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You have probably heard of the term red flags before. But what’s a weirdly specific red flag? To unpack it, let’s look at what a red flag means. 

A red flag is a warning sign of a potential problem with how a person is going to treat you in a relationship; a foreshadowing of what is to come. 

For example, a common red flag is when someone is impolite or rude to service staff, as it is often a true indicator of their personality. People tend to put their best foot forward when they are on a date. Looking at their attitude towards people who aren’t in a position to stand up for themselves would be more indicative of their actual personality — whether they are truly a good person or not. 

Of course, we can never really tell what a person is actually like based on these instances by themselves. But red flags are frequently used as an easy way to filter out the bad seeds from the good ones. 

Now, weirdly specific red flags are exactly what they sound like: weirdly specific behaviour that sometimes seems innocent on the surface but could also be the total opposite. Sometimes, it also just be things that give you the ick. Still don’t really get what I mean? Well, here are 2 of my own oddly specific red flags. 

  1. Not understanding the fight scene in All Too Well

If you’re a Swiftie or deeply in touch with pop culture, you would know exactly what I am talking about. Last year, Taylor Swift released the 10-minute version of one of her hit songs in the original ‘Red’ Album called ‘All Too Well’ together with a short film. 

An argument between the main characters was captured in a single take following a dinner with the guy’s friends in the short film. The girl pointed out that she felt rejected as the guy “doesn’t look at her” and “dropped her hand” during the dinner. However, he was quick to change the story on her, making her doubt what was actually going on and calling her “crazy” for harping on something that “didn’t happen” when it did. This scenario is a clear example of gaslighting.

For me, it says a lot about a person’s personality if they are unable to recognise gaslighting behaviour. It could mean that they are either: (1) potentially toxic as they aren’t aware of dangerous and unhealthy relationship patterns, (2) they are also a gaslighter but aren’t aware or —worse of all— they are a gaslighter and aware, but feigns ignorance to avoid being called out. 

  1. Preference for “feminine” girls

Well, this one just seems odd to me, especially when guys put it on their dating profiles. It’s worse when they add that they prefer “traditionally feminine” girls. 

Like, what exactly are you looking for here? A girl who meets the 1950s housewife archetype? The whole situation just gives me the ick and makes me want to stop before anything even happens.

  1. They only date people who are a lot younger/older than them

Don’t get me wrong, age isn’t everything when it comes to dating. However, if someone is always in relationships with significant age gaps, it tends to reflect that their emotional needs and maturity level aren’t likely met by people from their own age group. For example, they might be looking for a partner who can look after them like a parent; or they find it easiest to get along with the naivete of a younger and much more inexperienced partner. Now, this isn’t always a bad thing; if what both of you are looking for can fit well, there’s no reason you should be too alarmed. But for those who want a partner of equal maturity and experience, a dating history of very large age gaps might be a red flag.

At the end of the day, oddly specific red flags are mostly harmless fun and ‘icks’ that don’t mean much. Yes, these oddly specific red flags (or red flags in general) tends to oversimplify the situation. But it is important to remember that they are not meant to serve as an immediate ‘stop’ sign, but instead a ‘slow down’ sign. It could be your gut warning you that something is off and potentially dangerous, or something more minute like potentially personality clashes. 

Laura Lee

Nanyang Tech '23

Laura is a Public Policy and Global Affairs undergraduate at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Outside of class, she sings and hangs out with her three cats!
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