Can You Love Someone and Not Like Them?
I get asked this question many times. Carol requested I write a blog post about this topic and asked that I not mention her location. Thank you for your request.
Can you love someone and not like them? That is a tricky question because people have a different definition of the word love. For the sake of this post, let's define love as the word was intended to be used. Love is an intense feeling of deep affection, a great interest, and pleasure in something, and a feeling of deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone. I think that covers it. I think that is how most people perceive the word love, although they may not practice it. Love between two people changes with time. We know we lose those butterflies in our stomach as the relationship grows and we become comfortable with one another. In the beginning you see one another as much as you can, and talk on the phone for hours. That decreases some with time, but does not mean the love you feel has decreased. It simply means you have learned a great deal about on another in the beginning and now you are settling into your relationship. That is perfectly normal.
Once we have reached this point, in theory, this is the time that love begins to change. It grows in depth and quality. Let's face it. In the beginning, sexually, you try to wear it out. You can't. However, in time, you settle into different type of sexual routine. Once again, that does not mean your desires have changed, it simply means you are both more comfortable. However, with that said, your intimacies should never stop or become so infrequent that it begins to affect your relationship. That;s a different topic. Maybe one for a future blog post. As time goes on, a stronger trust and bond are developed, as well as respect for one another. Although the data this slightly old, back to 2012, it was concluded that only 17% of people in relationships are actually happy in their relationship, meaning, the remaining 83% are possibly just tolerating it.
Out of that 83%, want out of the relationship. 39% are staying for a variety of different reasons, and 44% end up leaving the relationship. The increased number of divorces each year proves this out and since 2012, I can't see where that number may have changed much. The study was not limited to the topic of this post. However, it was close enough to make us all realize that this topic is real, and exists. The point being, are relationships ongoing for the right reasons? Only you could decide for yourself if your situation is right, or suffering from not liking something about your partner to the point that you fell you love them, but really do not like them as a person. I will only state that if you are with someone and feel that you love them but do not like them, talk to them. Work it out. Get counseling if you feel you need it. Try not to make it such an easily disposable item. Let's move on.
WHAT DO WE KNOW?
We all know that no one is perfect, or we should know that. However, knowing something and accepting it are many times two different things. The simple fact is, no two people will be perfect together, no matter how much one or the other, or both, expect that. There will always be differences in personalities, how they approach things, communicate, and others. One of my quotes from my book Making Partnership Choices is; "Never expect perfection. No one has it to give." The fact is:
IT IS NOT IMPORTANT THAT TWO PEOPLE ARE EXACTLY THE SAME. WHAT IS IMPORTANT IS THAT BOTH PEOPLE CAN ACCEPT THE DIFFERENCES OF THE OTHER?
The phrase "deal-breaker," is a phrase we have all heard and might have used ourselves. Somethings about a person are a deal- breaker for others, and those things will vary from person to person. One would think this would come to light early on in the dating process. However, as we all know, in the beginning, everyone is on their best behavior, and sometimes, these deal-breakers do not surface right away, yet, there are times they do. Very few people actually show their true self to someone in the beginning. How nice would it be if they did? I have a simply thought on that. When I meet someone, what you see is what you get. No games. This is who and what I am. It either works for someone or it doesn't. Does that sound cold? It shouldn't. Think about it for a moment. Why wait until deeper emotions develop before you discuss find these things out? Never, and I mean never, think you will or can change someone.
Yes, you can change certain things about people in time, and through proper communications, many of these issues of concern may be able to be worked through. HOWEVER, no one can change what a person inherently is. They may change for a short time, but they will ALWAYS go back to what makes them the person they are. By waiting to long to address these issues, I promise you one or the other will ALWAYS causes the other to be hurt, and in most cases, more deeply than if addressed earlier on. I believe by being myself from the start, the other person will know very quickly if we could be the right fit, and that works both ways when both people do the same. What a person is really like often times will not become apparent until the relationship has reached a certain level of comfort. That is when you will really find out if there are any deal-breakers. Think about it. In your present relationship, how many things that occurred at the start that helped you to fall in love with that person still occur? I won't even tell you the data on that topic because it's alarming.
