How do I stop having hatecrushes?
October 18, 2009 6:59 PM   Subscribe

How do I stop having hatecrushes?

I have a long history of developing hatecrushes. They consist of almost all-consuming obsession-- as intense as any romantic crush-- except negative rather than positive. I feel my heart race when someone mentions their name, I stalk them online. Just like in a romantic crush, I lose all sense of reason, become blinded by hatred. Just someone afflicted by a romantic crush my change their behavior to get their crush to like them, I change my behavior to distinguish myself from my hatecrush. I think about them CONSTANTLY.

Although I try to keep my mouth shut and control my behavior, I feel like it seeps out and, though I have gotten better with age, sometimes damages my relationships with third parties who are either friends with the object or think poorly of me (reasonably so!)for having these effed up obsessions. Then, after a certain period of time, like romantic crushes, it loses all its power, dissipates. I still don't really like the person, usually, but they no longer have any power of me.

Usually the objects of my disgust are other women, often former romantic partners of guys I am involved with. Many times, they are not ex-girlfriends per se, but brief flings. Other times, they are women who have a lot in common with me-- similar interest or style or aspects of personality, except for whatever reason, I find them extremely lacking. My hate seems to stem from making sure that I distinguish myself from them. I think, "she my dress like me and play a similar social role and have dated the same guy I'm dating, but she NOTHING LIKE ME OKAY???" Honestly, I legitimately believe that most of these people are kinda sucky as people, do things that I know other people think are annoying, even after I get over my obsession, but I just wish I didn't care.

One thing that has helped somewhat is to use extreme self-control to just not e-stalk. Out of sight, out of mind. I am the troll, and I don't feed myself. Another technique is to remind myself of hatecrushes that have come before, how much less powerful they seem once they've passed. I also try to remember that it's not about the object of the hatecrush but about me, my insecurities, my sense of boundaries of self (i.e., their shortcomings make me feel better about myself).

When I'm deep in the middle of a hatecrush, these techniques are small comforts. Any other tips? I really dislike this about myself and find it somewhat embarrassing and kinda pathetic. I don't really feel like an overall insecure person, and I try really hard to keep a healthy, balance, metacognitive perspective about these things. Why do I become so hate-infatuated?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (29 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Are you able to articulate something specific about these women that you hate, besides the fact that they are just annoying? The old cliche is that you dislike traits in others that you dislike in yourself--could these women be reminding you of your own faults? If so, you could use these episodes as a way to be more self-aware, and maybe be less hard on yourself for your flaws.
posted by janerica at 7:08 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Why do I become so hate-infatuated?

You're not happy with yourself, and it's easier to project this self-hatred onto others. You need a shrink, priest, rabbi or a combination of all 3.
posted by signal at 7:09 PM on October 18, 2009 [5 favorites]

there is an ocd quality to what you describe...

I would sincerely suggest (and I suspect you weren't looking for this answer) some therapy about this...
posted by HuronBob at 7:14 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

You should seek professional help, sooner rather than later. This is serious.
posted by caddis at 7:15 PM on October 18, 2009 [8 favorites]

what are you going to do when your "extreme self-control" isn't enough?
posted by rhizome at 7:19 PM on October 18, 2009

It's natural to not have warm feelings towards the kind of people you say you get hatecrushes on, "former romantic partners of guys I am involved with." That's natural, and I think that shame you feel for not liking these people it making you hate them more.

I don't know exactly what the story is behind some of these hatecrushes, but it sounds like for many of these you don't have interact with them. So yea, it's okay not to like them, and you need to accept that even if it's ridiculous on some level. You don't have to completely control your emotions, just tone them down to reasonable levels.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 7:19 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Your description sounds a lot like somebody I dated.

I can't offer a whole lot in the way of stopping this behaviour, but perhaps this may help:

The girl in question was a self-styled "queen bee" of her social scene. She liked to think that she was the one who knew everybody, who everybody wanted to know, who was responsible for setting up couples left, right & centre, whose fashion sense was the envy of all, that kind of thing.

