This Is Why The Toughest Girls Don’t Need Any More ‘Tough Love’

Girl in black hat, dark red lipstick, looking seductively or knowingly back at the camera
Sophia Sinclair

The toughest girls are used to giving out tough love. They know how to read a scenario. They know all the warning signs. And they’re not afraid to tell it like it is. They will have zero qualms when it comes to looking you in eye and telling you you’re getting played. When you’re making a bad decision. The toughest girls will delete a number off of your phone for you, and not be phased a bit when you get emotional afterwards. The toughest girls are ruthless.

But the toughest girls sometimes think that they are the exception. Like they are too smart to get hurt. Like they are immune to the things that completely crush “naïve” girls. Picture that girl on Grey’s Anatomy who made everyone keep punching her in the stomach because she thought she was a superhero but was really just bleeding internally (aka not good); like her the toughest girls will sometimes make bad decisions on purpose. Just to prove that they are tough enough to handle it. The toughest girls think their own tough love is enough to get them through anything. And it’s not.

Because tough is a facade. Tough is a persona that a girl who was once more optimistic puts on after becoming intimately acquainted with disappointment.

Tough is that temporary anesthesia that comes when something that hurt like hell suddenly, and finally, doesn’t hurt anymore. Tough is the sigh of relief “I made it through”, but also a callus that forms leaving a girl a little desensitized to everything.

So when the toughest girl gets a taste of that high they call happiness again she’ll be willing to take risks that she’d normally advise her friends against. She’ll get close to the wrong people because it feels good, because she hasn’t felt anything in awhile. She’ll tell them to punch her in the stomach. Repeatedly. Because she’s smart enough. Because she can handle it. Because she’s numb inside. Because she can’t get hurt.

That is the toughest girl’s downfall. Her fatal flaw. There is a specific word for this (and tough girls love specifics). Hamartia. You see, the toughest girls forget about feelings. How they seem to sneak up on you at the least convenient of times, like when you’ve purposely decided not to have any. Feelings for a tough girl is the equivalent of getting your period on a really hot date where sex was definitely on the agenda; a pretty huge fucking inconvenience.

A tough girl will blame herself for her own unhappiness. “It’s fine” and “I knew better” will be her go to phrases. But the toughest girl will be surprised to discover that her logic doesn’t have jurisdiction over her feelings. That “knowing better” doesn’t mean she can just decide not to get hurt. The fact that she “knew” the stove was hot when she laid her bare hand on top doesn’t save her from getting burned.

The toughest girl will struggle with the pain. Because she’ll try to avoid it. Because everything that is rational inside of her will tell her it’s not worth being upset over. That she just needs to get over it. That she just needs to move on. Right now. She will snap her fingers over and over again trying to make it happen instantly, and will be crushed by her own failure. Because the toughest girl is her own worst critic.

Tough love is not going to cut it here; it’s actually going to make things worse. So a tough girl needs to learn how to be soft again. To look her feelings in the eye and be honest with them, with the same level of openness she has with her friends. Even if she thinks her feelings are best compared to mushy greenish-brown baby food, she needs their nutrients to grow. It is only by acknowledging these feelings that she will find her strength. That’s how she becomes the strongest girl. 

The strongest girl knows how to be vulnerable. The strongest girl will not play games just to prove she can win. If, and when, the strongest girl gets hurt, because she knows it’s an inevitable part of life, she won’t pretend like nothing happened.

Let’s say the strongest girl gets metaphorically run over by a car. She will not throw rocks at the driver, or ask them to put the car into reverse for a second pass. The strongest girl will not lie in the street waiting to die either. She will get up, dust herself off, assess the damage, and say, “That fucking hurt, please don’t do it again”. Because a strong girl knows there is no shame in being the one to get hurt. That even if it was intentional, the worst case scenario when she is honest with whoever hurt her is that she gets an apology, they run away, or both. 

And the strongest girl will be fine standing there on her own two feet. Because the strongest girl has taught herself to heal. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Chicago-based writer.

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