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Musings on So-Called Tough Love - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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May 6th, 2010

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11:06 pm - Musings on So-Called Tough Love
In the past few months, I've encountered several examples of being using what amounts to "tough love" and I don't buy it at all. From my PoV, the idea that in some situations the best way to help someone is to deny them aid and compassion is at worse a deception and at worst pointless cruelty.

Obviously, everyone has limits in terms of what they can give, and holding to these limits only sensible and wise – giving more than you can comfortably manage – regardless of whether you are giving money, time, emotional support, or whatever, it often a bad idea, and is essentially always a bad idea of done for more than a short time. Recognition of one's own limits is, in my experience, vital in helping anyone. I also occasionally reach a point in dealing with someone where I decide that someone needs more help than I am willing to give and I seriously distance myself from them, sometimes in a long-term fashion.

In any case, what I've mostly seen various versions of "tough love" being used as is as an excuse for the person being asked for help in order to not give too much, except that this is done in a deceptive & cruel fashion. I'm not certain, but I'd guess that one reason is people having difficulty saying no to requests for aid and trying to claim that being denied aid is in some way good for the person seeking it, rather than admitting that the person being asked for it cannot provide it. I am curious if there is ever any other reason for people to use this tactic. From my PoV self-protection is vital, but claiming it is something else is not.
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Current Music: Long December - Counting Crows

(12 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:May 7th, 2010 06:49 am (UTC)

I see properly done “tough love” as something that gives someone a challenge that they need to overcome in order to grow; it might not be what the person wants, but it should not be cruel, and it still requires you be doing something to help. Doing nothing for someone isn’t tough love; you need to be investing some sort of effort that could help them, though they might wish you were offering something else.

For instance, my wife and I have a friend who wasn’t coping well with his attention deficit disorder, and lost his job; we wouldn’t give or lend him money, but were quite happy to give him very basic food supplies (e.g.: sacks of beans and rice) so he wouldn’t go hungry, offer feedback on his résumé, code reviews of projects he was doing to build his skills, etc.

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