Most of us will agree that love should be selfless and unconditionally well-wishing. While all good and well in theory, this kind of idealism ignores a crucial part of our psychological development. Namely, our ability to differentiate between what is good for us, and that which is bad for us.
The crux of the matter is this; personal ego-driven needs and our selfless romantic ideals don’t necessarily ever mix. What is good for me, what fulfills me, isn’t always what is good for my partner (and vice-versa).
If the romantic connection with my partner has begun to tear at its seams, there may come a point where I am no longer willing to compromise on my wants and needs. But rather than seek fulfillment elsewhere, pre-existing commitment or passion prevents me from moving on.
Sound familiar? Welcome to the damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t grey are known as a love hate relationship.
Hatred Is Frustration
Most relationships end up being a battle between the ego’s wants, and the desire to retain the security, comfort and commitment that have been painstakingly build over time.
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. – A. Pam/J. Pearson, Splitting Up (1998)
In a sense then, the manifestation of hatred is a warning sign that intimacy has hit rock bottom. And that somewhere along the line, closeness and friendship may have succumbed to routine.
Or, if the relationship has already ceased to be, it is nevertheless a signal that the separation itself is a threat to our well-being (when we are the ones who are angry).
But all is not lost, precisely because hatred is a powerful emotion, it is clear that there are still strong emotions invested in the relationship. If you, or they, didn’t care enough to get heated, it simply wouldn’t occur.
From Love-Hate to Love-Love
Stemming the downward spiral isn’t always achievable, even if you both are aware of what is happening. A long-term state of love-hate can lead to a decay in trust and the piling up of resentment which is difficult to objectively overcome.
Consider that my disclaimer. However, if you genuinely do feel like mending the relationship, it might involve quite a large egotistic compromise, along with a great deal of energy:
- You should both be willing to declare a general amnesty on resentment, guilt and trust. Today is a fresh new start.
- You should focus on building intimacy (closeness) over a fear-induced search for security, which may involve a loosening of your day-to-day routine and norms.
- The willingness to bridge insecurity (admitting there is a problem is never easy) with brutally honest communication.
Insecurity may propel us to seek commitment over the re-acquaintance of camaraderie. If we feel as if our partner is increasingly distant, it is natural (although often counter-productive in terms of intimacy and passion) to seek security over intimacy.
While re-establishing commitment is important in keeping distress in check, it also has a tendency to imprison us. Leading us to live in a state of perpetual stress. Transforming a love-hate relationship into a love-love relationship will also require a reduction in the chains of routine and commitment. At least for the present.
Remember; while there is a reason why you might be in a downward spiral, or have already broken up, there is also a reason you fell in love. Fighting back will involve focusing on the latter, and not fixating just on the former.