Tender love and care vs. telling the harsh truth

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Kevin Mangelschots

Tender love and care is something we all need from time to time.

I think that the large majority of us can agree that life is harsh enough already, and that people are all too often too selfish and rough to others instead of being kind and generous.

Nevertheless, sometimes, tender loving care simply isn’t enough. At times, kind, well-meaning words aren’t sufficient to get people to understand what we’re saying. Occasionally, it simply doesn’t get the point across.

Let me explain when the harsh reality and blunt, truth is necessary in order to make people understand what’s up.

Why should you tell the harsh truth: When tender love and care just isn't enough

Image of someone holding their hands in front of their face with the word 'truth' written on the back of their hands.

There are a bunch of reasons why you should tell the truth straightforward and without sugarcoating it instead of trying to do so with charitable words. These are the most fundamental rational motives I found to be true.

To get them to understand

When we try our best not to hurt the folks we’re interacting with, then it can be difficult to get our point across. We might be overly nice, and formulate our words too carefully in such a manner that can be misinterpreted.

People like to hear what they want to believe. Thus, they’re likely to fall victim to conformation bias. Conformation bias means only searching out information that validates their preexisting beliefs, while simultaneously disregarding all information that says otherwise.

When we know that most people suffer from this particular bias to some degree, then it’s not unreasonable to believe that some people will change people’s words in order to fit their personal notion. And the blunt, straightforward truth is much harder to bend out of shape than kind, very carefully formatted words are.

To root them back in reality

Sometimes, the harsh truth is required in order to root someone back in reality. Penetrating delusions and irrationality are seldom accomplished by just kind words.

Some people are so out of touch with reality, and so deluded that they just aren’t willing to hear the truth. And trying to sweeten your words will simply make it easier to use your word and twist them into something that suits their own ideas and beliefs.

In such cases, being straightforward and honest are in my opinion the much preferred way to communicate.

The people who care the most about you will tell you the whole truth
 Man holding a heart that glows.

The thing is, when we’re too careful with our wording because we’re scared to hurt those around us, is when the truth becomes subjective, or when we don’t tell the whole truth. That’s when we typically prefer blurring out some less attractive, and perhaps painful details.

But people who truly care about us, and who respect us, will tell things exactly like they are. Not to hurt you, but to make you understand precisely what’s happening, what’s going on, or what needs to change in order for you to improve your life.

Think about it for a second. We want the best for those close to us since we love and care for them. This means that it’s in your, and their best interest to tell the entire truth instead of a sweet little lie. You also don’t want to risk the truth being twisted or misunderstood when trying to be too cautious and kind with the wording.

The people who care the most about you will be straightforward

The people we know best are typically the individuals who we feel comfortable being straightforward with. We don’t want our words to be misunderstood, and we actually want the best for them, since we care about them.

The truth often hurts. And sometimes that involves having to hear things that we rather wouldn’t hear. Yet, the truth is objective, and it doesn’t change simply because we don’t like what we’re hearing.

We learn the most from the harsh truth

Image the word 'truth' written on a white background with a magnifying exposing the lies.

We learn the most from our mistakes, failures, and from the harsh truth. Why? Because they all got something in common. The common denominator is that they’re all hurtful to a certain degree. And inhibiting and/or preventing pain are some of the best incentives one can have to learn new things.

Thus, if we know that we learn the most from the straightforward truth, then we must establish some things to be capable of telling, AND receiving the truth.

We must be courageous and unequivocal enough to tell it like it is. To receive it, we must be open-minded and humble enough to admit that we could be wrong, or that we have an incomplete picture of the truth. Furthermore, we must learn not to take everything so personally, or else the truth will break us totally instead of being a tool to learn new abilities.

You can’t always sugarcoat the truth

Sugarcoating the truth is difficult. Because the truth is the truth. It’s not subjective. Rather, it’s an objective fact that’s based upon proof and rooted in empirical evidence.

There’s also the point that it’s hard, if not impossible to sugarcoat telling something that’s considered harsh, hurtful, and what they’re consequently unwilling to hear. If the truth doesn’t align with what we want to perceive, then all the sugarcoating in the world doesn’t change that.

However, if we sugarcoat things too much, then the truth becomes subjective. And eventually, the message will be lost. They will probably appreciate you and your content more when that happens since they can just change the story to fit their narrative.

But this is not a positive thing, since the point of the truth is to make them improve their lives for the better instead of allowing them to continue living in a fairy tale. That might be fun for a while. But eventually, that bubble will burst. It’s simply a matter of time.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Tender love care meaning

Tender love and care can be described as special attention to the needs and desires of others to make someone or something else feel, and/or look better.

