Yellow Flags In The Dating World That Could Become Red Flags — Don’t Ignore Them

By now, you’ve probably gone on enough dates and been in enough relationships to know how to spot red flags from a mile away. You don’t have time or energy to waste, so the minute you see the warning signs, you’re out. That being said, you’re probably not paying as much attention to yellow flags in dating. Sadly, just because they’re not as obviously toxic doesn’t mean they should be ignored.

First off, what are yellow flags?

Yellow flags in dating are basically potential warning signs or concerns that you might notice in the early stages of a relationship. They’re not necessarily immediate dealbreakers, but they do deserve your attention because they could become bigger problems down the line. Whereas red flags are obvious signs of toxicity and perhaps danger, yellow flags are usually assigned to qualities that seem a little suspect but might just be strange quirks or not a huge deal.

Sometimes things we think are yellow flags are actually down to circumstance. For instance, if the person you’re seeing says something that doesn’t sit well with you, it may not be an indication of the type of person they are. Maybe they’re just nervous and tripped themself up. Once they get more comfortable with you, you’ll realize they’re actually kinda great. However, it is possible that yellow flags offer a peek into a much darker reality down the line.

What are some yellow flags to be aware of in dating?

  1. They’re completely inconsistent. You’ll hear from them basically every day for a week, then suddenly they go AWOL for several days. They tell you how much they like you when you’re out on a date, then text a few days later and talk about how they like keeping things casual. If their behavior is all over the place, this is a serious yellow flag that can quickly turn red.
  2. They refuse to talk about their past relationships. You don’t want the ins and outs on all their exes, but knowing nothing about their romantic history doesn’t bode well. What exactly do they have to hide? Sure, maybe they’re just heartbroken and haven’t fully healed yet. In that case, they probably shouldn’t be dating…
  3. They’re disrespectful or dismissive towards other people but nice to you. If they treat you like gold but talk to the waiter like shit, that’s not okay. It’s also possibly an indication of what you can expect from them towards you once the novelty of your relationship wears off.
  4. They have unrealistic expectations or demands. They want someone who’s going to fulfill certain roles in their life even though it’s not realistic. Maybe they’re just naive and grandstanding a bit because they’re nervous or green when it comes to relationships. However, they’ve got another thing coming if they think your world is going to revolve around them.
  5. They avoid getting deep or talking about anything real. This could be down to their need to build trust before opening up, and that’s fine. However, if they avoid whole chunks of their life when it comes to what they’re willing to talk about, that’s a warning.
  6. They blame other people for their problems and shun accountability. You’ve likely met people like this before and they’re obnoxious as hell. Refusing to be responsible for their own actions is childish and a bit narcissistic. Sure, maybe they have been dealt a bad hand, but every single thing that’s gone wrong in their life surely isn’t down to someone else.
  7. They’re emotionally unavailable. Again, this might change once you build trust between you. However, if you’ve been seeing one another a while and they’re still not budging on wanting to connect with you on a deeper level, this yellow flag has already gone red.
  8. They’re always late every time you want to meet up. This may not seem like a big deal, but it shows a lack of responsibility and respect for your time. You managed to leave a few minutes early to account for traffic, so why couldn’t they?
  9. They refuse to compromise and want things their way or the highway. Sorry, relationships don’t work that way. (And if they do, they’re abusive.) You need to be willing to meet each other halfway. It’s possible they’ll soften as you build a connection, but if they refuse to budge, head for the door.
  10. They seem super moody or unstable. This could be temporary and based on something happening in their life at that moment in time. That being said, if their moodiness is a huge part of their personality, that’s not something you want to (or should have to) deal with.

What should you do if you notice them?

If yellow flags are cropping up early on in your relationship, here’s what you need to do.

  1. Acknowledge rather than ignore them. It’s tempting to brush them under the carpet, especially if you really like the person. This is obviously a mistake. By pretending these things don’t exist, you’re basically condoning bad behavior and potentially setting yourself up for some serious heartbreak down the road. Acknowledge the stuff that feels a little off.
  2. Speak up and say something about it. If you feel comfortable enough, talk to the person you’re seeing about their yellow flags. Don’t go in being accusatory or berate them. Instead, mention that you’ve noticed a few things that don’t sit well with you and you wanted to bring them up. You might find that a direct conversation like this alleviates your worries.
  3. Take time to reevaluate. Do you actually like this person? Assuming the yellow flags you’ve noticed are legitimate parts of their personality, is that something you can cope with? Should you have to? Think hard about what you want and how much you’re willing to put up with. This can give you a lot of clarity. You might even decide that you’re not feeling them and save yourself the trouble of going any further.
  4. Set clear boundaries and hold the person to them. If they’re someone who’s always late, tell them you want someone who can show up on time. If they want things their way, make it clear you want a 50/50 relationship. If they can’t live up to it, they can’t date you. However, if they don’t know your boundaries, you can’t blame them for not respecting them.
  5. Seek outside support. Talk to your friends and family members about what you’re thinking and feeling. They might be able to offer some objective insight as an outsider and guide you in the right direction. However, the most important thing is to do what’s right for you. Listen to your gut — it’s there to protect you.

Remember, yellow flags in a relationship don’t necessarily mean the end of the relationship. However, it’s important to take them seriously and address them in a timely and thoughtful manner to ensure a healthy and positive relationship.

Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill