What are 'pink flags' and do they pose a threat to your relationship?

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We've all heard about red flags, but what are 'pink flags' in a relationship?
We've all heard about red flags, but what are 'pink flags' in a relationship?
Photo: Oliver Rossi/Getty Images
  • We've all heard about red flags in a relationship, but what exactly are "pink flags"?
  • They're those subtle characteristics we notice in a potential partner that don't quite sit well with us. 
  • Pink flags may include things like sexual incompatibility or different social habits.
  • They may not be as dangerous as their red counterparts, but pink flags could pose a threat to your relationship. 


We've all heard about red flags in a relationship - those personality traits or things that signal a possible toxic relationship and are often a sign to run for the hills. 

But have you heard about pink flags? 

Simply put, pink flags refer to those subtle characteristics we notice in a potential partner that don't quite sit well with us, but they're minor enough that we convince ourselves we can put up with them. 

They're not quite as obvious as red flags and do not pose a serious threat, but if not addressed, they can negatively impact your relationship. 

"Pink flags are those things that you notice, that nag at you," Tracy Ross, a licensed clinical social worker specialising in couples and family therapy, tells The Huffington Post

"Maybe the first or second time you push them away, but after a few times, you begin to pay attention and ask yourself, 'Is this a flag that could be a deal breaker, or am I imagining it or overreacting, or is this something that can be addressed?'"

READ MORE | From isolation to manipulative helpfulness - Red flags women ignored in toxic relationships

What's the difference between a pink flag and a red flag?

Red flags include things like manipulation, gaslighting, or a controlling personality. These are often warning signs of a potentially toxic relationship which could lead to destructive or abusive behaviour.

Many times, red flags go unnoticed at the beginning of a relationship, but they soon grow and worsen over time. 

Pink flags, on the other hand, are usually not as toxic or dangerous as red flags. Still, they can cause harm to your relationship. 

Pink flags could include sexual incompatibility, lack of communication, or different social habits. 

"I think it's important to be mindful of pink flags, or points of anxiety in your relationship, but use them as opportunities to grow together and individually," therapist, Alysha Jeney, tells Huffington Post. 

Here are some examples of pink flags:

Sexual incompatibility

Sexual incompatibility could put a strain on new relationships. Remember though, that it could take a while for you and your partner to learn about each other's likes and dislikes in the bedroom. Communication here is key, and patience goes a long way too. 

READ MORE | When should your partner's constant need for sex worry you? An expert explains

Your partner avoids arguments

Perhaps you're still in the honeymoon phase of your relationship, or maybe you're still learning how to communicate with each other, but it could also indicate an unwillingness to be vulnerable.

Technology is a priority

You have found that your partner just cannot put their phone away during date night, or they obsessively scroll through social media while you're trying to have a conversation with them. 

Technology is a big distraction and can pose a threat to relationships. Again, it's important to discuss your needs and let your partner know about habits that bother you. 

There's a lack of communication

Sometimes a difference in communication styles can affect relationships. You may think your partner is closed off when you try to speak to them, but perhaps the way they express themselves is different from how you do.

READ MORE | 5 green flags to look for in a romantic relationship

It's important to note that while these, and many other traits, may be listed as pink flags, any behaviour which doesn't sit well with you or sets off an alarm in your head should be addressed or at least acknowledged. 

In reading through articles on pink flags, I've realised that the lines between these lesser warning signs and their troublesome red counterparts could easily be blurred. 

"Don't ever dismiss your intuition, but also try to sit with it to be sure you aren't making assumptions or projecting onto your partner," Alysha advises.


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