Love - a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child or friend. Dictionary.com
Hate - to dislike, intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward someone. Dictionary.com
Have you ever experienced a range of emotions towards someone? You love them but
you hate them at the same time? Perhaps it was a friend, spouse, sibling, in-law, children, stepchildren, or even a parent. Someone you love, behaves in such a way that you experience strong feelings of dislike which are passionate enough to move towards hatred. The combination of the two emotional extremes is called ambivalence or love/hate relationships.
Ambivalence: The coexistence within an individual of positive and negative feelings toward the same person, object, or action, simultaneously drawing him or her in opposite directions (Dictionary.com).
A love–hate relationship is an interpersonal relationship involving simultaneous or alternating emotions of love and hate – something particularly common when
emotions are intense.
Ambivalence or being in a love/hate relationship is a bad place to be. These relationships are stressful, even to the point of being more stressful than just having the hate emotion alone. When we dislike someone strongly (hate), we tend to stay away from them or avoid them at all costs. Keeping our distance allows us to manage our hate. However, those we are ambivalent about are most likely part of our world and we are exposed to them on a regular basis. We may live with them or sit across from them at the dinner table during family gatherings, or worship with them every Sunday. Each time we are around them we are struggling in the middle between love and hate.
A research study was done in 2003 at Brigham Young University and the University of Utah that discovered "unpredictable and ambivalent friendships" create stress, raise blood pressure, and can contribute to cardiovascular problems. Another study found people have high blood pressure when they are around people who they have mixed feelings about, even more so than being around people they don't like. Based on these studies, you are better off loving or hating the person, than experiencing both emotions regarding them.
Even the bible talks about sitting on the fence or being hot and cold at the same time. Revelations 3:15-16 reads: "I know everything you have done, and you are not cold or hot. I wish you were either one or the other. But since you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of my mouth."
In my really difficult years as a stepmom, I had feelings of love and dislike toward my husband's children. On one hand I loved them and was happy to have them in our home. On the other hand, when they ignored me or tolerated me at best, I experienced the flip side of emotions. Soon I became ambivalent about them to the point of experiencing physiological symptoms whenever they were around. It took me a long time to separate their behavior from my emotions to get out of the love/hate zone. It wasn't easy but I'm finally there.
What about you? Are you ambivalent about someone to the point that the stress is harming you physically and emotionally? Recognize the love/hate relationships in your life and make a decision to get out of the middle. It's too dangerous to you emotionally and physically to stay where you are.
How can I help you?
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach