Pink Flags: Generosity

“Love is the most terrible, and also the most generous of the passions; it is the only one which includes in its dreams the happiness of someone else.”
Alphonse Karr

Welcome to Pink Flags Live. We recently experienced Valentines’ Day, the annual holiday where love is celebrated and the romantic ideal is on display everywhere you look. We are inundated with advertising telling us about things that would make great tokens of affection – jewelry, candy, lingerie, romantic getaways and so much more. Society tells us that the best way to show someone you love them is to spend money on them. I beg to differ! Because of this, I pose the question: “What is generosity in a relationship and what are the Pink Flags to watch in terms of generosity, or lack thereof, in your relationship?”

For me it’s this: Generosity is a willingness to attend to the needs of others for the sole purpose of having them in your life.

If this is your first time reading, let’s review: A pink flag is a micro-aggression or social control. By this I mean a minor shift in behavior that combined with other pink flags can begin to diminish confidence, self-esteem and cause a relationship to become unhealthy. You may wonder what makes a Pink Flag different from a Red Flag. The difference is that alone, each pink flag doesn’t appear to be that big of a deal.

I am fortunate enough to have a benchmark when it comes to generosity. One of my dearest friends changed my definition of generosity. I was a mess while I was going through my divorce and she was just always there for me, no exceptions, with whatever I needed – food, wine, advice or quiet companionship. I don’t know what I would have done without her.

Although this can be pretty common when it comes to female friendships, generosity in a relationship is quite subjective. Some people see it in material things such as handbags, watches, even cars. For others, it means having food ready for you when you come home late from work or someone with an ability to listen even when they’re exhausted but you need a compassionate ear.

That said, let’s look at generosity in action. Does your partner write checks they can’t cash? Literally? Figuratively? Do they keep up with Mr. or Ms. Jones? Is it a driving force in how they live? Do they work in order to buy things that other people have? Are you a thing to them? This can seem like something so innocent but it is a pink flag.

Also, there is a difference between being wined and dined and becoming a fashion accessory. If you listen to your partner, do you hear a lot of phrases like; ‘MY’ car, ‘MY’ house, ‘MY’ girl? If this is becoming a trend, take time to have a thoughtful conversation about what role you play in this person’s life. Will you be an equal partner of a possession?

Let’s look at it from the other direction. Does your partner make promises they can’t keep? Do they talk about things that they will buy for you or places they will take you without following through? Does this bother you? Is this done in the spirit of recognizing your physical, emotional and material needs whatever they are, or are they simply interested in telling you the kinds of things that will keep you IN the relationship? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. Open up a dialogue, make it very clear that you don’t need promises of stuff in the future to keep you with them and that you’d like them to keep things in the moment.

Now comes the hard part, ask yourself: Are you generous? Are you guilty of these behaviors? Is your generosity born of loving kindness or do you feel like you have to be IN for a certain percentage? There should always be an understanding the generosity is a two-way street but in no way, quid-pro-quo.  What is the impact of this issue on your current relationship? If you start or stop paying your way, would it be the end of your relationship? Is that really so bad?

Barbara McLean
Barbara McLean earned her Master of Arts in Social Policy as well as certification in both Life Coaching and Trauma Advocacy. Ms. McLean's thesis 'Domestic Violence Advocates and How they Level the Playing Field' took a fresh look on Intimate Partner Violence and how techniques and definitions concerning recovery and outcomes have changed. Ms. McLean has years of experience in the treatment of the trauma cased by Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence and various forms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Follow Barbara and her work educating people on Pink Flags, on Facebook.

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