Emotional Generosity, Contrasted With Emotional Stinginess

By Rachel Puryear

There are many kinds of generosity that we all love to feel from others – including generosity of time, money, and efforts on behalf of people and various causes. We also all hate it when people are stingy with us, with any of those things.

However, there’s another kind of generosity that’s just as critical for healthy relationships and caring for others, even though we tend to recognize it much less – that kind is emotional generosity. It also has its opposite, in emotional stinginess – the latter being toxic and even destructive for relationships.

Emotional generosity – or emotional stinginess, as the case may be – is an important aspect of human character, and how one will tend to relate to others.

As highly empathic people tend to be emotionally generous, understanding more about emotional generosity and the lack thereof – and how it varies amongst different humans – helps empaths also better understand themselves.

So, what does it mean for someone to be emotionally generous? What does emotional stinginess look like?

One candle lighting another candle.

Emotionally generous people tend to do the following things:

  • Listen well to others, without excessive interruptions.
  • Empathize with others.
  • Show affection and kindness where appropriate, unless there is a good reason not to.
  • Are happy for others’ success, and recognize where others have earned their success.
  • Tend to be understanding, as they often imagine themselves in other people’s shoes, and try to understand where others are coming from rather than rushing to quick judgments.
  • Tend to give others the benefit of the doubt, unless there is a good reason not to do so.
  • Tend to be merciful, and relatively forgiving towards others’ mistakes and transgressions, even if the other person did screw up – particularly if they believe that the other person is sorry for what they did, and tries to make it right.
  • Tend to be compassionate towards others, and sympathize with the difficult circumstances of others.
  • Tend to help others in need, especially people they love, and to the extent that they can; unless there is a good reason not to.
  • Tend to see and acknowledge their own mistakes, so long as they are aware of such mistakes, rather than rushing to blame others instead.
  • Make an effort to meet emotional needs of others in difficult moments – perhaps even when they are in an argument, rather than focusing solely on themselves.
  • Recognize where they are fortunate, are grateful for what they have, are humbled to realize such.
  • Are open to different viewpoints – even if they don’t agree with every viewpoint they hear (and no one should agree with every view), they are at least open to better understanding how other people view the world differently.
  • In conversation; tend to listen more than they talk, ask others about themselves, and be genuinely curious about others.

Emotionally stingy people – those who lack in emotional generosity – tend to do the following things:

  • Talk more than they listen, don’t listen well, and often interrupt others.
  • Have difficulty empathizing with others.
  • Show little or no affection or kindness to others – unless it gets them something in return, maybe.
  • Are jealous of others’ success, and assume that successful people must have had things easy.
  • Are judgmental and quick to look down on others, and are not interested in understanding viewpoints different from their own.
  • Rarely give the benefit of the doubt, and quickly assume the worst about people – even where cutting some slack is clearly warranted.
  • Are harsh and unforgiving of mistakes and transgressions of others, even where someone did not intend harm, did their best to make amends, no serious harm was done, and the person apologized.
  • Lack compassion, and have difficulty sympathizing with challenges of other people.
  • Are unwilling to help others in need, even when they could do so without hardship.
  • Rarely acknowledge or take responsibility for their own mistakes, instead blaming others for everything – yet, they are quick to notice and point out the mistakes of others.
  • Are selfish during difficult moments, disregarding others’ emotional needs, and failing to offer support even when they are able to do so.
  • Deny where they are fortunate and/or feel that any good fortune they have is because they are superior, and yet they always feel entitled to more; are resentful of those who have more and assuming their success is ill-gotten, while looking down on those who have less and assuming their struggle is because they are inferior.
  • Believe that their viewpoints are the only correct ones, that people who disagree with them are simply wrong (or stupid), and are not open to different views of the world than their own.
  • In conversation; tend to talk more than they listen, keep the focus mainly on themselves, and show a lack of interest in others.

Emotional generosity – as well as the lack thereof, in emotional stinginess – is an important subject. It’s one I have come to appreciate more about lately, and believe that everyone should know more about it as well. Accordingly, while this post was an introduction to it, there is much more to be said about it. Therefore, future posts will continue to cover it in more depth, and it will become a recurring theme for this blog, and fits in well with the overall subjects within this blog.


Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to greater emotional generosity. If you enjoyed this content and want to see more of it, please hit “like” and subscribe, if you have not done so already. xoxo

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