It means you’re caring, compassionate, empathic, loving, considerate and protective of the other party.

How do you give tender loving care?

Love and kisses with a symbolic drawing of a heart with three crosses drawn in chalk on a red background with copy space for your Valentine greeting.

Being tender, loving, and caring isn’t just important in a romantic and sexual relationship, it can be utilized in every aspect of a relationship. It can range from planning a holiday together, to going out jointly.

Be respectful

Be respectful, and carry yourself with dignity. Far too often do people act angrily, vengefully, and/or jealous out of spite of others, or because they’re unhappy with themselves.

Needless to say, this isn’t beneficial for the other party, nor for ourselves. We will attract what we think and act out. And being bad to others, will only invoke similar feelings from others.

Be kind

Always be kind to others. A smile doesn’t cost anything. You would be surprised how many people’s day you could make with a simple smile or any other kind gesture, no matter how small it might seem.

Kindness is not the same as weakness, either. As being kind is a sign of strength, since it’s much easier to be rude and ill-mannered rather than practicing restraint and friendliness, particularly when others are unfriendly to us, or when we’re not feeling like it.

Be attentive

Image of a man holding his hand near his ear and listening carefully, isolated on a gray wall background.

Everyone likes attention. Just listening to others makes them feel important, and will make them like you. That’s why you should make sure to practice active listening skills to make sure you’re truly concentrating on what they’re saying.

Even more, you would be amazed what kind of things people tell you when you truly listen to them. Chances are large, they will tell you precisely what they want and like. That is, if you’re paying attention and listening attentively enough to pick up on it.

Communication

Communicate respectfully, honestly, all the while remaining straightforward without the intention to deceive others or for your own personal gain.

Many great relationships have faltered when communication started going in a downwards spiral. That’s why you should make it a point to keep talking with one another, and to work out any small annoyances you might have with each other to prevent them from becoming big hurdles in the future.

Support them

Support them in whatever endeavors they’re currently undertaking. Whether it’s trying to lose weight, getting a degree, or trying to eat more healthily.

No matter what it is they’re trying to accomplish, everyone likes to be, and feel supported. It’s true that some people are extremely self-reliant and self-sufficient. And even they do need assistance from time to time.

Why people prefer tender love and care over the harsh truth

Illustration showing one row of people waiting in line for the “comforting lies”, while nobody is waiting in line for “unpleasant truth”.

It’s easier to process

People prefer telling things with tender love and care over the straightforward truth, since it’s a lot easier to tell something kindly than it is telling the whole, sometimes uncomfortable truth.

With regard to the receiving end, it’s easier and more enjoyable to hear things that aren’t painful to us, and that line up with our vision, compared to hearing things that we don’t actually want to perceive. That’s because people only hear what they want to hear.

It’s less painful

The complete truth often involves being straightforward, blunt, honest, which regularly hurts other people’s feelings.

Yet, pain and struggle typically leads to growth. That’s something to keep in mind instead of looking negatively at hardships.

You could say that we prefer telling things kindly out of kindness, and sometimes it is. But, sometimes it’s for more selfish reasons. It’s also the case that most people are egotistical. And thus, they prevent telling the harsh truth, or the complete truth, in order to have less hassle with the person in question.

Since we know that a lot of what we do in life is governed by the fact that we’re trying to avoid and eliminate pain, it’s not that hard to understand that we rather hear what we want to perceive. It’s much more emotionally painful when folks tell us stuff we don’t want to hear or even understand.

And then we have the straight-up evil people who intentionally withhold the truth in other to gaslight others, or to deliberately put others on the wrong foot. These are the people you should avoid, and cut out of your life as quickly as possible since they provide no real value, and are looking to ruin your life.

Conclusion

Image of the word, “conclusions” written on a black backboard with white chalk.

Tender love and care is important, as love and being taken care of are important to grow as respectful, helpful, and cooperative members of society.

But there must always be room for telling the straightforward, sometimes harsh truth. Not to intentionally hurt or belittle others, but to make them understand, and to help them improve themselves. It should be used as a tool for good, not as an excuse to perform evil acts.

Like is the case with most things in life, a balance should be struck for maximum effectiveness. There are times when tender caring is enough and beneficial, and there will be times when a more direct, down to earth approach is required to achieve our goals.

Which strategy we deploy depends on whether it’s to make them understand, to simply support them, or to ground them in reality. But no matter what, the goal should be to teach, and to improve lives instead of purposefully harming others’ feelings.