They say that the opposite of love isn’t hate but instead indifference. Songs about hating someone you love speak to the complexity of relationships and remind us how easy it can be for emotions to change.
“Hate Me” by Blue October
Song Year: 2006
A deeply personal song, “Hate Me,” is a look at addiction mixed with family. In it, band member Justin Furstenfeld discusses the hate he received from his mother but also the love that ultimately helped him get through it.
Like most songs about hate mixed with love, there are no simple explanations or solutions, especially when addiction gets involved. However, it’s also a fundamentally optimistic song, as it comes from the perspective of someone who finally overcome their hatred and suffering.
“Someone Like You” by Adele
Song Year: 2011
Adele has made more than a few songs about relationships, and “Someone Like You” is a look at one of the most complicated situations she’s felt. While she cares for the other person in the song, she’s also filled with deep remorse.
Most of the hatred in this song gets directed toward herself, including displeasure at her inability to control herself and her feelings. While it’s crucial to love yourself in life, it’s just as easy to hate yourself for your failures, and that’s on full display here.
“You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette
Song Year: 1995
Morissette won two Grammys for this raw portrayal of emotion and sexuality after a relationship. While she cared deeply for her ex, she’s also upset at the broken promises and wants to remind her former lover of things they said in the past.
Ultimately, this song is a stark reminder that emotions don’t stop just because a relationship is over. They can affect someone for a long time afterward, but they won’t always be pleasant or easy to deal with. In the end, though, we do have to move on.
“Forget You” by CeeLo Green
Song Year: 2010
Relationships are complicated to start with, but betrayal can make things even worse. Green’s pop hit from a 2010 album discusses his feelings about seeing someone he cares about in a relationship with someone else and the sense that a lack of money led to the situation.
While he cares about her, he also sees the girl in question as a gold digger, focused on finding a wealthy partner instead of happiness. Green’s censored version of this song performed well in its own right, but he also released a more explicit version (“F**k You”) for those who prefer to express their emotions in full.
“Epiphany” by Staind
Song Year: 2001
“It’s Been Awhile” may be Staind’s most-recognized song, but “Epiphany” from the same album shares the emotions and focuses on the singer’s love and hate towards himself. While he wants to care for others, his inability to express himself correctly causes him constant trouble and frustration.
Beyond this, however, understanding the problem can also be the first step toward solving it. Some songs work better as a single, but listening to the entirety of Break The Cycle is the best way to understand this song.
“Gives You Hell” by All-American Rejects
Song Year: 2008
The All-American Rejects aren’t known for hesitating to express themselves, and this hit song from an album of the same name has their passion on full display as they talk about hoping someone they cared about suffers now.
However, more than some generic pain, they specifically hope that their success is what causes trouble for the one they hate. Rather than passive suffering, they want to be an active component of their revenge after a loss. It’s not a positive sentiment, but it’s hard to deny that this is a catchy and memorable tune.
“Drink You Away” by Justin Timberlake
Song Year: 2013
A creative mix of pop, rap, and R&B sounds, Timberlake’s “Drink You Away” is ultimately a song about emotions and failure. No matter how hard he tries to drink away his pain, it doesn’t go away, and the heartbreak is threatening to consume him entirely.
In a way, the title is a trick for this song. It implies that the drinking will work, but Timberlake’s character is increasingly unable to do so and only gets more restless as time goes on. Love can be hard to forget, even when you wish you could.
“Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift
Song Year: 1989
Swift may be known for songs about love, but “Bad Blood” is about a different sort of relationship. In interviews released later, she explained that the song was about another musician and an inability to tell if that person was a friend or an enemy.
Singers put a lot of passion and energy into their careers, and when emotions are riding high, it’s easy for love and hate to intertwine. Outside of its thematic fit for this list, though, “Bad Blood” is also an early hit from Swift’s long and storied career, and entirely worth listening to on its own merits.
“Love The Way You Lie Part II” by Rihanna and Eminem
Song Year: 2010
The first part of this song was a multi-billion listen hit in its own right, but Rihanna decided to continue the story and collaborate with Eminem again. Throughout the song, she expresses frustration at her relationship, including the sense of comfort and satisfaction that she gets from fights.
A little masochism isn’t rare, but delighting in the emotional pain can take things to an entirely different level. Eminem steps in for the long third verse, offering a different point of view on the relationship and showing how it’s just as messed up from the other side.
“Love Bites” by Def Leppard
Song Year: 1989
While you might suspect this to be a song about a cat, or possibly a vampire, Def Leppard’s glam rock hit is a song about complexities in relationships and especially the singer’s feelings toward himself.
In it, he touches on things like his confusion over whether a relationship is real and his desire to make things work even though it’s driving him mad. He doesn’t even know if he feels love or hate anymore, but wants to pursue the relationship regardless.
“7 Things” by Miley Cyrus
Song Year: 2008
Some songs are suspiciously specific about what the singer hates, and Cyrus’ “7 Things” goes into detail about the things she dislikes most in the relationship. However, the biggest complaint she has is that she still cares even when there are many things in the relationship she dislikes.
Of these, the tendency to act like a jerk and showing interest in someone else is near the top of the list. Both of these can be deal-breakers, but when you know they’re wrong and still can’t break away, emotions can continue bubbling up.
“My Give A Damn’s Busted” by Jo Dee Messina
Song Year: 2005
Songs about hating someone you love tend to be pop tunes, but Messina breaks from the crowd with this country song about finally snapping and losing the ability to care about someone after they caused too many problems.
