The term is used frequently in psychology, popular writing and journalism. It can be applied to relationships with inanimate objects, or even concepts, as well as those of a romantic nature or between siblings and parents/children.
A love-hate relationship has been linked to the occurrence of emotional ambivalence in early childhood; to conflicting responses by different ego states within the same person; or to the inevitable co-existence of egoistic conflicts with the object of love.
Narcissists and borderlines have been seen as particularly prone to aggressive reactions towards love objects, not least when issues of self-identity are involved: in extreme instances, hate at the very existence of the other may be the only emotion felt, until love breaks through behind it.
The term is sometimes employed by writers to refer to relationships between celebrity couples who have been divorced, then who reunite (notably Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, or Eminem and Kimberly Scott), as well as to their relationship with fame itself.
Love-hate relationships also develop within a familial context, especially between an adult and one or both of their parents. Love-hate relationships and sometimes complete estrangement between adults and one or both parents often indicates poor bonding with either parent in infancy, depressive symptoms of parents and/or parental alienation in childhood. Alienating parents frequently suffer from Borderline personality disorder or Narcissistic personality disorder. Children who experience parental alienation techniques report a higher prevalence of low self-esteem, low self-sufficiency, insecure attachment styles, and higher levels of depression in adulthood. One of the development tasks for humans is to balance the primary love and hate drives as to tolerate ambivalence toward a loved object. When this task is unsuccessfully accomplished, severe psychopathology can ensue. Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) often fail to accomplish the task of ambivalence. They are unable to be simultaneously angry at someone they love, without destroying the love (Corradi, 2013). Children are unable to tolerate the ambivalence, and are indoctrinated to choose. Despite feeling love for their alienated parent they let go entirely of the loved object. This creates an occasion for the development of ego defenses in the child referred to as "splitting."
As a way of understanding splitting, a common feature of BPD, in particular, but a common feature of NPD as well, is described as "a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation" (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, p. 663).
A love-hate relationship may develop when people have completely lost the intimacy within a loving relationship, yet still retain some passion for, or perhaps some commitment to, each other, before degenerating into a hate-love relationship leading to divorce.
Tony Blair and Gordon Brown's political friendship took on at times all the characteristics of a love-hate relationship, if one between friends and allies.Sigmund Freud said of himself that "an intimate friend and a hated enemy have always been indispensable to my emotional life...not infrequently...friend and enemy have coincided in the same person".
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Ontological study says that love hate relationship exists among colleagues. Especially if there is difference in education qualification or skill sets. However, they may have a natural affinity towards each other because of common family, cultural values. Their mutual trust and respect may be extremely strong. Their expression of love may be subtle but hatredness may be overt or silent. Sometimes they express their hatredness overtly only to know how much it is approved by other person. Such colleagues end up in constant conflicts and at times becomes irreparable too. However, if one initiates a subtle patch up, the patch up happens quickly and everything is restored to normal.