Typically, her hatecrushes were directed at women who threatened this sense of self as the lynchpin & apex of the social circle. (way to go with the mixed metaphors, huh?)

Thus, anybody seen to be copying her style: damned plagiarist! Anybody seen to be more popular: god, what a phoney, you can see right through her & her social climbing attempts! Anybody dating one of her exes: pitied as second-rate, unless the new girl was attractive & intelligent, then it was all bile about just trying to copy her & wow, how unoriginal is she, you'd think she could find her own boyfriends instead of taking all my exes!

All of this seemed to be aimed at maintaining her self-perception, as described above.

In that sense, one line in your question stood out in particular for me: "she may dress like me and play a similar social role and have dated the same guy I'm dating". Those exact words might have come straight from her mouth.

So, *maybe* your hatecrushes might stem from a similar kind of insecure wish to see yourself as #1. I don't know at all if that has anything to do with it, but it's a suggestion for you to consider.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:20 PM on October 18, 2009 [4 favorites]

I agree with signal. You don't like yourself very much and so these "crushes" are your way of comparing yourself to others. You choose your partners' exes and women who have a lot in common with you because you want to believe that if you can find them lacking in some way, you'll feel better about yourself. It won't work. Please seek professional counseling.
posted by decathecting at 7:32 PM on October 18, 2009 [3 favorites]

You say that this has been going on for a long time, you've only had limited success controlling it, and you're not happy with the way it's affecting your life. Therapy is certainly worth considering.

These are not healthy patterns of thinking and behaving. You understand that, which is good—but if the underlying reasons were simple enough for us to sort out over the Internet, you would already have figured them out.

That said: since you seem to have some idea where this is coming from (e.g., your own insecurities), is there a way you can redirect this energy (when it arises) toward addressing those root causes? Take that energy and use it to accomplish things that will improve your self-confidence and general well-being—tackle a project you've been neglecting, get some exercise, practice a skill, do something interesting to show other people that you're interesting. Identify those things which make you feel poorly about yourself, which you can do something about, and do something about them.
posted by ixohoxi at 7:37 PM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

My general feeling about myself when I've had these sorts of attachments to people is to tell myself that having strong negative emotions towards someone is actually a way of continuing to have a relationship with them, only it's a bad one and one that doesn't return anything positive to me. If I dislike this person, I should not want to continue a relationship with them.

If I'm still continuing a relationship with them [even with their constant presence in my mind as an object of irritation or frustration or something] then something else is up.

So, while I agree with other people that hatred of other people at the level you seem to be experiencing it might really be a good candidate for successful treatment via therapy (I agree that there's an OCD flavor to this which might be worth professional exploration), I also think you want to ask yourself "what do I gain by continuing these emotional relationships with people I supposedly dislike?"
posted by jessamyn at 7:40 PM on October 18, 2009 [9 favorites]

What are you forced to face if you admit to yourself that you like them?
posted by milarepa at 7:53 PM on October 18, 2009 [4 favorites]

You need to learn to accept your fears about being hurt by someone close to you. This is how you are expressing that.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:59 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Usually the objects of my disgust are other women, often former romantic partners of guys I am involved with. Many times, they are not ex-girlfriends per se, but brief flings. Other times, they are women who have a lot in common with me-- similar interest or style or aspects of personality, except for whatever reason, I find them extremely lacking. My hate seems to stem from making sure that I distinguish myself from them. I think, "she my dress like me and play a similar social role and have dated the same guy I'm dating, but she NOTHING LIKE ME OKAY???"

