I will need to ask your forgiveness here, because I am not really a romance writer. I tend to think more logically and prefer fantasy stories. (Technically, I guess that really makes me a geek. Sorry if that disappoints.) So this post will not make you clutch your chest and sigh.
I would also like to note that everything below is based on how I see the world, and not necessary the definitive answer to the raging question, "What is love?" Does any human being have the answer?
Strange how I have to defend my view of love, isn't it? I think that's because I know it won't be liked, and many will disagree with me. It is a popular topic, though, so I would like to express my opinion.
I do think you will find it interesting, though. You may be surprised to see how similar love and hate really are to one another. Don't believe me? Keep reading.
1. Both Love and Hate are Actions, Not Reactions
No, I do not believe a person can "fall in love." That's not what love is. Love isn't finding the person; it's how you treat the person once you have them.
Also, I don't believe (and I bet you agree) that people aren't born haters. Even if your parents belong to strong protest groups, you do not come out of the womb hating anyone. Hate is learned. Unfortunately, a lot of hate is taught generationally, rather than experientially.
2. Both are Purposeful
You don't walk down the street and "hate" someone that you see. Neither do you walk into a room and "love" someone. I'm sorry if it doesn't sound romantic, but I do not believe in "love at first sight." That feeling is not love; it's pleasure. You are experiencing pleasurable sensory intake. It's all about you, not the other person. Now, if you choose to act on this sensation, and devote yourself completely and without question to the person you see, well, now we have a different story.
The same is true of hate. Hate is when you do something against a person. The term "hate crime" is accurate, though I believe it is redundant. Anything you do to hurt a person is hateful. (And if it is illegal, it is a crime.) So what is the feeling you have against a person you think you do not like? It could be a number of things - discomfort, annoyance, anger. It is possible not to hate people. If you have no desire to hurt someone, you do not have hate.
So please. Don't ever plaster me as a "hater" unless you see me doing something to actually cause physical harm to another on purpose. Let's get our words straight.
3. Both are Fueled by Your Passion
As I said above, you can experience feelings that are confused with love or hate, and call them something they are not. So how do you know the truth? The truth is, will you act on your feeling or not?
I don't like to eat carrots. I don't like their taste. Do I hate them? Well, I am not going to grocery stores to ban the public sale of carrots. I will even allow them in my house and feed them to my children. So, truly, I cannot say that I "hate" carrots.
However, I do hate Type 1 Diabetes. It has come to invade our house and upturn our lives. I have raised money to find a cure for this disease, put up awareness posts here and on Facebook, and even taken my daughter to Boston to submit a sample for a research study on a cure. I want to see this disease eliminated and will do anything I can to that end. I hate diabetes.
Similarly, I love the Lord. I spend my week working on plans to teach children everything they can receive about the love of Jesus. I gladly give my time, talent, and tithe to make sure others can also experience that love. On Sundays, I come to worship in sanctuary - in peace and communion - to express and receive that love. (Because He loves me too.) Love in action. (Note: my love for God is not perfect, like His is. Just needs to be said.)
4. The Opposite of Either is Not the Other
The opposite of love is not hate. It's apathy. And same with hate. Since both are high -passion ends of the spectrum, the opposite would be to "not love", or to "not hate." The emotion devoid of feeling is apathy. So, if someone says they hate you, at least they care. I think it would be worse to not be cared about at all. God says something like this in Revelation 3 to the Church of Laodicea when He tells them He wishes they would be either hot or cold, but not lukewarm. Those who are lukewarm, He says He will spit out of His mouth. Ouch.
5. God Acts with Both Love and Hate
God is a God of love. I'm sure I don't have to convince you of that. God showed His love in this: when we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). God LOVED us so much, He gave up His most prized offering - His only Child - to suffer our punishment for our sins, just so we could be with Him in eternity. (John 3:16, but in my own words).
Some people errantly think that God is not capable of hate. Well, aside from the fact that God is capable of EVERYTHING, there's another point to consider. As much as God loves us, why doesn't he just let us in to heaven? Because He HATES sin. He created heaven as a perfect place, and therefore, it would not be heaven if sin were allowed in. Sin is what is keeping His beloved people away from Him, and He hates it. (How did He show that hate for sin? With the very same event He used to show us His love for us - the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.)
6. Love and Hate Do Not Balance Out
Think of two colors - maybe red and green. Say you like green better, and want to get rid of the red. You can't do that by mixing them together and just adding more green than red. You get brown instead. The same is true of love and hate. You can't love someone until you stop hating them.
If hate is already there, it cannot be covered over by love. The hate must be removed first. Because both love and hate are actions, you can't have them both happening against the same force. You can't hit someone on the head with a hammer and then hug them. The pain from the hammer is still there. You need to stop hitting them, throw the hammer away, and THEN hug them. (Still it might take time.)
7. Both Tend to Become Easier With Usage
This shouldn't be a surprise. The more you show love, the easier it becomes to be a loving person. Scientifically, if you create a thought pattern (to perform an action), your neurons become more efficient at traveling that path each time you use it. If you want to show love to your spouse by making coffee for him every morning, you will get to the point where you barely have to think about it anymore.
With hate, I think the same is true, but for a different reason. Hate is something people are wont to admit unless it is acceptable. The more hate is practiced around you, the less reluctant you may be to join in.
8. There are Different Kinds of Love and Hate
There are degrees of love and hate. I love my cats. I do. I will hold them and take care of them, and never expect anything in return from them. But I love my kids and husband more than that. It doesn't mean I don't love the cats, but if I could only save Jedi or CJ from a burning house, I would definite grab my son. (Then we would both cry over the cat.)
The degree to which we love and hate can probably be measured. I hate snakes, but not to the same degree I hate sin. In the Bible, much more is said about love. And 3 types of love are highlighted: phileo* love, which is brotherly, or family love, eros love, which is what we would liken to romantic love, and agape love, which is the all-encompassing love God has for us. I'm sure there are degrees even within these types.
*Forgive me for misspellings here. Spell-check isn't quite sure what to do with Greek.
9. Neither Love or Hate is a Life Sentence
Remember how I said I do not believe a person can fall in love? The opposite is not true. I DO believe people can fall out of love. Because love is what you do, if you stop doing it, it's gone. Love is a volatile thing. You can start loving again if you have stopped, but as I noted above, it may be a little harder until you are back into the swing of it.
Hate might be a trickier. First, you have to admit that you are showing hate. Hate has such a negative connotation, we would tend to justify it as something else or legitimatize it another way. Still, once you have admitted your hate, you don't have to hold onto it. You don't have to hurt someone else.
10. Love and Hate are Exclusive of Other Feelings
This would especially make sense since I have stated how I believe love and hate are more action-related than emotion-related. I can love a person (by treating them with respect and believe the best in them) and hate something they do. For goodness sake, that happens to my own self all. the. time. I hate many of the things I do. Many. I try not to reflect on them, because, well, why would I want to? But God tells me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, (Ps. 139:14), and made in His image as well (Gen. 1:26). So I better have respect for myself, as His creation.
So, I can love you, but at the same time, be entertained by you, disgusted by you, comforted by you, or annoyed by you. (Think of your siblings.) I could feel completely bored with you, but still treat you with respect and dignity (I hope) because you were made by God. (Don't get paranoid. I have no personal examples of this.)
Now that I have ruined the romantic idea of love for you, stay tuned. My next trick will be discussing the difference between WANT and NEED. And as always, your reaction is welcome in the comments below.
Because I love even numbers and lists!