“My family believes in tough love…” I cringe when I hear women say this, and I hear it a lot. It’s difficult to hear, because often what follows is a woman’s story of her family’s actions that sound more “tough” than “love.” What her family considers tough love was neither patient, nor kind. Tough love seems to always sound dishonoring, proud and angry.
Tough love does exist, like when you take a kid to get shots to protect them from diseases. Inserting metal into the arm of your child isn’t kind unless it’s protecting them from a greater evil, like diseases. So, you take them to get painful shots. You take them because you love them. The shots are a way that you try to protect them, even if they don’t understand. You sacrifice their comfort for their own good. This type of tough love is not easy for the child, but it’s done out of the goodness of the heart of the parent and is in the best interest of the child.
Sadly, the tough love I hear about is rarely about someone sacrificing for a woman when she was young and vulnerable. More often than not, it is self-serving and abusive.
When women start talking about their sexual activity, there seems to be a common pattern for those who were raised with “tough love.” They start looking for that same type of connection with men that they had with their family. They look for both intimacy and pain. This affects every aspect of their relationship – mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. For instance, women might comment that they prefer sex with men who were high or drunk, slightly violent and somewhat disconnected. Familiar love is painful love.
One of the reasons that Care Net exists is to help women gain a better perspective of love, giving them the ability to clearly define love and know what healthy relationships look like. Problematically, it’s not easy to start to choose healthier relationships, even if you know what to look for. The journey for women to begin to seek partners who love them appropriately is not easy. Women sometimes can’t figure out why they always seem to end up with the wrong guy. It’s not like they’re looking for the wrong guy, but somehow they find themselves in another abusive situation, with a little less hope of finding someone that cares for them and loves their kids well.
If you’re currently in this journey of learning how to connect and be intimate with the right people, feel free to contact us. It would be our joy to walk this journey with you.
Author, Ginny Stone | Center Director, Care Net Pregnancy Center Detroit