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There are major red flags that we should never ignore when it comes to love.
They’re severe and serious and might hint at a dangerous problem that could sabotage the future.
Yellow flags, on the other hand, might not be as severe or dangerous. But they definitely suggest that a problem or more could surface in the near or faraway future. They tell us to be cautious and stay aware because, well, you never know.
This is mainly why we don’t take yellow flags seriously. Since the danger or severity is not yet visible, we assume that it might never appear. At the end of the day, love fills us with hope and we all want a happy ending devoid of disappointment and hurt.
I’ve always ignored yellow flags in my relationships. I keep saying “it’s not that bad.” I think the person can (and will) change. I utterly believe that with a little bit of work and effort, yellow flags magically transform into green ones, signaling the continuity of a prosperous and special relationship.
I’m wrong. I’ve always been wrong. Yellow flags don’t always turn into green flags. More often than not they turn into red flags that become severe and hard to ignore.
A glaring yellow flag that has hurt my relationships more than once is having different core values. We don’t talk enough about this.
Some people may not see an issue with it, and some relationships end up being fine. This is why I consider it a yellow flag. We see the problems that having different values could cause but also don’t turn a blind eye to them.
The way I see it, all relationship issues (that are major red flags), such as a lack of communication, cheating, lying, or emotional immaturity, stem from this one yellow flag.
If you’re a monogamous person and your core value is loyalty, it won’t work out with someone who’s polyamorous or who loves to explore different types of love and connection. This dissimilarity could give rise to misunderstandings, cheating, or even hatred.
If you’re a straightforward person and your core value is honesty, you can’t be with someone who thinks that lying is necessary to protect your feelings. This dissimilarity could give rise to conflicts and isolation.
If you’re emotionally mature and your core values are awareness, empathy, and good communication skills, a relationship with someone who hasn’t done deep inner work will most likely fail. This dissimilarity could give rise to temper tantrums.
If you’ve been sober for seven years, you can’t be with someone who’s still struggling with addiction.
If you’re a nomad at heart, you can’t be with someone who likes to stay in one place.
If you feel strongly about music or books, you can’t be with someone who can’t stand the smell of printed books or pop corn in movie theaters.
The list goes on.
What I’m trying to say is that your current, not-that-bad yellow flag could cause the demise of your relationship.
So what can we do about our yellow flags or, at least, how can we stop them from turning into red flags?
Transparency. Communication. Asking questions (please ask questions!). The problem with seeing yellow flags is that we think they won’t be an issue. We think they’ll disappear, but they won’t. When you spot different values in your relationship, this is your chance to talk about it.
Are you a monogamous person or would you like to explore with more than one person?
What do you think about honesty versus lying?
Have you ever cheated and why? Would you cheat and why?
What’s your communication style? What’s your love language? Talk to me about your childhood wounds or the relationship you had with your family as a kid.
Do you drink? Would you quit?
Do you want to have kids? Are you religious? Are you an atheist?
These are all examples of the conversations we should be having in our relationships. And we should have them often because values might change, and so the relationship will also simultaneously change.
When we have these (maybe) uncomfortable conversations, we see where the other person stands. We examine whether or not they’re willing to compromise. If we have different values, it doesn’t always mean that it’s the end of the relationship. Some of us might be willing to meet the other halfway because we might not feel strongly about our values.
Some values are adjustable while others are nonnegotiable. So please, talk, talk, talk.
Don’t make assumptions and don’t ever think that love is enough to sustain a long-term, happy, and flourishing relationship. Your values are what will keep you together—not how you feel for each other in the morning.