Watch out for those early warning signs (Picture: Getty Images/EyeEm)
We all know we’ve got to watch out for red flags when we date, but what should we do when we hear slightly smaller alarm bells ringing?
Dr. Katherine Hertlein, sex therapist and principal researcher at relationship app Blueheart, says pink flags are similar to red flags, but they aren’t deal-breakers – yet.
‘We’ve all heard of reg flags,’ she said, ‘those major warning signs that a relationship probably won’t work out.
‘Pink flags are minor concerns or blips which aren’t deal-breakers but need to be addressed early on in the relationship to avoid bigger problems further down the line.’
That’s why she’s put together a list of the most common pink flags people in relationships face, and how to nip them in the bud before they turn red.
Different love languages
Understanding each other’s love language(s) can take work, but it’s definitely worth it in the long run.
‘People can have multiple ways of showing and receiving love,’ said Dr Katherine, ‘and if you and your partner have different love languages, you may both find it hard to express feelings of affection and gratitude in a way that can be appreciated by each other.
‘One of you may prefer acts of service as a sign of love, but the other may prefer physical touch – and if you can’t figure out the right formula to make the other person feel appreciated at the start of the relationship, this could prevent intimacy from developing and stop your relationship from progressing to the next level.’
How to fix it
As is very often the case, communication is key.
Dr Katherine advised: ‘To work through this issue, try to have an open conversation with your partner about which acts of affection make them feel the most appreciated, and work to figure out small ways in which both of you can help with this.
‘You could even try out each other’s love language for a short period of time, to see whether you notice a difference in your connection.’
Don’t let screens get in the way (Picture: Getty Images/Maskot)
Bluelighting is an easy trap for anyone to fall into, what with society’s dependence on screens – from binging TV to doomscrolling.
Dr Katherine said; ‘Bluelighting is when technology disrupts your emotional connections – whether that be checking your phones during conversation, not being able to fully focus on your partner during your time together, or even having tech notifications distract you during sex and intimacy.’
How to fix it
A quick fix can be keeping screens out of your bedroom, thus giving you space to be properly intimate without distractions.
Dr Katherine also recommended: ‘Make the effort to plan some time together without technology – even just cooking a meal together at home – can be a great way to reignite your connection.
‘Different settings can also help to make things feel fresh and new, so it could be helpful to schedule a date night, away from home, to give both of you the time to be fully engaged with each other.’
Having differing sex drives can easily snowball into a big issue in relationships.
‘If mismatched libido levels are established early on in the relationship, it’s important to work on solving this as a couple, before it creates larger intimacy issues down the line,’ warned Dr Katherine.
‘Both partners can end up feeling frustrated with misaligned sex drives – one partner may not feel sexually satisfied, while the other might feel pressured into having sex more often than they want to.’
How to fix it
With this one, compromise is essential.
‘Have an open and honest conversation about what will make you both happy and listen to how the other person feels,’ suggested Dr Katherine.
‘Couples can try Sensate Focus, a sexual therapy technique which consists of a series of non-sexual touching exercises that are completed in a sequence.
‘Sensate Focus is great for improving intimacy and communication between partners around sex, reducing sexual performance anxiety, and helping couples find alternative ways of connecting physically with each other without it necessarily involving what we traditionally think of as sex.’
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Different ways of addressing conflict
Dealing with conflict is an essential part of any relationship – and if you can’t manage that effectively, that will likely spell big problems later down the line.
‘Small disagreements could develop into more serious issues if one partner isn’t willing to sit down and talk through things together,’ explained Dr Katherine.
‘This can indicate that communication in your relationship is not as effective as it could be, which can create long-term problems and connection issues between yourself and your partner.’
How to fix it
Yet again, communication is vital here – no matter how hard it might be.
Dr Katherine said: ‘It’s important to keep lines of communication open between both of you – make sure to be honest with each other when these tricky situations occur.
‘If you’re both willing to work on your communication skills as a couple early on in your relationship, you can work to eliminate this pink flag together.’
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