More Yellow Flags to Watch Out For When Dating

You don’t need to wait for red flags to evaluate your dating experience.

Zita Fontaine
Feb 16 · 5 min read
Image licensed from Canva

The earliest citation of “red flag” dates back to 1777 and refers to a flood warning. The red flag and yellow flag difference can be understood easiest using the beach flag metaphor.

You can see the red flags on the beach when the surf is high or there are dangerous currents or both. Though you can still swim if there is a red flag, you should use extreme caution as there is a high potential of danger or even death.

When the conditions are rough, but not life-threatening, you might see a yellow flag. A yellow flag indicates potentially high surf or dangerous currents and undertows.


Dating these days is not easy. I would like to believe that there was a time when it was easier, but ever since I have started dating after my divorce the dating scenery has been tough.

Maybe I changed. Maybe the scenery changed. Maybe my standards changed. Maybe all of it. But for sure, it’s not easy.

One thing seems to be common these days — I find people are guarding themselves a lot more from potential harm, then, say, 20 years ago.

Maybe there are more emotional predators out there, or maybe it is because I am older and my time and energy-matter a lot more than they did in my twenties. But it’s not just me, it seems to be the general observation of almost everyone around me.

We are a lot more cautious. We are more conscious about what to watch out for when looking for a potential mate. There are red flags that indicate that some things are seriously wrong with our date or with our compatibility.

And there are yellow flags to notice, too. Yellow flags are the very first indicators of external factors or characteristics of another individual that can suggest that we might be facing a problem. A yellow flag — as opposed to a red one — is not an immediate deal-breaker, yet it can easily become one.

I already collected a few of those may-become-a-problem-later signs, but there is more. So what can be a suggestion that our date is not worth our time or effort? What are the first signs that need to be discovered further and as soon as possible to avoid hurt and heartbreak later?

Note, that yellow flags are a lot less articulate than red flags — they might or might not mean a character flaw or they can have an easy explanation. But they are worth noticing — at least to have a better idea about our own boundaries.


They Only Have Opposite Sex Friends

If someone cannot form a bond with same-sex friends and exclusively show up only in the company in opposite-sex friends can mean that they use their sexuality as a connection point.

Even if someone is a boys’ girl or as a man is very comfortable in the company of women, it shouldn’t mean that they don’t have meaningful connections within the same sex.

It might mean that they are using the opposite sex friendships as an external validation for themselves. As a snapshot of someone’s life, this might mean nothing — but if someone never makes friends with peers of the same sex, it can be a yellow flag.


They Are Obsessed About A Specific Hobby or Interest

It’s great if someone has a hobby or they are interested in a specific topic — or more of them. But if it becomes an obsession and you as a partner see that you will need to fight for their time or energy against their pastime, it can be a yellow flag.

It can also mean that they are spending their time passionately until something more important comes along — and then it’s great, but if it gets out of proportion and they have nothing else to talk about, beware.


They Are Too Opinionated

When someone doesn’t have an opinion about anything and they cannot make decisions, it can be a yellow flag. But if someone feels that they always need to express a very strong opinion — even on a first date, that can signal a character flaw and lack of empathy.

It can also mean that you accidentally tapped into a subject that they are really passionate about. Unless it’s something where your opinions clash, it doesn’t matter. But if it feels too much, you better watch out and see if it grows even more.


They Look Down on The Waiting Staff

If someone treats the waiter badly, that’s a red flag. But one can be dismissive and despising of the waiting staff in a covert way, not really raising red flags, but still indicating that they think they are better than them. Which can be true — but everyone deserves human decency, it is not linked to being inferior or superior or equal to anyone.


They Are Pessimistic Too Soon

We live in a world that overvalues positivity — even if it’s fake. It doesn’t matter if you are genuinely optimistic as long as you can show that you are. It’s wrong and inauthentic. One shouldn’t be expected to act always cheerful and full of life. There are times when we get down and we get sad — for a good reason or even without one. But going out on a first (or one of the firsts) date and not having anything positive to say can be a yellow flag. It can indicate a generally negative view on life, unresolved emotional baggage or untreated mental illness. And while none of these is a red flag, for they might not indicate a character flaw, it is important to remind ourselves that it’s not our job to fix and save someone.


They Plan Too Early

When you click with someone, it’s easy to get caught up in planning some kind of future with them — starting from hinting the next date or even submersing in fantasies about them becoming our life-long partner, getting married, having kids. In theory, there is nothing wrong with fantasizing. But if your date starts to plan your life in great detail after having known you for 30 minutes, it might not be about you, but about their attachment type. Being the type who falls in love easily is not a character flaw but scaring the other with premature planning is a yellow flag.


Not all yellow flags turn into indications of danger or potential hurt. They might be coincidences, or they might be an indication of your personal triggers. But where there are too many yellow flags, there are usually some red flags too — and it’s only wise to watch out for yourself and save yourself from falling for an emotionally unavailable or toxic individual to avoid potential hurt. After all, you should look for a healthy connection with someone who doesn’t trigger you and where your emotional investment matches the potential of the relationship.


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Mind Cafe

Relaxed, inspiring essays about happiness.

Zita Fontaine

Written by

Writer. Dreamer. In love with words. Becoming the best version of myself one word at a time. zita.substack.com Email me at zitafontaine (at) gmail (dot) com

Mind Cafe

Mind Cafe

Relaxed, inspiring essays about happiness.

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