Everyone knows to look out for red flags. But yellow flags? Do we pay enough attention to them? Do we make excuses when we shouldn’t? Do we “wait and see” about yellow flags, or will enough of them make us cut someone loose?
Recently, I started online dating again. Although, using the word “dating” seems disingenuous. I’m messaging men through the site, but there isn’t any actual dating happening yet.
However, I’ve noticed my boundaries have greatly improved since back when I met James (aka “The Narcissist”).
I’m cutting guys loose after I see a few yellow flags, rather than making excuses for behavior that seems problematic.
Me (joking): I actually had to WORK while I was at work today! It was horrible!
Him: Unacceptable! Who do I need to speak with about this travesty?
Me: *You* don’t need to speak with anyone. *I* might have a few words with someone. 😉
Old Self (OS) would have thought it cute that he wanted to step in and fight my battles for me. OS would have enjoyed the thought of being taken care of. New Self (NS) sees it as rather dismissive and condescending. It shows me there may be an underlying assumption that I’m unable to speak up for myself at my place of work, that I am not successful in my career, and is a yellow flag.
Is this a deal-breaker in and of itself? No, of course not. But it is certainly something of which to be aware, and if it occurs a couple more times it will be worth sending him on his way.
Him: I see you’re planning a trip to France? Where will you go?
Me: Yes! I’m going in the spring. I don’t have my itinerary worked out yet. It’ll be 3 weeks and I want to spend 2-3 days in a few different locations around the country.
Him: Take me with you!!!
OS would have thought it odd, but a somewhat adorable comment. NS understands that I don’t know this person yet. It’s weird for this stranger’s first response to not be an expression of excitement for me, but rather, to show a desire for my activities and plans to benefit him.
Sure, I might be taking things too seriously. It’s definitely something I’ve been accused of before!
These men might just be joking, trying to be nice, people who are just a little awkward. And yet, words have meaning. They are showing me some personality traits; ones that don’t mesh with who I am or what I’m looking for right now.
I’ve made it clear in my profile and during conversations that I’m looking for friendships and casual dating. These guys are telling me (a) they are more intense than what I’m looking for right now, and (b) they aren’t terribly interested in my needs or who I am.
These are yellow flags, though. It’s possible I could talk about these things with them and everything would be fine.
The thing is, though, I don’t know these guys and that sounds like a lot of effort to put into a relationship before even meeting.
It makes far more sense to devote attention to the connections that feel easy.
After a relationship is established, after a solid foundation is built, it makes sense to work on issues together and find common ground. During a first conversation, why would one bother?
The answer: one is desperate to be in a relationship, and any amount of effort is worth it. I, however, am not at all desperate to be attached to someone, so this makes no sense for me to do.
Thus, these days, if I see two or three yellow flags, I discontinue the conversation.
I don’t owe anyone my time or my energy. It’s rather like going to a party, or a singles mixer. It’s okay to have a nice conversation with someone and then move on, and mingle with other men.
Chatting with someone for a bit doesn’t obligate me to continue doing so.