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The Meaning of Red

February is often seen as the month of love because it’s when we celebrate Valentine’s Day. Love is usually associated with the color red, especially red hearts. If you’re recovering from financial abuse (or suffering in a relationship where you’re being subjected to it), love, Valentine’s Day, and all the red hearts floating around this time of year can be painful.  

I say, fuck that shit. 

Let’s flip the script and find a way to make this the month of loving ourselves. Let’s see red as something that can serve us, not hurt us.

Start with red, meaning “love.” Sure, that’s a fair way to see red. But instead of seeing it as just romantic love, can you also see it as love for yourself? For your kids, your immediate family, your friends, your pets, or for the world at large?  There is so much more to love than just romantic love. If you are living with or recovering from financial abuse, you may be in no mood for romantic love. So let it go.  

Don’t focus on the Hallmark life, focus on your life and what love means to you right now.

A friend of Greek heritage told me that there are seven words for love in the Greek language. Each word represents a different kind of love. I love that (and I wonder which version that would be)! Why can’t we have different words for the kind of love we’re talking about?

Beyond red meaning love, it can also represent anger. Think of the saying “seeing red.”  It means you’re angry, right?  If you’re recovering from or living with financial abuse, my guess is you’re angry. I was for a long time. Not so much now, which is good, but it has its place. 

The Meaning of Red
The Meaning of Red
If you’re being abused in any way, getting angry can help give you the spark to take action.

I don’t suggest getting angry and starting a fight. I say use that rage to move you forward and get you out of the shit you’re sitting in right now. No one deserves to be abused or taken advantage of financially or otherwise. Stop putting up with it and find a way to take control of your life.  

Another phrase we hear a lot in relation to red is “red flag.”  Red flags warn us there is trouble ahead. Paying attention to red flags in life is important. If we see something that sets off warning bells in our head, we shouldn’t ignore it.  

If you are being financially abused, likely you didn’t recognize the red flags when they started waving. Ignoring them is easy when you’re in love and want the relationship to be successful. But if you ignored them before, you need to pay attention to them now and start taking control of your destiny. You do not need to stay and put up with abuse of any kind. You can find the inner strength to move on one step at a time. Find that red rage and use it in your favor.

If you’re in the process of recovering from financial abuse, then you need to be extra vigilant in watching for red flags in your next potential mate.

When dating, it’s important to be watching for red warning flags that the person is not financially safe. I’m no dating expert, believe me, but I am super aware of how a man presents himself and figuring out if he is financially secure.

I would postulate that financially insecure men are more prone to being abusive. Because financial abuse is about manipulation and control, often men who have unsatisfactory financial security will be looking for someone to use for their financial benefit.  

If you are on your path to financial recovery, the last thing you need is a man trying to control or manipulate your fragile financial state. Learning to watch for red flags when you first start dating will help you avoid making the same mistake twice.  

Without deep diving into this topic, let me just say there are a few upfront red flags to watch out for. This starts with your date seeming cheap. Expecting you to pay every time, not wanting to go anywhere “fancy,” avoiding situations that involve spending money, etc. You get the point.  

The Meaning of Red
The Meaning of Red
Observe carefully to see if he appears to not have decent financial resources.

Next would be lifestyle indicators, such as living at home with his parents (unless he’s serving as a caretaker for elderly folks), having roommates instead of his own place, not having a job (or a career level job), or never seeming to actually work. Maybe he talks like he’s got this great thing going on, but you can’t really pin down what it is. Any of these could indicate that he is not financially secure and is hunting for a sugar mama.

Another phase we hear is “in the red.” This means financially owing more than we have or are able to earn. If a potential date appears to be living in the red, definitely avoid any long-term entanglement.

You get the picture. Watch for financial red flags if you’re dating. Avoid getting involved with anyone who might perpetuate the financial abuse you are trying to get over.

Red is a strong color with many meanings.  

Using the power of red to your advantage will help you in so many ways.

Staying strong as you recover from or leave a financially abusive relationship is key to your financial recovery. Facing February and all its red triggers with strength and determination can help you see that it can be the month of loving yourself. If you can tap into the red of your anger to help you take needed action, do it. If you are dating, watch for red flags and avoid potential romantic partners who are living in the red. Embrace red and enjoy the benefits of understanding its many meanings.

Sherry Lutz Herrington is the owner of Sherrington Financial Fitness, a business consulting and accounting firm specializing in strategic business planning and solid financial accounting for businesses. She is also the author of Strong Women Thriving (, a blog which focuses on empowering women to be financially savvy, particularly after experiencing financial abuse. Sherry is currently writing a new book that both shares her personal story and addresses financial abuse. She can be reached at Join our FB group

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