You and your partner have a strong, committed relationship. You share interests, get along well, and can usually resolve conflict without much difficulty.
All in all, you consider yourself pretty lucky, romantically speaking. If anyone asked, “Do you love your partner?” you’d say yes without hesitation.
But, sometimes, you notice feelings of intense dislike and hatred.
Maybe it’s because they do something that infuriates you (it happens) or for no reason at all.
Feeling like you hate someone you actually love is confusing at best and frightening at worst. Is the relationship doomed? Are you some kind of monster incapable of true love?
Probably not. Turns out, it’s not that unusual to experiencing passing dislike for your significant other. Still, these feelings are worth exploring.
These 12 tips can help you get the ball rolling on some introspection.
In a set of 2014 experiments, researchers found evidence to suggest that thinking about romantic partners can provoke both positive and negative emotions.
In other words, you can simultaneously love and hate your partner. While research exploring relationships has long held this as generally true, these results offer the first empirical support for this idea.
These experiments also found that negative feelings are often implicit, meaning you may not even be aware of them most of the time.
Your explicit feelings toward your partner — the ones front and center in your brain — might be mostly positive. On a deeper level, you likely have some negative feelings, too (most people do).
Romantic relationships, and love in general, are complicated. No matter how deeply you care for someone, they won’t make you happy all the time. It’s unrealistic to believe you’ll never experience anger, disgust, and yes, even hate, over the course of a relationship.
Hate is one of the most intense emotions people can experience, but people often use it a little more casually: “I hate cauliflower” or “I hate Mondays.”
In this way, hate often acts as a stand-in for intense or strong emotions that are tough to describe. You might have a lot of reasons for disliking Mondays, but listing them out might take a while and annoy you even more.
So, instead, you lump them all together and refer to them collectively with “hate.”
Similarly, during a heated disagreement, you might feel angry, disappointed, hurt, confused, and betrayed — or some other complex blend of emotions.
“I hate you!” might help you get out those frustrations you can’t describe accurately in the moment. But taking the time to sort through and identify specific emotions can give you some clarity on what’s really going on.
What’s more, getting a better understanding of your feelings can help you start navigating the problem with your partner.
If you’re spending time with your partner and feel hate and fury bubbling up, avoid an outburst by taking a break.
It’s never a bad idea to put a tense conflict or situation on hold and give yourself some space.
If you aren’t arguing and these emotions come up without warning, creating some distance can still help clear your head so you can think more calmly about what might be triggering those feelings.
- taking a walk
- going outside
- moving to a different room
Early on in the relationship, you and your partner may have spent most of your time together. Despite spending nearly all your time together in those early days, you still felt like you weren’t getting to see them enough.
While healthy relationships should involve familiarity and time together, for your relationship to thrive, you need time alone, too.
Despite what rom-coms and pop culture might try to tell you, you don’t need to do everything together (and probably shouldn’t).
Time apart gives you a chance to recharge, pursue your own hobbies, and see other loved ones.
Solo time can also help you come to terms with minor annoyances that might otherwise build up and create less-manageable frustration. These are the little things you may have already decided not to bring up, like random off-key humming or toe-tapping while watching TV.
Maybe you take some of that alone time to make a list of the things you love about your partner, despite those minor annoyances.
If you’re struggling for reasons of your own, you might react more strongly to honest mistakes and little things you’d ordinarily let go.
Consider this scenario:
After a difficult day at work, you get home to find out your partner ruined a hand-carved wooden salad bowl by putting it in the dishwasher. The bowl was a gift that meant a lot to you.
You know they didn’t mean to ruin it, but you lose your temper anyway, demanding to know why they can’t remember what doesn’t go in the dishwasher.
In that moment, you hate everything: your job, yourself, the dishwasher, and your partner.
Unaddressed depression, stress, job overwhelm or burnout, and anxiety can create tension in the strongest relationships. If you’re trying to manage these issues, or any other mental health symptoms, working with a therapist can help.
It’s also a good idea to open up to your partner about these challenges, if you haven’t already. They may not be able to resolve your symptoms, but they can still support you with compassion and understanding.
Regularly feeling like you hate your partner can suggest the relationship may not be working out.
As distressing as it can feel to consider this possibility, it does happen. This doesn’t necessarily mean you or your partner did anything wrong. You may simply not be an ideal match for each other.
