From Love to Hate – The 7 Levels

While working on the manuscript I started to think about different levels of attraction in terms of what was emotionally required.  I created this chart, which, although far from accurate in the academic/psychological sense, illustrates the seven major stopping points.

Profound love – Soulmates, the deepest love one can experience.  Takes years, if not a lifetime to acquire and understand.  There are instances of it happening in moments – between mother and new baby for instance.  Most people never reach this level of relationship.  It requires vast amounts of emotional energy but it never feels like a strain and each partner benefits.

Relationship – Friends, boyfriends/girlfriends, and most marriages exist within this level.  It is typified by its ability to break when rough waters or better options roll along.  The emotional energy required can change from day-to-day and is often not  mutually shared.

Interest – Must happen before a relationship, and is established within seconds of first sight.  Appearance can spark interest, but so can intellect, voice quality, or rumors.  Interest requires little to no emotional energy.

Stranger – A person that we don’t know exists.

Dislike – Similar to interest, a dislike is established in seconds.   It is usually based on the superficial but can also result from on a gut feeling.

Revulsion –  Occurs when someone is forced to spend time with a person they dislike and are unable to find any redeeming qualities.  Also can happen if exposed to malicious sentiments about a person or group of people.

Passionate Hate – Rarely will revulsion turn to passionate hate on a personal level unless the person has done some unspeakable act.  More often this is seen in fanaticism or mob mania.   Most interesting is that this can occur if someone in a relationship betrays the other.  Passionate hate robs a person or mob of reason, they become emotionally obsessed with seeking revenge.  Hate crimes result.

Now here is the interesting part – if we fold the chart in half from top to bottom, the levels become paired.

Interest/dislike – Both happen at the first meeting and are based on superficial qualities.  They can switch just as easily, although the saying  “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression,” rings true.  Once either has been established it tends to stick.

Relationship/revulsion – Both require a greater emotional investment than interest or dislike.  Developing either takes time and effort on at least one side.  They come and go over time resulting in heartbreak or relief to the same extent that they brought joy or annoyance.

Profound love/passionate hate – Both require immense amounts of time and energy.  Both create a kind of obsession; every thought either consciously or unconsciously centers on the other person.  Both can result in violence.  If profound love is betrayed it will turn into passionate hate.

In writing, it is important that you use the full spectrum of emotional attachment.  Not everyone can be profoundly in love or experience passionate hate towards each other; that would be too polarized.   Nor can everyone be emotionally frozen, unable to reach even the level of interest or dislike (unless in your world there is a reason to account for it).

Do you know what levels of attraction exist between your characters?  If not, you have some work to do!

Happy Writing!


About Jodi

Jodi L. Milner is a writer, mandala enthusiast, and educator. Her epic fantasy novel, Stonebearer’s Betrayal, was published in November 2018 and rereleased in Jan 2020. She has been published in several anthologies. When not writing, she can be found folding children and feeding the laundry, occasionally in that order.
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19 Responses to From Love to Hate – The 7 Levels

  1. salubriousdish says:

    Useful and interesting. Thanks!

  2. Well conceived, Jodi! You never fail to impress me with your craft, your intelligence, and your creativity.

  3. Heather says:

    This is fantastic. Thank you so much for letting us in on it. Definitely has me thinking. It’s amazing how love/hate, interest/dislike and relationship and revulsion seem to balance each other out. What insight this brings into building believable characters.

    Extremely grateful over here for your generosity in passing on these gems. And, I’m still plastering your puns all over facebook, btw 🙂 .

    • tsuchigari says:

      I’m glad it was useful for you, I thought it was really interesting. With the new schedule the humorous posts will be more spread out. As always, I’ll try to find and share the best of the web. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. nrhatch says:

    When I saw the title, I thought it would be Friday Fun with words ~ something like LOVE to HATE in 5 steps:


    Instead, deep observations about our connections with other characters in life.

    What I’m wondering about . . .

    Once you have a relationship, can the person revert back to “stranger” again?

    I mean you obviously know they exist . . . but you’ve lost sight of who they are.

    • tsuchigari says:

      Sorry, this is my first unfunny Friday in a long time – hard to break tradition. It would be very difficult to return to a stranger state with someone. Unless amnesia is involved there would always be a trace feeling left over from the last time you came in contact. Or, if the person had ‘remade’ themselves’ in such a way that they weren’t the same person.

      Very interesting thoughts. I’ll think more about it.

  5. Paula says:

    Interesting, but I have another wrinkle. Since the passionate, enduring, self-giving love is the ultimate, I have found that relationships often progress in exactly the opposite direction. Although your title says “From Love to Hate, your chart goes from “Hate to Love,” which I think is more accurate. From strangers, to perhaps dislike or disinterest, to a recognized spark (which I do not think always happens instantly on first meeting – at least it didn’t for my husband and me!), to a friendship, and then to love. As a matter of fact, I feel that unless you are truly friends first, the love, if it does come, will never last through all the “ups and downs” of a relationship!

    I feel the same progression (or lack thereof) can be reflected in your characters as well!

    Oh! Missed you yesterday! 😀

    • tsuchigari says:

      You are assuming I meant the chart to be read from bottom up. This is not the case. I put profound love at the top because it is the pinnacle of human emotion, something to be sought and reached for. Hate belongs at the bottom because it is the basest of emotion, the lowest of lows. Stranger becomes the null state. The term ‘levels’ is misdirecting, it leads to assume that the chart is a ladder and should be climbed, ‘stages’ doesn’t work either as it implies one must pass through one to get to the next.

      When you start at ‘stranger’ it makes more sense.

      Sorry for the misleading title.

      • Paula says:

        You are right…I realize upon rereading my comment that I made some inferences that you did not imply! Actually, we both ended up saying pretty much the same thing. It is interesting to note, however, that relationships most often play out in no particular order, and that the same can be said for the “stages of grief.” Different experiences/observations for every different character/person. TY!

  6. Agatha82 says:

    Very useful! Something I will definitely keep in mind when thinking about my characters and how they get on with each other.
    P.S Think I’m lucky never to have experienced Passionate Hate 🙂

  7. cindy says:

    Thanks for this!

  8. Lulu says:

    life is too short to have the passionate hate:-)
    Thank you for the post, it makes me things of some things in my life
    Happy weekend

  9. Lua says:

    Very useful chart Jodi! And I agree with Lulu, life is way to short for passionate hate- but that’s just for me! 🙂
    I would like some of my characters to experience (and express) passionate hate, it always gives depth to the story…

    • tsuchigari says:

      That’s the beauty of writing, we can experience the full spectrum of emotion through the eyes of our characters. It’s a great opportunity to stretch as a writer.

  10. What a great scale to apply to fictional characters. I’m already thinking about where the characters in my novel fit on it.

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