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What Are Pink Flags and How to Spot Them

By Danielle Kam 

We’ve all been told to look out for red flags when dating, but what about pink flags? Pink flags are exactly what they sound like: they’re not as severe as red flags, but they’re still important. Pink flags could be a huge deal or might be totally fine depending on the context. After they’re spotted, you’ll either want to proceed with caution or learn more information. Here are six possible pink flags that could develop into something bigger.

They’ve never been in a relationship 

While this could mean that someone’s a late bloomer or has been focused on other goals like building a career or finishing school, it might also be a sign of some negative character traits. “This could indicate someone may be commitment-phobic or self-absorbed and doesn’t want to deal with the responsibilities of a relationship, like having to consider another person’s needs and feelings,” says therapist Leah Aguirre. It’s helpful to take a look at different areas of your relationship and discern whether they’re generally considerate and accommodating to your needs. You can also simply ask why they’ve never been in a relationship before. If they seem cagey or don’t have a justifiable answer, you may want to be cautious moving forward. 

They don’t post pictures of or with you on social media

First, look at their current posting behaviors: are they constantly sharing stories and posts with friends or other important people in their life and excluding you? Or are they just genuinely not that interested in being online because they’re a private person? Dating coach Benjamin Daly explains that there’s a difference between keeping a relationship private and keeping it secret. If they’re keeping their love life private, it might mean that they want to keep the details of your relationship between the two of you. Alternatively, “if they’re keeping your relationship a secret, it may be because they don’t want to take themselves off the market,” he says. If this is your situation, it’s best to be upfront and ask why. If they get defensive, it could mean that they don’t want to make the relationship public, which should be further explored. 

They’re friends with an ex 

Some people are capable of having non-romantic relationships with their ex and staying friends, says Aguirre. But, she warns, if there seems to be an excessive amount of communication with their ex, your partner is evasive when you ask about it, or they go to great lengths to make sure you don’t meet their ex, this could indicate potential unresolved feelings. In these instances, it’s important to be direct and ask the hard questions. If someone has nothing to hide, they’ll be open about the friendship with their ex and transparent about its true nature.

You don’t like their friends

“We’re a representation of the company we keep,” says therapist Elizabeth Marks. So, if you find that your partner hangs out with people who you find disrespectful, unkind, or immature, it can paint them in an unattractive light. Aguirre agrees and adds that even if your partner or the person you’re dating isn’t that way, they’re essentially accepting or even condoning the negative behavior by surrounding themselves with those kinds of friends. In this case, it’s important to express your concerns to your partner, while being understanding of their history with those friends. You may come out of the conversation with a new perspective on why these people are in their life—or realize that you may want to assess the relationship if the situation is a dealbreaker. 

Small acts of thoughtlessness 

Forgetting to ask if you want a drink when they’re going to the bar or leaving a mess in a shared space may be unintentional. But it could also show that they have qualities of selfishness and are unwilling to be considerate of others, says Daly. Before making assumptions, ask why they did or didn’t do something, and share what you’d like them to do in the future. If they continue to act thoughtlessly and disregard your desires, it may demonstrate that they don’t care about your needs. 

They don’t want to go out for dates 

This may not seem like a big deal, especially if you’re happier staying in. But this can point to a bigger warning sign: this person doesn’t want to put the work into your relationship. “If someone throws out every excuse in the book from the weather outside to feeling strapped for cash, especially after you’ve stressed your desire to go out, this all leads to two things: they don’t want to make the effort or they don’t want to take the next step,” says Marks. “Dates can be as simple as walks in the park. It’s not about money or elegance, it’s about effort.” If someone has difficulty making the most basic plans, this will most likely show up in other areas of the relationship. 

Being able to recognize pink flags is important when you’re entering into any relationship. This way, you can feel even more confident in your decision to move forward or cut it off.