Skip to content

This Is the No. 1 Way to Deal With a Red Flag, According to Experts

This is the most mature way to address a partner's red flag.

When you start dating someone and finding that you have great chemistry, there's one thing that can stop that blooming relationship in its tracks: a red flag. If you recognize something in your partner that is alarming, but not quite significant enough to warrant a break up, you probably feel stuck about how to move forward. Well, according to experts, there's only one way to deal with a red flag: being upfront and having an honest discussion with your partner about how you are feeling.

Before approaching your significant other about the issue giving you pause, you first have to decide whether or not the conversation is worth having. Some red flags are signaling a larger, more significant issue, while others are a bit more frivolous. "If it's a difference in core values (someone who believes in monogamy vs. non-monogamy), there isn't any point in moving forward. If it's a personality quirk, like one partner being more tidy than the other, there's a better chance that it isn't something that will end the relationship," says Alisha Powell, PhD, LCSW. Ultimately you have to decide for yourself where on this spectrum your partner's red flag falls.

To figure it out, Carla Marie Manly, PhD, author of Joy from Fear, suggests journaling, which allows for "greater objectivity about the issue or issues" or talking to a friend or professional. According to Manly, "the goal is to gain as much insight as possible in order to know how to effectively address the red flag issue."

serious lesbian couple talking and listening to each other

Once you are confident that the red flag is something you are willing to work around, then you can have a productive discussion with your partner. In order for the conversation to be constructive, you should go into it prepared with what you want to get across but also be open to hearing your significant other out. "When you talk to your potential partner, be clear and direct," says Manly.

She recommends using "I" statements to express your thoughts and feelings. "For example, if the potential partner is often late for dates, you might say, 'I've noticed a pattern that I wanted to talk to you about. I feel disrespected when you're consistently late for our dates. If you're running late, it's important to me that you call me to let me know what's going on,'" suggests Manly.

RELATED: For more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Once you've expressed yourself, your partner's reaction will guide the conversation. "Your potential partner's response will help you know your next right step. If the individual is combative or indifferent, it's likely a sign that there will be significant trouble ahead," says Manly. "However, if the individual takes responsibility and wants to improve the situation, it's possible that the red flag issue actually served a positive purpose."

Whether you and your partner decide the issue is worth working through or you decide to go your separate ways, having an open, honest conversation is essential for both parties in the long run. And to learn what not to do when dating, check out This Is the No. 1 Turn-Off for Men, According to a Therapist.

Filed Under