Wednesday, 22 May 2013

What is the Opposite of Love - Hatred or Indifference?


Love has a myriad faces, belongs to no one yet touches everyone. We experience love as the rush of wondrous emotions that makes us see all through pink eyeglasses. 

It is the joy of creation when a new life is born. It is the pride of achievement in another's success. Love also becomes life-shattering pain when we love but are not loved in return. 

If love can have so many faces, does love have an opposite?

What is the opposite of love? Is it?

  • Hatred
  • Anger
  • Derision
  • Fear
  • Indifference 

Most people when asked; “What is the opposite of love?” will answer hate. The traditional argument given is that love is a positive emotion, while hatred is a negative emotion. They are, however, seen as two sides of the coin. Both evoke strong feelings. Hatred is often love gone wrong. Rather too often people disappointed in love (often due to wrong or excessive expectations) or being unable to deal with unrequited love end up in hatred

I hate marmite. Marmite has never done anything bad to me, but I have never liked it and it is not unrequited love. I also hate Amaretto di Saronno liquor, because I have ghastly memories attached to it, which have nothing to do with the taste of the liquor itself.


Anger is more problematic as an opposite. We can be angry with a person we love, but still love. Parents can often be very angry with their children for something they have done or failed to do yet the love is as strong as before so anger can’t be the opposite of love.

Derision, where one derides or ridicules, mocks another person, is common. But is derision, really an opposite of love? Can they co-exist? Yes, human relationships are extremely complicated. Sometimes we can observe people who love each other, rather offhandedly ridiculing the other. Other people can be speechless at the insults or jibes some people who have been married long hurl at each other. What used to be wild and passionate earth-shattering sex 30 years ago becomes a constant bickering and razor sharp jibes. An aunt of mine used to lacerate her husband, often in front of others, but if someone else said one word against him, she would defend him valiantly by saying, “Who gave you the right to criticize him, only I can do that!”


Fear – Fear is a universal emotion. Can we fear and love at the same time? Yes. Sometimes we see people saying something like “Don’t tell him how expensive the curtains were” or “Don’t tell her that we ordered take-away and beer!” though there seems to be no shortage of love. People often love their despotic rulers though they fear them. So, fear and love are not opposites, well not in an ordinary sense.
But if we go beyond the ordinary way of reckoning things and understanding reality fears and tears define reality for most of us. Fear is an emotion that separates us from each other. Fear is the cloud of unknowing that separates the human spirit from finding its way home. Love, on the other hand is the beacon in the night that leads us to where we belong. 


IndifferenceIndifference can be seen as an absence of emotions. It is coldness as a manifestation of negativity. The term whatever, commonly used by many young people, is often cited as a symbol of indifference. 

The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of beauty is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, but indifference between life and death.” Elie Wiesel (Jewish-American political activist and Nobel Prize winner) US News & World Report (27 October 1986). Here, the main argument is that, as intense emotions, love and hate are two sides of the same coin while indifference is a deficiency.

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Is There A Typical Hate Personality Type?

We know what lovers are like from literature and poetry, e.g. Rome and Juliet from Shakespeare. 


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But what kind of a person is a typical hater?

It’s hard to be aggressive without strong feelings of hatred. High neuroticism in men (Barnes et al., 1991), while high neuroticism and high extraversion in women (Buss, 1991) may cause them to use psychological aggression in relationships.

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Is there a bell curve of hate? Linking hate to emotional development or rather its problems, in the context of genocide and similar violence, Steven Baum (2007) found that 15-20% were ‘perpetrators’, 60-70% were ‘bystanders’ or ordinary people, while 15-20% ‘altruistic rescuers’ or ‘helpers’.



But how could we predict what ‘kind’ of people belong to which group?

All attempts at producing markers from physical characteristics, education, gender, sexual preference, social status or previous life history tend to fall short as reliable predictors. Clinical tests of psychological evaluation are also not reliable always. 

It wasn’t that long ago when emotional maturation in psychology was seen to have been achieved through vaginal orgasm in a heterosexual intercourse alone, and nothing else was ‘mature’ enough.

Chemical Changes in People Who Fall in Love


Love and being in love are different. But if we contrast people of both sexes being in love with the ‘opposite’, i.e., not being in love, we can detect behavioural changes as well as hormonal ones too. Levels of some hormones change radically when we fall in love and these changes last, on average, from 18 months to 3 years.

Cortisol levels of people in love are significantly higher meaning they are under huge stress. Testosterone levels are lower in men in love and higher in women. All difference in hormone levels disappear in 12-24 months (Marazziti et al, 2004).


Hungry For Love - Can’t Tolerate The Absence of Being In Love

People in many cultures have tried to control how individuals are attracted to each others. Fearing social decay, racial impurity, cultural degeneration, unsuitability of the other person or whatever reasons they come up with; they have tried to keep lovers separate. Sometimes the love or attraction surmounts all such attempts but sometimes it destroys them.

The majority of world cultures view marital and conjugal infidelity negatively and actively discourage it through a mixture of shame, guilt and punishment, which may range from mild disapproval to death by stoning e.g., in Saudi Arabia and Somalia.


Infidelity, however, is rampant. Durex, the condom makers, claim that 22% of global respondents have had extra-marital sex. A whopping 70% of Norwegians in this study admit to having had one-night stands.

60% to 75% of American college students report extradyadic (i.e., with a person outside the romantic relationship dyad) involvement in USA, though infidelity causes self-doubt, anger and depression in the ‘betrayed’ partner (Barta & Klein, 2005).


Is conjugal infidelity a cause or result of martial dissolution? Research (17-year longitudinal study of 1475 people by Previti & Amato, 2004) claims that sexual fidelity is central in maintaining marital satisfaction and stability.

If hormonal level changes due to falling in love balance out in 12-24 months, does it mean that the risk of infidelity will rise logarithmically? Situational factors fostering infidelity are extremely complicated to understand but it has been shown that self-regulation or self-control is a prime factor. Lack of or depleted self-regulation may increase the likelihood of infidelity (Ciarocco et al., 2012).


Whether we talk of love, hatred or indifference as qualities and personality traits, it is good to remember that we do not love personality traits, but persons. These traits just make them more or less loveable.



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References:
  • Barnes GE, Greenwood L, Sommer R. 1991. Courtship violence within a Canadian sample of male college students. Family Relations 40:34–48.
  • Baum, Steven K. (2004): A bell curve of hate?, Journal of Genocide Research, 6:4, 567-577
  • Buss DM. 1991. Conflict in married couples: Personality predictors of anger and upset. Journal of Personality 59:663–688.
  • Marazzitti, Donatella; Canale, Domenico. Hormonal changes when falling in love. Psychoneuroendocrinology (2004) 29, 931-936.
  • Previti, Denise; Amato Paul R. Is Infidelity a Cause or a Consequence of Poor Marital Quality? Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 2004 21: 217


1 comment:

Beth said...

Enjoiyed reading. I think the opposite of love is hate.