Well, that is easy enough. The answer is NO, do not ignore red flags. I mean it’s a red flag, right? Red usually signifies danger ahead, a no-go area, to stop! Case in point, if you were at a traffic signal and the lights indicated red, you would most likely stop – unless under extreme or unique circumstances. Nine times out of ten you know the right thing to do in that situation.
Why should it be any different with love and relationships? I know when it comes to love relationships things are not quite as straightforward, but a similar principle should still be approached. It really should, because if not (and this applies to both cases above) the consequences could be detrimental – physically, mentally and emotionally.
Image courtesy of Wendy Maks Studios
What is a red flag?: We hear about red flags a lot but what does it really mean? Wikipedia refers to a “red flag” as a metaphor for something signaling a problem. (I apologize for the minimal effort in researching this definition but, you know, it is what it is) In relationships, a red flag is VERY SUBJECTIVE. Everyone has what they can tolerate, forgive and work through, unique only to that individual.
This tolerance meter is predominantly determined and affected by our life experiences – life experiences that are ongoing and ever-changing. These life experiences can range from minor to very serious, but the critical thing to note is its effect on us. For example, someone might have grown up in or being exposed to an abusive environment (verbal or physical).
Usually two things or a close version of the two manifests in these situations; this person either constructively uses those “bad experiences” to better themselves and have nothing to do with that kind of circumstance or the person ends up being in an abusive relationship because it's normal for them and what they are used to.
Red flags can also be unique: even something as trivial as height, accent, and personal space could be a red flag to some. It sounds silly, but it's true. The point is, if your interest’s behavior or other characteristics are affecting you negatively then that’s a sign that something is wrong somewhere - no matter how trivial that thing might be. DON’T ignore it. At the very least have a reasonable conversation about it – understand why it’s an issue.
Again, the consequences of ignoring these red flags could potentially be detrimental. I remember when my husband and I got married he would continuously leave his dirty clothes on the floor; it was like he didn’t see the laundry basket. Gosh, that annoyed me, but I had to talk to him politely and respectfully to please use the laundry basket, I knew if I kept quiet about it, I would explode in anger one day and have stored up resentment towards him.
Societal standards are misleading: alas, good ol’ society also has a way of defining red flags for us - these red flags could include, professional status or social class, wealth, physical attributes, behavior in social settings, behavior towards parents/elders, financial responsibility, etc. If the person you are interested in doesn’t excel in one or more of the previously listed, then they are not good enough, and it is a sign for one to either not commit or bail altogether.
I must say our generation is really good at not committing (a topic for another time). Anyway, I think these societal standards for red flags can cloud our judgment as individuals and lead us into the wrong relationships. Try not to fall for it. Red flags are very personal; another man’s poison can be another person’s candy. To each their own, so know what you can’t personally tolerate in a significant other and why you can’t tolerate it, no matter how trivial.
Then have an honest and open conversation about it, even if its height or money. I am not telling you how to live your life, far from it. I struggle a lot as well. However, I would like us to consider this when having those conversations - materialistic, trivial or shallow red flags can be addressed, fixed or changed one way or another. Personalities, values, morals, and heart, however, are not so easy.
It’s usually yellow before it turns red: Most of the time before there is a danger sign there is often a preemptive caution/ warning sign. Heed the caution sign. Prevention is much better than cure – or I guess in this case pre-cure. Let’ get personal. I remember when I was in college, a friend of mine liked me and he had asked me out. I agreed to date him even though I didn’t like him like that (YELLOW FLAG).
I genuinely thought I would like him eventually. Mainly because we were good friends, but that wasn’t the case. To emphasize the point of red flags being unique, this friend of mine had sickle cell anemia, a possible RED FLAG for someone else, although it wasn’t a big deal for me. I honestly looked past that. I got to know him some more and saw other sides of him that were RED FLAGS for me, like uncontrollable anger and differing morals and beliefs. I tried to have reasonable and respectable conversations about our issues but to no avail.
While I was struggling in the relationship, I prayed to God, a lot. I did not want to make an emotional decision and did not want to lose a friend. As our communication got worse, I relied more on my faith before I made any decision. I started realizing that I was no saint; while I was in that relationship, I was very selfish (someone’s RED FLAG), I wanted my own space, and I wasn’t invested in the relationship that much (someone’s RED FLAG). Long story short, that relationship only lasted for three months.
At some point, I had enough and to be honest; I didn’t like the issues I found within myself that could be potential red flags for someone else. I knew I needed to work on myself, before entering any relationship. I did lose a friend, but that relationship taught me the red flags I could not tolerate, and I got to know my strengths, weaknesses and myself better.
What about the unpredictable? : What if you thought you knew the person, but life plays a cruel, sick joke on you and it turns out you didn’t know the person after all. Or they were like the master pretender before you started dating and then after the relationship kicked off their true colors started to show - bright like a rainbow. I mean while you were courting all the flags were green, and soon after the honeymoon phase, it was like a fighting scene in an episode of Game of Thrones, straight up red everywhere.
At this point, the question is can you tolerate the red flag you see? NO, you CAN’T. Let’s say you do try; how long will you tolerate them before you build enough resentment to do something you regret or end the relationship?
Mother Teresa, you can’t save everybody: For instances where you see but choose to ignore the warning sign, and you just assume you can fix the person. How do I put this simply? You CAN’T.
Only you truly know: Moral of the story – Stop at traffic signal lights when it indicates RED. Do not ignore the warning or danger signs, especially the ones that are given multiple times. However, only you truly know what is worth it. We are all flawed, and we are all broken to a certain extent – doesn’t mean we can’t still be fixed, or the scars don’t make us beautiful.
Yes, In the spirit of forgiveness and empathy fight for what is worth it, but NOT at the expense of yourself. Again, only you will honestly know a relationship that’s worth fighting for and one that is not. Being happy is not synonymous to being nice, and forgiveness is not equivalent to abuse. Again, only you truly know what is worth the fight.
In conclusion, this is not meant to be a lecture; it is intended to be a discussion. I am not a lecturer or a relationship doctor; God knows I am not even qualified for it. What is interesting though is that, weirdly enough, aren’t we all qualified to a certain extent? We are all human with a bunch of experiences – that’s the criteria that matters.
Please comment, ask questions, give input, give experiences, don’t just read, SHARE. Talk with family and friends. Start a conversation. We all play a part in the growth process and let’s all learn from each other – to be better and to love the right way. Don’t forget to check in & subscribe to Let’s talk nation for more exciting life posts, and you can also follow me on Instagram with @wendymakss for all things expressive and unique.
About the Author: Hi! My name is Wendy, and I am so much more. I love photography, styling and creating content on various platforms. Freedom of expression is my niche, expression through fashion, music, art, and writing. I always say, not one person is the same we are all unique in our own ways and despite us having a few things in common our differences still sets us apart.
I like to encourage myself and those around me to embrace what makes them different from others and not fall into the trap of conforming to society or the norm. I include myself in this because I am eccentric, but sometimes I have had the urge to conform to society. However, I love my originality because that's when I am most creative, confident and happy. So, therefore, Be you, Do you, look for what makes you stand out from others and remember you are fearfully and wonderfully made by God. To learn more about Wendy, visit her website: Wendyike.blogspot.com
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