I disagree with the thesis: “IPAs seemed interesting to drink because they are challenging and bitter, like forcing a relationship to work that you know is doomed”…
That seems like more of a personal preference or opinion, but your use of “we” and the imperative suggests you’re proposing a larger, blanket truth.
First off, a lot of people just don’t like IPAs. That’s totally cool. Amplified hoppiness isn’t for everyone. But, some people love it (like I do). Then again, some people love hops (like my wife) but hate malty beers like triples or stouts (also like my wife).
Second, there are different kinds of IPAs, as you mention. I personally don’t love IPAs that prominently feature bittering hops (e.g. Smuttynose Finest Kind), but there are delicious floral IPAs (Cigar City Jai Alai) and even earthy ones (Southern Tier Unearthly).
A lot of people (myself included) genuinely enjoy big beers, and their extreme or experimental flavors are a hallmark of the American craft brewery revolution — as opposed to the attritional Belgians.
What I do agree about is your implication that IPAs have become a trendy style of beer. Almost everyone says they like “a good IPA,” because stomaching a hop-bomb is some kind of social proof that you’re a real beer drinker. As you say, “Stop pretending like they’re good because they’re difficult.”
The only problem with that kind of a beer-drinker is that he/she can be annoying… the same person who says he/she “loves IPAs” but “hates ales.” Harmless.