"I couldn't ever bring myself to hate you as I'd like"Alice is in love with Bob. Unfortunately, she finds out that Carol is also in love with Bob, leading her to view Carol as an enemy. The catch? Carol is so damn nice to Alice that Alice feels guilty about disliking her. If Carol happens to be Bob's girlfriend, things can get even worse. This can also apply to situations where someone simply has a non-romantic reason for hating someone, but said someone is too nice/charming to dislike. Can result in a Go-Karting with Bowser-like scenario if the participants in the Love Triangle end up hanging out a lot. Compare Friendly Enemy.
—The Stone Roses, "I Am the Resurrection"
Examples of the romantic version:
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Anime and Manga
- Card Captor Sakura: In episode 60, Syaoran calls off his Childhood Marriage Promise with Meiling, having fallen in love with Sakura. Meiling tearfully confesses to Tomoyo that, even though she's heartbroken and angry, she still can't bring herself to hate Sakura.
- In Sgt. Frog, Tamama sees Angol Mois as a rival for Keroro's love and attention, but is frequently overwhelmed by her niceness. At one point in the dub, he thinks to himself regarding Mois "Stop making it so hard for me to hate you!"
- Mois also once turned Kululu into a shambling wreck by simply staring at him for an extended period. "I can't be mean to those eyes!"
- In Bleach, during the Arrancar arc Orihime Inoue realized she was in love with Ichigo Kurosaki and felt this way toward her friend Rukia Kuchiki, who was also close to Ichigo.
- This happens on anime-version of Karin. Winner is in love with Karin, who dislikes him because he's a vampire slayer (though it helps that he's utterly incompetent). Meanwhile, Karin's best friend, Maki, has a crush on Winner. Maki even says once, through thinly-veiled hypotheticals, that she wishes she could hate Karin for attracting Winner's attention, but Karin's too good a friend for that.
- Casca from Berserk has had conflicting feelings toward Princess Charlotte ever since it became apparent to her that Griffith would have to court and perhaps marry Charlotte in order to get closer to the throne of Midland. Even after she revealed that she was in love with Guts and consummated her feelings for him, Casca still felt jealousy toward Charlotte and even went so far as to admitting that to herself when she found out that Griffith had slept with her and got landed in prison for the act... but then Casca also admitted that she felt very bad because Charlotte is one of the sweetest people that she's ever met and treated her with kindness despite being a woman of lower social standing.
- In the Alma Torran arc of Magi – Labyrinth of Magic, Sheba falls in love with Solomon who is way closer to her sister figure and his longtime friend Arba which greatly upsets Sheba. Once Arba encourages Sheba to marry him, Sheba apologizes for having been jealous of her and treating her in such a harsh way.
- In Princess Mononoke, San has these mixed feelings about Ashitaka because she usually hates all humans. "I hate him! I hate all humans!" But she also starts to habor feelings for him after receiving Ashitaka's necklace, "From Ashitaka? For me?... Pretty...". They still don't end up together because San couldn't bear living amongst humans.
- The Devil Is a Part-Timer!:
- Having spent the majority of her life either preparing or actively attempting to slay him and avenge her father, Emi is very annoyed that Maou isn't acting remotely evil enough to justify slaying. And it turns out that not only did Maou not kill her father, he isn't actually dead at all.
- Suzuno starts having second doubts about her mission to kill the demon king as well when she starts to notice Maou doesn't act like a bad guy at all on Earth.
- This is pretty much how Subaru feels about Seishirou in X1999 after the events of Tokyo Babylon.
- From Spirit Circle, this is how Kouko feels towards Fuuta. In their past lives, Fuuta's preincarnation Fortuna single-handedly caused a great disaster for his own purposes. Kouko, who remembered that past life, vowed to destroy Fortuna's soul so that he would never eve nreincarnate again. However, present day Fuuta is such a Nice Guy that she feels conflicted about it.
- My Monster Secret: Nagisa and Youko suffer no small amount of angst because of this. Both of them have feelings for the same boy, and both of them have a lot of trouble viewing each other as romantic rivals because their friendship is so strong, meaning that neither one of them will pursue a relationship for fear of hurting the other girl. They eventually get over it, with Youko being the "winner".
- The titular character of Big Nate has both a romantic and nonromantic version of this with the Belarus exchange student Artur. Nate's disdain for Artur comes from three main sources: Artur is dating Jenny (whom Nate has crushed on for years), Artur is a better chessplayer than Nate (beforehand, Nate was pretty much the best in his school, even beating his more intelligent friend Francis) and Artur's good luck compared to Nate's bad luck. Despite this, he considers Artur a friend and even admits that he does like him, even doing the right thing for him when it matters.
Nate: I like Artur okay. But it's sort of annoying how nothing ever goes wrong for him.