Here's a thought that might be out of left field but that I think is worth getting out there: the above paragraph just screams evolutionary psychology. You have an aversion to losing out to other women in the competition to mate with the good available men. There could be a woman with all the same negative qualities as the object of your hatecrush except much less appealing (to the men you're interested in) as a mate, and you won't feel threatened by her because she doesn't have a chance at beating you in the mating game. This is common for men and women: we don't loathe the person with a hideous deformity or the senior citizen -- we loathe the cool, suave, attractive, popular, successful person around our age. It's not rational, but it has an explanation: the former type of person isn't your competition. The evolutionary psychology explanation applies even if you have no actual desire to procreate with those men or even be involved with them at all. The evolutionary reason can drive your feelings even if it's not connected to your conscious thoughts. In fact, if your reaction to my explanation for your feelings is, "Hey, that's not how I really feel," then that might actually be a good thing. Realize that your brain is doing this weird thing on its own that isn't actually helping you do what you want in life.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:10 PM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

Realize that your brain is doing this weird thing on its own that isn't actually helping you do what you want in life.

Uh, what? There can be no division between "her brain" and "her". Even if there were a perfect algorithm to explain what I did in a certain situation doesn't mean I'm not doing it.
posted by phrontist at 8:36 PM on October 18, 2009 [3 favorites]

Usually the objects of my disgust are other women, often former romantic partners of guys I am involved with.

I don't see how this can be anything other than a nasty self-image or self-confidence problem.

As a mental exercise, think: "It doesn't matter who your guy used to be with, because he's with you now. You won. Stop tormenting the losers who blew it."
posted by rokusan at 8:53 PM on October 18, 2009

I've thought hard about this, because I have similar behaviors, but never as extreme, and I tend to fixate on people who've been unkind to me, rude, or judgmental, but I definitely relate to the feeling of wasting energy on negative social obsession, AND I'm some variety of "queen bee," with plenty of ego but plenty of social trepidation about other women, so all that rings true a little also.

What I've tried to do when I'm thinking about how rotten someone is, grar grar grar, is tell myself "If I'm so terrific, I can do whatever I want. I am extremely special and self-actualizing. I can ignore them if I want to, I can fill my life up with fascinating thrilling happy adventures and never even notice them, as though they were a pesky fly and nothing more. If I want to tear them to pieces and be horrifically bitchy, I am capable of that, too. I could probably even make them as miserable as I am. What do I want to do about this?"

This helps me figure out, and become comfortable with how I'm really feeling... in my case, it's usually rejected and alienated, but it sounds like you might be feeling something more like inadequacy. Do you have a reason to feel that way? Try to forgive yourself for whatever it is you feel, and you'll be able to forgive them for catalyzing your feeling that way. If you're stalking them online, you're looking for something. You'll find the answers in yourself.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:53 PM on October 18, 2009 [6 favorites]

Other times, they are women who have a lot in common with me-- similar interest or style or aspects of personality, except for whatever reason, I find them extremely lacking. My hate seems to stem from making sure that I distinguish myself from them. I think, "she my dress like me and play a similar social role and have dated the same guy I'm dating, but she NOTHING LIKE ME OKAY???"

This just screams low self-esteem. I've found that most people dislike in others what they dislike in themselves. If you don't like yourself, you will definitely find things to dislike in other people. The only solution is to accept yourself - even the parts you don't like. Once you do this, it's really tough to even generate mild dislike for other people, and hate-crushes will be impossible. This sounds absolutely miserable - please find a counselor to help you with your self-esteem.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:07 PM on October 18, 2009

I agree with The Light Fantastic. As I read your info above, I read jealousy and low self esteem. Deal with those issues and you'll be amazed by how much less there will be for you to hate.

Best of luck.
posted by 2oh1 at 11:56 PM on October 18, 2009

> Why do I become so hate-infatuated?

>I change my behavior to distinguish myself from my hatecrush. I think about them CONSTANTLY.

So having the capacity to view others as rivals... and then passionately hate them... distinguishes you from them?

To the degree that you'd like to stop doing this-- don't ask why you do it; instead, remember a time you did that... slow down your own recollection... and discover, bit by bit, how you do it.

A habit like that is an ingrained pattern-- it's a series of steps. Just modify the steps, and the old feeling, the past pattern, the prior result will begin to reveal itself as something you used to do, before you found something to do that's more fun, and makes guys like you more, and helps you feel more enjoyably aware of your own worth.

