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We’ve all heard of them, and none of us want to be in one – but what exactly is a love-hate relationship?
Well, it’s pretty much as it sounds. Your feelings for each other jump between love and… hate, unsurprisingly.
Things will be great one minute and you’re on top of the world, all loved-up, very happy, and all over each other.
The next minute, you cannot stand being around them, everything each of you does drives the other one up the wall, and you either threaten to break up with each other, or you genuinely end things. Oh, and then you get back together and the cycle begins again.
The thing is – there’s no real middle ground. You don’t just have the day-to-day annoyances or disagreements. Instead, you’re rocketing from one extreme to the other.
It might sound very obvious, but a lot of people don’t actually realize they’re in a love-hate relationship for a long time.
So, we’ve put together 10 signs you’re in one, as well as some guidance on what to do next.
1. You’re never quite sure how you feel about them.
If your relationship leaves you feeling pretty confused when you actually think about it, there’s something going on that you need to address.
One of the defining features of a love-hate relationship is that you’re never really sure what’s going on or where you stand.
This is often because there’s never any consistency or stability. You don’t have a base level to refer to, and there’s never a long enough period of things just being good, so you’re never quite sure where you stand.
You don’t talk about it with them, so you’re not sure if they also have the same feelings – you’re just stuck in a weird, unsatisfying loop, but the highs make you think it’s worth it, so you stick it out.
Relationships like this really mess with our minds, so it’s no surprise you’re not sure how you feel about your partner.
2. You’re one of those ‘on/off’ couples – and you expect the cycle every time.
It’s like Ross and Rachel, but less romantic. You and your partner might go through genuine love-hate feelings, in that you’re all over each other one minute and then want nothing to do with each other the next.
If things blow hot and cold, there’s a good chance you’re in one of these relationships. If you’re always waiting for the ‘hate’ during the ‘love’ phase, you’re definitely in one of these relationships.
You might be great when you’re together – you can’t get enough of each other, you have a lot of fun together, you’re the adorable-but-slightly-sickening couple that everyone finds just a little bit too much!
When you’re not together, however, you’re awful. You b*tch about each other, you spread rumors, you’re mean to each other…
And then – you’re back together again!
The worst part about all of this is that you know it’s going to happen every single time. And you still go back for more – both of you!
If you can’t even enjoy the highs because you’re just waiting for things to crash and burn around you – you’re in a love-hate relationship, and you need to do something about it.
3. Your connection is mainly physical.
Most relationships are based on a number of connections – physical attraction and compatibility is great, of course, but healthy relationships are also built on communication, consideration, emotional connection, etc.
If you and your partner don’t really have any of the extra bits and get on very well ‘physically’ but argue and fight a lot, you’re probably in a love-hate relationship.
You might not have mutual friends or interests, and you don’t really do much during the daytime, or sober, but you’re very compatible in bed.
That’s great, but it doesn’t always lead to the healthiest decisions!
You might find that you can’t really stand them when you’re sitting around or just chilling with them. They might really get on your nerves, or have polar opposite opinions to you on literally everything.
But the sex is great, so you stick at it.
If that sounds familiar, it could be a sign you’re in a love-hate relationship.
4. Your friends don’t like them.
Friends know best most of the time, especially when it comes to who you are dating. If they make comments about the person you’re in a relationship with, or try to hint that you should end it, they really don’t like who you’re dating.
They might try to get you to spend less time with your partner, or ask probing or leading questions about why you’re really with them and whether or not you see there being a ‘serious future.’
This is their way of letting you know that they disapprove of your relationship – and that might be because they can tell it’s so hot and cold! They want what’s best for you, and they might have realized that your relationship isn’t that…
5. Neither of you are great at communicating.
A lot of couples have communication issues, sure. But yours are different.
In your relationship, there is zero communication – it’s not just bad, it’s non-existent.
You might realize that you never really talk about serious or important topics, or you never argue.
Arguing might not sound great, but it actually shows that you can both be honest about how you feel. If you both agree on literally everything, or are very passive and impartial all the time, one or both of you is lying.
Equally, you might argue all.the.time. This is another extreme and shows that you just don’t get along very well.
If you’re staying with someone that you can’t stand half the time, and don’t talk to half the time, it sounds like you’re in a love-hate relationship.
6. Your public and private lives are so different.
Do you ever notice an immediate shift when you both get home after a party or meal with friends?
When you’re out together, you’re the dream couple – it’s like you’re putting on a show of how great you are together. You’re flirty and silly, you’re loved up, you’re committed to each other and you want everyone to know it…
Then you get home and you’re alone together – things feel tense or awkward, maybe they let go of your hand straight away and make no other effort to show you affection or attention.
If your relationship feels totally different when you’re in public compared to when you’re in private together, you’re in a very strange position.
7. You kind of want them to just end it.
We’ve all been there! Things aren’t great, and you start almost hoping that they just put you both out of your misery and end it.
