Let’s Stop Calling It “Tough Love”

It’s Time to Get Real

You care. And, of course, you’ve done your best. You’ve been understanding and kind. You’ve loaned advice and offered help. But none of it has worked. So now, all that’s left, is to play your trump card…,

tough love.

Whoa there, sport! Before you get all self-righteous, draw your line in the sand, and launch the “good” fight, maybe take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself a few tough questions.

Did you do your best, or only what was expedient? Was it understanding and kindness on offer or perhaps just enabling? Was it advice and help on loan, or simply lip service?

And please, tell me there was no shaming.

Tough Love Vs. Real Love

Tough love isn’t love at all. It’s a cop-out for those unwilling to invest the emotional labor required for real love. “Getting tough” means turning off your capacity for loving and caring in order to get results you think are best.

Sure, you’re earnest in your desire to assist, but you’re not invested. You may be empathetic, but empathy is not enough. If you truly love someone in distress, you must be compassionate. And you must commit.

Real love requires that you have enough self-awareness to recognize when you’re out of your depth. Are you sure you know what’s best? Are you the best choice as advisor or therapist? Or is it time for an objective and qualified opinion or intervention?

Let’s Get Real

Real love is never stingy or tough. Real love is always generous and vulnerable. Real love is never selfish or self-serving, it’s selfless and of service. It’s time to get real about what “tough love” is and is not.

About the Author

Scott Perry is a vintage blues guitarist, teacher, and author of The Stoic Creative Handbook. Learn more about Scott’s work and delivering work that matters to those that need it in his free report: How Creatives Flip Fear & Flourish.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


Are You Rocking Your Ikigai?

by Viv Thackray

New Questions About True Love Spell

by Daren sammy

sHeroes: How Lindsey Dinneen created the Mindset Detox Challenge which helps people to detox their minds while powering up their bodies

by Alexandra Spirer

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.