The Opposite of Love

What is the opposite of love? At first glance, the obvious answer is hate. I looked up the antonyms of love and hate in a few online references, and in all cases love and hate were listed as opposites. That got me to thinking.

I know that I have both loved and hated someone at the same time. When my ex-wife suddenly left me years ago, there was a brief moment when I hated her. This happened shortly after our separation and at a time when I still loved her, so the two emotions can exist together in a kind of dark harmony.

I began to wonder: If love and hate can mingle together in one heart simultaneously, are they truly opposites?

For example, most people would say that light and dark are opposites. In the classic yin-yang symbol, light and dark seem to exist separately, each defining the other. However, at the core of the light there is a spot of darkness, and at the core of the darkness there is a spot of light. The lines are clearly defined, however, and there is no blending of the two. On the other hand, I am looking at a shadow on the wall of my office. It is not pure light or dark, but appears to be a mixture of both, a subtle blending not seen in the yin-yang symbol.

Perhaps light and dark are opposites only in the sense that they tend to define one another on a continuous gradient between the two extremes. If this is so, any area on the wall that appears brighter than another would seem to be light; the contrast between two adjoining areas produces the sensation of relative lightness and darkness.

For example, say we assigned a scale of one to ten to the light-dark continuum, with one being pure darkness and ten being pure light. An area of level three would seem to be very dark unless it was compared with an area of level one, in which case it would appear as light. A logically bright level eight area would appear dark when compared to a level ten.

This is very interesting, but it occurs to me that there would be no way to make a level one area appear as anything other than dark (since there is nothing darker than pure darkness), or a level ten anything other than light (since there is nothing lighter than pure lightness). So at the pure extremes of light and dark the gradient model does appear to break down and offer us the possibility that light and dark are really true opposites.

Likewise, take the opposites ‘something’ and ‘nothing’. There is no gray here. Either something is something or it is nothing. It cannot be a mixture of both. One can never equal zero.

I have always believed the opposite of love is fear, not hate. In my own thoughts I theorize that it only appears that hate is the opposite of love. Since hate is often the result of fear, I think that hate is the symptom and fear the cause, making fear the deeper, hidden and true opposite of love.

Perhaps fear is the true opposite of love just like pure dark is the true opposite of pure light (and something is the true opposite of nothing). If this is so, hate may be just a point on the love-fear gradient, a transitory dot on the line between the two extremes.

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7 Responses to “The Opposite of Love”

  1. sulochanosho Says:

    An apt and straight thread-bare analysis of love, hate, fear there. Yes, somewhere I heard that ‘fear’ is the very foundation of our struggle and survival. The whole humanity is functioning on a press of button called ‘fear’.

    It seems love, hate, fear and so many emotional states are simply the different faces or manifestastions of the same energy or flow.

    In a sense, it may appear a bit ecentric or crazy: in it’s simplest or here and now form, there is neither love, nor hate or fear – it just transcends everything. IT IS IT a hundred times!!

    We simply label the things and so is our life in our mundane perspective.
    Nothing is bad, nothing is good. We label it. It sounds paradoxical and so is our life.

    I deeply appreciate the clarity and height of views expressed here.

  2. imabbb Says:

    It may be that IT cannot be defined or labeled, but by IT do you mean the field of limitless possibility or potential? The everything from which all somethings flow?

    If this is so, then by labeling things in an attempt to grasp them, don’t we fix them in the material plane and give them substance and accessibility? This is along the lines of the old philosophical question, “If a tree falls in the woods with nobody there to hear it, does it make a sound?”

    According to some thinkers, there is no sound unless there is someone there to percieve it. Unless there is someone there to hear the sound and label it as “the sound of a tree falling in the woods”, it does not exist, it never happened. A mystic might say that there was the potential for a sound, but unless it is grasped and labeled, it remains in the field of possibility. A thing must be labeled to exist in the physical plane.

    Thanks for your comment. I like having someone to talk to that doesn’t mind getting a little “eccentric and crazy”. (But then again, these are just labels.)

  3. Is Evil Necessary for Good to Exist? « the babbling baboon Says:

    […] Evil Necessary for Good to Exist? I posted something recently called The Opposite of Love, a little piece that explores the nature of opposites. That got me to thinking and I’d like to […]

  4. lydia2007 Says:

    My mother always said to be careful if you find yourself hating somebody because hate is closer to love than we realize.

    I read somewhere recently that indifference is the true opposite of love. For me, that seems to fit. What do you think?

  5. imabbb Says:

    Lydia – I never thought of it, but it could be that indifference is the true opposite of love. I have been kicking around an idea lately that certain things can only be understood as they relate to other things. For example, hot only has meaning as it relates to cold. Hot water could not exist unless cold water also existed. Otherwise it would just be water.

    But hot and cold are not fixed points. Instead they are movable points on a gradient, or continuum. What I mean is that -250 degrees would seem cold as compared to -100 degrees, yet +32 degrees would seem hot comapred to both of these (even though it is the point at which ice freezes – brrr). So temperature seems to be relative.

    I wonder if emotion is like that. Love, hate, fear, indifference – all movable points on a continuum of emotion. I’ll have to give that one more thought.

    This also brings to bear the question of whether the continuum is linear – with two terminating points (in which case there must exist two opposites) or circular – with no fixed beginning or end (in which case there would be no true opposites, just moveable points on a line). Food for thought.

  6. lydia2007 Says:

    After making this comment last night, my mind kept wanting to go back there and ponder it a little bit further.

    I’m wondering if it might be that love, hate, and fear all contain strong emotion where being indifferent points to a lack of emotion.

    Emotion is full of energy where indifference lacks energy.

    Emotion is energy in motion – as long as there is energy (even if it is negative) there is life.

    What lacks energy lacks life.

  7. imabbb Says:

    So then we would have the individual emotions as different degrees within the container of Emotion and all sharing the common characteristic of energy. Indifference would then stand as the opposite of Emotion, defining it, and having the characteristic of lacking energy. Life and death.

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