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How to Respond When Someone Says “I Hate You”

It hurts to be rejected by a friend or coworker; it’s devastating when someone you love says they hate you! Here’s what to remember when someone you love stops loving you or even starts hating you.

I don’t know exactly how you feel, but I know the feeling of being hated by someone I love. My sister stopped talking to me over a decade ago; I don’t know where she is, how her life is going, or even why she cut me out of her life. It still makes me sad, but I’m no longer deeply wounded by her rejection. I learned what to do — and more importantly, what to remember — when I start to feel bad about myself.

What do you need to remember when someone you love hates you? It depends on your personality, relationship with your loved one, and faith. Below are three ideas for coping with feelings of depression, grief, and self-hatred. If you’re living with a spouse who is unhealthy or abusive, read When Your Husband Says He Hates You.


Getting individual counseling from a family therapist helped me cope with feeling unwanted and unloved by my sister, but it didn’t heal my grief or self-hatred. The counselor didn’t fix our relationship, though she did help me understand family dynamics and sibling rivalry.

In Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back I describe how I healed from the terrible feeling of being hated by a loved one. This article is different, though. It’s about how Joseph responded when his brothers said they hated him — three times!

3 Things to Remember When Someone You Love Hates You 

This article is part of my She Blossoms Through the Bible project, and it’s inspired by Genesis 37. In this chapter Joseph is sold into slavery by his brothers. They never hid how much they hated him, and Joseph never responded with the same level of hatred. He loved them through it all, and he shows us how we, too, can rise above hatred.

You don’t have to believe in God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit to benefit from my things to remember when someone you love hates you. Just keep an open mind and consider new possibilities! Listen to the still small voice that brought you here to She Blossoms. Remember that new beginnings blossom from tiny seeds of life, love, and light.

1. Don’t let hatred change who you are or how you feel about yourself

What to Remember When Someone You Love Hates You
When Someone You Love Hates You

The first ten chapters of Genesis 37 give us some insight into why Joseph’s brother hate him. Joseph was their father Jacob’s favorite son. Jacob gave Joseph the infamous “coat of many colors” and didn’t hide the fact that he loved Joseph more than all his children. Even though Joseph’s brothers responded out of jealousy and hatred, Joseph was still himself in his interactions with them. He told them his dreams (which was a mistake), didn’t fear their reactions, and didn’t let their hatred change who he was or what he thought of himself. Joseph loved his brothers; most of them hated him in return. He didn’t let their darkness snuff out his light.

How is your loved one’s hatred affecting your choices and self-image? My sister’s choice to cut me out of her life had a terrible effect on my self-identity. I hated myself for a long time — almost ten years! When someone you love says they hate you, you see yourself in a completely different way. This change in self-image affects the decisions you make and the thoughts you think about yourself. You might find yourself trying too hard to be loved, or treating others with fear and insecurity. Maybe you think you’re worthless, unlovable, and bad. These are natural responses when a loved one rejects and hates you…but they won’t help you heal.

2. Expect to feel confused, insecure, and scared

Why did Joseph keep telling his brothers about his dreams, which were about his family bowing down to him? Perhaps Joseph was simply sharing what he dreamed about, like we often do with loved ones. Maybe Joseph was confused about his dreams, or even awed and humbled by them. Back then, dreams were considered to be divine revelations from God. Maybe Joseph felt proud that God gave him these dreams. Whatever his motives, Joseph was probably unprepared and even shocked by the intensity of his brothers’ hatred and jealousy. They sold him into slavery for 20 pieces of silver. Confusion wasn’t the only emotion Joseph felt! He must have been shocked, overwhelmed, scared, lonely, helpless, and devastated.

Can you fully understand why your loved one hates you? Probably not. Your loved one — whether it’s your sister, spouse, or someone you’ve been friends with for years — may not even understand why he or she hates you. Human emotions are complicated, hearts are deceptive, and love is confusing. You could spend years trying to figure out what to do or how to feel when someone you love says they hate you…and you’d never get to the root of the problem. Maybe you contributed to their hatred in some way; maybe you were totally innocent. Maybe they hate you for reasons they themselves can’t even articulate. Maybe you’re involved in one of those love-hate relationships that defy all logic. Don’t waste your energy, time, or emotions trying to figure out exactly why your loved one hates you.

3. Focus on healing your heart and growing forward 

Genesis 37 is only the beginning of Joseph’s story. He ended up dealing with his brothers’ hatred and hard hearts in beautiful, healthy, loving ways. Joseph didn’t stay stuck in the dark pit of fear and confusion. He didn’t search the internet for how to respond or what to do when someone you love hates you. Rather, Joseph accepted his circumstances for what they were. He also made decisions that were wise and healthy. He didn’t let his brother’s actions or his father’s mistakes destroy his life; instead, he started healing broken family relationships the minute he got the opportunity! Read Genesis 43-45 to see how it all turns out. And remember that if Joseph could respond with such love, wisdom and forgiveness when someone he loved hated him with such intensity, so can you.

Take this first step toward toward healing your self-identity. It took me a long time to realize that if I wanted to heal my feelings of self-hatred and insecurity, I had to stop looking for my sister’s love. I was basing my identity and self-image on her. She was someone I loved with all my heart; I was destroyed when she said she hated me. I learned that if I love any person with all my heart, I am setting myself up for disaster. Nobody on earth can love me the way I want and need to be loved. Everybody will eventually disappoint, fail, or leave me — or get sick and die. Humans can’t give us the love and life we need.

You need love, life, light! You want joy and peace, security and confidence. You are yearning for the truth, and the truth is in Jesus. When someone you love hates you, the only place to find true, deep, meaningful and permanent healing is from God. Learn what it means to follow Jesus, to lean on the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance. This is the first, the only, and the most important step to take when someone you love says they hate you.

What do you think? Your comments — big and little — are welcome below! 


Maybe you disagree with me, or maybe you believe in God but don’t know how to receive His love. Maybe you’re confused and don’t know how to start healing your identity through Jesus.

Whatever you think or feel, you matter. Your thoughts and feelings are important, and worthy of sharing…no matter who on earth loves or doesn’t love you.

With His love,

Laurie

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