Love hate relationships - can they work?

Love hate relationships – can they work?

Love hate relationships are the bread and butter of rom-coms – two people hate each other on sight, and yet there’s something that keeps bringing them back to each other. That’s Hollywood though – what about real life?

Perhaps the greatest example of a real-life love hate relationship was Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, married in 1964, and divorced in June 1974. A year later they weren’t just reconciled, but married again in October 1975, this time only lasting 10 months until their second, and final divorce.

From the outside these relationships can seem incredibly intense. When so much of them is carried out at an emotional peak, of love or hate, it can make steadier relationships seem humdrum or passionless in comparison. But what is it like to be in a love hate relationship?

Unsurprisingly the love element is addictive. All of that making up and reconciling after yet another row or split keeps people in the mindset of the early stages of a relationship. This is how sometimes quite small positives are able to outweigh substantial negatives in a relationship.

However, all of those emotional peaks and troughs are grueling – mentally and physically, as well as emotionally. That can easily impact in other areas of peoples’ lives. Other relationships may suffer, especially if people are continually co-opted for support during the lows. Not only that but repeatedly exposing yourself to stress in this way will have a physical effect on your body.

Headaches, sleeplessness, and chest pains aren’t the only dangers though – your whole approach to relationships can be at risk too. People can mistake the intensity of the love hate dynamic as being a hallmark of a deeper or more meaningful relationship. They look at other steadier relationships and see them as somehow lesser or inauthentic. As Elizabeth Taylor said “All the men after Richard were really just company”.

My advice to people in love hate relationships is always the same. Consider what is it you love, and what is it you hate. If on balance you love being in a relationship but hate the other person, then you need to move on and rebuild your self esteem. If though you love the other person, but hate the relationship, then you have a basis to work on – assuming your partner is on the same love hate page as you.

There is one thing that all people in the middle or coming out of love hate relationships need to do. That is simply to spend more time in ‘steadier’ or ‘quieter’ relationships. Not only will these recharge your emotional batteries, they’ll also help you to enjoy them and the pleasures these relationships bring. And let’s face it – who ever complained about being in a “love love” relationship?

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