Should I dump someone over relationship ‘pink flags’?
Say goodbye to the ick and wave the flag high for this new relationship buzzword
words Eve Walker
We all know we’re supposed to run for the hills when we spot a ‘red flag’ – those little niggles and neuroses of a new love interest that set off some internal alarm bells. Maybe they’re rude to waiters, super secretive with their phone, talk a lot of shit about their ex, or are just generally emotionally unavailable – eventually, these warning signs loom so large they signal a swift exit out of the relationship.
On the other hand, maybe a relationship green flag is reeling you in – they smile at dogs in the street, they ask questions unprompted, they remember little details about your life, they love their mum.
Pink flags, however? Here’s the new relationship moment that the internet is exploring. They’re easier to miss, lying in the murky halfway point between a nitpicking ick and a major interpersonal concern. Jessica Alderson, relationship expert and co-founder of dating app So Synced, describes pink flags as “indications that the relationship might not be right or that it will take some work”. So, while they aren’t complete deal-breakers, they are not to be ignored.
So what are examples of pink flags?
By themselves, they may not sound like much. Does your new boo always show up to dates late? Maybe they have a habit of scrolling on their phones right after doing the deed, or perhaps they aren’t good at texting back. Before you know the context behind their behaviour, they don’t necessarily present as a red flag in your love-breeze.
Let’s say that your love interest is besties with their ex, for example – while not the ideal scenario for most people, this isn’t necessarily a reason to end it. It could even be a green flag, showing maturity in relationships and respect for partners rather than labelling them as a ‘crazy ex’. However, depending on the specific details of their situation, it could also suggest unfinished business or codependency.
Pink flags can crop up in your platonic relationships too – check back on our guide to navigating toxic friendships for more on that. A lack of availability, competing friendship circles, and jealousy can be pink flag pal signs. In workplace dynamics too, you should keep an eye – maybe a colleague is playing you off another, or holidays become tough to take.
What do we do with pink flags?
What is key here is to identify pink flags early on, and communicate any concerns with your partner to avoid them developing into major issues, especially if you see long-term potential in the relationship. You could simply have different love languages, personality types, or attachment styles – while these mismatches can all contribute to minor concerns in the beginning stages of dating, they most certainly don’t mean the relationship is doomed. It may just take more work.
“The interesting thing that I notice with my clients when we discuss pink flags is that often women who are dating tend to use pink flags as an excuse to discount man who actually might be a good fit for them. Interestingly, they also tend to completely overlook red flags which obviously are indicators of a much bigger problem,” Kate Mansfield, a dating and relationship coach, previously told Glamour.
“This is because red flags often show up as avoidance or someone unavailable, and this triggers wanting to chase,” Mansfield added. “By contrast, pink flags are smaller and less problematic challenges which tend to have the effect of putting us off someone. This is especially the case if there is no established bond yet. I help women to slow down their dating, to notice red flags and stop painting them green.
“But as importantly, I help them to work through pink flags, learning to be more authentic and to see the value in speaking up and working through these kind of minor challenges. As a result many of them find an ideal partner in someone that historically they would have given up on or completely overlooked.”
Pink flags aren’t a scary new thing to worry about in the already complicated world of dating. Instead, take them as a way to check in with yourself and your partner so that you can develop happier, healthier relationships. Don’t let the pink put you off. And if they do lead to red flags? Well, you know what to do…