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The Difference Between Love, Hate, Like, and Dislike

Updated on December 20, 2017

Emotional Feelings vs Wishful Feelings

Loving is not the same as liking someone, and hating is not the same as disliking someone. Liking and disliking are emotional feelings: liking is a positive emotional feeling while disliking is a negative emotional feeling that you have toward someone. On the other hand, love and hate are more wishful feelings: love is a positive wishful feeling while hate is a negative wishful feeling.

It is possible to have a negative emotional feeling (dislike) toward a person, while simultaneously having a positive wishful feeling (love) for the same person. For example, you may feel a strong sense of frustration, disgust, and intolerance for your narcissistic ex who is spreading ridiculous rumors about you, but at the same time, you can also wish the best for him/her by hoping that he/she could somehow learn to be a nicer person and live life in a more virtuous way.

Additionally, it is possible to have a positive emotional feeling (like) toward a person, while simultaneously having a negative wishful feeling (hate) for the same person. Although this is probably extremely rare, it is still possible. For example, you may feel a strong sense of passion and sexual attraction toward someone, but at the same time, you know that the person is a liar, a cheater, and a complete narcissist just like your ex was. Your hate for them may be manifested by the fact that you may not wish them well, and that you may even be happy to see them miserable or crying. If you feel attracted and giddy around a person, but deep down you want such a person to go through some harmful, negative life events, you would be feeling both a sense of liking for the person, as well as a sense of hate for the person. Again, this is probably a little more complicated and quite rare, but it is still possible for people to feel positive emotions around someone while simultaneously hoping that the worse happens to that person.

Demonstrating Love, Hate, Like, and Dislike

Keep in mind that an emotion is a physical experience, while a feeling is a mental experience based on your interpretation of the emotion/physical experience. Therefore, it is a little difficult to explain how emotional feelings can be demonstrated, because they are physical experiences that people can choose to act out or not. The simplest way to express like or dislike is simply by being honest about how you are really feeling, emotionally, toward a person.

Still, there are ways we can demonstrate both emotional and wishful emotions. Let's say you got into a fight with a colleague, and both of you are cursing at each other, threatening to do harm toward one another, and stating that you wish each other would get run over by a car. Both of you express your dislike for each other by cursing (because cursing is a way to express emotion), while both of you demonstrate hate by threatening to harm one another and stating that you hope the other person gets hit by a car (because both are ways to express harmful intentions and hopes for the other).

Actions can also demonstrate emotional and wishful emotions: you can choose to refrain from speaking or interacting with your colleague, unless it's for professional purposes. That is demonstrating dislike such such behavior. However, if you choose to make life difficult for your colleague by spreading rumors about him/her, purposely spilling coffee on his/her desk, or getting into a fist-fight with your colleague, you are demonstrating hate since all those actions involve harm on the part of your colleague.

As for liking and loving, it is a little easier to demonstrate both at the same time. For example, you can demonstrate that you like your colleague by going out to lunch together and having a friendly chat. Partaking in this activity is a demonstration of like, rather than love, because it is an activity that's meant to lighten up the mood for both you and the person you like. However, a demonstration of love would involve more than just lightening up the person's positive emotional experience. Demonstrating love for another person involves performing an act that would benefit the other person, regardless of what you can gain out of performing that helpful act. For example, if your colleague forgot to bring a lunch and you brought your own, you would share your food with him/her. This is an act that demonstrates love, because you did something that would benefit the other person, without asking for anything in return.

Thus, it is easy to feel both dislike and hate toward someone, because it is easier feel/demonstrate a negative emotion while simultaneously feeling/demonstrating negative wishfulness. And it is easy to feel both like and love toward someone, because it is easier feel/demonstrate a positive emotion while simultaneously feeling/demonstrating positive wishfulness. However, regardless of how you emotionally feel toward a person, it is important to have positive wishful feelings toward a person. Loving others, despite how we may emotionally feel about them, is the key to having peace, both with others and with ourselves. Though it may be effortful, it is an experience that will be rewarding in ways we may never expect.

© 2017 Michelle Dalson


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    • RTalloni profile image


      13 months ago from the short journey

      Discussions like this are important to think through. Sorting out the true definition of love from emotions that people call love, understanding what forgiveness means in the face of true offenses as opposed to minor ones are all crucial to successful living. One of the best discussions about this topic I've ever read is Unpacking Forgiveness by Chris Brauns.


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