What’s Your Red Flag?

What's your red flag?

What’s your red flag?

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal how to avoid pain and disasters and instead enjoy dating and an amazing relationship by identifying your red flags.

First a quick update:

“Why did so many people become so emotionally attached to the Casey Anthony verdict?”

Read my insights on HeadDrama.com.

“If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em – why is Jennifer Aniston copying Angelina Jolie’s bad ways?”
Read my article published onHeadDrama.com.

“Why do college girls date older men? ”
Read my quotes in the article on HerCampus.com.

Now, lets’ talk about red flags in dating and relationships.

If you have ever been to the beach, then you recognize the significance of the lifeguard’s red flag warning you of danger in the ocean and advising you to stay out of the water; warning you in advance about a danger that may possibly not be obvious or apparent to you.

In life, there are many times that we wish we could have been warned in advance or we wish we had taken notice early on of what should have been an obvious red flag.

In 2005, I was on FOX News warning women about the need to identify the red flags that scream “it’s time to dump him.” While all red flags can be summed up as: When you feel low, worthless or unhappy when you are with him and when you are convinced that he will never change, the number one red flag is any form of abuse – mental, physical, sexual or emotional. FOX News labeled me “a voice for women.”

So, if red flags are the deal breakers in relationships, what is it that you know you could never accept in a partner?

Awareness is the key.

Most people have no idea what their red flag or deal breaker is until it is too late and they are miserable in a relationship.

How can you avoid the pain and disaster? How can you avoid the question that only appears when it is too late: “What was I thinking?”

Three women in their twenties decided to offer the solution.

Nastasha Burton (Relationships Editor at Glo and MSN.com), Julie Fishman (humor writer and college teacher) and Meagan McCrary (Yoga teacher and health & wellness writer) created a website The Little Black Blog of Big Red Flags. As the site and popularity grew, the ladies published a book to help women “Avoid Another Dating Disaster”: “The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags.”

The book lists a total of 50 potential red flags (some are based on common sense and others are the result of wisdom – knowledge gained through painful experience) and it breaks them down into five sections. The parentheses are my additions.

  1. He’s not really your boyfriend (playing you)
  2. He needs to grow up (immature boys)
  3. He’s a freak in bed…and not in a good way (deeper issues)
  4. He doesn’t love you (it won’t progress to marriage or commitment)
  5. He’s just the worst (intolerable personality)

The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags contains some amazingly shocking true stories from blogging contributors of what some women have experienced, endured and accepted in truly bad behavior and treatment from men. It also makes a great coffee-table book. And while I may not agree with every conclusion that the ladies make about the reasons some men engage in such horrible behavior, the book is a wonderful aid, resource and teaching tool which  encourages women to respect themselves, helps them to become aware of some of the motivations of men and how to identify those early warning signs that are easily overlooked and which, in actuality, are really big red flags that this relationship will not work out well and the more you stay in it, the more your self-esteem, self-respect and confidence will suffer.  (Click here to buy On Amazon.com).

Here are a couple of red-flags from the book:

“Red-Flag Rule #7: If a guy declares his love for you, and he’s currently dating your best friend – run.”

This is excellent advice that applies to women of all ages – the college girl who dreams about conquering the guy to convince herself that she is special, unique and loveable or she subconsciously fears abandonment; the older woman who is trying to do the same thing but with a married man. Notice I shed light on the woman’s motivation; the man’s motivation may simply be ego, lust or vanity.

“Red-Flag Rule #42: If the family tree is rotten, the apple that falls from it will be, too. Your guy’s relative’s behavior and interactions reveal who he really is and explain how they got that way.”

This is partially accurate. No one is perfect.  And if men or women were to choose who to date based on the mental health or history of that person’s parents or siblings, there would be and could be no dating. Should men avoid a woman that was abused as a child, thus punishing and victimizing her a second time? it is, however, true that the interaction between the guy and his family will reveal who he really is and whether or not this is a major red flag or a typical human flaw. We have all been scarred to some extent by our experiences and upbringing.

Red-Flag Rule #7: If a guy treats his mother like dirt, it’s very likely that he’ll treat you terribly, too.”

A guy’s relationship with his mother reveals his issues and subconscious attitudes and beliefs towards women. The same applies to a woman; the way she interacts, feels and behaves around her father reveals her issues and pain as well as the way she will respond to you when there is a problem or argument. Of course, we can all overcome the pain, programming and old beliefs – but only if we choose to do so and take the necessary action.

This leads me to the next point, which Natasha, Julie and Meagan do mention and which, I have often warned women: Beware! You cannot change the man. Read my article: “Why don’t you change?”.

Accordingly, distinguish between the Amber, Red and Green Flags (my terms not from the book.)

An Amber Flag is occasional bad behavior which is forgivable but needs addressing (do not seek perfection which does not exist): you openly explain your feelings, observe his response and yours and you both choose to work through the issue or challenge, seeking solution, resolution and a deeper stronger bond. And if it cannot be resolved, it becomes red-flag behavior.

A Red Flag is the deal breaker – the behavior which is the wedge in the relationship, which will most likely not change and which, you should not try to change.

A Green Flag is the behavior and qualities you seek in a partner.

And this leads to the next point. The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags identifies 50 red flags but a few of those listed are personal choice red flags and not applicable to every woman; you might also have some of your own to add. Therefore, as I have mentioned in other articles, identify and list your top values and priorities in life; what do you want from life and from your relationship? Also, identify and list the top things you could never accept in a partner.

There are plenty of fish in the sea and when you clearly know what your red and green flags are, then you know when it is safe and inviting to swim and when it best to stay out of the water and avoid those sharks.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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2 replies
  1. Avatar
    GB says:

    I really enjoy your work. Is there a gay version of you? The hetero-normative really stuck out for me in this one. Usually I can relate, but I think the dynamic between mother and father, for instance, in gay men and women would be much different.

    I also found the red flags listed shockingly simplistic (I am sure the books and stories go into more depth).

    I agree that awareness is they key and paying attention to how we feel is key. I think I a good next step would be identifying why something is a deal breaker: what are the qualities of the relationship without the deal breaker that I am looking for? what experiences? what feelings? Then it is easier to communicate them and we are more conscious of why we have them at all.

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