Is There A Thin Line Between Love And Hate For Everyone?

By: Robert Porter

Updated November 19, 2019

Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Fawley

Love and hate are seen as the two most powerful emotions that humans can experience. You've probably heard the phrase "there is a thin line between love and hate" at some point. This means that the difference between loving someone and hating them can sometimes be a little more unclear than many would like to admit. Is it genuinely like this for everyone, though? Or is this simply a social issue that some people encounter?

Wondering If There Really Is -- A Thin Line Between Love And Hate?
Learn How Healthy Relationships Work. Chat With A Therapist Now.


Love-hate relationships call a lot of attention to themselves. You probably know someone who walks that thin line between love and hatred in one relationship after another. While everyone is vulnerable to having such mixed emotions, not everyone has such a relationship. Therefore, the answer to the question posed in this article is that this isn't an issue for everyone, but most people will be prone to having mixed emotions when they are hurt by someone that they love. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to have more stable relationships if you're having problems. Before focusing on that, it's essential to determine why so many people can go from loving to hating someone so easily.

Similarities Between Love And Hate

Perhaps the reason love and hatred are so closely connected is that the two emotions have many of the same components. Let's take a look at some of the many ways that love and hatred are similar. It might help to show you why many people adhere to the theory that love and hate are two sides of the same coin.

Strong Emotions

Love and hate are both intense emotions. Saying "I love them a little" or "I hate them a little" is like saying, "I'm a little bit pregnant." Either you feel them strongly, or they're rightly defined with a different word, such as "like" or "dislike." When you're feeling an intense emotion like love or hate, it's challenging to be objective about the relationship. If your relationship ends, it's going to be difficult to simply shrug your shoulders and say, "Oh well, it didn't work out. It's no big deal." No, you're probably going to have a very strong emotional reaction to that loss. That's where the hatred begins to form.

Directed To Another

Emotions can be directed at objects, situations, or yourself. Love and hate in a relationship are directed straight at the other person. Because your love is so precisely-focused on someone close to you, you tend to expect your love to be reciprocated. No one else can satisfy that desire. So, when they don't love you the way you love them, your disappointment can quickly turn to hate.

Love And Hate Take On Extreme Importance

When you have feelings of love or hate, those emotions can take over your life. If you genuinely love your partner, the situation tends to seem less important. If you love them intensely enough, you may find yourself living in a situation you would never have accepted before. If you hate them strongly enough, it doesn't matter what they do for you; the feeling isn't going to go away easily.

Physical Expression

We can feel most emotions without feeling a need to express them in physically intimate ways. If you like someone, you may express that through kind words, a wave, or a smile. If you dislike someone, you might show them by turning away from them, frowning at them, or talking to them in an unpleasant voice.


Love and hate are different than weaker emotions. If you have a passionate love for someone, you likely want to show it through touch. Hate can be the same way. The idea of hurting someone you hate might sound incredibly appealing. This doesn't mean that you should act on those impulses, but it's fine to acknowledge the way that hatred makes you feel. These are powerful emotions that can be difficult to control for some people.

Recognizing When You're Near The Line

You can't have a stable relationship if you don't stay back from that thin line between love and hate. So, how can you tell if you're getting close?

Feelings Become More Intense

The love/hate line is more about the quality of love than the intensity of love. However, if you're nearing the line, your emotions can become extremely strong. Certainly, you can feel intense love without feeling hate. You can feel intense hatred without love, as well. When you're near the line, you'll likely feel both emotions very strongly at the same time or by turns.

Dwelling On Hurts

You can't be close to someone without being vulnerable. When you let someone see the real you that you don't always show to others, they can easily hurt you. It may be an intentional jab or a carelessly-phrased comment. Either way, it's normal to feel hurt. What puts you closer to the love-hate line is dwelling on that hurt. You might start out wondering why they would hurt you that way. If you keep ruminating, a small comment can take on significant importance. That dwelling on hurt often turns into hatred at some point.

Jealousy Increases

Jealousy comes from a combination of love and insecurity. It may start out as love, not hate, but your low self-esteem convinces you that you aren't worthy of being loved very much or very long. As a means of self-protection, you try to prepare yourself for the worst. You begin to closely watch how they behave, especially when they're interacting with someone you consider a competitor for their love. You overreact if you see them smile warmly at that person. You're upset with them when they show someone else a little extra attention. When you feel jealous most of the time, you might begin to hate them for not loving you exclusively.

Wondering If There Really Is -- A Thin Line Between Love And Hate?
Learn How Healthy Relationships Work. Chat With A Therapist Now.


You're Possessive Of Them

Possessiveness adds the love and insecurity of jealousy to controlling behaviors. You might find yourself manipulating situations to keep your partner away from other people. Possessiveness can go even further, though. You might try to control where they go, what they do, and even what they wear to work. Possessiveness might seem like loving and caring, but at that point, any love you have for them is replaced by a desire to have ownership of everything about them. If they resist your control, hatred can follow soon after.

It's An Abusive Relationship

If your partner abuses you physically, verbally, or emotionally, you'll be right on that line until you get out of the situation. Many victims of abuse have strong feelings of love for their abusers. When the balance tips from love to hate in an abusive relationship, the result will almost certainly be dramatic and may even be life-threatening to one or both of you. Should you feel threatened in your relationship, please know that help is available. You can get out of an abusive situation with the help of professionals. Some people might be more comfortable turning to loved ones for assistance, but calling an abuse hotline is always an option.

