Pink flags in relationships are those subtle or ambiguous hints (warning) that you might not be a good fit, or that something is not quite right between you two.
The gentle indicators that they are, pink flags are usually ignored or pushed away in the early stages but this is risky behavior because they signal that the relationship may not be as healthy as it should be, and these flags can turn red pretty quickly.
Although pink flags take many forms and their significance can vary from one relationship to the next, some usual examples include:
- you find yourself always afraid of judgments from your partner and are constantly tiptoeing, afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing,
- your relationship is full of drama, or
- you never have any arguments.
These are pink and not outright red flags. Of course, in healthy relationships, partners should feel comfortable being themselves without fear of judgment and healthy relationships should be built on understanding, accommodation, and mutual respect. However, the stage a relationship is in has bearing on the frequency of disagreements.
In the honeymoon stage, couples tend to try and keep it all sunshine and roses but when this behavior persists it could indicate an unwillingness to engage, or be vulnerable, or that one partner is voiceless in the relationship. This is another flag that can easily turn into a red flag.
It is, therefore, really important that if you notice any pink flags you take a step back and assess how serious they can be.
Pink flag v. red flag
Red flags are clear warning signals that danger looms in the relationship. Clear signs of narcissism, aggression, victimization, or any kind of abusive behavior and so on, are all signals that tell you clearly it s a good time to get out.
Pink flags, on the other hand, are subtle and easy to overlook but they should still give pause and unlike red flags, pink flags are not necessarily terminal. You can pick up on something that could be a deal breaker but it could also be completely fine depending on how you handle it and the circumstances.
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Some pink flags can turn red just as easily as they can dissolve into green depending on how you handle them. And it is especially important that you know which is which for your own well-being.
For instance, when it seems like your partner is hiding something is an obvious pink flag. However, with open and honest communication it will turn green if you come to discover that there wasn’t anything to it after all.
When I am on the phone with friends and the conversation turns extremely personal for them, whether they are talking about problems with their spouses or other loved ones, I usually retreat to a place where I feel the conversation is absolutely private and they have my full attention.
No doubt this seemed like a pink flag to my wife at first but this has since turned green after my explanation and her understanding.
“No doubt this seemed like a pink flag to my wife at first but this has since turned green after my explanation and her understanding.”
Why we should never ignore pink flags
There are very important reasons why it’s necessary to talk about them whenever you see them:
- communication helps to resolve any potential conflicts early,
- discussing things your partner is doing or not doing that make you uneasy can help to foster a more open and honest relationship, and will help build trust,
- many pink flags can turn green simply by communicating openly and honestly.
Ultimately, talking about pink flags can help to create a stronger and more healthy relationship.
The important thing is that you feel safe and confident enough to talk about them with your partner.
“Pink flags are those things that you notice, that nag at you. Maybe the first or second time you push them away, but after a few times, you begin to pay attention and ask yourself, ‘Is this a flag that could be a deal breaker, or am I imagining it or overreacting, or is this something that can be addressed?’” — Tracy Ross, licensed clinical social worker specializing in couples and family therapy.
The risky 5
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1.If, say, a partner is always late for a date or haphazardly returns your calls or reply your messages, even those that obviously need a timely response it’s a pink flag.
Unreliability and inconsistency are traits that prove you can never really depend on them. They could also be signs that your partner is hiding something serious that you shouldn’t be kept in the dark about.
Of course, they could just be dealing with the demand and stresses of their own lives the best way they can but either way it is an issue over which you need to check in with your partner so you can make informed decisions about the behavior and not jump to the wrong conclusion.
2.They appear to be hiding your relationship. It may take a little longer for some people to go public but if you have been an item for a while and you are the only one taking pictures and posting them on your social media, or they are always all over you when you are alone but always skimp on the PDAs then it is something that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.
Of course, if your partner is a celebrity or you come to understand that they happen to be one of these people that are not on social media or have detoxed themselves of social media then it’s probably nothing.
However, if they are constantly updating their feed by flaunting every other thing in their lives that they cherish and you are never in it, they are hiding you- a red flag.
There are a variety of reasons for such behavior and none of them are good. A few reasons could be: they are keeping their options open because they think they can do better; unlike you, they are only in it for the short term; they have not been completely honest about their life; or they are ashamed of their tribe…or of you.
“However, if they are constantly updating their feed by flaunting every other thing in their lives that they cherish and you are never in it, they are hiding you- a red flag.”
3.Though some issues of sexual incompatibility can be resolved by open and honest communication followed by understanding and perhaps a little effort and patience, not being sexually compatible is another pink flag that is too risky to brush aside.
Now, it can be quite normal for the sex to not be all that great at the beginning of your relationship as it tends to get better as you get to know and get more comfortable with each other. However, if the issues involved are such that cannot be improved by time or talking to each other then you should make a conscious decision.
Of course, sex doesn’t constitute the whole relationship but issues of this kind if left unresolved can be devastatingly destructive to the relationship. They can lead to feelings of anxiety, resentment, or anger as the couple begins to disconnect.
“If after some time it hasn’t improved even after communication, or there is sexual incompatibility i.e. your sexual preferences or styles don’t align, this could create a much bigger issue moving forward.” Rachel Needle, psychologist and the co-director of Modern Sex Therapy Institutes
4.When you have a partner that can’t seem to let go of their phone even on a date night and it is so hard to have a meaningful conversation because they are so engrossed with their social media, it is definitely worth talking about.
If there are uncompromising about it even after expressing your reservations and your partner is still not about to make you a priority, then they are probably still swiping right or they might just not be dating only you.
5.They still won’t put a label on it. We are not talking about the first few dates but if you have been together for a while now and your partner still won’t define your relationship it is a “serious” pink flag.
If after going steady for several months and your partner still won’t define the relationship or they are not ready to have that conversation about what you want the relationship to be then it is a sign that you are not on the same page.
You need to get ahead of this because life is too short for you to be stuck in a relationship that has no future.
The alternative is to find yourself stuck in a relationship with someone who merely keeps hinting or promising things will get better/defined with time but is really just using you for the rebound or is still keeping their options open.
How to deal with pink flags
If you’re in a relationship and you’re seeing pink flags, it’s important to deal with them in a healthy and constructive way. First of all, don’t ignore them, and be honest with yourself about why you are in the relationship.
Then you need to clearly communicate this to your partner and if necessary, set clear boundaries on the types of behaviors you will not tolerate. It may be a difficult conversation but absolutely necessary.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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