The Difference Between a Red Flag & A Pink Post-It Note

Dating is a sorting process, one value at a time.

Photo by Allef Vinicius — Unsplash

Ask Wendy: Dating, Sex & Relationship Advice for the Bold

Hey Wendy,

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

I’m dating someone who votes a very different way than I do. I thought him casting that last presidential 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.


Hey Anna,

I’m glad that your guy treats you like gold. That’s a “has-to-have” item for your requirement list for partnership.

How he votes? Let’s break it down:

A red flag

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

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 this new person.

Here are a few examples:

#1: It’s your first date. He shows up eight 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 fifteen minutes in advance.

So yeah, now you’re annoyed.

So, is this a red flag or pink post-it note?

Well… depends on you.

Either way, you might want to check with him. There could have been a really good reason, like 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.

I’ll say more about this in a second, but let’s give you another one to chew on…

#2: He listed in his profile, “drinks socially.” You meet up for dinner, 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?

Well… that also depends on you.

Only you get to say what’s a red alert.

It’s only a red flag if you require that your future partner is someone who drinks in moderation and is accurate in how he represents himself on his profile.

If you don’t mind kicking it with someone who drinks that much that quickly yet still calls it moderation, then he’s just festive, not trouble.

Just like being eight minutes late is a red flag (vs being a pink post-it note) if you’re an early bird and someone who is chronically late will annoy the shit out of you.

Think of it this way, if you were always fifteen minutes late, he’d be on time.

It’s all relative.

Know your dealbreakers.

A deal-breaker is something that you’re so unwilling to tolerate that you’d rather be alone than be with that person.

Now, let’s get to your guy and his questionable political choices. 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 good reason or story behind his choices doesn’t seem prudent, so 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 the way you did?”

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’m curious — what are the most important issues to you that inform how you vote?”

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.

When it’s time to walk…

If you learn 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.

. . . .

Wendy Newman is the author of 121 First Dates. She’s a dating, sex, and relationship expert who’s led hundreds of workshops and revolutionized the lives of over 70,000+ women internationally.

Do you know what your dealbreakers are? Find out with Partner Have-to-Haves a DIY Sorting Workshop.

You can send a question to the column via email:

Dating, Sex & Relationship Expert and Author of 121 First Dates (Simon & Schuster). Over 70,000 women trust Wendy’s advice, tools, & experience.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store