You don’t want to be the one to break up with them, and you don’t love the idea of being alone… but you also want an excuse or an escape from how rubbish things are with your partner.
If this sounds familiar, we’ll go into some details below on what to actually do once you’ve realized you’re in this kind of relationship.
8. You think about other people.
You might be at the point in your relationship where you’re starting to realize what you’re missing. Maybe you want something that feels more stable or secure, or you’re really craving a more balanced partner.
Either way, you’re starting to notice what is lacking in your relationship – and you’re finding yourself more and more attracted to the idea of someone else who can fulfill these needs.
You might know someone specific who is very mellow and easy-going. Maybe you’ve started developing some kind of feelings or ’emotional crush’ on them. That is, you don’t fancy them directly, but you like the idea of being with them because it would just be easier and healthier.
This is pretty normal. We look, both consciously and subconsciously, for people who can give us what we want.
A lot of the time, we’ll be thinking about a general person; an idea of what we could have, as opposed to a real-life person who has the qualities we want.
If you’re starting to fantasize or daydream about being with a real person that you know (that isn’t your partner!), this is a sign you’re in a love-hate relationship.
Things aren’t right, and you’re looking elsewhere, which just proves it.
9. You both do it.
Remember that no relationship is a one-way street, and this is no different.
It’s important to have some self-awareness and understand what role you’re playing in your relationship, but it’s worth considering their actions too.
If your partner seems to go through the same phases as you, you know for sure that you’re in a love-hate relationship – and that the feelings are mutual.
You might notice that they criticize you just as much as you do them; you might hear that they complain about you to their friends; you might realize that they also have days where they just resent you for no real reason.
If you are both experiencing these same feelings, it’s a clear sign that your relationship is all over the place!
10. You just know…
If you’re totally honest with yourself – you know. You wouldn’t have looked for this article or read this far if you didn’t know, on some level, that you’re in a love-hate relationship.
You might have known for a while but been in denial (which is fine, you’re here now, which is what matters!) or people might have been making comments recently which have made you question what’s going on in your relationship.
You might have that horrible feeling of dread in your stomach, or you might just be exhausted by the energy you’re putting into hating your partner.
When you’re in the ‘love’ phase, you might be feeling guilty for all the horrible things you’ve said about them. Then things shift again and you’re back to b*tching about them.
You already know you’re doing this, so you know the kind of relationship you’re in. Well done for making an effort to make a change – this is why you’re reading this today, and that’s a huge step!
How to make it work.
There are ways to make your relationship work, but you will both need to put effort into it for that to happen.
Here are a couple of key tips on how to make your love-hate relationship healthier and happier.
Communication is key – as is positive reinforcement.
Love-hate relationships are all about extremes, which is often because real, open and honest communication just doesn’t really feature.
If you’re not talking to each other about how you feel, what isn’t working for you, what makes you upset, how can you expect things to work?
Focus on being honest with your partner about things that bother you – as well as things that you like about being with them.
Let them know if their behavior upsets you! They’re not mind-readers, after all – plus, if you’ve never told them that you don’t like it when they leave their shoes in the bedroom (or whatever else makes your blood boil!), they probably think you’re fine with it, so why would they need to change their behavior?
The more honest you are with them, the more comfortable they will feel being honest with you in return. Two-way honest communication? We love it!
Instead of ‘nagging’ in your communication, throw in some positive reinforcement. That means, instead of just telling them what you don’t like, make a point of telling them what you do like.
So, one day it can be honesty about shoes, the next day it can be “I love that you made us dinner, I really appreciate it, thank you.”
This makes them feel appreciated instead of attacked, and they’re more likely to respond well and repeat the behavior.
Long-term commitment is crucial.
Remember that nothing changes overnight. If you’ve been in a love-hate relationship for a while, you’re probably both used to the cycles or the on/off ups and downs.
You can’t expect things to suddenly balance out, and it’s normal to have a few of those highs and lows as you both settle into your new balanced relationship.
Again, honest communication about this will really help – “I know we had a big fight yesterday, but I really love that we’re trying to make this work.”
Know when to move on.
Of course, not every love-hate relationship will make it to the all-love stage. This is sad, but it’s very healthy to acknowledge that it might just not be quite right between the two of you.
However much you love them, or are physically attracted to them, you might not be great partners in the long run.
At some point, you need to know your worth and realize the effects that your relationship is having on you – both of you.
Sometimes, one of you needs to bite the bullet and suggest breaking up… for good. It’s hard, especially when part of you will be expecting it to go back to ‘love’ (because you’re so used to being in that cycle), but it’s for the best.
Make sure you have this conversation when things are okay between you, otherwise you might both dismiss it as ‘ah well, we do this every time we fight, we’ll be back together tomorrow, just like always.’
Being in a love-hate relationship can be incredibly stressful and unsettling. If you want to make it work, there are definitely things to try doing in order to salvage it.
Sometimes, however, you need to know when you walk away – prioritize your well-being, and know your worth.
Still not sure what to do about your love-hate relationship? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.
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