The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer.
Despite what you may see influencers throwing around on TikTok or Instagram, there is a nuance to relationship red flags. Most of these “red flags” are thrown around based on personal experience, pet peeves, or dislikes rather than formal education and expertise. You’re not suddenly a relationship expert just because someone you dated didn’t work out.
Relationship and dating red flags are often on a case-by-case basis. However, some red flags are redder than others. Generally speaking, red flags are behaviors that make you reconsider the relationship – and some for a good reason.
Hopefully, here we can highlight some commonly cited red flags that are not necessarily red flags. Of course, I do not expect everyone to agree with me, and that is okay.
So, here are a few commonly cited relationship red flags that I believe are not always red flags.
#1: Holding a candle for an ex. Oh yeah, I can already hear the groans. But hear me out. While I think being stuck on an ex is a red flag most of the time (depending on how fresh the breakup is), I do not believe holding a special place in your heart for an ex is a red flag.
Those things are not the same. There is a difference between not being over an ex and having some residual love for them. For some, that ex was an important person to them. Maybe that ex was their first real relationship. Perhaps some of the most important lessons about love and relationships were learned with that ex. Harboring some love for someone who taught them these important lessons is normal in these cases.
#2: Being attracted to someone other than your partner. This is one of those things where influencers tend to argue about biology, and the hard-wiring of men to look for more options comes into play. When you act upon the attraction in a way that violates boundaries in the relationship, that is a red flag.
However, attraction in itself is not a red flag. It is perfectly normal to find someone who is hot, still hot, even if you are in a relationship. It’s what you do with that thought that matters. Likewise, being attracted to someone outside of the relationship is normal. Just be open about it, and don’t cross any lines established within the relationship. Something I have done with clients who felt guilty about finding other people attractive is to ask them a question and then follow it up with a statement.
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