How To Co-Exist With People Who Hate You And Overcome Negative Relationships

Updated March 28, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Content warning: This article includes references to abuse and other topics that may be considered triggering. Please proceed with discretion. If you are experiencing or witnessing any form of abuse, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). 

You may have heard the term “love-hate relationship” used to describe mixed feelings about a person, place, or idea, or experience. But what does this term mean in romantic relationships, where you might feel love for your partner one minute, and hatred for them the next? In this article, we will discuss what it means to be in a love-hate relationship with your partner, the effects of love-hate relationships, and how couples can take steps toward a healthier, less volatile dynamic. 

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
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What is a love-hate relationship?

A “love-hate relationship” can often be described as an “emotional rollercoaster ride.” Love-hate relationships are typically characterized by intense ups and downs in emotions between partners, ranging from feelings of strong affection and love to strong aggression, anger, or even hatred toward one’s significant other. These emotions tend to alternate in a love-hate relationship, which can lead to conflict, stress, and exhaustion. 

Those in an emotionally volatile relationship may find themselves frequently fighting or breaking up with their partners, only to get back together again. Alternatively, they may experience periods of wanting to leave the relationship but feeling too attached to their partner to end it. Individuals may find themselves wishing they could change their significant other, or feeling resentment or hatred toward their partner when they don’t live up to perceived expectations.  

The extreme emotions in a love-hate relationship can at times manifest in unhealthy ways, such as aggressive or unhealthy communication, jealousy, or a lack of boundaries. In some cases, love-hate relationships can even involve elements of emotional, physical, or verbal abuse. 

What are the causes of a love-hate relationship?

Love-hate relationships can have a variety of possible causes. In some cases, what begins as an intensely loving and affectionate relationship begins to take a turn as the honeymoon period ends and individuals begin to notice flaws in their partners that they didn’t before, leading to conflicting feelings. Other times, the love-hate dynamic can evolve as a result of anxiety or resentment due to unresolved conflicts within the relationship. Some relationships turn volatile when one partner expects the other to change, only to grow frustrated when this doesn’t happen. People may enter into emotionally volatile relationships because this dynamic was modeled for them as they were growing up. Other times, they may gravitate toward love-hate relationships as a result of low self-esteem. 

Although the causes of love-hate relationships can vary, what these relationships generally all have in common is that they tend to be emotionally tumultuous. This can have a negative impact on one or both partners’ mental health and sense of self-worth. 


Tips for managing a love-hate relationship

A love-hate dynamic in a relationship can be damaging for both parties’ mental and emotional well being. That said, depending on the circumstances, partners in a love-hate relationship may be able to take steps to improve their communication and build a healthier dynamic. These steps may include:

Leave the relationship if necessary

Sometimes, the best course of action in a love-hate relationship is to leave it, either temporarily or permanently. If the relationship dynamic has turned toxic, controlling, violent, or otherwise abusive, your safety and well being must come first, which may mean removing yourself from the situation. If you are experiencing or witnessing any form of abuse, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

Set boundaries

Love-hate relationships are often characterized by a lack of healthy boundaries: limits that partners set about what is and is not acceptable for them in a relationship. It can be worth taking the time to figure out what your relationship ground rules are, making them clear to your partner, and making a plan to reinforce them.

Practice healthy communication

When a love-hate dynamic is the result of resentment or unresolved conflict, changing the way you communicate can be valuable. Practicing open, honest, and healthy communication can allow you to air your emotions and work to actively resolve conflicts, rather than letting them lead to feelings of anger or frustration.

Consider couples therapy

Navigating the ups and downs of an emotionally volatile relationship can be challenging, and finding a path to a healthier dynamic can at times feel impossible. For this reason, outside support in the form of couples counseling may be an important resource. Relationship counseling can provide a safe, neutral platform for partners to discuss their emotions about the relationship and each other. A licensed relationship therapist can help couples develop the tools for improving their communication and learning to manage their emotions in a healthy way. This can be valuable for moving forward in a way that supports the emotional and mental health of both partners.

That said, traditional couples therapy is not always accessible. Because it is not typically covered by insurance, the cost of couples counseling can be high (often as much as $200 per session), and attending in-person sessions can be challenging for couples with busy schedules. For this reason, many couples are instead turning to online therapy through platforms like Regain. The ability to attend counseling sessions from wherever is most convenient, and to send messages to a counselor outside of therapy hours, may make virtual therapy an appealing alternative for couples working to change their relationship dynamic. 

Take the first step toward a healthier relationship

Online couples counseling has been studied as an effective alternative to face-to-face therapy. Research from 2020 found that couples who received counseling online felt an increased sense of connection to their therapists, while a 2022 study found that online couples therapy delivered similar results to in-person counseling.


“Love-hate relationships” are often characterized by having extreme positive and negative feelings toward a romantic partner. Signs of love-hate relationships may include resentment, frequent conflict, and unhealthy communication, among others. Love-hate relationships can have varying causes, and can often lead to stress, jealousy, and other unhealthy dynamics—sometimes including abuse. Steps for navigating a love-hate relationship include setting boundaries, practicing healthy communication, and, if necessary, leaving the relationship. For couples looking to foster a healthier relationship dynamic, couples counseling—either in person or through a platform like Regain, may also be a valuable resource. 

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