By Vince Shifflett

Red flags are warning signs. Signs to proceed with caution or perhaps not proceed at all. A red flag is our intuition (inner guidance), making us aware of a potential issue. Red flags can be subtle, so it’s important to be consciously aware. In other words, pay attention. Whether the red flags are subtle or undeniable, we must be aware of the signals that something just doesn’t feel right. 

For me, red implies stop as in a red traffic light or stop sign. Red seems to be a universal sign for stop. The turn off button on many of my devices, such as my TV remote, computer, and radio in my car, is red. 

How many times have I ignored the red stop sign or red traffic light while driving? And I have the dings on my car to prove it. It is the same in my personal life. How many times have I ignored the red flags and ended up with mental and physical dings? 

The Universe (spirit, inner GPS, intuition) is constantly guiding us on this journey and throwing up red flags to stop us when there is danger ahead. The issue has been my tendency to be a little hard-headed at times and just go my own way despite the red flag warning. 

How many times have you continued dating someone when there were clearly red flags? How long have you stayed in relationships when the red flag (stop sign) was right in front of your face? That red flag can definitely signal danger ahead and warrants our attention. 

I once met this man with who I was sure I was in love with. After only six months, we moved in together. The red flags started popping up immediately and regularly popped up throughout the next two and a half years. Yes, I stayed that long. That is the hardhead part of me I talked about earlier. It is easy to tell oneself, “the red flag will go away,” or “he/she will change.” I am learning that the red flag is there for a reason, and I need to pay attention to it. I have also come to realize that the mere fact that you are trying to change someone or they are trying to change you is indeed a red flag in and of itself. 

I love what Maya Angelo said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Believe them the first time. 

Ignoring red flags in my life has certainly caused my share of hurt and pain. The flip side to that is, they have also taught me great lessons. Unfortunately, I did not always learn the lesson the first time around, so I ran the stop sign again and again. I have been guilty of ignoring the same red flag over and over. At times, I guess that’s necessary until we learn the lesson that the red flag is there to teach us. 

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU BECOME AWARE OF A RED FLAG

  1. Stop to think
  2. Stop to evaluate
  3. Stop to consider
  4. Stop to take a closer look at the situation
  5. Stop to meditate and pray
  6. Stop and have a conversation
  7. Have the courage to walk away if necessary

Do red flags mean the relationship is over? Not necessarily, but it could be if the red flags are ignored as opposed to being addressed. The red flag definitely means it is time to stop and evaluate the situation. I believe there are times when the red flags can be turned green for go if they are addressed appropriately. To ignore them and pretend everything is okay is not a healthy solution. 

The Universe will always have your back if you allow it to. Listen to it. No special powers needed to be able to see the flags. Just awareness. We all have that intuition. Staying aware allows you to see and feel the red flags. Trust that feeling. 

What are some of the red flags you’ve ignored? What were the consequences? What lessons did you learn that helped you in future relationships? I look forward to your response and feedback.  

Vince is an author, registered nurse, and blogger living in Atlanta. He routinely writes on matters affecting our physical, mental, and spiritual health as well as topics related to relationships. You can follow him on his website at vinceshifflett.com as well as on Facebook and Instagram.