People who have a tough exterior but are sensitive on the inside usually display these behaviors

Some people you meet out there just seem so tough, so unapproachable, so rough around the edges. You’d be forgiven for thinking they’re hard as nails, completely immune to feelings.

I’m talking about the heavy metal biker, all 350lbs of him, piercings and tattoos and all…

Who has a soft spot for saving kittens and other abandoned furry creatures in his spare time. A green thumb for nursing houseplants back to life, and the deepest appreciation for classic symphonies.

These tough looking, tough seeming types are sort of a Kinder Egg; hard on the outside but filled with softness on the inside. 

Figuring them out can be a bit of a puzzle.

Because they don’t let down their walls too easy. In fact, it’s often in the subtlest of signs they show when you least expect it, that their true sensitive nature seeps through. 

Interested to find out more?

Let’s dive into the 8 behaviors that indicate that beneath that tough exterior, is a sensitive soul just waiting to be understood.

1) They are great listeners

You’ve probably noticed it, or even if you haven’t directly picked up on it, your body sings whenever you have a chance to talk to them. 

They’re the ones who lean in when you’re talking, the ones who give you their undivided attention.

This is because they’re not just hearing the words you’re saying, they’re actually listening. And that can be somewhat of a rarity in today’s world, where everyone tries constantly to yap over one another.

They understand that conversation is not just about speaking, but also about absorbing what the other person has to say. On top of that, they do this because they genuinely care for the wellbeing of others and would never want someone to feel left out, unvalued, or unheard.

Beneath that hard outer shell, they have a real empathy for others. It’s simply tucked neatly away behind a wall of strength and resilience.

2) They value deeper conversations

Those tough-as-nails types don’t tend to focus so much on small talk and chit chat.

In fact, they tend to crave depth. They absolutely love conversations which touch on things that really matter – things that go beyond how gloomy it is outside, what’s for dinner, or what the most recent sports scores are.

They’re not much for small talk. 

No; they’d far rather talk about life, dreams, fears and hopes. It’s in these soul-baring conversations that their sensitivity and awe for mankind really shines through.

So just because they might appear unapproachable, a little scary, or even distant, doesn’t mean they don’t have a wealth of feelings and thoughts simmering underneath. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Give the tough looking fellas a chance. 

Engage them in a meaningful conversation and you’ll see that beneath the surface lies a sensitive soul with an unquenchable thirst for understanding and a bottomless adoration of the world.

3) They’re fiercely protective

Hats off to those who try to pick on you once you’ve been taken under the wing of someone who has a tough exterior but soft and gooey interior…

You see, those steely, resilient individuals have this knack for standing up for the underdog, for going out of their way to protect those they really care about

Whether it’s backing them in an argument through quiet deadliness or a terrifying looming presence, they rarely exert the benefits their ominous tough exterior brings unless it’s to back the little guy.

It’s never about being arrogant or picking fights.  No; this protective behavior shows how much they care about those they love, enough to stand up for what was right.

4) They have a soft spot for animals

I wasn’t joking with the kitten thing.

Despite their hard exterior, these tough individuals often find solace in the company of pets

There’s something about an animal’s unconditional love and loyalty that touches their sensitive side.

Plus, just how tiny and fluffy and adorable and defenseless they are really triggers their protective nature.

That gruff neighbor who seems to have an impenetrable wall around him yet melts the moment he sees his elderly dog. The tough-as-nails boss who’s known for her stern demeanor, softens when she talks about her flightless and hairless budgie.

It’s not surprising really, as animals don’t judge. They don’t care about your tough exterior. 

They see through to the heart of who you are, and melt into any warmth and sensitivity you have on the inside.

So, if you see a tough person showing a lot of affection towards animals, it’s a good indicator that there’s a sensitive soul beneath that hardened shell. 

