Love–hate relationship  

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"My hate and my love for you are infinite", Memmet to Linda, Vampyros Lesbos (1971) by Jesús Franco

"Ti odio poi ti amo" -- "Grande grande grande" (1972) by Mina

I hate and love. Why so? I cannot tell:
I feel it; and endure the pains of hell.

--Carmen 85 by Catullus

Related e



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

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

In common parlance, it is often said that their is a thin line between love and hate, seeing it as a balance.


Psychological roots

A love-hate relationship has been linked to the occurrence of emotional ambivalence in early childhood; (Sigmund Freud, On Metapsychology) to conflicting responses by different ego states within the same person; or to the inevitable co-existence of egoistic conflicts with the object of love.

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

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


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.


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.


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”. (Quoted in Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud).

Aristotle warned of the conflicts that can arise from conflicting claims within friendships. A related theme is "obligatory friendship", where one party usually feels indebted to another and forges a friendship but still holds a grudge over a particular past disappointment or set of disappointments, while the "creditor" in the relationship agrees to the nature of the relationship often for security reasons, but remains aware of the "debtor's" grudge and feels counter-indebted until the cause of the grudge is sufficiently overcome.


  • Catullus introduced the love-hate theme into Western culture with his famous lines: “I hate and yet love. You may wonder how I manage it. I don't know, but feel it happen, and am in torment”.
  • The concept of a love-hate relationship is frequently used in teen romance novels where two characters are shown to "hate" each other, but show some sort of affection or attraction towards each other at certain points of the story – particularly in the context of the romance between a good girl and a bad boy, or a good boy and a bad girl.


The term love–hate relationship has been used in several books on writing as an example of the use of the en dash.

List of famous love-hate relationships in fiction

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Love–hate relationship" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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