When you think about romance, you probably don’t immediately think of tough love, right? We get it — it’s more often associated with parents being hard on their kids or teachers trying to motivate their students.
That said, tough love is important in any relationship, including romantic ones! Why? It’s part of looking out for your partner’s physical and emotional well-being. Showing love isn’t always done in a gushy or romantic fashion. Sometimes, it’s a little, well…tough. (But that’s not a bad thing!) The point of tough love? To encourage others to take accountability for their actions.
Here are 10 truths about tough love and why it’s beneficial for your romantic relationship:
If your partner shows some tough love, it’s not because they don’t respect you. It’s actually quite the opposite! It means they see the potential that you may not see in yourself. They value your self-worth and are encouraging you to become the best version of yourself.
It’s easy to love someone when you see everything through rose-colored glasses, but what about after that? When the whirlwind honeymoon phase of your relationship is over, the true test begins. You’re going to have disagreements and arguments (it’s normal!), and that’s typically when tough love is introduced. It’s a chance to see how your relationship holds up when things aren’t perfect. Tough love is all about overcoming challenges and growing stronger through adversity.
It’s no secret that communication is one of the key components of any healthy relationship, romantic or not. You need to be able to tell each other when you’re hurt if something is wrong, and that’s where tough love comes into play. Being open about any issues or concerns is one of the best ways to strengthen your bond and increase trust.
Good communication isn’t only open, it’s honest. There are times when tough love leads to uncomfortable conversations, but they’re necessary to ensure both partner’s needs are being met. While honesty from your partner can, at times, be hard to hear, it’s a testament to how much they love you and are willing to sacrifice a little comfort to make the relationship work.
Another essential aspect of healthy relationships is establishing boundaries, which are the standards we set in relation to things like our time, personal space and physical and sexual intimacy. Setting boundaries is often a form of tough love, especially if partners are not on the same about things like sharing personal possessions or the amount of time that you spend together. It might seem harsh to express your needs for boundaries, but it’s necessary to create healthy levels of trust and respect.
This is probably one of the most common reasons for tough love, and it can happen in romantic relationships. Sometimes, one partner will fall into bad habits without realizing the effects it has on themselves or those around them. Having a partner there to provide a reality check prevents destructive behaviors from destroying each other and the relationship.
There are times when certain behaviors negatively impact the people around you, and you’re totally unaware. That’s where a partner steps in to point them out! Doing so is actually an act of tough love, because they’re helping you become more self-aware.
Tough love can easily turn into patronizing, controlling behavior if it’s not coming from the right place. Tough love is about just that — love. It’s meant to help your partner improve or make positive changes in their life. Remember, if a partner is trying to change your behavior based on what they want instead of what’s best for you, it’s not tough love! (And it may be time to rethink the relationship.)
Tough love is not about punishing a partner for doing something wrong or something that you don’t agree with. It’s about holding your partner accountable for their actions in a respectful way. If your partner only does this when they are upset with you, then it’s not a sign of tough love.
Tough love is about recognizing faults, overcoming them as a couple, and growing stronger together through honest communication. Sure, it’s always easier to let things slide, but all it does is cause issues in your relationship. If you use tough love the right way, you’ll be able to confront challenges head on so the both of you can improve as individuals and partners.
Tough love can be difficult to dish and even more difficult to take, but it’s important to remember that at the end of the day, tough love is a form of love — so embrace it!