They might not show it to everyone, but their love for animals really gives you a glimpse into that tender side.

zodiac signs who find peace in solitude People who have a tough exterior but are sensitive on the inside usually display these behaviors

5) They appreciate solitude

One pattern I’ve noticed about these tough-on-the-outside types is their need for solitude.

It’s not that they’re antisocial or dislike people. It’s just that they appreciate the tranquility and peace that solitude brings.

So as cliche as it sounds, they’d probably rather spend the evening alone. With their hamster.

They use this alone time to reflect, to recharge, and to get in touch with their own feelings. 

The world is more peaceful this way. This safe haven of solitude is the place where they can let down their guard, remove the armor, and just be themselves without any fear of judgment or scrutiny.

This might seem contradictory for people who appear so tough and strong, who you would think hate their own company and need to constantly stand in the spotlight…

But remember; beneath that exterior is a sensitive soul. And sometimes, that soul just needs a little peace and quiet.

6) They take criticism to heart

One thing that might really surprise you is that these tough-on-the-outside folks, they’re not as bulletproof as they seem. Especially when it comes to criticism.

Sure, they might not show it. 

They might brush it off with a shrug or a laugh or a grumble. But deep down, they feel it. Each word, each critique, they sure take it to heart.

They’re sensitive souls, remember? They feel things deeply, even if they don’t always show it. 

Criticism, even if it’s constructive, can hit them harder than most.

But they tend also to be exceptional at putting that sensitivity to work and using it as a strength. They let it hit them and hurt, then take a deep breath and learn from it, grow from it, move on. 

So, next time you see a tough person taking criticism in stride, remember there’s more going on beneath the surface. 

It’s not easy for them, but their ability to handle it shows just how strong they really are.

7) They avoid getting emotionally heated

Tough-on-the-outside types tend not to be the first to leap into arguments or get heated.

And not because they’re afraid or cowardly. 

Actually, far from it. 

It’s just that they feel things so deeply, so intensely, that emotional confrontations can be overwhelming for them.

Their sensitivity makes them acutely aware of their own emotions, as well as those of others. This can make emotional conflicts incredibly draining for them as they’re taking on the emotional load for themselves as well as the person on the other side.

In other words, a whole load of emotions…

They might not openly express their feelings or engage in heated arguments. Instead, they might choose to walk away, to cool down, to process their emotions privately.

So don’t mistake this for indifference or coldness. It’s just a person with a big, sensitive heart stepping back as their way of dealing with strong emotions

8) They show kindness in the most unexpected ways

Those with tough exteriors and sensitive hearts, they have this knack for showing kindness in the most unexpected ways.

And not always through grand gestures or dramatic declarations. 

Sometimes, it’s as simple as a reassuring pat on the back when you really need it, a genuine compliment when you least expect it, or a thoughtful gesture that shows they remember what matters to you.

It’s these small acts of kindness that reveal their true character. They may not wear their hearts on their sleeves, but they sure do show it through their actions.

These individuals, with their tough exteriors and sensitive insides, are some of the most compassionate and empathetic people you’ll ever meet. 

They’re thoughtful and compassionate, and know when you’re having a bad day before you do.

They may seem hard to read at first and quite terrifying, but once you see these signs, you’ll realize just how deeply they feel and care for those around them.

Final words

As we wrap things up, you might have recognized a few of these 8 behaviors in yourself…

Or perhaps you’re realizing someone close to you has a softer side to them you’ve never before been able to put a finger on.

We always say that you should never judge a book by its cover, and the same rings true for people.

Often, paradoxically, it’s the toughest types which are the softest on the inside.

Usually, for good reason too. They might have gone through a great deal and learned that the best way to protect this sensitive interior is to hide behind a tough exterior.

As it turns out, first impressions aren’t always right.

So next time you encounter someone with a tough exterior, pause for a moment. Look beyond the surface, and you might just discover a sensitive soul, waiting to be understood.

Picture of Liv Walde

Liv Walde

London-based writer with big thoughts, big dreams, and a passion for helping others.

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