Ask Wendy

What’s A Relationship Red Flag? What’s A Pink Post-It?

Friday, January 12, 2018
red flag
Hey Wendy,

What is the difference between a red flag and what you call a pink post-it note?

I’m dating someone who voted for Trump, and I did not. I’m a liberal. I thought casting that vote would be a deal-breaker. But I’m not sure it is. I’m staying because he treats me like gold and I like him. Am I selling out?

Anna S., Charleston, SC

Hey Anna,

I’m glad that your guy treats you like gold. I believe that should be on every person’s “must have” list for partnership.

A red flag is when you see, hear, or experience something that doesn’t work for you. If this thing persists or if the situation or behavior gets even worse, then you’re out. The red flag itself is the warning that shit is about to get much worse.

A pink post-it note is, well, a pink post-it note. Something to stick on the situation to remind yourself to revisit it, keep an eye on it, and, depending on the situation, maybe even keep tabs on it and reassess the situation at a later date when you have more information about the perpetrator.

Here are two examples:

Example #1: It’s your first date. He shows up five minutes after your agreed-upon meeting time. You know yourself to be an early bird. You respect people who are early, and you value those who are always on time. Being late is frankly kinda offensive to you.

You showed up 15 minutes in advance. Yeah, now you’re annoyed. So, is this a red flag or pink post-it note? It’s a PPN. There could have been a wreck! Maybe he doesn’t know the area and Google Maps took him down a closed street (it happens). Maybe he expected there to be a parking lot and street parking took 30 minutes. And hey, if he knew you were an early bird, maybe this would have never happened. It’s an annoyance but could have been a one-off.

Example #2: He listed in his profile, “drinks socially.” You go out to dinner, and the restaurant is packed. While you’re waiting at the bar, he sucks down two doubles and then orders his third drink at the table when the server comes with your menus and water. Red flag or pink post-it note?

Example #2 is only a red flag if you require that your future partner is someone who drinks in moderation, right? If you don’t mind that kind of drinking, then he’s just festive, not trouble. Just like being five minutes late is only a pink post-it note if you’re an early bird and being late annoys you. If you were consistently 15 minutes late, he’d be on time. It’s all relative.

You get to say what your deal-breakers are. A deal-breaker is something that you’re so unwilling to tolerate that you’d rather be alone than be with a guy who…right?

Now, let’s get to your pumpkin and his wildly questionable decision on a president. That could be a deal-breaker. There are plenty of people out there for whom it would be. And if you can’t respect him as a person because of it, that should be a deal-breaker.

But throwing over someone who treats you like gold without finding out the story behind something like this seems a bit quick to me. If you like him, and you respect him, and beyond his (terrible, terrible lapse in good judgment) choice, he seems to be a man who shows good judgment, talk to him about it. And when you do, be open and gentle. Don’t start with, “What kind of monster are you that you’d vote for the Angry Creamsicle?”

Instead, try to bring openness, wonder, and curiosity. Do your best to not judge (or at least do your best to fake it). Say in a kind voice, “Hey, I didn’t vote for Trump because I just couldn’t see a reason. What was the most important issue for you that made you vote for him?”

In other words, since you like him and you aren’t ready to chuck him, it’s time you find out what’s important to him, where his morals lie, and what kind of judgment and discernment he has to see where you two align and where you don’t.

If your values are too far apart, and you can’t see each other’s point of view, then no matter how sexy he is, no matter how well he treats you, you will most likely need to say goodbye. Because it’s important to be seen and understood by the person who loves you, and respect is the most important thing in a loving relationship. If he doesn’t adore you and you don’t respect him, game over. We know lots of people who stay in those relationships due to…reasons, but seriously, game over.

Do you have a dating, sex or relationship question for Wendy? Send it to