Red Flags

courtesy of national coalition for sexual freedom

A Red Flag is a warning sign or behavior that indicates potential problems in a relationship. These warning signs can vary in severity and can be emotional, psychological, or even physical harm.

One of the most important things for people to realize is that if someone doesn’t respect your boundaries in small ways, that’s a sign that they might not respect your boundaries in bigger ways.

Communication is critical in kink and non-monogamous relationships, and even the best of friends and romantic partners can make mistakes. If there’s a boundary violation, address it and pay attention to their response. Are they disturbed that they made you feel uncomfortable, or do they tell you it’s your fault that you feel this way? If they deflect the blame onto you, that is potentially a Red Flag.

If someone seems to have difficulty responding to open and respectful discussions around your own boundaries, or if you shut down rather than face conflict over your own boundaries, that’s a potential Red Flag. The bottom line is that you need to feel you’re being heard and that your desires are respected. For example, mentoring isn’t only about teaching; it’s also about listening and being responsive to each person as a unique individual.

Pay attention to potential Red Flags when interacting with someone who is in a position of power, such as a mentor, educator or organizer. It’s easy to believe that those in power know better about what’s right for you than you do, simply because they have more experience or expertise. If someone in a position of power is pushy with you, then that may be a Red Flag.

Also, pay attention to Red Flags that you observe happening between other people. That can be an indicator of how a person treats other people over time.

Some potential Red Flags to consider:

  • Someone starts ordering you around or doing things, even though you haven’t negotiated what you’re going to do together.
  • Someone says they don’t have any limits or boundaries.
  • Someone calls you a belittling name like “sweetie” or “honey” or uses language like “slut” or “bad boy” without asking you first if that’s okay.
  • Someone is demeaning or rude toward wait staff in a restaurant, or any service industry.
  • Someone pressures you or urges you to do something, even though you’ve said you’re not sure about it.
  • Your “mentor” wants to play with you. That’s not a mentor; that’s a play partner. A mentor also shouldn’t pressure you to do things with other people that you’re not ready to do.
  • You’re asked to do something sexual on camera, but the other person won’t show themselves.
  • Someone blames all of their relationship problems in the past on their previous partners.
  • Someone rushes into relationships, especially if there’s a string of failed relationships behind them.
  • Someone is unpredictable when it comes to reactions, you simply don’t know what to expect from them.
  • Someone is absent when you’re struggling and provide no support.
  • Your questions aren’t answered or aren’t answered truthfully.
  • You’re told not to speak to certain people or go to certain places.
  • Your family and/or friends are uncomfortable around the person.
  • You’re prevented from seeing or talking to friends and family.
  • You’re tracked or monitored as to your whereabouts.
  • You’re told what you can and can’t say.
  • You’re accused of things you didn’t do.
  • Someone tries to trick or deceive you, or takes advantage of your confusion.
  • You’re pressured to drink or take drugs.

What are some other Red Flags for you?
Red Flag