relationship Killer You Need to Know About.
Essential Tips for a Happy Relationship
While emotional high and low points are normal in every relationship, physical or emotional abuse is not. If you’re suffering from the latter, you should seek help immediately. Likewise, if your partner is overwhelmingly focused on the “hate” side of the emotional spectrum, it may be time to re-evaluate.
“If your partner exhibits an overall pattern of negative behavior -- as opposed to rare little flashes of negative behavior here and there -- then you actually do need to take a closer look at the relationship,” says Rachel G. Baldino, MSW, LCSW.
“On a related note, if your relationship was once tender, affectionate, and highly communicative, but has recently become cold and distant, then this would be another case in which you would need to seriously analyze exactly what is going on. Under such circumstances, sometimes a professional therapist who specializes in couples counseling can be helpful,” she continues. “[But] if your partner is a generally kind and caring person, who only occasionally says something thoughtless, try not to focus too much of your time and energy on these rare insensitive remarks.”
Instead, you should focus on making your relationship stronger by:
- Keeping communication lines open
Good communication is essential to any marriage and communicating openly and honestly about finances, children and your feelings will build a strong bond between the two of you. Don’t expect your partner to be a mind reader. Talk to them and let your feelings be known.
- Connecting with your spouse with physical touch and physical activity
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A touch on the shoulder or back, hugs and kisses are all forms of staying connected with each other and can make a big difference in the strength of your relationship. Further, one of the BEST ways to improve your intimate life, for both men and women, is the simple lifestyle habit of exercise.
Exercise will not only relieve stress but also helps you feel sexier and increases your self-esteem. This is why we recommend you and your partner engage together in the SheaNetics mind-body fitness program from MySheaNetics.com. MySheaNetics.com offers a unique fitness and self-help philosophy dedicated to providing you both with life-improving ideas and the inspirational motivation needed to achieve complete well-being.
MySheanetics.com set of 3 DVDs reveals 7 very effective principles that help you to be and stay connected in mind, body and spirit.
Commitment: To become truly healthy in your relationships in mind, body and spirit requires you each to find and live a life of loving healthy commitments -- first for yourself. Take time for yourself. You must each find and uphold the unconditional love for yourselves with meaningful actions such as daily exercise, be it by yourselves or, when possible, together.
Eat healthy, even when there’s seemingly no time, to nourish your body and mind. Learn in advance what is good tasty healthy fast food such as the five-minute fast health foods found in the book “Alive in 5.” You’ll feel better and be more loving both of yourself and others.
As you may have already experienced in prior relationships that didn’t work out the best for you, they likely have some common denominators and or similarities that are often great learning opportunities of how to put yourself first.
Taking care of yourself starts with your health, as good health more than anything else demonstrates your love for yourself. This includes surrounding yourself in a truly healthy environment including the air your breath, wiping your feet at the door on a commercial-grade entrance carpet to stop bacteria, MRSA, etc. from being tracked through your home, and wiping your hands on antimicrobial convenient hand wipes before and after you sneeze or touch public areas so as to not place viruses near your eyes or nose.
These are ways of reminding yourself that you consciously are caring and loving yourself rather than allowing bad habits to harm your health and wellbeing. In essence, they are self love lessons by improving your health and empowering your ability to show love to yourself.
Count the ways you are loving yourself and your body by helping it and others too around you who you love to stay healthy. Again, these are constant reminders that demonstrate that first and foremost you love yourself, which then enables you by origin of your actions to be a better, truly caring, loving person.
Compromise: We all want things our own way and there is a tendency by some to villainize those who either don’t agree with us and or those who are unwilling participants in accepting our ideas or interests. While love is sometimes confused temporarily with lust or infatuation, true love reveals itself by your caring enough to reach a compromise.
Compassion: Love is about alignment yet in truth what love is most is compromise by both parties having compassion, with both willing to find a center point of caring and sharing a healthy loving relationship.
With these points in mind, we do highly recommend that you engage in a daily commitment of improving your physical, emotional and spiritual self with MySheanetics.com unique set of three DVDs, which combine the best of multi-cultural healthy progressive exercises.
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Best of all, it will help you and your partner strengthen your romantic and intimate bonds! You can find out more and view an introductory video at MySheanetics.com.
- Practicing the art of forgiveness
Forgiving your spouse is a way of saying that you know nobody is perfect, including yourself, and that you understand everyone makes mistakes. Forgive, pick up where you left off and move on with life.
- Earning and building trust
Keeping an open and honest relationship with your spouse naturally builds the trust factor. It also is representative that you are supportive of your spouse, believe in them and encourage them to accomplish their goals and dreams.
Establish and keep your own personal goals and dreams and continue to pursue them so you don’t risk losing your individuality. This will help keep you grounded and maintain self-fulfillment. It’s also important to take time to relax, both on your own and together with your partner, to keep stress levels down and experience the true enjoyment of life. If you need some help relaxing, simply put on the Pure Relaxation CD and let your mind revel in the calmness.
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PLoS One. October 29, 2008;3(10):e3556.
The Independent October 29, 2008
PsychologyToday.com April 11, 2008
ScienceBlog.com June 8, 2006