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Example: "It's not that I hate you, but rather that you're just a __________ person." I'm looking for a word that means 'hard to love' when referring to unconditional love for a family member.

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  • Perhaps undesirable or unlovable.
    – Vlammuh
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 21:30
  • I need a specific type of word without "un"in front of it Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 21:41
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    A word of that type without un- or in- will probably come with a negative connotation. Here are a few other ideas though: repellent or loathsome.
    – Vlammuh
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 21:43
  • I think the problem is that there are lots of characteristics that a person could have that would make them hard to love (difficult, obnoxious, repugnant, quarrelsome, "an asshole of a", etc.), but to skip that level of indirection and simply use a word that means exactly "hard-to-love" AND without using an un- word is going to be difficult.
    – Jim
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 23:09
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    Do you have to have "person"? You couldn't just say "you're just hard to love"?
    – ewormuth
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 23:23

5 Answers 5

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difficult can be used as a diplomatic phrase for someone who is unpleasant to socialise or associate with.

eg.

I'm not looking forward to working with Pete, let's just say he's a bit... difficult.

It's not that I hate you, but rather that you're a bit difficult.

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I think it depends on the context of what makes the person difficult to love. A lot of times these difficulties can be associated with an imbalance between our expectations of how a person should behave and their actual behavior. Some examples of how a person's behavior might not fit our expectations and some words to describe them may be:

Doing too much: smothering, irritating, distracting, annoying, invading, unrelenting, pervasive, intruding, pushy

Doing too little: distant, unresponsive, reclusive, cold, uncaring, guarded, shut off, selfish, self-centered, unreachable

Doing the wrong things: mean, violent, hurtful, dangerous, frightening, mean, impolite, a disaster waiting to happen, criminal, rebellious

Doing things inconsistently: unreliable, untrustworthy, erratic, crazy, inexplicable, manic

There is certainly some overlap between these groups and surely there are many more reasons. Life usually doesn't fit so neatly into categories such as these. I just find it easier to brainstorm broad topics this way.

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Some ideas:

  • you're a prickly person

  • you're high maintenance

  • you're a bit of a cold fish

  • you keep people at arm's length

  • you're lacking in warmth

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I have just the word for you, including full rights of use for a very low price--the price being that you'll have to define the word for each person hearing or reading it the first time. That word is

dysstorgic

I formed this word myself from the meaning you expressed. It comes from Greek, and would be considered fully annointed in any respectable peer-reviewed journal. The roots are 'dys-', in the sense of 'hard to' (see Word Quest: "Greek: bad, harsh, wrong; ill; hard to, difficult at; slow of; disordered; impaired, defective; used primarily as a prefix") and an adjectival form, 'storgic', deriving from 'storge'.

See 'storge' in The Free Dictionary: "Stor´ge n. 1. Parental affection; the instinctive affection which animals have for their young."

The Wikipedia entry titled "Greek words for love" provides a fairly thorough expansion of more nuanced usage of the term (bold emphasis mine):

Storge (στοργή storgē) means "love, affection" and "especially of parents and children" (from στοργή, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, from Perseus). It's the common or natural empathy, like that felt by parents for offspring (Strong B, Yarber WL, Sayad BW, Devault C, 2008: Human sexuality: diversity in contemporary America, 6th ed., McGraw-Hill, p. 228). Rarely used in ancient works, and then almost exclusively as a descriptor of relationships within the family. It is also known to express mere acceptance or putting up with situations, as in "loving" the tyrant.

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  • Part of the point of words is that people generally know what they mean, or they can at least look it up. How would someone ever know the meaning of this word unless they managed to find your answer here about it?
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 8:23
  • Well, if you know Greek, you know right away; or you can look it up using the prefix and root word. I have to look up a lot of words, and not infrequently because the only way I know them is inaccurate or incorrect due to my having taken their meaning from the context while reading. Part of the beauty of English is that you get to make words up when you need them. That's one reason I mentioned the peer-reviewed journals: 'dysstorgic' is exactly such a word as one might encounter in peer-reviewed journals, and the readers of those struggle along somehow.
    – JEL
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 8:28
  • Even if that's true, which I don't personally agree with, does the sample text in any way look like it would be in a peer-reviewed journal? It looks like dialogue from a script or in a book to me... "It's not that I hate you, but rather that you're just a dysstorgic person." Answers should fit the question in more than just definition.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 8:32
  • Which part don't you agree with? The truth is that 'dysstorgic' is well-formed, in conformance with the conventions and standards of word formation.
    – JEL
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 8:33
  • I don't agree that "you get to make up words when you need them". I don't think it's true that you can pull words out of your butt and expect people to accept that.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 8:38
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loathe

feel intense dislike or disgust for: she loathed him on sight.

Source: Oxford Dictionary of English, third edition (2010)

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    I added a source note (and link) to a dictionary where the definition you quote appears. At EL&U, citations to authority are taken very seriously, which may account for the downvotes your answer received initially.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 3:19

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