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When beige flags turn red

By Lorelai Patnaik

Writer Lorelai Patnaik discusses the Tiktok dating concept known as ‘beige flags’.

Beige Flags – Your everyday average run-of-the-mill boring profile on dating apps or early warning for red alarm bells.

Readers, I think at this point, we can say a significant proportion of us have spent time just scrolling through dating apps. From Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge, to Grindr and Feeld. Swiping right, or swiping left, ignoring and blocking the troglodytes (in my case the 4Chan-esque edgy white men of Grindr), and of course, maybe having a fun time at the end of the endless browsing and blocking after finding someone that catches your interest. 

There’s a new concept popularly known through TikTok, which is called beige flags. Coined by the TikToker Caitlin MacPhail, beige flags show when a person doesn’t care enough about dating in the first place and has thus relied on pretty standard responses because they can’t be bothered with more effort. To put it crudely, it’s the guy who’s only interested in having sex but isn’t even hiding it. Run-of-the-mill responses, boring answers, and a really dry conversation. However, he suddenly perks up when he hears the word sex. Yes, at that point it’s not your brooding, Mr so-busy Darcy, but is unfortunately the troglodyte Roger, who oh well, you can block and not bother interacting with. For me it is that random anonymous white man on Grindr who acts like a troglodytic bot, who at best will just say “want to fuck” or at worst send pictures that are unasked for. But let us not attach beige flags exclusively to random men on dating apps exhibiting clown-like behaviour. 

Another way to see this is: are beige flags really about a person being too boring to date? Someone who’s boring enough to not be considered a dating prospect? That one-liner generic bio that literally puts you off from interacting with the person? Could beige flags possibly be about you putting x-amount of effort into the dating world, putting yourself out there, and in turn getting to interact with the most uninterested, off-putting characters? Can it simply be put into a category of the individual being boring and uninterested?

I look back on my experiences, and of the many times I have interacted with cisgender men on dating apps, most of them (putting aside the gross violation of boundaries) have been of men only viewing me as a sexual object. Even if it was just sex they were looking for, much of the necessary effort was non-existent. I am all about casual relationships and hooking up, but I will only hook up if I am interested in you! At best I would get monosyllabic, boring responses. Then, of course, there were cases of men fetishising me for my race and transfemininity, and then the usual clownery of cis men just sending pics that were never asked for. My experiences with Grindr make me think of beige flags as a term that denotes someone’s only here for casual sex, but even then insists on viewing me as something to be sexually coveted with the bare minimum amount of effort. This, of course, steadily slips into red flag territory.

Another way I think of beige flags is as something related to dating, and, eventually, romantic relationships. It is not just about not being boring, it is about romance. It is about being attracted to a person, and still experiencing the attraction towards a significant other during the relationship. Beige flags here can be best described as signs of the other party not being invested enough in the relationship, and not making enough effort. This eventually slips into red flag territory when you’re the sole party who cares about the relationship, while the other is uncaring. So the argument isn’t about coming across as interesting or standing out. It’s about attraction, it is about a relationship and it’s about two people showing a healthy interest in each other, being fond of each other, and caring about each other. Beige flags are thus a way to see if a relationship is just one-sided, and whether there would be a potential red flag situation arising (neglect etc). It all boils down to caring for one another. It raises the question, do both parties care for one another, and care for each other’s well-being? And that dear readers, is one of the fundamentals of a relationship. To care, to show up, and to matter to each other. That forms the basis of the trust that is crucial to a romantic relationship. 

So are beige flags blaring alarm bells in marinara red? Not quite, but they are important enough to understand and reflect on what we are looking out for in relationships, romantic or otherwise. If it is romance, maybe they are a reminder to look carefully into a relationship that’s about both parties being there for each other. I think beige flags are best suited to indicate if parties are on the same page about a relationship about their wants and needs. Above all, they are an indicator of healthy communication with mutual respect for both parties. Should they ring your alarm bells? Not really no. Are they a sign to safeguard your interests and assert your wants and needs clearly? Definitely.


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