That is only one aspect of the equation. It gets a bit more intense. Someone who suffers from low self-esteem, or feels desperate, will settle for a person just to be with someone. BINGO! There it is. This type of person is capable of falling in love with anyone, regardless of the deal-breakers because they might have fallen in love for the wrong reasons. These types of individuals will NOT admit this to themselves. They can't. That is part of that particular disorder. Therefore, they will believe they are in love, or convince themselves they are, when in fact, they may not be, and might not like the other person as a person. Trust me when I tell you, at some point, which varies from person to person, they will eventually face they reality. People can only fool themselves and not face reality for a limited amount of time. Usually, something will happen in their life that causes that to happen.
Therefore, we could conclude that it is very possible that someone who loves someone, but does not like them, may have deeper personal issues they are not facing. However, because they have someone, they will stay. These people will also present to others how happy they are. Many times they might be masking their internal feelings. In some cases, people who overly express how happy they are to others are also trying to convince themselves they are happy. Many times, they are not. This gets even deeper as different personality disorders could also exist. I will skip that part because that is a completely different topic and many excellent books have been written on that subject. There are great reads available on that subject since Google is a beautiful thing.
THE NEXT STEPS:
How do you know if you are this person? The one who is in love with someone but does not like them? You can only determine this if you can be 100% honest with yourself or are seeking professional help. Honesty, if you are this person, does not mean you need to act on what you have learned by ending a relationship. It means you have identified the issue and could move on and try to fix it. Realizing it and fixing it are the important parts. I mentioned earlier that most people who feel they love a person but do not like them, will stay in that relationship unless something more drastic occurs that causes them to actually leave. There are many reasons a person leaves a relationship. The most common is infidelity, which can occur for a number of reasons. Over the lifetime of a relationship, a study by psychcentral.com found that as much as 25% of relationships will suffer from infidelity. Other determining factors are finances, children, family, and personal beliefs. Yes, there are still people in the world that feel when they get married, it's for better or for worse, regardless of what the worst is. Also, more relationships survive problems when they get professional help than those that do not. All of this data is presented in my book Making Partnership Choices, and it's a real eye opener.
There are many determining factors why you may love your partner but not like them. Poor communicators, putting other things before you, such as sports, going out with friends, etc. Those factors will be different for each individual. That is something for you to decide. Once you do, then you need to determine if the things you do not like about your partner are acceptable, meaning, you can live with it, or you can't, and these are deal-breakers. Talking about them with your partner is paramount and hopefully can resolve them, or you can compromise to make them acceptable. Remember, there are certain things about people you will never change. Communications is the key. How can any of us hold anything against the other person in our life if we never express our concerns to them? Do not believe for one moment you are in the drivers seat because your partner may be determining the same about you. At this stage, it's a crap shoot, but to do nothing is a guaranteed recipe for failure.
In a perfect world, all of this should be determined and discussed during the dating stage before things get to far, but we all know we do not live in a perfect world. The time to find this out will vary by individual based on whether they have had past failures and learned from their mistakes, and most importantly, do not make the same mistakes again, how long someone has been alone, or self-internal issues. Being alone, meaning not in a relationship, is a double-edged sword. The longer someone is alone the more they become used to it. Therefore, many times if they are in that state of mind, they may have a couple of failed attempts before they are successful. Believe it or not, they actually forget what being in a relationship means, or they may have forgotten what the expectations are of being in a relationship. If not properly discussed, THAT RELATIONSHIP AND EVERY RELATIONSHIP THEY ATTEMPT AFTER THAT WILL FAIL. The flip side is, if they are short of that point and feel desperate, they will latch on to anything not to be alone any longer. This will cause them to tolerate many things in a relationship they might not otherwise tolerate. The bright side is, if they have been alone because they have not found the right individual, and are ready, willing, and able, as well as not forgetting what being in a relationship means, they will be COMPLETELY SUCCESSFUL AND HAPPY. Before I move on, let me say, you do not have to like what I'm saying. You don't even have to agree with it, but these are the proven facts. Like them or not.
NOW FOR THE DILEMMA: (This is the most important section)
Now that we have concluded that people can love someone and not like them, do you stay in the relationship or leave it? That is the million-dollar question. The answer is really simple. Actually, most answers to all life's questions are simple. We as people make them difficult because we don;t like the answer we received, but you can;t have it both ways, and you never get to have your cake and eat it to. Therefore, that choice is up to the individual. Remember, people have different levels of tolerance. For example, when in a relationship, there is no way on God's green earth I will tolerate a liar, or a cheater. I don't give a damn how much I love someone. I have to much self-worth and respect for myself to be disrespected that way. Therefore, do either, and you are history. Opinions are like rear ends, everyone has one. Here is mine. Again, you do not need to agree, what works for me does not mean it works for anyone else, but I will explain the IMPORTANCE of why this is my opinion. Besides the two things I just mentioned which do not relate to this topic, here is my opinion on the topic.
