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David Porter » Articles at Suite 101 » Love-Hate Relationships are Normal, Understandable and Common

Love-Hate Relationships are Normal, Understandable and Common

Love-Hate Relationship With Shopping & Fashion - Til Niermann
Most people have ambivalent, contradictory feelings ranging from love to hate about other people, things, places, sounds and smells. It’s part of life.

Some psychologists believe a love-hate relationship between couples, where conflict is used to strengthen love, is better than a straightforward one. Neil Warner, author of Turning Conflicts Into True love argues that people change, as ‘conflict is to help you learn the basic truth about how to deal with each other. It takes two to dispute, but only one to repair a relationship’.

The range of people’s love-hate relationships cover all aspects of life. For example, blogger Karen Fredricks has one with Amazon, not for books, but how it reviews non-book products.

Love-Hate Shopping and Style

Anna North, writes on Jezebel, a women’s opinion blog about keeping women from hating their shopping experiences. She says that men, citing market research, claim women want ‘cleanliness, control and considerateness’ from shopping. She rejected the male, gender-polarising view.

She added that to enhance the experience: ‘decent lighting, more mirrors, not being followed round stores as if they are all thieves, accessible products, not being treated like idiots if buying cars or electronics, not being ignored if shopping with a man, more careful thought given to sounds and smells inside shops and less hard-push selling’.

Michelle Lee wrote Our Love-Hate Relationship with Dressing, Shopping and the Cost of Style (2003) which Publishers’ Weekly says ‘scrutinizes co-conspirators who make up a $200-billion business: designers, manufacturers, fashion press, garment workers, unions, retail outlets and, ultimately, consumers’. Lee was overall critical of the genre.

She suggested Ten Commandments (good analogy where shopping has become a religion) that slaves to fashion endure, for example: ‘thou shalt pay more to appear poor; thou shalt be a walking billboard’. A tongue-in-cheek tone didn’t alter serious issues behind shopping: exploitation of clothes makers, damage to environment, credit abuse, ethical production of materials, unattainable female body-image role models and addiction.

Love-Hate Mobile and Cell Phones

Herb Weisbaum MSNBC’s Consumer Man says (2010) ‘250 million American cell-phone subscribers need to be connected but are annoyed with service providers’. He calculates in the past 3 years, more people complained to Better Business Bureau (which tracks over 3800 industries) about phone companies’ service than any other.

In the UK, dissatisfaction with one company (Google’s Nexus One, touchscreen smartphone, disparity between US and UK provision and the way complaints were handled) hit BBC News in January 2010.

The industry is sharpening up, addressing disapproval levels among customers about billing & contracts, troubleshooting, applications and reception, yet still phones become must-have items for all ages. A survey (2005) by the University of Michigan showed 80%-plus of cell phone users claiming the device had made their lives easier, but 60% felt public use ‘disturbed or irritated’.

Writing in E-Commerce Times 2006, Keith Regan argued that mobile phones ‘are a love-hate relationship with staying power’. He acknowledged that as technology matures, in the hands of ‘businesspeople and teenagers alike, mobiles hold a unique and unenviable position in the world of technology, loved and hated as intensely as any’.

He reckoned ‘people around the world have developed such a close, personal relationship with their mobiles, and increasingly, other devices, that the chances of ever going back to the days when people would be truly out of reach, voluntarily or involuntarily, seems impossible’.

In the same article, Syracuse University Professor of Media & Culture, Robert Thompson confirmed that population penetration of the wireless revolution means the many disadvantages are less than perceived benefits, and soon mobile technology, ‘warts and all’, will be completely accepted. Many people opposed the start of the automobile revolution similarly, on grounds of noise, smell and nuisance to others.

As phones become increasingly personalised with more applications, total acceptance may be inevitable. Whether the majority will learn to love them, time only will tell.

Love-Hate Almost Anything

People love-hate virtually everything in life, from computers to the Apple store, from airplanes to garlic, from universities to towns. Automotive Atrocities: The Cars We Love to Hate by Eric Peters (2004) lists famous and infamous cars that somebody somewhere has decided people love and/or hate.

Song preferences can often be somebody’s guilty secret. Movies We Hate to Love lists ‘corny, silly, hokey movies’ that people love but hate to admit it. Most Mel Brooks’, sci-fi stuff, family films, rom-coms, horror flicks, even Sherlock Holmes and Alfred Hitchcock is rated love-but-hate.

Jeffery Ingram writing in Library Journal, explains that Consumed: Why Americans Hate, Love and Fear Food (1995) is a study of America’s ‘neurotic love-hate relationship with food’, from Puritans to ‘low-fat, low-cholesterol present’, examining the paradox of food as ‘both fat-laden killer and sensuous sustainer of life’.

Contradictory love-hate relationships with oil (deep-water exploration, spills, safety, petrol, plastics) are understandable, as is any political issue. In fact, politicians themselves arouse the strongest voter ambivalence. From 2005 – 2008 the Canadian Museum of Civilization presented a showcase exhibition called Love ‘em, Hate ‘em: Canadians and Their Politicians, which showed how public opinion is shaped/expressed by personalities’ images and styles of political leaders.

People often have a mixed view of celebrities, too, from celebrity worship syndrome to hating or stalking them. In love-hate relationships there appear to be few happy mediums.

First published on Suite 101, 3 August 2010.

Photo: Love-Hate Relationship With Shopping & Fashion – Til Niermann

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