I Don’t Like You But I Love You: How Is It Possible To Feel This Way About Someone

If you find yourself looking at your partner sometimes and thinking “I don’t like you but I love you,” you might be confused by what exactly that means. Love is not always a positive emotion. It can coexist with anger and dislike as easily as it can with respect and affection. People often assume that falling out of love is what breaks a couple apart. In reality, dislike may end a relationship even if love is still present. Here’s why you can love your partner without liking them:

  1. You’re lonely. If you’re feeling neglected by your partner, you will yearn for them while also knowing that they are the cause of your pain. All you want is for them to spend time with you and be more emotionally present, but at the same time, you are so angry and resentful toward them that you actively dislike them. You love them while being furious for how you feel. If this isn’t addressed, your anger and love will become a toxic combination.
  2. Your relationship is codependent. A codependent relationship occurs when two people rely on each other for needs that they should meet on their own. It reinforces insecurities and convinces each person that they cannot survive without the other. Codependency can involve deep love, but it perpetuates the inability to take responsibility for one’s emotions. It is therefore common for couples to blame each other for their constant lack of fulfillment.
  3. One of you has changed. People in relationships change, just like everyone else. A problem can arise, however, when one partner changes while the other remains the same. If this happens, the person who changes may look at their partner differently. They see them as stagnant, boring, or even unattractive. This does not mean they will automatically fall out of love, but they may lose respect and interest.
  4. You’re in a toxic relationship. It is very difficult for victims of emotional abuse to leave their partners. The constant manipulation and belittling are calculated to make you think that you have nowhere else to go and are not worthy of anything better. And even more disturbing is the way many abusive behaviors can be disguised as acts of love. Your love for them may be deep, especially if they are often full of warmth and affection. But their manipulation and control over you will make you hate them.
  5. Indifference is not an option. There is no middle ground when you love someone. Any feelings you have toward them are intense. If you like them, they are the most amazing person in the world to you. If you’re angry with them, your feelings may approach hatred. It is painful to dislike the person you love, but it need not be a dealbreaker. If your dislike comes from a temporary anger, do not panic. It’s better than indifference.
  6. Your communication has broken down. Lack of communication can create a firestorm of incorrect assumptions and buried frustrations. Like a stone in your shoe, a problem may start as a minor annoyance but become a debilitating injury if ignored. You will replay your version of events in your head without hearing your partner’s side of the story. Eventually, you will be convinced they have deliberately hurt you. Without effectively communicating your issues, you will start to see your partner as “the bad guy” without giving them the chance to defend themselves.
  7. The deeper the love, the deeper the hate. Studies have shown that betrayal induces greater feelings of hatred for couples who are deeply in love. The more you love someone, the more you hate them when they hurt you. If your partner has betrayed you, your level of dislike for them is a direct result of how much you love them. If your hatred of them is overwhelming, it is a confirmation of how much you love them.
  8. You feel responsible for their happiness. If your partner struggles with the emotional demons of past trauma, you may feel a sense of responsibility for their mental wellbeing. You love them, but you’re exhausted by the toll their emotions take on you. You may even want to leave the relationship and find one that has less baggage, but your history with them, and their reliance on your support, prevents you from walking away. You secretly resent their neediness, but your love keeps you bearing the burden of their wounds.
  9. You’ve allowed your problems to take over your relationship. If you don’t address issues as they arise, you will fixate on them internally. The more you wallow in your anger, the more it will eclipse the good parts of your relationship. Your resentment becomes the only lens through which you see your partner. In that light, it’s no mystery why you don’t like them.
  10. The relationship has run its course. It’s hard to walk away from a relationship, especially one that has longstanding and logistical ties. You may own a house together or even have children. Ending the relationship would upend your world and seems selfish for the others involved. It seems impossible. You may still love each other because of all the things you’ve shared, but you no longer feel close or connected. Your romance has ended, but you can’t bring yourself to accept it.
Rose Nolan is a writer and editor from Austin, TX who focuses on all things female and fabulous. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Theater from the University of Surrey and a Master's Degree in Law from the University of Law. She’s been writing professional since 2015 and, in addition to her work for Bolde, she’s also written for Ranker and Mashed. She's published articles on topics ranging from travel, higher education, women's lifestyle, law, food, celebrities, and more.