There has been a circulating theory in the modern society: Love hurts. Majority of people; you may be one of them, have associated love with pain, even concluding that love cannot exists in the absence of pain. In other words, they are saying there can never be love minus pain.
Why do people believe that love hurts? It is because they have endured and internalized pain to an extent where they have lost the meaning and value of genuine love. Studies show that repetition is a powerful method of indoctrinating ideas in a person’s mind. This is not only limited to commercials alone. For example, former President Jacob Zuma suffered backlash from the public as he was being accused of being a corrupt and self-serving leader. If you paid attention, it was the repetitive negative messages about Zuma’s presidency that circulated on media platforms that had many believe that he was indeed corrupt even without tangible evidence to prove this.
Therefore, love is pain or love hurts are nothing but false statements rooted in the hidden and repeated experiences of pain. Love doesn’t hurt; it is people, after running out of love who hurt each other. Love and hurt or pain cannot dwell together – they are water and oil. Do you know that there are victims of rape who no longer see the value of sex and don’t bother reporting their incidents of rape to the police? Some, after getting married later in life may even refuse to sleep with their spouse while some remain single, believing that all men are rapists, sexual predators and sexual monsters/perverts.
Why have they reached this stage? because the repetitive experiences of rape and sexual abuse has caused them to believe that sex and rape are the same; and therefore, sex is nothing but an empty and meaningless adventure. They have deceived themselves. Likewise, people who were raised in an extremely abusive environment harbor the belief that to be loved means to be inflicted pain upon.
There is a difference between soft love and tough love. Anyone who fails to differentiate these two concepts will always confuse love for pain. Tough love involves direct and truthful rebuke and confrontation using harmless anger whose intention is to correct, build and encourage. Note the main keyword: harmless anger. Tough love propels one to realize their faults and immediately or later encourages them to change their behavior or character.
Example of tough love: an irresponsible, disrespectful and spoiled son impregnates two girls at the same time while he’s staying with his rich parents. Out of tough love, the father decides to kick him out of his house, gets him a job and invites the girls he impregnated to stay with him. Some may say the father is being cruel to the son; why didn’t he give his son some of his millions and a free house to stay with his girls? Well, if he takes this route, the son isn’t going to learn anything or change his behavior. It will be as good as spoiling him again. You can see that the father wants to teach his son a lesson: a lesson of responsibility, accountability and independence.
If he didn’t love his son or if he wanted to hurt him and cause him pain, he would have kicked him out of the house without getting him a job. Perhaps, the job will teach him to work hard and take care of the girls he impregnated and even save some money to support his unborn kids.
I see women who believe that being beaten by their husbands is an expression of love. Give me a break; where there is love there is no pain or abuse. Believing that being beaten is love is like drinking tea with salt and sugar – what are you trying to do? Love doesn’t hurt but a person can express tough love through harmless anger. Harmless anger is not wrapped in hate and malice, otherwise the intention of tough love would be futile. It is only malice, hate, anger and harmful anger that can cause a person to inflict pain or hurt on another, and this shouldn’t be deemed as love.
Both love and hate are expressed in words and actions. Words of negativity, hate and shame do not qualify as love. In fact, that is called verbal abuse. When someone says to you, “You are nothing, You are pathetic, You disgust me, There’s nothing good about you, You don’t deserve to live,” – don’t think such a person loves you. Such a person is reducing you to a worthless object and this doesn’t qualify as either soft or tough love. Tough love doesn’t sugar coat the situation; it reveals the truth without fear or favor but the outcome is always good.
Tough love says, “What you did is not right, you disappointed me, you hurt me deeply by your actions and words. However, I still believe you have to ability to change your behavior, correct your faults and do the right thing. Before you know it, the person who wronged you will be quick to realize their mistake, apologize and promise to change. Note that no negative judgement was said but truth was uttered.