Even if you felt like the two of you were compatible in the early phase of the relationship, quirks or shared interests that drew you to each other in the first place may seem less appealing as it becomes evident you don’t have much in common after all.
Still, it’s important to remember that all relationships have their challenges, especially when one or both partners have a hard time expressing needs. If you feel unsupported or unheard, consider the possibility your partner may not know exactly how to support you.
Before you decide the relationship has no future, it’s usually worth having a conversation to see if you can reconnect.
Convinced the relationship has run its course? We’ve got you covered on how to navigate the breakup with compassion.
Try stretching your mindfulness muscles next time you catch yourself thinking, “I just can’t stand them right now!”
Did they do or say something cruel, harmful, or otherwise problematic? Are you really experiencing hatred and disgust, or can you put a more specific name to that emotion?
Perhaps you’re irritated because, once again, they forgot to follow through on a promise they made. Or your immediate loathing might stem from a habit you hate. Your feelings could also relate to something more general, like them falling short of your expectations.
Once you have more awareness of what triggers hatred for your partner, you can talk to them about concerning behaviors that keep happening.
If you have certain expectations of how you want them to act, it can also help to consider whether those expectations are, in fact, realistic.
Every story has two sides, right? When you feel frustrated with someone’s words or actions, it can always help to consider how things look from their side of the room.
In other words, ask yourself what you might have contributed to the conflict or situation — and give yourself an honest answer.
For example, if you feel like they never listen to you, ask yourself if your communication style might leave room for misunderstandings. Frequent miscommunications can create problems in relationships, but finding new ways to talk about your feelings and needs can help you avoid future communication mismatches.
Some habits can irritate you to the point of hatred, even when they don’t hurt anyone.
Say your partner clears their throat a lot. Maybe this isn’t something they can easily stop. If it bothers you, you could try talking to them about it, but there may come a point when you have to figure out a way to get used to it if you want to maintain the relationship.
Bringing up any significant issues with your partner (respectfully) and working together to find a solution is often the key to resolving recurring feelings of hatred.
Of course, you don’t have to say, “So, I really feel like I hate you when I see your clothes on the bathroom floor every night.”
Instead, use “I statements” and other nonconfrontational methods of communication to address anger, frustration, and specific behaviors that upset you, like consistently coming home late without calling, in more productive ways.
Here are a few potential starters:
- “I don’t feel respected or valued when I find dirty clothes on the floor.”
- “I know you only work late when you’re really busy, but I worry when you don’t call. I wonder if we could figure out a solution together.”
Sometimes, sharing dark thoughts with those you love and trust can help you feel better and get some perspective.
Discussing your feelings can help normalize them. Most people experience some negative thoughts in their relationships. Talking about them can help them seem less alarming and unusual.
Even the act of getting your feelings out in the open can help reduce their intensity.
Maybe you were absolutely furious yesterday and never wanted to see your partner again. But once you start telling your best friend what happened, the situation almost seems comical (and you still feel absolutely in love with your partner).
Maybe you loathe your partner right now, in this moment. But what about yesterday? Last week? Two months ago?
Focusing your thoughts on the good things in your relationship can often help alleviate anger.
If you’re only barely holding back an “I hate you,” try closing your eyes and picturing one of your favorite moments with your partner. If you want to calm down a little more, list three of their best qualities.
In the middle of a disagreement? If it doesn’t need solving right away, change the subject. You might say, “I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a little stressed. Could we take a break and come back to this later?”
Maybe you can’t easily remember a positive memory or the last time you had fun together. This can absolutely take a toll on your feelings for your partner, so make (and prioritize) a plan to spend some quality time together.
OK, maybe you don’t hate your partner, but you hate their drinking, dishonesty, or the fact that they cheated on you.
Some issues aren’t easily resolved, while others can’t be addressed until your partner feels ready to change.
A couples therapist can offer guidance and a safe space for talking through any relationship issues and problematic or harmful behaviors. A therapist can also help you both explore your go-to patterns in conflict and develop more productive communication strategies.
If your partner hasn’t done anything to cause your feelings, talking to a therapist on your own can help you identify possible reasons and helpful coping methods.
It’s completely normal to feel a mix of emotions toward your significant other.
That said, too much negativity can affect the health of your relationship, so if you notice these feelings popping up more and more, talking to a therapist may be a good next step.
Crystal Raypole has previously worked as a writer and editor for GoodTherapy. Her fields of interest include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health. In particular, she’s committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues.