There comes a time in our sad little lives when we have to come to terms with the fact that the fairy tales told us lies and real life relationships are less about slaying evil witches, saving the damsel in distress (more likely to be a dude these days anyway) and eventually getting that elusive happily ever after. Even the best relationships have their ups and downs. Spending a huge chunk of your time with anybody isn’t easy. While it’ll allow you to see the best of a person’s character, it’ll also inevitably give you some insight into your partner’s flaws, insecurities and generally less favorable attributes, some of which no doubt will irritate the hell out of you. Naturally, if we let such irritations build up things are likely to get out of hand and lead to tensions, arguments and maybe in a worst case scenario DIVORCE! Jokes aside, it would be advisable to address any concerns you have about your other half before things escalate to such a level. But how does tackle difficult issues in a relationship tactfully without causing offence? Today Rinsers , we’ll be talking about Tough ‘Love’.
As much as some of us would like to believe (read: kid ourselves) we are not perfect. Sure, we may be lovable (possibly only in the eyes of our partners) but everyone has things they can work on. Maybe it’s that you are carrying a little bit of extra puppy fat, perhaps you are a burning yourself out by being a people-pleaser who doesn’t have the ability to say no or maybe your significant other has noticed you look for answers to your problems at the bottom of a vodka bottle. For some, these kind of issues could be potential deal breakers that send them running for the hills and for others they could just be minor problems that if addressed properly will be nothing more than a bump in the road.
When you are involved in a meaningful relationship there are tough (ish) times when you need to stand by your significant other and help them work through something, rather than giving up at the first sign of trouble. However, sometimes in order to help someone you care about you may also need to be willing unpopular and play the bad cop. This isn’t always easy though. Sometimes the truth hurts and the fear of a backlash from your special someone can make you shy away from telling them the truth. Thinking about the repercussions is scary as you might offend them and do irreversible damage to your relationship. On the other hand, you can stay quiet let your other half spiral out of control and suffer in silence as you watch these issues cause cracks in your relationship. It looks like it is pretty much a lose-lose situation.
Well, it doesn’t have to be. As long as you are just a little bit empathetic you should be able to express your concerns to your significant other in a suitably tactful manner. Start by asking yourself why you feel the issue is a problem and the extent to which rectifying it will improve your relationship. There is a distinct difference between someone who is concerned about their partner’s sudden weight gain and the impact this is having on their self esteem and a nasty bully who tries to bring a person down by telling them they are morbidly obese.
Dishing out tough love isn’t simply a case of being as bitchy and horrible as possible in the hopes that your nastiness will inspire a person to change. Of course, sometimes you just need to say it as it is but there is also a need to be constructive and offer practical assistance. For example, telling your unemployed bum of a boyfriend that he’ll never amount to much due to his lack of education isn’t really going to help matters but is likely to simply become more depressed about his situation. Instead perhaps encourage him to think outside the box when it comes to careers and help re-write his CV. That way you are still showing him that you aren’t happy with the situation but also that you are willing to help solve the problem – as should be the case in any healthy partnership.
At the end of the day, if your actions and advise come from a good place the hopefully one day once the issue is a thing of the past, your partner will realise that you had their best interests at heart. If on the hand, you are nothing more than a school yard bully that failed to grow up and find joy in manipulating other people’s weaknesses in order to make your self feel like a BIG MAN then perhaps it’s best not to be in any sort of human relationship and instead do a bit of self-reflection (that or seek professional help) and deal with your own problems instead of offering to help others under the disguise of tough ‘love’,
Rinsers, now your turn. Have you ever used tough love to get your significant other to sort out their life? Were you successful? Or have you had someone use this approach on you – did it work or were they nothing more than a big fat bully? Share your stories in the comments below.