What does it mean when someone says, “I don’t like you, but I love you?” It might seem like love can’t really happen without liking someone, but it does.
How? Relationships can be complicated. You’ve got two moving parts (people) who aren’t necessarily moving at the same speed or in the same direction all the time. This means that things can grow, stagnate, misfire, or die despite the intentions and efforts of both parties. There may be attraction on one side but not the other. One person can see something in the other that either isn’t there or that the other doesn’t see.
If you feel or hear “I don’t like you, but I love you,” what could it mean? It’s not the same for everyone or every situation. Here are some possibilities.
It’s About Sexual Chemistry
As Smokey Robinson sings above, “I love you” could be about infatuation and sexual chemistry. Sometimes you’re on fire for someone that you know is not good for you. Perhaps the relationship is abusive, unhealthy, or you’re just incompatible. Maybe you fight a lot. Whatever it is, you know that being with this person is not great. Consequently, you don’t really like the person despite all the passion.
There is No Respect
Sometimes there is a lot of history that two people share that create a foundation of trust, intimacy, and shared experiences. That can create an emotional safe place that gives you the feeling that you always want that person in your life. You want him to be safe. You want good things for him; however, it doesn’t make you blind to the rest of the picture. If this person has behaviors, thoughts, and values that you don’t respect, it can be hard to like him. Just imagine some polarizing issues like abortion, racism, politics, or religion. Now imagine someone on the extreme end of that. Could you like him even if you loved him? It’s probably not easy for most folks.
When the connection between two people has been strong, and it’s suddenly severed by the discovery of a betrayal, the love doesn’t just disappear overnight. It lingers. However, there are still repercussions for the betrayal. One of them could be that your friend or partner doesn’t like you anymore. Losing trust is a huge issue. Sometimes it is never regained.
You’re Too Similar
I’ve been talking about romantic relationships, but “I don’t like you, but I love you” can happen in platonic ones too – especially families. If you are a lot like your sister or father, this could create tense situations. The family dynamic can have love at the core, but you may not be able to be friends if you look at someone and see the side of yourself that you have not yet come to grips with. When you can forgive them for their faults and accept your own, things may change, but as long as pride, dominance, selfishness, or whatever it is continues to tweak you, you’re probably not going to feel too close.
You’ve Grown Apart
Being friends or lovers for a long time can create an unbreakable bond. However, if you don’t tend it and nurture it, you can grow so far apart that you feel like strangers. This can lead to feeling like you have nothing in common anymore. You need commonality to relate. It’s normal to let go of people so that new ones can come in. It keeps your life vibrant and alive. If you’ve grown a lot and the other person hasn’t, being with that person can be a painful reminder of who you used to be. If you aren’t at peace with your past, it can create strong feelings of dislike.
To love is to be happy with. It’s a feeling of connection. To like is to take pleasure in or find agreeable. Looking at it that way, can’t you find things in your life that you feel connected to that you don’t necessarily find pleasure in? It happens. If it is happening to you, perhaps it’s time to either reconnect or disconnect.