Using Your Intuition to Read The Flags

Flags, red, orange, yellow, green…they all matter. This subject is perennial and one that comes up no matter how solid your relationship is. Because we’re all dealing with flags, be it someone else’s or our own.

I’ve been talking a lot about flags with clients lately.

This season most of the women I’m working with are embarking on dating again. They’ve spent time reflecting, identifying their Needs, Wants, and Desires, and going deeper into acknowledging the flags and patterns that have existed in past relationships. And now they’re ready to date again, to test all that they’ve learned and experienced. Feeling solid and ready to jump into the next phase of life.

I often talk about how each of my clients is different and the tools I use with each of them are tailored to the individual’s experience and focus for their life. Sure many of the techniques we use are the same across situations but the strongest one is intuition. Whenever we start noticing patterns and flags (of any color) coming up with my clients we start talking about practices that will allow them to connect more deeply with their Intuition.

Because it is these intuitive nudges that are often first to go when dating or working on a relationship. We start ignoring the little pokes and prods from deep within in favor of our “logical” brain. We’re going to take a look at a few different ways to approach flags - and I’m going to answer a couple of questions that I received via DM on the subject.

First: Indicator Flags

It can be such a whirlwind early on in dating that you don’t take the time to identify or even search out flags as you’re getting to know someone. You get caught up in the fun and excitement of dating. Maybe they say something off-hand about their parents, and it perks your ears up. Or maybe they refuse to talk about past relationships when it naturally comes up in conversation. If things like this are happening in conversation and you’re sensing something may be off this is your intuition!

I call these initial nudges Indicator Flags. They indicate something to be investigated or something to reflect on for yourself. Sometimes indicator flags simply indicate something you still have a sensitivity to from a past relationship, sometimes it’s something you’re trying to heal.

When you notice an Indicator Flag the first thing to do is reflect on it. What is it potentially indicating? For this example let’s say it’s a lack of talking about a past relationship and in the past you’ve been burned before from dating people who weren’t emotionally available yet.

The first thing you can do is sit and reflect, list out the fears you have around this Indicator Flag. Let your mind think about what it could mean for the potential in the relationship (it’s ok if you swirl a bit, this is normal). Then I want you to pull yourself out of the swirl and think about the next steps.

This is the most important thing to keep in mind when starting to date again. The first few dates are absolutely the time to ask big questions, not hamper or dim your light, and to allow yourself to simply go in and ask for what you want.

Outline what questions you have for the person you’re dating. And focus on phrasing them all conversationally, you don’t want to be in an accusatory mode. You may need to write the questions down first as harsh as they appear in your head then soften them as you go.

Example: “Why aren’t you over your ex?” could become… “I notice when we’ve touched on past relationships you get kind of quiet, why is that?”

It can also help if as you start embarking on these questions and deeper conversation you preface with the fact that you simply want to know, it’s important that you get to know the truth about each other right off the bat and you’re committed to creating a meaningful relationship this time around in your dating life (if that’s true – if you’re just having fun casually dating this is a different story.)

As you’re having these conversations the Indicator Flag may be dissolved by simply getting the answer. Maybe the reason they aren’t sharing about an ex is because of their fear that their personal dating history will make you not want to date them. Or it could be they’re still processing in some ways and didn’t feel ready to open up all the way.

This is where it’s important to be connected to your intuition and actively listen to both what your date is sharing with you and how your inner self is responding.

Make sure after you have this conversation you have processing time. Make space to journal about the conversation, go sit in a favorite park or coffee shop and take note of what stood out to you.

Is your Indicator Flag solved and down or have more flags popped up?

When you follow Indicator Flags one of two things will happen. More flags that are of varying colors will pop up or you’ll solve the Indicator Flag and you’ll be able to move on.

Setting this habit and practice up early on in dating is important and can lead to better communication between you and your date if your relationship progresses.

What About Big Red Flags?

When I start working with clients around dating one of the first exercises we do is to identify you’re Needs, Wants, and Desires. After this, we look at things you know you don’t want - coming at dating from both what you do and don’t want can help you see the whole picture.

The key to this when dating again is to activate this mindset of “Nope not for me” when you’re meeting people. There is nothing wrong with noticing a Red Flag and getting the heck out of Dodge.

So if you notice a Red Flag you can choose to stick around and suss it out, or you can go. Like everything in your life - the choice is yours. I have some clients that always want to give folks the benefit of the doubt, and some that are guarded and flee at the first sign of a Red Flag.

The choice is ultimately yours but what I want you to do is to commit to what your Red Flags are and support yourself when you see them. Call that individual out on it if it feels right. If that feels like too much, there’s nothing wrong with saying you don’t wish to see them anymore. I do always encourage you to close the loop with dates though, ghosting doesn’t breed good relationship/dating karma.

The biggest thing with Red Flags is to know what yours are and how you want to approach them. Make the decision before you get into dating and stick to your guns.

Answering a question I recently got on Instagram:

“How to determine how much time you give your partner to change after expressing their behavior hurts you?”

Let’s say you’re dating someone and there’s a bit of an Orange Flag – something you don’t like that they do but you both want to work on it. How much time should you spend trying to support your partner as they try to amend their behavior?

This is up to the two of you. At the end of the day, a relationship is a tandem effort between individuals who are committed to being with each other and want to investigate journeying through life together. If you have raised the need for a shift from your partner and they’ve responded that they’re willing to try – that’s fantastic!

When you’re in these discussions there’s nothing wrong with requesting that you check up on the topic in the future. Try to decide on a time that works best for both of you, does it make sense to check in two weeks down the road, maybe three months. Find an agreed-upon time and commit to that.

Try not to make it homework that’s “due” by this time but simply a time in the future for youtube to connect on the subject again. It allows you space to know that the subject will be discussed again and gives your partner space to do the work as they can.

If at the “check-in” time you notice that they’re defensive, or maybe haven’t made the strides you are hoping for this is a time to discuss both of those things. Ask them what a reasonable amount of time to make the change is, and see how that feels for you.

The biggest thing in long-term relationships is understanding that we’re always growing and changing and it doesn’t always happen simultaneously. This is also a great time to refer back to what you Need, Want, and Desire in a relationship to see if your partner is able to meet those things, and if not - is that a deal-breaker.

Only your inner-self knows the truth. Some people are willing to accept small changes over years others need near immediate change depending on the topic at hand. There is no wrong, as long as you’re both speaking your truths and holding space respectfully and with kindness for one another.

Remember, flags are a part of life and relationships they don’t mean you’ve failed or aren’t able to have a successful relationship. They simply indicate something that needs to be addressed.

This is a high-level look at flags in relationships. If you’re looking for more let me know, I’m taking clients on a rolling basis this year and am always here to help. Feel free to set up a Discovery Call with me to talk through your questions and see if my support fits your needs for this time in your life.

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