tough love

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tough love (uncountable)

  1. (idiomatic) The compassionate use of stringent disciplinary measures, to attempt to improve someone's behavior.
    • 1995 April 12, Jane E. Brody, "Personal Health: Intervening with someone who drinks too much," New York Times (retrieved 6 April 2015):
      [H]e found himself surrounded by a circle of caring friends and relatives who told him one by one that they loved him but could not continue to live with him or be his friend the way he was. As one of his closest friends recalled, it was a show of tough love.
    • 2002 Aug. 19, Tim Padgett and Andrew Downie, "Bush's Lost Continent," Time (retrieved 6 April 2015):
      [W]hen it came to Latin America's economic travails, Bush adhered to the principle of tough love: no more bailouts.