That’s a rare sentiment, and in the lyrics, she specifically notes that she wants to care but ultimately can’t. Some people have a hard time letting go of their emotions, but others find it so easy they can never grab hold of those feelings again.
“Daughter” by Pearl Jam
Song Year: 1993
Relationships with parents are some of the most complex of all. You can choose your partner, but you can’t choose your family. The story in the song centers on a girl with a learning disability who’s trying but failing to learn how to read and make her mother proud.
It’s hinted that the mother can’t tolerate the problems, though, and ultimately lowers the shades to strike her child. Both of the people in this relationship feel love and hate for each other, but a later track on the album suggests the child ultimately escapes from this fate and finds a better life.
“Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac
Song Year: 1977
Songs about lovers can be nasty, but songs about bandmates can be worse. Written by lead vocalist Lindsey Buckingham, the song is full of personal indignation and tells the target that loving them is wrong and that it’s fine for them to head off and go their own way.
Notably, each member of the band went through a breakup while working on the album Rumours, but despite the lyrics of this song, they continued to work together for a while. They briefly split off entirely in 1995 but reformed shortly after and remain one of the best-selling rock bands of all time.
“Hate (I Really Don’t Like You)” by The Plain White T’s
Song Year: 2006
This song is about uncertainty and confusion. The singer isn’t sure if hate is the right feeling, but they’re pretty confident that they don’t like someone once their relationship is over. At the same time, though, they’re acknowledging that what they wanted was love.
“Brick” by Ben Folds Five
Song Year: 1997
Brick is an autobiographical song, with Ben Folds citing it as an experience from high school. While it’s ultimately about his partner choosing to get an abortion and the stress of going through that, his lyrics also show that it ultimately ended their relationship, and she was an emotional brick weighing him down afterward.
The negativity isn’t something he sought in the relationship. It’s something that developed naturally based on their actions. When a relationship sours that way, there’s rarely any going back.
“Unintended” by Muse
Song Year: 1999
“Unintended” is a more optimistic song than many other tracks on this list. In it, he explains his unexpected development of feelings after a phone call he had and a sudden pang of love. However, while he genuinely cares for her, he’s also upset because he’s currently getting over a breakup and can’t process those feelings yet.
“Insensitive” by Jann Arden
Song Year: 1994
It’s easy for hatred to turn inward in a relationship, and Arden has that on full display in this song where she asks how to become insensitive after feeling so much emotion toward someone else. She hates herself for feeling that way and hates her short-term lover specifically because of all the passion she felt.
“For No One” by The Beatles
Song Year: 1966
The Beatles have plenty of hits, but this song is often suspected to be about Paul McCartney and Jane Asher. The lyrics emphasize the pain of separation as someone else is moving on, and how difficult it can be to stop feeling emotions toward someone even when you dislike something that should have lasted a long time.
“Solitary Man” by Johnny Cash
Song Year: 2000
A song made towards the end of Cash’s storied life and career, “Solitary Man,” focuses on his desire to be alone after several previous loves in his life had left him. He’s upset at people who play games and long for a better, steadier relationship, willing to give up entirely on romance unless he can finally find that.
“Tsundere no Uta” by Komiya Mao
Song Year: 2010
A “tsundere” is a Japanese character archetype, and in modern times represents someone who swings wildly between passionately affectionate and aggressive towards the target of their love because they don’t know how to handle their emotions. This upbeat anthem is ultimately a positive look at the idea but does hint at the underlying complexity emotions can have.
“So Long, Marianne” by Leonard Cohen
Song Year: 1967
Love and hate can intersect in strange ways, and that’s on full display in this song written to an ex-girlfriend. Through this folk song’s story, Cohen explains that he wanted more than happiness and love and that the affection he received ultimately smothered and trapped him.
Hate that arises from love can be extraordinarily passionate, but ultimately it turned to indifference when he felt he needed to separate. At the same time, he still held affection towards her, and these feelings all mixed together in one of the best songs from the ‘60s.
“Is She Really Going Out With Him?” by Joe Jackson
Song Year: 1978
Although written as a funny song about beautiful women dating less-than-attractive men, many people interpret this song as having a biting edge of hatred and resentment mixed in with love. As written, the lyrics emphasize confusion and a feeling that something is going wrong when two people who seem so far apart are interacting.
Ultimately, the complexity of this song may come from the feeling many people have when they see someone they cared about with someone they don’t. If you care about someone, you want the best for them, and seeing them willingly choose something you see as bad can be hard to tolerate.
“Green Light” by Lorde
Song Year: 2017
Lorde’s first real breakup song is a pop tune about her complicated feelings and how upset she could be when seeing someone else tell lies in a new relationship. Alongside that hatred is an understanding that love is difficult to get over. The hatred comes from the love because if she didn’t care, she ultimately wouldn’t feel anything here.
“One” by U2
Song Year: 1992
“One” is among U2’s most complicated songs, mixing some negative effects on the band’s relationship from time in Berlin with a backstory about a son afraid to come out as gay to his father. The result is a mix of unhappiness that stems from a desire to be together, all backed by the band’s powerful instrumentals.
Top Songs About Hating Someone You Love, Final Thoughts
Songs about hating someone you love explore a range of themes, from hating others to hating yourself. Regardless of the subject, these songs speak directly to the complexity and occasional incoherence people can feel when they care.