Love Trumps Hate: How Holding On to Negative Feelings Can Ruin Your Life

By: Steven Finkelstein

Updated October 12, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Melinda Santa

Some people have a tough time letting go of negative emotions. Maybe you had some experiences earlier in your life that have led to your feeling pessimistic about the world in general and your place in it. Perhaps those feelings have to do with a particular relationship that you had that didn't end up how you thought it would.

How A Single Relationship Experience Can Wreck Your Future Prospects

You'd be surprised how many people have uttered the phrase "I hate love" while angrily conversing with a friend at a party somewhere. Maybe you've even said those words yourself. If so, then likely it stems from a single bad relationship experience.


The story is common enough. Let's say that you dated someone in high school, college, or after. Things started fine, but something happened that made the relationship toxic. It could have been you who was to blame, or maybe it was them. The most common scenario is that both of you had a hand in what happened, and you simply weren't compatible. It became a love-hate relationship: you start by caring about each other, but toward the end, you couldn't stand the sight of one another. Bitter words were said, and you went your separate ways. Maybe you even broke up and got back together multiple times before finally calling it quits, complicating things even further.

Relationship Exhaustion

These sorts of experiences can lead to a situation which some people refer to as relationship exhaustion. It's where you're reluctant to get into any sort of romantic entanglement again for months or years at a time. Every time you do, you think back to what happened with this person who you previously loved. You feel so bitter about it that it would not be a stretch to say that you hate that person, or even that you now hate the whole sensation of falling in love.

If you've gotten to the point where you hate to love, then you dread the approach of Valentine's Day. You gnash your teeth when you see couples being affectionate in public, and you roll your eyes every time you see a preview for a romantic comedy. You relish it when other couples break up, and you'd prefer that as many people as possible be alone and miserable like you are.

That Is A Self-Destructive Viewpoint

This wallowing in misery has a certain bent appeal. Hate and love are sensations that both can fuel you. The key difference between hatred and love is that in time, hate almost always becomes corrosive. When you hate, it's exhausting. and ultimately unproductive. If hate is the primary motivation that drives you and you're unable to let it go, then it becomes like a deadly acid in your veins. The person who is driven by love is much more mentally healthy and balanced.

The Problem With Holding Onto Hate

Let's revisit the scenario where your hate stems from a previous ruined relationship. It's probable that if you feel that strongly about what happened, then you're not going to be able to get the ex-lover out of your mind. You might get into the habit of stalking them on social media to see if they're as miserable as you are. You'll probably ask mutual friends about them to see if they're dating again. You don't want them to be happy. The only way that you'll get any pleasure out of the situation is if you know that they're wallowing in depression, just as you are.

In all likelihood, though, this other person has moved on with their life. The only one who is fixated on what took place and can't move past it is you. Even if the other person is similarly fixated, it's not going to help you. The only way that you can overcome all of the negativity that has infected you is to get over the hurdle and start fresh. This might not mean that you should start dating again, not until you feel ready. What it does mean, however, is that you should examine what's good in your life and try to focus on that rather than staying stuck in the mire of unhappiness.

Therapy To Get Over Your Pain

Hatred often stems from pain. It's not possible to truly hate someone unless you feel sure that they have wronged you or taken something valuable from you. Before you can ever love someone else again, you're going to need to re-learn how to love yourself. The optimal way to do that is to get healthy from a psychological standpoint.

Therapy is one of the better ways for you to do that. You can think of it as a method of self-care. If you've never done it before, you may be reluctant to talk to someone about what happened. Rehashing the blow-by-blow of what took place might seem like the least appealing thing in the world to you. Once you start to do it, though, you'll see that it is like an infected wound being lanced and drained. All the bad feelings that you were allowed to fester can be drawn out. It might take quite a long time if the pain you are holding onto is that bad. If you got to the point where you hated not just the individual who you once loved but the entire notion of love, period, then you're not going to have an easy time of it.

Therapy, though, for those who are willing to commit to it, is a way for you to tackle the various problems in your life that are causing you to feel the way that you do. You might have a specific goal in mind when you start, namely, to figure out a way to banish the toxic hate that has paralyzed your personal growth. But during your sessions, you might find yourself talking about some things that you hadn't anticipated. You may discover that you're covering some ground that has to do with a lot more than just your current hatred of love.

Getting Right With Yourself


The prescription for getting over what happened to you and banishing your hate isn't going to be the same for everyone. In some cases where clinical depression has manifested itself, your therapist might recommend prescription drugs to get you to a mentally healthier place. They might suggest that you get a pet. Taking care of something innocent is a sure way for you to learn how to love again. They might tell you to take up guided meditation. There are many different phone apps that you can download, which will show you how to do it if you've never tried it before.

Maybe it's going to be a combination of many new things.

Speak To Someone

A mental health professional at BetterHelp can speak to you about your feelings if you think you're ready to open up. They'll give you some advice as to what your next steps should be. By communicating with someone who is not directly attached to your situation, it can be supremely cathartic for you. It's often a better solution than speaking to a friend or a family member because they're probably already involved with what happened in some way, and they may have a biased viewpoint.

Take Charge Of Your Life Again

When you have given over your life to hate, then you're living in a place of darkness and despair. It may seem like a good place to spend some time for a while because your feelings have been hurt so badly. But to stay there indefinitely serves no practical purpose. Hatred might result in some temporary productivity, but it is like a poison. If you remain in its presence for too long, then it is sure to lead downward.

It will take work to heal, and you're not ever going to forget what happened. That's okay. Forgetting the worst events of our lives is counterproductive. What you want is to be able to get to a point where you're okay with what happened. You can forgive both parties involved, yourself, and whoever it was who harmed you. Eventually, what once seemed impossible, you being able to love again, might not be so outside the realm of possibility as you feared.

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