Notice what tone of voice you used, with that old pattern, to talk to yourself about the other person, and how "big" (or *small*) the other person seems in your mind. Change the tone of voice... change the mental picture... and your body will probably start to feel a little differently. You might start asking different questions of yourself, like, Where in your body do you feel most comfortable? Where do you feel safe? Where do you feel most secure? Where do you feel good? Where do you feel confident? How are these feelings flowing together and deepening and enriching each other, as you notice them more fully and enjoy them more and more?

And as you notice these feelings and these places... and then pretend these feelings have colors-- colors you can imagine in your body-- and then feel these colors of comfort and security (of course, if the guys you are dating begin to learn *you can do this in your mind*, and make yourself feel really good, and deliberately deepen your own ability to feel pleasure and safety, you might begin to stand out even more attractively, but don't get caught up grinning and thinking about this over and over just yet) I wonder what it would be like, for someone to have the ability to think over and over about her own best qualities, and how many new angles and perspectives she can find from which to notice new things she likes about herself?

But how many people really pay attention to how, exactly, they feel good, anyway? Most people don't-- someone who did take the time to notice how to feel good-- where, in the body, the good feelings are beginning-- and as a result, felt these good feelings more and more easily and more and more naturally-- would seem a little different from other people. Who wants to be an obsessive connoisseur, an artist, of good feeling?

Can you imagine how odd it would be, to repetitively notice what you like about yourself, and to be constantly asking yourself how you can make your own life more fun... and then doing it? The strangest thing about this new way of thinking is that everything can bring you back to it-- any person you see or meet can lead you to start on focusing on how good you already feel, and how you are discovering how to feel more and more confidence and pleasure... which, as you think about it, is a rather distinctive way of standing out. It's not for most people, though... so some people shouldn't even explore this too fully, before it comes too easily, and too naturally, and too enjoyably... in ways other people can't avoid noticing.
posted by darth_tedious at 12:02 AM on October 19, 2009 [6 favorites]

I agree with both the people who are calling this as projection/insecurity and those calling this as a sort of general reaction to those women who are, in some sense, your competition. I also think that your obsessiveness with your hatecrushes smacks of you struggling to investigate yourself.

More pointedly, I think you're reacting against something very scary - the idea that you could be replaced, in someone else's life. To you, you're you, the most important person you know - but to your ex-boyfriends, you're one in a series of relationships and/or flings. Of course, that's an important person to be as well, but there's still something pretty eerie about that replaceability - the idea that someone else's life and passion drifts off and moves around without your input.

More to the point, in a more objective sense, you are neither the most important person on the planet nor simply "one in a series" of anything. But, something about the tension between the two positions is driving you a little nuts.

You might find this article from The Last Psychiatrist on the "narcissistic injury" to be interesting. I'm not saying you're a narcissist by recommending this - everyone has a narcissistic streak.

Either way, seeing a therapist is a very good idea. That, or meditation. Or - getting something to take up that free time of yours. I find keeping myself busy to be a good tonic for my own obsessive weirdness.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:11 AM on October 19, 2009

I think it's great that you're aware of this enough (when you're not going through the bouts of hatred) to want to pose this question.

the fact that your emotions are uncontrollable suggests to me that there are deep seated issues related to this. i would reason that it's definitely a self esteem issue, but the target of your hatred - new girlfriends of exes, girls who are quite similar to you, girls who even have traits that you hold in (i'm guessing) high regard, ie 'she dresses like and plays a similar social role'. Well, it makes me wonder when you were younger if you had any females who were supposed to play (in your eyes) a more subservient role but who took attention away from you when you wanted it most?

ie, a younger sister, perhaps. maybe a cousin? someone who you could never bring yourself to hate, but were definitely jealous of? so now you find women who are just like you, but have 'come after' you, and are able to project this jealousy and hatred towards, instead of dealing with the origins of it? maybe that's why you unexpectedly become hate-infatuated?
posted by skauskas at 3:44 AM on October 19, 2009

I've read exactly one book by Karl Jung and that was a long time ago but your question instantly reminded me of his concept of The Shadow.

