Everyone’s heard of relationship red flags, but much overlooked are relationship pink flags, where something weird you’ve picked up on coooould be a big deal, or might be completely fine, based on specific context. Here are some maybe-deal breakers, maybe-deal makers.
1. You either have no pictures together or you’re the only one taking the pics.
Why it’s a pink flag: First, check his Instagram. If he’s posted only three pics in 2016, and most of them are of craft beer or random clouds, he’s just someone who is free of the chains that come with caring about your social media presence (lucky guy). And besides, a huge relationship milestone is being able to say “take a pic of us!!!” without feeling self-conscious about it. You can absolutely get there.
When it’s a red flag: Although he’s constantly updating his feeds, the one appearance you’ve made on his Instagram in six months is your elbow in the frame of his three-part breakfast tacos story. Girl, he’s 100 percent hiding you.
2. He’s “not big” on PDA or touchiness in general.
Why it’s a pink flag: People take time to warm up to each other (plus, a guy clutching your hand and kissing you every two seconds while you’re talking to your friends is way more annoying in reality). But more than that, people have different ways of expressing affection, and he might just be the type who’ll cook you a surprise mac ‘n’ cheese dinner to show he cares. In any case, it’s all part of a bigger talk to have about what your needs are (and yes, you absolutely can want both hugs and food as tokens of love).
When it’s a red flag: When he does literally nothing special and is just this bumbling bear of a man who won’t hug you or ever do the dishes without asking.
3. You’re not having baller, “subtly brag about it at brunch” sex right away.
Why it’s a pink flag: Honestly, guys who are completely uninhibited the first few times they sleep with you might be like that for a reason: They do this all the time … with other women they are also “like, super into, it’s so crazy!” So if he is slightly cunnilingusly challenged at first, it may not be the worst (everyone who’s halfway decent at it has gone through that stage at some point).
When it’s a red flag: If he never goes down on you because he “doesn’t like how vaginas smell, no offense,” or does just plain weird stuff you can’t overlook, like saying, “Om nom nom,” in the middle of making out. With some things, there is no going back.
4. You’re not as physical as you used to be.
Why it’s a pink flag: It’s a cultural trope that “we haven’t had sex in a while” is a relationship kiss of death. Everything from a new birth control prescription to work stress can make you crave physical touch as much as you crave a salad that’s just cheese-less leaves, and being understanding of your S.O.’s libido lows is all part of a solid partnership.
When it’s a red flag: If there’s sparse touching of any kind and your partner seems to be emotionally withdrawing from you instead of just really tired lately.
5. You almost never fight.
Why it’s a pink flag: You could be in the cliché “honeymoon” period, or you maybe you just don’t consider “OMG, you seriously made us 20 minutes late because you had to fix your winged eyeliner and now we have to wait two hours for brunch???” to be a real fight when it’s resolved in two seconds.
When it’s a red flag: When there’s a clear pattern of him throwing empty lines like “You’re right! I’m so sorry baby” your way just to move on quickly and then pull the same garbage next week. Also, if he’s never once had a gripe with you (as flawless as you may be), that shows a deep fear of confrontation that might lead to him snapping out of nowhere because he could never once say, “Yo, could you not recite IMDB facts during every movie?”
6. You have kind of different lifestyle habits.
Why it’s a pink flag: Opposites attract, or so they say. One of you being the more stay-at-home, frugal, organized-gym-schedule type while the other struggles to turn down a solid happy hour deal isn’t a deal breaker. Plus, part of a relationship is growing from each other, aka finally learning how to do your taxes à la your math-gifted partner.
When it’s a red flag: When you date that annoying person who “loves your abs,” but also makes you feel bad every time you go to the gym, and tries to peer pressure you into stay home with them instead. NOPE.7. Most of your dates involve watching TV.
Why it’s a pink flag: Honestly, Netflix, HBO, and Hulu toss out a fresh season of something pretty much every week, so going from cramming a few eps a night to desperately bootlegging seasons of Great British Baking Show that haven’t aired in the U.S. yet seems like the natural progression. But overdoing it with the binges shouldn’t be something that a direct “hey, do you feel like we’re overdoing it with the binges?” can’t fix.
When it’s a red flag: When only one of you is now on a newfound mission to see nature outside of Game of Thrones, or if you both go out and find that talking to each other about not-TV is work.
8. He’s close with his ex.
Why it’s a pink flag: Yes, this is a bullet point on, like, every sociopath trait listicle because it can mean he felt nothing about the breakup and keeps his ex-GF around for ego boners (and regular ol’ penis boners). It can also mean they had a mature breakup, and he’s the kind of guy who can see value in a woman’s friendship whether or not she’s currently having sex with him, especially if they have history.
When it’s a red flag: Those two types of men above are two very different types of men. One has a track record of hooking up with his ex during dry spells and calls you “crazy” if you ever feel like you’re not sure he’s over it; the other one … doesn’t.
9. He has some annoying friends.
Why it’s a pink flag: The crew of guys he watches football with not knowing enough about feminism is def irritating, but if they’re not his best friends and they’re literally just catching a game together, it doesn’t mean that ~he~ thinks the same way.
When it’s a red flag: His oldest, closest friend unironically saying “friend zone” and “not all men” is a different story. If he chooses to spend the most time with a guy you have to take meditative breaths before hanging out with, consider it a fair warning.
10. Your mom doesn’t like him.
Why it’s a pink flag: Sometimes, parents can be old-school about certain traditions like men always picking up the check or making more money. If her reasons have more to do with her not “getting” the fact that he identifies as bisexual or writes tweets for a living, there may be an adjustment period (or just a realization that Mom is not always right).
When it’s a red flag: When your mom genuinely thinks the guy’s a prick and has low-key prepared a detailed speech with specific examples to prove it (as moms do).
11. He’s bad at long text convos.
Why it’s a pink flag: Thirty years ago, this problem couldn’t exist. Some people are just not consistent texters/Gchatters, either because of their job or the fact that they really prefer one-on-one interaction over the anxiety of choosing a non-basic emoji.
When it’s a red flag: When you finally do hang one-on-one and he’s ON HIS PHONE. Delete his # and him from your life *hands crossed emoji*.