Friends who give tough love just want what's best for you.
A new study at the University of Plymouth found that people who insult their friends aren't necessarily mean-spirited - some just want the insultees to benefit in the long run.
Scientists surveyed 140 adults and asked them about hypothetical situations.
"We identified several everyday examples where this might be the case - for instance, inducing fear of failure in a loved one who is procrastinating instead of studying for an exam," psychological scientist and the study's author Belén López-Pérez wrote.
The researchers found that subjects who were mean to their partners were more likely to be empathetic and want their partners to succeed.
"These findings shed light on social dynamics, helping us to understand, for instance, why we sometimes may try to make our loved ones feel bad if we perceive this emotion to be useful to achieve a goal," López-Pérez said.