Is It Ever Okay To Hate Your Partner?

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When you finally find someone to love who loves you back with just as much fervor, it can be thrilling. A mature, healthy relationship can benefit both people immensely and create a vital support system for the couple that is different from other close relationships they may have. Choosing to share your life with someone is a big step and involves deep trust. But even the best relationships have tough moments. It's silly to hope for a conflict-free relationship; that's just not realistic. Hitting obstacles together as a couple is what promotes growth and a better understanding of one another. It's normal to have tense conversations or arguments.

But what about having full-blown hate for your partner? The discourse around this topic came up with the release of Terrence Real's 2022 book "Us: Getting Past You and Me to Build a More Loving Relationship." Real is a family therapist and author, and he shares the notion that society doesn't properly teach couples how to prepare for the disillusionment phase in a relationship when the honeymoon phase is over and tensions are higher. He calls this kind of "normal marital hatred" common (via The Washington Post). But is hatred for a partner actually normal, or is it a relationship red flag?

What is normal marital hatred?

Again, all relationships have rough patches — that's typical. While constant screaming matches, grudges, or resentment are not normal, this concept of normal marital hatred might make it seem like it is. "There are going to be moments when you look at your partner, and at that moment, there is a part of you that just hates their guts," Real, who's been a marriage therapist for 20 years, told The Washington Post. "You're trapped with this horrible human being. How did you wind up here? What I want to say is, 'Welcome to marriage. Welcome to long-term relationships.'"

Many experts agree that people can and do experience intense anger or frustration in healthy relationships. "... it's very harmful to act as though marriage should be all happiness all the time," clinical psychologist and the host of "The Dr. Psych Mom Show" podcast Samantha Rodman Whiten told HuffPost. "This is an impossible expectation for all but newlyweds. Some people feel emotions more intensely than others, so they will feel hate vs. irritation." Rodman Whiten went on to explain that these intense moments of anger can be misconstrued as hate, but the feeling is really more like when you "hate" an immediate family member. Odds are you don't actually hate them; you just can't stand them right now. Bouts of these negative emotions that come and go are normal. But if your hate lasts "unrelentingly for months," there's a problem.

Seek help if you feel actual hatred for your partner

Again, a lot of pushback on the idea of normal marital hatred is due to the use of the word "hatred." Many experts agree that part should not be normalized. "I don't know who needs to hear this tonight but it is not healthy to hate your partner. It is not healthy to [occasionally] hate your partner," sex and culture critic Ella Dawson shared on Twitter. "Frustration and annoyance are going to pop up in any long-term relationship, but hatred should not." Miami-based marriage and family therapist Amanda Baquero told HuffPost that it's the wrong word to use when talking about relationship issues that are normal: "... hatred implies a deep disdain for the other person," she said.

Also speaking to HuffPost, Los Angeles-based marriage and family therapist Ken Ribotsky said Real's concept is complex. He stated that while he believes "hatred" can happen in relationships, it should be short lived, otherwise there's a bigger problem. He posited that anger is likely the feeling people are having, not hatred, and that anger is normal and can be healthy. "Hatred, on the other hand, seems to have a permanence, or let us say depth, that I believe is not healthy," Ribotsky said. Meanwhile, behavior expert Patrick Wanis, Ph.D., confirms that real hatred is only normal in relationships "headed for divorce."

If anyone is wondering if the hatred they're feeling or receiving is normal in their union, Dawson shared another great rule of thumb on Twitter: "If enduring, mutual respect is not the foundation of your relationship, you should probably break up. You're allowed to break up!"