Love–hate relationship

A love–hate relationship is an interpersonal relationship involving simultaneous or alternating emotions of love and hate—something particularly common when emotions are intense.[1]

The term is used frequently in psychology, popular writing and journalism. It can be applied to relationships with inanimate objects, or even concepts,[2][3] as well as those of a romantic nature or between siblings and parents/children.[4]

Psychological rootsEdit

A love–hate relationship has been linked to the occurrence of emotional ambivalence in early childhood;[5] to conflicting responses by different ego states within the same person;[6] or to the inevitable co-existence of egoistic conflicts with the object of love.[7]

Narcissists have been seen as particularly prone to aggressive reactions towards love objects,[8] not least when issues of self-identity are involved:[9] in extreme instances, hate at the very existence of the other may be the only emotion felt, until love breaks through behind it.[10]

Research from Yale University suggests love–hate relationships may be the result of poor self-esteem.[11]


The term is sometimes employed by writers to refer to relationships between celebrity couples who have been divorced, then who reunite (notably Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, or Eminem and Kimberly Scott), as well as to their relationship with fame itself.[12]


A love–hate relationship may develop when people have completely lost the intimacy within a loving relationship, yet still retain some passion for, or perhaps some commitment to, each other, before degenerating into a hate–love relationship leading to divorce.[13]


Tony Blair and Gordon Brown's political friendship took on at times all the characteristics of a love–hate relationship, if one between friends and allies.[14] Sigmund Freud said of himself that "an intimate friend and a hated enemy have always been indispensable to my emotional life...not infrequently…friend and enemy have coincided in the same person".[15]


Ontological study says that love hate relationship exists among colleagues. Especially if there is difference in education qualification or skill sets. However, they may have a natural affinity towards each other because of common family, cultural values. Their mutual trust and respect may be extremely strong. Their expression of love may be subtle but hatredness may be overt or silent. Sometimes they express their hatredness overtly only to know how much it is approved by other person. Such colleagues end up in constant conflicts and at times becomes irreparable too. However, if one initiates a subtle patch up, the patch up happens quickly and everything is restored to normal.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Eric Berne, A Layman's Guide to Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis (1976) p. 86
  2. ^ "A love-hate relationship". The Economist. 19 January 2008.
  3. ^ "Skyhook's love/hate relationship with GPS".
  4. ^ M. A. Skura, Shakespeare the Actor (1993) pp. 286–7
  5. ^ Sigmund Freud, On Metapsychology (PFL 11) p. 137
  6. ^ Eric Berne, Sex in Human Loving (1970) p. 222
  7. ^ Freud, p. 137
  8. ^ Jacques Lacan, Écrits (1997) pp. 24–5
  9. ^ R. D. Laing, Self and Others (1969) p. 110
  10. ^ Neville Symington, Narcissism (2003) pp. 85–6
  11. ^ "The mystery behind love-hate relationships -". 8 June 2006.
  12. ^ Skura, p. 193
  13. ^ A. Pam and J. Pearson, Splitting Up (1998) p. 24
  14. ^ Anthony Seldon, Blair Unbound (2007) p. 546 and 574
  15. ^ Quoted in Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1964) p. 37
  16. ^ J. Boardman et al eds, The Oxford History of the Classical World (1991) p. 489

Further readingEdit

  • John Gottman, Why Marriages Succeed and Fail (1994)