According to Jung, the shadow, in being instinctive and irrational, is prone to project: turning a personal inferiority into a perceived moral deficiency in someone else.

I'm no expert at this kind of stuff, so will stop short of offering any advice other than suggesting you maybe look into this a little deeper.

That said, I can offer my own experience, which is that ever since stumbling upon Jung's Shadow concept way back when, it's had a profound and positive effect upon how I view my personality animosities. That is, whenever I find myself feeling an antipathy toward a person (a co-worker, a friend of a friend, even the author of a book I'm reading), I always take a step back and ask myself:

"Is this deficiency I'm seeing actually in this person, or is it in fact in the shadow I myself am casting?"

Finally, Jung does point out that we are usually unconscious of our shadow, which is what allows it to do so much harm. The fact that you have even posed this question then strikes me as positive step.

Good luck.
posted by philip-random at 8:29 AM on October 19, 2009 [4 favorites]

This is obbsessive behavior, and I'd guess that you're using it as some kind of escape. We all need escapes, but some are healthier than others. Can you find something else to distract you? You may just be a super-high energy person who needs lots of stimulation.
posted by MiffyCLB at 8:54 AM on October 19, 2009

I've been know to do this kind of thing, and janerica has it way up top, though it can kind of be the opposite. I don't know how much difference it makes whether they're very much like me or not. The major thing is that something about them represents a shortcoming I perceive in myself.

I'll relate my most recent one (and last one in a long time).

An off-and-on longtime roommate of mine. He (I'm male also) is not very much like me in most respects that would be considered defining characteristics, but we'd been good friends at times. The thing was that he's very outgoing and much more successful with women than I am. That's not the kicker though... it's that this reflected my own failings and in a way that I perceived to be "incorrect." That is, I perceived his personality to be a facade and often to be disrespectful of women.

So, not only was he able to do what I couldn't, but he did it "wrong." That's what drove me nuts and still feels like a rational reaction, though I know it's not.
posted by cmoj at 10:07 AM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

1. You sound like you are very insecure.
2. You should make an effort to avoid situations where you need to interact with people you hate, their friends, etc.
posted by chunking express at 10:15 AM on October 19, 2009

I don't really feel like an overall insecure person

I beg to differ with you on this point. A person who is secure about themselves, and their place in the lives of others, does not develop these sorts of negative feelings toward others.

You've taken an important step forward in realizing the extent to which these hatecrushes are not healthy, your next step will be determining how you can change your feelings into positive ones. Instead of comparing the negatives, why not see these other people in light of yourself? Wouldn't it be easy to see a connection between why a guy would date a woman in the past and then date you if you were comparing the good things about yourself with the woman from the past? For example, maybe you and she have similar artistic interests or skills, have a charming personality, or are exceptionally brilliant in your field.

The work starts from you and works outward. The better you feel about yourself, the better you'll feel about everyone around you.

I wish you well on your journey of self-discovery. If it's tough to get results on your own, therapy, as others here have suggested, is a strong possibility to guide you through.
posted by kuppajava at 10:20 AM on October 19, 2009

Words of wisdom:

"If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us." - Hermann Hesse
posted by siclik at 3:09 PM on October 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

I don't know of specific anger management treatments that really work; but I think you have 2 issues: anger problems, and obsession problems.
posted by theora55 at 4:42 PM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

I don't know how practical this would be (eg if it's your boyfriend's ex, or if they have started to hate you in return) but have you tried actually getting to know some of them? Crushes are often based on totally unrealistic conceptions of people, and these can fall away if the crushee is seen as a more real person.

Perhaps this would not address the root causes of your general hate issues, but they might be related and anyway, you already have lots of advice on that.
posted by ropeladder at 7:58 PM on October 19, 2009

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