Exploring the Concept of Beige Flags in Relationships

Relationship Rules
24 Aug 2023
8 min read
Beige Flag: A New Dating Term You Should Know

Beige is considered a neutral color. Why? Primarily because it isn’t “loud” like, let’s say, red or blue. It kinda blends in and complements the other louder colors. Or it provides a muted contrast to them. So, does a beige flag mean something neutral then?

We all know what a red flag is – a trait or behavior that is, or should be, a deal breaker. And we know what a green flag is – great traits or qualities that mean a relationship has real potential. But beige flags in relationships? If they mean something steady,why not just yellow – an indicator of “proceed with caution”? Well, a beige flag is none of the above. Indeed, it is something a bit neutral and boring, but not quite. Curious? Then let’s dig in.

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The Beige Flag: How It Started and How It’s Going

The phrase “beige flags” started to determine boring online dating profiles. Like, when someone wrote, “My interests include travel, dining out, movies, and sports,” there is no detail, excitement, or engagement. So this is an example of a beige profile of a beige person – maybe not worth a second look.

Over time, though, the term “beige flag” came to take on a newer meaning.

TikTok seems to be the “culprit” of this whole newer beige flag trend. On this social media platform, the trend originating in Australia and moving across the English-speaking world. In it, TikTok users began to refer to beige flags as personality traits or little quirks that are odd, weird, and possibly annoying. And so, it went far beyond the dating app and entered the relationship area.

But are they warning signs that a good relationship trend is going downhill? Are they yellow or red flags? Do beige flags turn into yellow or red? Let’s check the current place of the beige color on your relationship palette.

Knowing the Difference Between a Beige Flag and the Others

Relationship flags run along a full spectrum and exist in all modern dating situations. Let’s see what each color means:

  • Red flags: The serious issues that should tell you to stop and get out of the relationship. The red flag refers to the signs that are pretty glaring – addictions, mental or physical abuse, over-the-top jealousy or anger, the need to control too many aspects of your life and attempt to isolate you from friends and family, a history of cheating, and unwillingness to take responsibility for mistakes. These traits are extreme, and no healthy relationship will be forged.

Related reading: 14 Red Flags in Your New Male Squeeze
14 Red Flags in Women – Here’s Your Checklist

  • Yellow flags: Issues that serve as warning signs in potential partners. While they are not as severe as red flags, they could become so. If a partner is overly dependent or wants you to be always available, take a step back and re-evaluate. If a partner treats service industry workers with dis-respect, it’s one of those traits you don’t want to ignore. Check out these common yellow flags. They may be things partners can work on together to resolve.

“Yellow flags are the signs that tell you when to tread lightly, be cautious, and give yourself time to assess your partner further.”

Parisa Ghanbari, psychotherapist

  • Green flags: These flags are self-explanatory. Potential partners are engaged in healthy ways, care about and respect one another, and are just largely comfortable with one another.

Related reading: 14 Green Flags in a Guy You Date

In this case, beige flags are kinda in between green and yellow, but probably more toward the green flag end of the dating relationship spectrum. And taking them all by themselves, they, too, fall on a spectrum, which we will explore further.

Beige flag in relationships: Color shades

The Beige Flag Spectrum: Low, Middle, and High

To begin with, let’s admit that we all have beige flags – those odd quirks that are habits others have noticed too and even make fun of us for. These may be minor habits, but they can be irritating to others.

Let’s see what has a low, medium, and high potential of rising to the level of irritating a girlfriend or boyfriend in this age of modern dating.

Low on the Spectrum of Beige Flags:

  • You fail to put the new toilet paper roll on the holder and leave it sitting somewhere else within reach
  • You insist that the foods on your plate not be touching each other
  • You chew your ice
  • You eat cake and ice cream for breakfast
  • You use the same phrases over and over again

On the Middle Range of the Beige Flag Spectrum:

  • You are late sometimes because you didn’t watch the time or procrastinated
  • Some of your personal habits that are a bit annoying – chewing on the inside of your cheek; biting your nails; constantly twirling your hair when on a date
  • You occasionally talk with food in your mouth
  • You pick your scabs (this might be on the high end for some)

Toward the High End of the Beige Flag Spectrum:

  • You are too “automatic” during sex, doing or wanting the same thing all the time
  • You don’t flush the toilet after use
  • You become a bit loud when tipsy
  • You are too attached to your phone and too attached to social media

… But the Spectrum Is Subjective

Now, these are just examples. The other important matter is this whole business of a beige flag is what you or your partner is willing to “overlook” or point out and ask you to work on it. And there is, of course, what is known as the “ick” factor – a beige flag that you or your girlfriend/boyfriend simply cannot abide.

