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Disbursing Tough Love
Tough love is an expression used when someone treats another person harshly or sternly with the intent to help them in the long run. In most cases, there must be some actual love or feeling of affection behind the harsh or stern treatment to be defined as tough love.
A few days ago, I had to give tough love to one of my dearest friends. I cried for two days after because I felt rotten, as if I had pierced that person in the back with a sharp knife. You see, that person is the nicest, kindest and sweetest friend to have. That person was ‘there’ for me when I hit rock bottom with some discoveries in my personal life a year ago. I love this person very much and that is why I had to do what I did.
What did I do?
My friend is a very smart, intelligent and talented person who has been unhappy with how things are presently, and now has the opportunity to chart a better course in life. My friend was doing well at first despite several challenges. Then the enthusiasm disappeared, and was replaced by what seemed to be complacency. I tried to find out what was happening, but encountered reluctance to discuss and sometimes withdrawal. I feared that my friend was either going to quit or fail, and so I had to do something. I sat and wrote a very long, harsh letter. Sometimes true love must be tough love and that means tough to deliver as well as tough to receive. I wrote the letter without reading it over, for the fear of changing my mind and I sent it via email. When I hit the ‘send’ button, my breath caught in my throat and I asked myself , “what have you done?”
Of course, it was not received well, as I was accused of being ‘insensitive’ as the email was sent early on a Monday morning. The question was asked” how would you feel if I did that to you?’ I would feel angry and hurt. I would be upset at first, but in retrospect, I would be happy to know that someone cared enough for my well-being.
My friend may never speak to me again – I will regret that - but I will never regret what I did or how I did it. I knew the risks, but I took the chance none-the-less, as I could not sit and allow my friend to ‘self destruct’. What I did was with the best intentions. I do hope that it will be seen in that light and be a source of motivation. I hope that my friend will forgive me.
Parents too, sometimes have to disburse tough love to their children in order to empower or help them to find themselves and become responsible adults.
Have you ever been in a situation where you've either given or received tough love — or maybe should have but didn't?
“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being
of a person is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared
to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.