- In the Ben 10 fanfic Hero High: Sphinx Academy, the biggest problem Gwen Tennyson has throughout the story is she can't bring herself to hate the Big Bad who was her boyfriend in the previous story Hero High: Earth Style. She knows he plans horrible things for humanity, even though it is to ultimately save humanity in the long run, and that they are currently fighting against him to stop it, but due to how he was genuinely nice to her, cared about her, and was pretty much the only person outside of her family that appreciated her for her intelligence instead of shunned her for it, she just can't bring herself to truly hate him. This even causes her to go to his side for a short time and in the Distant Finale accept his marriage proposal.
- Ben Stiller's character feels this way about Owen Wilson's character, his fiance's ex-boyfriend, in Meet the Parents.
- In Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Peter tells Aldous that while he has many reasons to hate him, the main one being that he's the guy Sarah dumped him to be with, he can't deny that Aldous is a cool guy too. But then it's subverted a minute later when Aldous lets slip that he and Sarah had begun seeing each other a year before she and Peter actually broke up, enraging Peter.
- This happens in My Best Friend's Wedding, though it doesn't stop the main character from being a bitch about the situation.
- In When Harry Met Sally..., this is Sally's response to Harry's Love Confession at the end.
- Plan B takes this trope to its logical extreme with Bruno's attempts to sabotage Pablo's relationship with his ex Laura going awry when he finds himself liking Pablo as not only a best friend, but a love interest too.
- In Legally Blonde, protagonist Elle Woods' ex-boyfriend quickly became engaged to someone else. The fiancée, Vivian, feels that she ought to hate cute and bubbly Elle, and acts the part at first, until Elle impresses her, and they bond. Meanwhile, the ex-boyfriend's disrespect for Elle ends up disgusting Vivian, and by the end of the film, they've broken up.
- In the book Avalon High, main protagonist Elaine can't bring herself to hate Jennifer, even though she cheated on her boyfriend, who happens to be Elaine's crush and wanted the best for Will. Same with Will himself. He realized his best friend and girlfriend loved each other and couldn't blame either of them. It helps that the characters are actually the reincarnations of King Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot.
- Spellman Files has this go on with Maggie. Isabel (and her sister Rae to some extent) don't really want her to settle down with Henry, but both Spellmans can't help but like Maggie. Luckily for them, Maggie breaks up with Henry and becomes their future sister-in-law instead.
- Discussed in The Stormlight Archive, when Navani tells Dalinar that she really tried to hate his (now deceased) wife, but couldn't because she was too nice.
- In The Hunger Games trilogy, Gale admits to Katniss that he has a hard time hating Peeta because Peeta's so likeable, despite being a competitor for Katniss's affections.
- In The Heroes of Olympus, it's revealed Nico di Angelo feels this way about Annabeth due to his own crush on her boyfriend, Percy, as despite being his romantic rival, she's also one of the few people who's consistently nice to him.
- In Guns of the Dawn, Mr Northway is (by his own admission) corrupt and self-interested, and his rivalry with the Marshwic family led to its current impoverished status and the suicide of Emily's father. Emily starts out hating him, and makes this clear to him. However, this openness of disregard actually enables them to converse more freely and honestly than if they were pretending to be polite friends, and Emily finds that she's glad to have someone to correspond with who treats her as an equal adversary, doesn't assume he can trick or patronise her, and isn't put off by her barbs and criticisms. They eventually end up together.
- In Harry Potter, there's a low-key version between Harry and Cedric, who's not only in competition with Harry, but winds up dating the girl that Harry has a crush on. The thing is, Cedric is so legitimately nice that Harry can't think of much but "that dumb pretty boy could have given me a better hint on how to win the next part of the game."
- On Friends Rachel sort of felt this about Julie. Monica had to remind her that Julie has done nothing wrong.
- This trope popped up practically every time Ross or Rachel had a Romantic False Lead, except in rare occasions where they really were jerks.
- The whole set-up of Reba. Barbara Jean is Brock's new wife but treats Reba, the ex, as a close personal friend which is what they eventually become.
- My Name Is Earl: Earl is and always has been on friendly terms with Darnell (aka "Crab Man"), the man who cuckolded him and stole his wife.
- Obligatory Buffy example. In one episode, Riley returns to Sunnydale after his breakup with Buffy and reveals that he's married. Willow decides that since it would be petty for Buffy to hate his wife, she'll do it for her. In the end, neither girl can hate her, because she's so cool and they're so perfect together.
- In series 2 of Ashes to Ashes Jackie turns up at CID claiming to be pregnant with Gene's baby and Alex can only look on in horror as he proposes to Jackie. However Alex and Jackie bond over the episode and besides, why on earth would Alex affected by it? I mean it's not like she's got any feelings whatsoever for this glorified imaginary construct. It all gets better when Jackie reveals she lied to get Gene to help her and was insulted he believed she would sleep with him.
