What is a Love-Hate Relationship?
When Rihanna sang, I hate that I love you, some of us felt that! Of all the relationship dynamics that come under the rainbow of intimacy and interpersonal connection, a love-hate relationship is a very common romantic cliché as seen in books, movies, and television. A love-hate relationship is one in which two people feel intense emotion towards each other that oscillates between extremely passionate love and equally chaotic fighting. These relationships are often turbulent and not the most balanced or healthy and yet they are perceived to be the “real thing” – a violent undeniable flame that burns both partners involved.
Tsundere, a Japanese word that is an amalgamation of tsuntsun (aloof or cold) and deredere (lovesick) best describes the dynamic of a love-hate relationship. A character displaying tsundere switches between insulting and treating their love interest poorly to behaving kindlier over time. This hot-cold dynamic is often labeled toxic but still considered the image of love in popular culture.
Popular Love-Hate Relationship Seen in Books and Films
1. Katherine and Patrick in 10 Things I Hate About You [movie]
A textbook case of a love-hate relationship can be seen in the feisty adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, in the movie titled 10 Things I Hate About You. Katherine’s character is that of the shrew, an ill-tempered, sharp-tongued antagonist, albeit much more nuanced than the original shrew, who falls for a bad boy, Patrick. Throughout the movie, they hate each other with a passion for Patrick pursuing her relentlessly only to be callously rejected up until the climax scene where Kat lists all the things she hates about him ending it with how she doesn’t hate him at all. As far as on-screen romance goes, nothing is more love-hate than Kat and Patrick’s relationship!
2. Bianca and Wesley in The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) [book/movie]
Another textbook case of love-hate relationships is the dynamic between Bianca and Wesley in The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) which is a book by Kody Keplinger and was also made into a movie. Bianca and Wes start off hating each other, with Bianca being the less popular of her friends and Wes being the star of the football team, they are an unlikely match. However, as the plot progresses their dislike for each other’s lifestyle choices transforms into a warm flame as they find they have developed feelings for each other. And that’s how the “started-out enemies and became lovers” trope goes! It’s overdone to death, but boy do we love it!
3. Joel and Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind [movie]
Joel and Clementine are opposites but insanely in love. What they don’t know is that they are not meeting each other for the first time. They have met known each other before and after an ugly end to their relationship, they decided to erase each other from their memories. From the start, their relationship is chaotic, intense, and surreal but the passion they share is undeniable.
4. Elizabeth and Darcy in Pride and Prejudice [book]
A classic example of the enemies-turning-into-lovers trope is the relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. Initially, Bennet finds Darcy insufferable and arrogant while he struggles to remain cold to her beauty. Her dislike for him grows with further complications only to bloom into one of the most popular literary romances.
Signs That You Are In a Love-Hate Relationship
Love may be blind, but maturity demands you to be able to observe your relations with people to make sure they are healthy and not damaging to your life. Here are some signs you are in a love-hate relationship.
1. Extreme levels of Inconsistency in the way you feel about them
Your feelings towards them are inconsistent in extreme ways – some days you feel like they are the biggest blessing in your life and other days you cannot stand their presence. You may find yourself in awe of some of their qualities but find yourself triggered and irritable when it comes to some of their other habits and traits. Of course, to a certain extent, this is perfectly normal but when your emotions oscillate in extreme ways, you might be in for some trouble.
2. The Break-up Make-up Cycle
People in love-hate relationships break up and makeup again and again. It’s like when Katy Perry sang, you’re hot then you’re cold, you’re yes, then you’re no. We fight, we break up; we kiss, we make up. People in love-hate relationships often have terrible fights that can lead to breaking up but when things cool down you are drawn back to them and this cycle keeps on repeating itself.
3. Uncertainty is a part of the thrill
Uncertainty is another big part of love-hate relationships. You never know if you two will be together the next month or the next week and this creates a lot of instability in your relationship.
4. Unhealthy Expectations
Unhealthy expectations often come with love-hate dynamics where you love some things about your partner and hate the others, but you cannot bring yourself to accept their flaws. Consequently, when they do something that you approve of your heart fills up but when they don’t live up to your ideal, you fight bitterly and find them repulsive.
5. They tend to irritate you to the very core or fill you up with warmth and love – no in between
The things you dislike about your partner keep nagging you intensely. Everyone has flaws but if certain things about your partner drive you up the wall, chances are you’re in a love-hate dynamic.
6. You feel on the edge
You’re always walking a fine line. In healthy relationships, people feel comfortable being themselves and accept each other without too many reservations. But in a love-hate dynamic, you don’t feel as secure which leads you to behave in ways you perceive will protect you from rejection.
7. You talk less to each other and more about each other
This one is big - if you constantly feel a need to talk to friends and family about your relationship instead of taking problems to your partner and feeling secure enough to express yourself, you probably aren’t in a wholly loving relationship.
8. You’re more concerned with appearances
Secure relationships aren’t always perfect, but a love-hate relationship makes you very aware of your partner’s flaws and more self-conscious about them. If you aren’t proud of your partner or, worse, you’re embarrassed by them, then that’s a complication.
Should You Get Out or Stay in This Relationship?
When it comes to matters of the heart, fortunately, or unfortunately, there is no simple answer or no objective yardstick to measure your relationship. Having said that, often people find themselves in relationship dynamics that are damaging to them and when you see the red flags it’s a good idea to remove yourself from that situation – for the sake of your sanity and well-being.
There is a lot of giving and take in any relationship – if your partner is showing an openness to change and you are also willing to reexamine your behavior, you could survive it. However, if one or both of you are unyielding and have stubborn strong personalities, you’re going to burn each other out like crazy and it’s probably best to part ways. If you have core differences in your views on life or severe control issues, again, it might be best for you two to part ways.
Toxicity like cheating, jealousy, and intense insecurity can also corrupt a relationship beyond repair so if your love-hate dynamic is full of those things, it’s best to leave that sh*t behind. Having said that, making an effort to create balance and stability and exit the love-hate dynamic with someone is also a possibility worth exploring if you both decide you want to do better and be better.
So, should your relationship be as wild and turbulent as in the movies? We’re going to go with no, not really but if it is there is still hope. A lot of good things can start a bit turbulent but mutual work become something beautiful. One thing is clear though, does your relationship have to be so turbulent to be “real love?” Not. Secure, wholesome love and mutually supportive relationships where you care deeply but don’t have extreme mood swings are possible. And with the right person, this dynamic should not exist and if it does, it should be solvable. If you have been at it for a while and feel stuck in a love-hate relationship, it might be best to step back and reexamine a few things.