I COULD NEVER STAY IN A RELATIONSHIP WITH ANYONE I DO NOT LIKE. NO MATTER HOW MUCH I LOVE THEM.
NOW FOR THE WHY:
We all have one of the most amazing organs in our body. THE HUMAN BRAIN. The brain carries out millions of task each day without our help. It requires no conscious thought on our part. I am going to simply this greatly, but the highlighted words are links if you wish to learn more. The brain has two forms of memory. They are located in different areas of the brain. Short Term and Long Term memory. Short term memory is part of our conscious mind. Therefore, when we experience physical or emotional pain, we are conscious of it and feel it's effects. When an event goes into our long term memory, it now become an unconscious event, meaning, we have to manually recall it, or it could come to the surface from external trigger. Let me give you an example.
We have all been hurt in a relationship, and many have suffered physical pain through injury, childbirth, etc. When we are in the moment of that event, we consciously experience it's effects. However, down the road, and that time is different for everyone, and depends on many factors, our it goes into our long term memory. The brain might recall the event for many reasons, yet, we do not feel the physical or emotional effects like we did when the event actually occurred. You may see an old flame that hurt you tremendously years ago. You will remember the event and what you went through, but you will not feel the effects like you did when it occurred. This is the amazing protective mechanism our brains have. If this were not the case, no one would ever enter into another relationship or recover form emotional or physical pain. Certainly. most women I know have said they would never have a second child. This is called DISSOCIATION. Yes. it is a proven scientific and medical fact. It's how the brain works.
1. The longer you are in any situation that causes you emotional pain, that pain will increase as time goes on. If you are the person that doesn't want to hurt the other, the intensity of emotional trauma increases, and the harder it will be to end that relationship. Mostly, due to guilt. Therefore, the longer it will take to get over it for both people. For the other person the length of time is greater because their feelings continued and grew deeper without any knowledge of a problem. Therefore, the hurt is felt much stronger. The moral is; ending something sooner rather than later, is always the best method. It may seem cold, but in the long run, the hurt is much less and more easy to recover from.
2. I believe that for any relationship to be successful, not only does there have to be love, both people have to like one another or at least be able to accept the things they don't like about the other person. As time goes on, those things that aggravate you, or the things you do not like about the other person, will irritate you more and more. This will further add to the problem. Hurt is proportional to time.
Two very simple concepts. Relate them to your own experiences. Things are much easier to end before they get too involved. Most people do not end relationships when they know they should for a variety of reasons. However, the main reason is because inherently, no one wants to hurt the other. You must realize unless a break-up is mutual, SOMEONE IS GOING TO BE HURT! You are not only being unfair to yourself, you are also being unfair to the other person by giving them false hopes and not allowing them the opportunity to move on with their life. Why wait until the emotions become so developed that the emotional pain will be so much greater? Actually, that is quite cruel.
The only thing you have managed to do is the reverse of what you wanted to do. You did not want to hurt that person, but you enabled the situation to reach a point that you will be hurting that person even more. Does that make sense? That is my opinion. I learned that if I see early on it will not work, or after I get to know someone I can see that it won't work, I end it. I also make that point very clear from the start, and ask that they do the same. We have all been there. We have all been hurt. We also have all learned that it passes with time. The more we get out in the world after a breakup, the quicker it passes. I am not saying it is going to be easy, but there is a remedy for a broken heart.
Yes, a person could love someone, yet, not like them, depending on the circumstances. The best way to handle this situation is to identify the problem, talk with your partner, and try to fix it. It is never healthy to live life with blinders on. At times, the things we all may have to face are things we do not want to face. Keep in mind that the longer an issue goes on and is not resolved, the problems will increase exponentially with time. Problems do not get better, they only become worse. With all of this said, many people, more than you think, are living with someone they love but do not necessarily like. You may love more things about a person than the things you dislike about them. That is also fine, as long as you identify with that, and can accept that. The key message being, you must be able to accept the things you do not like about someone. If you cannot, it's a recipe for failure at some point. I hope you enjoyed this post. A bit longer than most others, but an important topic to cover properly.
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