In other words, it’s one thing to be weird, but it’s another to be gross (can we say picking our nose?). What is what depends totally on you. Blowing one’s nose at the dinner table, while being a bit gross, can be worked on with calm and appropriate nudging. Or can not be worked. There’s probably no need for a dating coach to counsel you on how to address the topic.

How to measure your tolerance for beige flags?

What’s Your Tolerance Level?

Relationships develop over time through the process of dating. Two people get to know each other as that dating moves forward. And there are hundreds of thousands of behaviors that people in dating relationships see as beige flags. Let’s see what you can do with that.

1. Identify Your Priorities

“Learning someone’s quirks is all part of the process of getting to know a prospective partner…a beige flag is a process flag. You’re not deciding one way or the other yet. You’re still playing it out to see how you feel.”

Kathryn Smerling, Ph.D. and family therapist

Some people identify a beige flag as funny or strange and don’t give it a second thought. Others find them mildly annoying but are willing to overlook them, being focused on the bigger picture. They and their loved ones share common goals, principles, and interests, which are far more important as a sign that a relationship is healthy. That’s why being compatible on more significant issues is the larger priority.

You must also understand that while the person you are dating is probably sizing up your beige flags, you are also sizing up theirs. And a beige flag, you may not seem to be one to them.

2. Remember That a Beige Flag Can Be Positive

There is nothing to say that a beige flag in a person you are dating cannot turn out to be a positive thing. Suppose, for example, they have the habit of checking their social media accounts at only two specific times a day and you check them throughout the day, getting distracted from other tasks. You might discover that they have the better trend here and try to adopt the same behavior. Turns out, it’s a good thing for you, too.

3. Identify and Voice Your Expectations Regarding Those Beige Flags

As you continue in the dating process, you will continue to notice a beige flag or two (or more) that you do find annoying. They are not enough to spoil your attraction to this person, and you have the choice to just live with them or to address them. The best advice? Talk about them:

  1. Start the conversation by asking your partner to identify a characteristic or two (or more) that they find annoying in you. This tells them that you know you are not perfect in their eyes. Encourage them to verbalize these and how much they are bothered by them.
  2. Address those beige flags you see in them. Name just one or two the first time you have this discussion – if you hit them with several all at once, they may see it as a sign that you are unhappy.
  3. Discuss what you find annoying or irritating in each other and how you can change that.

This first talk can be the moment that both of you engage in total honesty about some negative quirks and actually become closer.

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What to Do If a Beige Flag Turns Yellow or Red?

Yes, it happens. Your love has a beige flag that seems harmless at first. You notice it but are more than willing to ignore it at the moment. Over time, though, as you keep watching this flag, you see that it is beginning to affect your dating life with this partner. It’s a trend that you find more and more annoying.

Suppose, for example, that your love is rather addicted to cosplay. You are amused when they don a costume and attend a local conference or event. Maybe you go with them and actually enjoy it. It’s a beige flag that actually enlarges your world a bit.

Over time, though, your partner’s beige flags relating to cosplay begin to show themselves as rather obsessive. They travel out of town to conventions and events; they follow their favorite cosplay characters online, often ignoring your presence and the conversation you’d like to have. What started as a bit of an endearing trait is no longer necessarily good. You are becoming increasingly irritated.

At this point, the beige flag has turned yellow, if not red. And if and when it reaches the point of no tolerance, you are not a bad person if you close out the relationship.

You Are Now an Authority

If you have made it this far, you have become an expert on beige flags. Feel free to explain it all to a friend, co-worker, or family member. Most of all? Explain it to your dating partner and ask what yours are.

Dating Tips Author
Shelly Standford
After a devastating relationship breakup, I threw myself into the dating scene by registering on Hily. I had over 100 dates - some absolute disasters, some pretty average, and some that were actually great. So many stories to tell and insights to share with you guys!
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