Why Being a Hater Could Be the Key to Friendship

Jillian Knox Finley

I once dumped a guy over Dave Matthews.

It happened in the spring. I innocuously asked him to burn me a CD, Pink Floyd’s The Wall. He returned the next evening with 17 discs in tow. When I asked why there were so many, the following exchange transpired:

“These aren’t Pink Floyd records. They’re Dave Matthews Band,” he said.

“But I don’t like Dave Matthews,” my bruised naïveté replied.

“I think that’s because you haven’t heard enough Dave.”

“No one in the Western world has that problem. Where’s The Wall?”

“I ran out of CDs.”

Standing in the living room of my first apartment, holding 17 pirated discs (we’re talking B-sides, bootlegs, and actual “rarities” he appeared to be proud of having unearthed and even more enthusiastic to share in their clandestine beauty), it only occurred to me to say one thing:

“I think we should break up.”

He was tall, handsome, funny, and kind, yet at 21, an inability to sweep my tacit loathing of Dave Matthews under the rug was a deal breaker. It’s not why the relationship had to go, but it established an exact time of death.

I have since retold this tale to multiple parties. Inevitably, those closest to me have offered the same response: “Good decision.” Each time that reply crosses the threshold of a stranger’s lips, I know we are destined for true companionship. A shared distaste of Dave Matthews is thicker than blood. I’ve yet to be wrong. (No offense, Dave lovers; just let me have this.)

Over the years, I have encountered first-person accounts of said-to-exist individuals who hate one or more of the following, either in tandem or in sum: Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Coldplay, Reese Witherspoon, red lipstick, cilantro, Seinfeld, Taylor Swift, body-con dresses, Salvador Dalí, red roses, and wicker furniture (fair).

I love many of these things. I will never understand anyone’s unmitigated vitriol toward Anne Hathaway. When among DMB fans, I am often met with the same pitying yet jolly laugh the Whos in Whoville reserved for the Grinch’s affable misanthropy. Who can say why we illogically despise certain things?

According to science, we seem to enjoy the bond that occurs in the wake of such shared negativity. Anyone who grew up playing competitive sports will testify: Nothing binds us together like a common enemy. New research has something to say about this very human, very pervasive phenomenon. Keep scrolling for further insight.

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