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Mental Health

Pink Flags: The Emotional Signal In Relationships You Need to Watch For

Prepare yourself for tough love and challenging truths.


How do you know if you’re in a relationship with the right person? We’ve been taught to hope for the fairytale ending from a very young age, wondering if we’ll find our soulmate or keep searching forever. Of course, there’s no right answer (whether you believe in soulmates is up to you), but there is a good test to determine whether your relationship is a healthy one: Look for pink flags.

The idea of pink flags comes from Tamsen Fadal, a 52-year-old primetime news anchor in New York City who makes TikToks of life tips, giving advice on how to handle everything from menopause to relationships. Fadal says most women already look for green or red flags in their romances and friendships. (Green flags are signals that the friend or partner is a person with whom you want to spend your time — they always pick up the phone when you call, for example. Red flags are signals that the relationship will become unhealthy — your friend or partner never initiates phone calls, for example.) However, many women fail to acknowledge the pink flags.

Understanding Pink Flags

According to Fadal, pink flags are red flags — or problematic traits — that you think you can fix, so you consider them “pink” in hopes that they will become more manageable. “Pink flags are those things that you say, ‘Oh, it isn’t that big of a deal. We can work on that,'” Fadal explains in her video. “Pink flags for me, in my first big relationship, that ended up in a marriage, [were]: the fact that the guy I had met was sleeping on a friend’s couch. He was using his bicycle to get back and forth to work. He had a terrible divorce with his ex-wife. And [he had] lots and lots of money problems. But for some reason, I thought that I could fix all of those things. And I made them ‘pink flags’ … Those were red flags! And I ignored them.”

Fadal goes on to reveal that she once had a matchmaking business in New York City. She saw her clients work through pink flags again and again in their relationships — but thought nothing of the pink flags in her own marriage. “I saw women doing this all the time, myself included,” she admits. “I was totally guilty of it. But the problem is, [my clients] would get so frustrated because they couldn’t change that person. And they didn’t realize they knew all along it wasn’t going to work.

“You could spend weeks, months, or years with somebody, putting all this effort in to change them, and you never will,” she continues. “In the end, you’re just going to be really, really disappointed. It’s not that people can’t change, but big things like that — unless somebody wants to change — it’s not worth it.”

How To Navigate Pink Flags

In her pink flag video, Fadal had some final, wise words for women her age: “Especially as we get older, we have more experience. And we see what is going on. So, go with your gut. It will never, never lead you in the wrong direction.”

Fadal’s tough-love approach may seem harsh, but her warning is important. Watch out for those pink flags; learning to be careful with where you put your time, love, and energy as you get older is an invaluable life lesson.

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