How To Avoid A Love-Hate Relationship

Hate it or love it, any relationship can cross that thin line between love and hate, but not every relationship does. So, how do you keep from getting into a love-hate relationship? If you're already in one, how do you ensure your love stays on the stable ground for the long run?

Improve Your Self-Esteem

Your most important task in protecting yourself from love/hate relationships is to improve your self-esteem. When you feel secure about your values as a person, someone's hurtful actions won't affect you as strongly. That's because you don't need someone else to value you when you value yourself enough. It's always nice, but it's only necessary if you don't love yourself.

Value Your Independence

It's easy to fall into dependence if someone is there and happy to take care of your needs for you. It might seem like a convenient and helpful sign of love at first, but it isn't. Instead, it's actually a sign of unhealthy attachment. It may seem romantic to need each other so intensely, but in a healthy relationship, each person strives to meet their own needs. So, be sure to take care of your individual basic survival needs for yourself whenever you can. Make your way in the world. Reach for your highest human potential. Go out of your way to do things for yourself rather than automatically letting someone else do them for you. When your relationship is based on love and not need, you'll be farther than ever from hating them and closer to having a satisfying, passionate relationship.


Recognize Your True Rights And Responsibilities

Often, we fail to recognize our rights and responsibilities in a relationship. It's easy to blame someone else when you don't separate what is yours to do and what is someone else's responsibility. By accepting your responsibilities, you take charge of them. You give yourself the power to effect change. When you leave someone else's responsibilities in their hands, you avoid feelings of resentment. You need to be clear about your rights, too. For instance, you have the right to feel safe in any relationship. You don't have the right to demand that your partner asks you before making even the smallest decisions. People commonly have trouble understanding their rights and responsibilities because the environment they grew up in wasn't a healthy one. If you feel that's the case, therapy might be a good choice.

Build A Strong Support System

You've likely heard the advice, "don't put all your eggs in one basket." It's great advice in a relationship. Many people take it to mean they should have many lovers at the same time. This can be damaging, though, and is completely unnecessary. A healthy and strong support system offers more than adequate protection. Build up relationships with friends, family, people at work, people you volunteer or take classes with, and people you meet in your community. Spend time with a variety of people. Engage in activities that have nothing to do with your relationship. These other social connections will make you stronger and more secure, increasing your capacity for love, not hate.

Learn Not To Ruminate

Because ruminating can intensify feelings of hate, you'll be much more emotionally stable when you learn not to dwell on problems. It's common for people to convince themselves that if they think about something long and hard, they'll find the perfect solution. The truth is that it rarely works that way. The mind works better when it's fresh. What's more, your mind will keep working on the solution even when you aren't consciously thinking about the problem. For example, think of when you're trying to remember a name. You try and try to think of it, but it just won't come to mind. Then, an hour later, when you aren't even aware that you're thinking about it, you suddenly remember the name.

Wondering If There Really Is -- A Thin Line Between Love And Hate?
Learn How Healthy Relationships Work. Chat With A Therapist Now.


Having faith in yourself is a significant component in avoiding rumination. You can also learn to notice thoughts and let them pass by without dwelling on them through meditation and mindfulness. Studies have shown that mindfulness has a particularly strong ability to decrease rumination. Anyone can meditate. Anyone can be mindful. The more you practice, the greater the help you will get from your thoughts.

What About Passion?

The line between love and hate can be an emotionally intense mental place. If you move away from that line, does it mean that you'll never feel passion again? Certainly not. You can feel intense love for someone without ever feeling hatred for them. In fact, that's what healthy love is like. You may dislike them at times. You won't agree with everything they say. You may even end the relationship and go your separate ways. Regardless, you still love them as a person and wish them the best. More to the point, you can feel passionate about your partner without getting anywhere near hatred. You can enjoy a satisfying physical relationship based on a true passion for the beauty of who they are.

Getting Help With Online Therapy

How can you have a passionate relationship without crossing the line into hate? Consider whether you need to do some work on yourself. If you have low self-esteem, feelings of insecurity or jealousy, or even if you're already on the line between love and hate, counseling might be a helpful tool to move forward in a healthier way. If you decide you need therapy to resolve your love-hate issues, you can talk to a licensed counselor at BetterHelp.

In counseling, you can gain insight and perspective. You can develop your self-esteem and self-respect. If you're concerned about the state of your relationship, or even if you're to the point that you feel like saying, "I hate love," you can make changes that give you a brighter future with love. Please take a look at how others have been able to get the help that they need at Betterhelp by reading the counselor reviews below.

Counselor Reviews

"After counseling with Dr. Cothern for 4 weeks, I have seen a huge difference in myself and my relationships with my family. She has helped me to see that what I am doing is good for me and that I shouldn't beat myself up when I do. It says something that might be seen as being too forceful when really it's not."

"Jennifer has been a great help to me and truly gave me great advice to fix my relationship."

In Closing

Many people deal with love-hate relationships, and it isn't always going to be easy to get through things alone. With the right tools, you can get through even the most intense negative emotions, and you'll be able to breathe much easier once things are settled. Take the first step today.

Previous Article

Family Love: What It Is, What It Looks Like, And How To Make It Happen

Next Article

Why You Keep Falling In And Out Of Love
For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Counselor Today
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.