The Tough Girl


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From:The Wounded Heart

The Tough Girl

The Tough Girl is the classic take-charge, task-oriented, no-nonsense ramrod, whose heart may be as good as gold but is usually just as hard. The hardness is often the result of being controlled by other-centered contempt. If the Good Girl could be called a woman who does not live inside herself, then the Tough Girl is a woman who lives behind thick, impenetrable walls.

Internal Dynamics

Internally, the Tough Girl is above her own feelings, suspicious of others' motives, and arrogant and angry in her evaluations of others. She views human need as childish and unnecessary. It would be unusual for a Tough Girl to hold a crying child for any length of time. A more standard response would be to permit tears for a moment and then get the child busy in another activity. Or another standard option would be to shame the weak child to toughen up his or her exterior: "You are just a crybaby, so if you continue crying, I'll just have to get a diaper for you."

A Tough Girl views her longings as sentimental, sloppy, and weak:they are a defect that must be eradicated. It is not that human hunger is entirely denigrated, because a Tough Girl is often able to justify her response toward others as a demonstration of realistic concern.  She sees herself as an able mother, desires her children's respect, wants her husband to be more involved, and is sensitive when she is snubbed. At her core, however, her hunger for involvement is severely undermined by her refusal to be dependent on anyone. She views her longings as a sign of weakness whenever she cannot resolve her heartaches on her own. Whoever manages to provoke her intense hunger for rich relationship is to be scorned or avoided. Emotions are to be conquered and controlled so that no one can cause her pain again.

All this makes the Tough Girl suspicious and critical. She perceives others' movement toward her as their attempt to dominate; therefore; therefore, she spurns kindness and human warmth as not only unnecessary , but dangerous. She  views compliments as a "buttering up before the kill,"or a prelude to being used.

With such an internal disposition, the Tough Girl is often accurate about motivational issues.  Her refined sense of perception often can spot a phony miles away. Suspicious perception, however though often accurate, is also a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Family members and friends will sense her defensive and hostile attitude, and over time their fear of judgment or attack will make them standoffish and critical in return. Their defensive and hostile behavior is then interpreted by the Tough Girl as proof of her suspicions.

The Tough Girl's suspicious mood is further expressed in opinionated arrogance, which is really a cover for her pervasive anger. Tough Girls know how to run their families, invest their money, run the youth group, rectify the wrongs in city government, plan the Fourth of July parade, cure hives,and take an average chicken and turn it into a gourmet meal. Tough Girls don't usually ask questions unless the question is a pretext to deliver their own opinion. One Tough Girl recently asked me what I thought about the increased interest in the topic of sexual abuse. Before I had the chance to open my mouth, she heralded her thoughts and was off on another topic. She was offended when I brought the discussion back to the original question.

Arrogance shows itself beyond know-it-all-ism and a lack of interest in the thoughts and experiences of others. It is also manifested in a desire to control, or have a preeminent say in the activities of other people. The assumption seems to be "I know best." A Tough Girl who visited our new home and saw some of our recently acuired furnishings said, "It's a nice house, but ..." and proceeded to offer her suggestions regarding color scheme, decor, and needed furniture. My wife and I felt demoralized and furious  If we had wanted an interior designer, we would have paid for one, but we didn't comment because a Tough Girl has the potential either to erupt in anger or nurture a grudge for a long time.

The Tough Girl's internal hardness, suspiciousness, superiority, and criticalness may not be as obvious as one might assume. Of course, some Tough Girls advertise their disdain for emotion, their suspiciousness of those unlike them and their preeminent superiority in all affairs. Others, however, are more subtle, softening their contempt behind a more socially acceptable and restrained demeanor.

External Dynamic

Some external realities will almost always be part of the Tough Girl's style of relating. First, there will be an edge or wall that keeps people from drawing close. The edge may be nothing more than a haughty glare. I know on pastor's wife who has perfected the disdainful look. Her eyes look straight through you with a mild sneer. Needless to say, few in the congregation willingly oppose any of her plans. The edge might also take the form of a biting, sarcastic wit, or a busy, "please don't disturb me" air, In any case, the edge functions to assure both intimidation and distance.

Second, the Tough Girl is and will be in charge. She is a good researcher and organizer. She knows where the best deals are, who is a reputable gynecologist, and who in the neighborhood is likely to have an affair. There is nothing wrong or unusual in being competent and confident in one's area of expertise, or for that matter in a number of fields, The clincher is what happens when a Tough Girl loses control, makes a mistake, or is challenged on one of her pet opinions, a battle usually ensues. While the Good Girl is committed to not ruffling the feathers, the Tough Girl would rather eat the bird than be found wrong. A Tough Girl may not "enjoy" fights but she is willing to go toe to toe in heated combat for the sake of (I'm right and you're wrong)  values.

Finally the Tough Girl is emotionally impenetrable. A Good Girl will handle a compliment by depreciating her ability or motive or by insisting that the Lord, not her deserves the full honor. A Tough Girl will often appear to receive a compliment or a thank you, but she will not be touched  by the giver's kindness. Like the tennis ball hit against a wall, the kindness always returns, close to the same level of force, but without the intention of further interaction. Both giver and receiver are left feeling cold and lonely. The Tough Girl's relational wall withstands the force of the ball and sends it back, but she indicates no desire to give in return.

The people in the Tough Girl's domain react to her hostile edge, control, and impenetrability by keeping their distance. Often they respect the accomplishments or boldness of her will, but they do not enjoy her presence or essence. The Tough Girl makes a great surgeon, trial lawyer, or prime minister, but not a desirable friend, spouse, or parent. The Tough Girl is appreciated for her perseverance, ingenuity, and hard work, feared because of her critical eye and contemptuous power. The honest Tough Girl is a lonely woman.


Web master's Note:My wife was a Tough Girl and fits Dr. Allender's profile perfectly.





























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