- On Sister Sister, Lisa meets the woman who is apparently keeping Ray from getting together with her, and admits that she's conflicted about whether or not she should be angry at the woman or invite her into the house for a snack. It probably helps that the woman pulls an I Want My Beloved to Be Happy. Made weirder because "the other woman" turned out to be Ray's dead wife, whom he felt reluctant to move on from.
- While there is no love triangle involved, in Knights of the Old Republic, when it comes to light that you're Revan, a talk with Carth reveals that he "tried to hate you, but couldn't." It's especially good to hear if you're a female PC seeking a romance sub-plot with him.
- He gives this exact same speech to a male Revan.
- On Red's route in Nameless, a series of misunderstandings leads to Red believing that the protagonist (who he has a crush on) is in love with Tei (who he idolizes). He tearfully blurts out that he still likes Tei before running out of the room, which leads to the protagonist and her other housemates getting confused and wondering if he was trying to make a love confession to Tei.
- The Legend of Korra
- Korra feels this way toward Asami despite her theoretically being a rival for Mako's affection. They bond over driving fast cars and fighting alongside each other.
- Later when Mako is caring for Korra like he would a girlfriend, despite still being in a relationship with Asami, Asami doesn't hate Korra for anything. Mako, on the other hand, she does blame.
- Given their amicable relationship, despite Mako being a romantic contention, perhaps it's no surprise Korra and Asami ultimately end up together
- On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Heloise begins dating Peep to make Jimmy jealous. It works, but to her surprise Jimmy and Peep hit it off quite well on non-Heloise topics.
- Even after Marco and Jackie start dating on Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Star still tries to be good friends with Jackie, even trying to make sure Jackie doesn't feel left out when invited to a concert with her and Marco.
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Anime and Manga
- Monster: "No matter what he did, I think I will forgive him". Yeah, Johan is just that charming.
- Both Physis and Jomy have this reaction to Keith Anyan in the last two episodes of Toward the Terra, each separately commenting that even though Keith has been doing everything he can to exterminate their race, they can't bring themselves to hate him. In both cases the most probable answer to Why Can't I Hate You? seems to be "Because he already hates himself enough for both."
- In The Devil Is a Part-Timer!, Emilia Justina the Hero trained all her life to slay the evil, demonic overlord whose invasion destroyed her hometown and killed her father. Thus, when she tracks him down in Shibuya after he fled through a portal to escape her assault on his castle, she is very annoyed to discover him acting like a perfectly law-abiding Nice Guy. It turns out that although he was leading a demon army in a war against humanity, he wasn't doing it out of some kind of genocidal hatred, and has nothing against the humans of this world who are completely uninvolved in his centuries-old conflict. It takes a while for Emilia to come to terms with the fact that her side wasn't all good.
- In Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, quite a few people including Kenichi feel this way about Isshinsai Ogata, one of the members of YAMI. Even though he believes that martial arts should be used to kill like the other members of YAMI, Kenichi and others recognize that Ogata's pure love of martial arts makes him Not So Different from them.
- Magi – Labyrinth of Magic:
- Alibaba feels this way towards Princess Kougyoku because he is being manipulated into marrying her by her family and it would be easier to reject them if she were a despicable person instead of the Wide-Eyed Idealist Spoiled Sweet person she is. It doesn't help that Kougyoku doesn't know of her family's plan and Alibaba is her first real friend.
- Inverted with Aladdin and Sinbad. Aladdin doesn't really understand why, but there is something about Sinbad he believes makes him unworthy of being king.
- Hanamonogatari brings us the case of Suruga and Kaiki when they meet for the first time. Considering both the person Suruga loves most and the person she admires most in the world hold massive personal grudges against him, it would be reasonable enough for her to hate him too. The problem is, she's the daughter of the only person Kaiki ever loved, and he would never think of conning her or her family. To her enormous surprise, he acts friendly toward her, and even treats her to a meal, which knowing him is something he would never do otherwise. Suruga actually thinks this line verbatim in the books.
- Played with in interesting (and non-romantic) ways in The Things They Carried. Tim, a soldier in the Vietnam War, is best friends with The Medic, Rat. Rat gets shot, and transferred out of The Squad. Soon after, Tim himself is shot, and nearly loses his leg because Rat's replacement forgot to treat him for shock. Tim is rather bitter about this. Tim learns that the new medic is actually a nice guy who was simply inexperienced and cracked under the pressure of combat. Tim comments that if he could only bring himself to hate the new medic, he could also forgive him.
- Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming by Roger Zelazny and Robert Sheckley mixes this with an aversion of Evil Is One Big, Happy Family—sloth, wrath, and pettiness are so rampant in the demonic community that the demon protagonist discovers he likes his angelic counterpart more than he likes most of his fellow demons. Until said angel hooks up with his ex-girlfriend and converts her to the side of light, that is . . .
- In Atlas Shrugged, Hank Rearden is completely prepared to hate Francisco D'Anconia for his perceived worthlessness. When they actually have a conversation, Rearden realizes that they share a LOT in common.
- In Airborn, cabin boy Matt loses out on a promotion to newcomer Bruce, who is much less experienced but whose father owns their airship (and plenty of others). After actually meeting him, Matt admits to himself that it would have been easier if Bruce was a spoiled brat - finding out that he's actually a decent guy just makes it worse.
- In Pact, Blake Thorburn finds himself depressed when he can't bring himself to hate Andy, a witch-hunter whose job it is to kill practitioners like him who step out of line, after they spend a little while humanizing themselves for the other's benefit.
- In Harry Potter, Harry seems determined to hate Professor Grubbly-Plank, a substitute teach who is, annoyingly, more competent and beloved than his close friend Hagrid.
- Also from Friends, Monica and the woman who stole her identity. Monica became friends with her.
- In an episode of Bewitched, Darrin is fretting about meeting up with an old acquaintance who's smarter, richer, more successful and pretty much better at everything. Samantha playfully promises to hate him, but Darrin insists that it's impossible to hate him, he's just too nice.
- At the end of a Good Times two-parter, the gang member that shot JJ was let free due to lack of proof he pulled the trigger. As the gangster's mother arrives outside the courtroom, he starts to gloat about getting off. She slaps him, telling him that she hates him and basically disowns him on the spot, even as it's clear it hurts her as much as it does him. Devastated, he spots James and Florida and asks if James wants to hit him too. James begs off. As he leaves, James turns to Flordia asks how he can feel so sorry for the man who shot his son.
- Undertale has Undyne, a high ranking member of the Royal Guard who is tasked to seek and kill any human she comes across to harvest their soul for the king. If you encounter her on the neutral or pacifist path, she has the intent to kill you, but she comes up with excuses that justifies her actions in the hopes that her (made up) views on humans are correct so that she won't feel guilty in killing you. Should you spare Undyne and take up Papyrus' offer in befriending Undyne, you find out that she thinks some humans are actually pretty cool according to her materials (anime) and that you remind her a lot of Asgore, who she got the order from in regards to taking human souls. She eventually decides that hating you is no longer possible and you're actually pretty cool. Should you kill anyone after befriending her, Papyrus calls you to tell you that Undyne not only hates your guts, but she would destroy you if you ever showed up again. If you're on a no mercy run, the encounter with Undyne is more or less the same, but since she sees how much of a cold blooded murderer you are, she states that she used to think humans were cool until you came along and now she has a legitimate reason to hate and kill you.
- During the confrontation with Leo in Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright, his brewing anger from brief earlier encounters boils over, with him ranting at Corrin that he always resented him/her for being Xander's older child and having Camilla spend more time doting on them. After the fight, he cracks and admits it was all a lie; while he was certainly jealous at times, he could never hate Corrin, and was saying those things to try and psyche himself up to kill them - and failed.
- In Squid Row, Randi is surprised to find her non-romantic male friend's new girlfriend is really nice and she likes her.
- In Penny and Aggie, Duane, noticing for the first time the emotional vulnerability of The Fundamentalist Charlotte (who had attempted to frame a fellow student for making a bomb threat, and had slandered a lesbian student as a rapist), thinks to himself, "What is wrong with me, that I can't hate you now?"
- Adventure Time's episode "I Remember You". When the Ice King shows up at Marceline's apartment, she seems frustrated and annoyed. Over the course of the episode it becomes clear that despite herself, she actually cares for him. Its because he used to care for when she was a little girl, before the crown took away his memory and sanity.
- In the South Park episode "All About Mormons," the new kid at school, Gary, is introduced as a perfect student and a child actor, and Mr. Garrison makes it clear he prefers him to the regular students. The boys, instantly hating him, send Stan over to beat him up. Unfortunately, Gary is totally accepting of this (even saying that he "kind of deserves it"), and after a few minutes of just talking, Stan instead winds up invited to his house for dinner. It turns out the whole family is this way; the same thing happens when Stan's father Randy meets Gary's parents.
- American tennis player Andy Roddick on Roger Federer, the man who's denied him multiple slams, most painfully one at Wimbledon 2009: "I've said to him before, 'I'd love to hate you, but you're really nice.'"
- To put this in perspective. Roddick reached 5 Grand slam finals, won 1 and lost the other 4 to Federer. Roddick was world no 1, until Federer came along.