Photo Credit: Stephane Yaich via Unsplash

Raising the pink flag

By Molly Burton

Are there little issues with your situationship niggling away at you? You may be ignoring the less obvious warning signs.

Oh, to always feel the way you do in the first few weeks and months of a new relationship.

Nothing compares to the magical warmth and elated buzz that accompanies seeing their face, the butterflies when their name pops up on a text or the hard-to-hide smile when someone points out how much your significant other talks about you. These are the days where everything feels right…even the things that don’t.

It is easy to spot dreaded relationship red flags – overt jealousy, fiery temper and downright narcissism. These are hard to ignore and are (or should be) a death sentence to your love affair. But what about the pink flag? Those are much more subtle, less objective, and arguably more dangerous than many red flags. Why? Because they tend to feel so insignificant that they often fly under the radar. A pink flag is halfway between green and red flags; not quite a relationship-ender, but if not addressed properly, it can quickly turn into a more serious problem. These are niggles that you notice but choose to ignore for a variety of reasons: perhaps dismissed as teething problems, or you simply don’t want to admit there may be an issue. It ultimately comes down to deciding whether the issue can be resolved, or if not, whether on balance you can put up with it. If not, then you must end it.

Isn’t it exhausting? It is difficult not to overthink and lose your mind. So, where are the pink flags? And when do they become red flags? Of course, every individual is different; what one person views as an issue, another person views as a bright green flag. But I’ve asked around friends, family and flatmates alike, and have come up with an agreed general list of examples. The first, and probably most subtle, example is if your partner rarely asks how your day went. “How was your day?” is a simple and easy way to show you care about someone else, especially if they actively listen and ask follow-up questions. Obviously, life is messy and busy and this small gesture may slip a person’s mind. However, this becomes a red flag when you genuinely can’t remember the last time your partner asked you, especially if you ask them and they don’t return the gesture. Common interests are established as a steady foundation for a relationship. This doesn’t mean you have to love everything your partner loves, but if there are certain interests you have that you personally identify with and your partner isn’t a huge fan of them, this can cause minor conflict. This is a pastel flag until you notice that your partner won’t even allow you to speak about your passion, especially if they begin to make fun of you or put you down for liking it. 21st-century couples must take account of 21st-century problems. One such problem is texting – not answering texts for an extended period. It could be that your partner simply doesn’t enjoy texting or isn’t looking at their phone a lot throughout the day. However, pink becomes distinctly crimson if, when you are with them, they are always on their phone. At that point, you’ve got to face facts – they might be ignoring you. Some of the best moments of your life can be spent with your significant other(s) but I think we can agree on one thing: relationships are hard and extra confusing. It’s important to notice pink flags and discuss them with your partner before they fester into something bigger. Bringing problems up early can be a good way of adjusting to each other’s expectations before things get blown out of proportion. 

If your partner is receptive, listens and acknowledges the issue, agreeing to work to change it – green flag! However, if they are defensive and try to turn it around on you, you’ve captured yourself a red flag. As I’ve learned, it’s important to pick your battles wisely – try not to pick at everything, relationships do require some element of compromise (although I know this can be hard for us anxious overthinkers). When you have a good relationship, despite the little problems, it is one of life’s biggest gifts.


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