We know all about toxic red flags, minor pink flags and positive green flags – but how can we learn to understand white flags in our relationships?
Whether you’re newly dating, at the beginning of a relationship or years into a romance, you’ll know that maintaining any kind of connection takes work and effort alongside undeniable chemistry, magnetic connection and all the other things our favourite rom-coms so proudly showcase.
What we don’t always see represented, however, are the small but important actions, changes and compromises that most couples make in the pursuit of a healthy, balanced relationship.
From putting the others’ needs before yours to making decisions about the future that benefit you both, romantic relationships require some sacrifices, big and small, over time – otherwise known as white flags.
“There’s a lot of discussion on green flags and red flags, and this seems to make the white flags go unnoticed. Maintaining romantic relationships requires lots of work, and sometimes, this means surrendering to some things in our life,” explains Elaine Parker, CEO and founder of dating app Safer Date.
What are white flags?
Much like its association with surrender on the battlefield, white flags in relationships are the concessions and compromises we make for our partners.
Whether it’s adopting a religion, moving countries or transitioning into veganism in support of a loved one, white flags mark the times that we make sacrifices to ultimately ensure the health of the relationship.
On a day-to-day basis, they can look like taking up a new hobby that our partner enjoys, or adapting your diet and lifestyle in line with theirs.
White flags can also be emotional, according to Parker.
In a relationship, particularly long-term, you discover everything there is to know about your partner – their positive traits, and even their slightly annoying habits. At the start of a relationship, preparing for a date means spraying your finest perfume or aftershave on every inch of your body and picking out your nicest clothing.
“However, after some time, you have to surrender to the relationship and let your guard down by being your true self. Of course, it can make you feel vulnerable, but it allows us to maintain the healthy relationship we need in our lives, and the vulnerability that we experience from surrendering can increase our satisfaction with one another,” she says.
Essentially, a white flag is something as simple as giving up your time to be supportive of your partner and experience what they enjoy doing.
Should we be wary of white flags?
However, white flags aren’t about giving up and changing for love. As Parker shares, it’s not to be mistaken as something that is negative – when you love someone, you will often do what it takes to be with that person.
“However, it’s important to be aware of surrendering in a healthy way,” she continues. “Surrendering yourself to be with someone shouldn’t involve shutting off your loved ones is unhealthy, and it’s crucial to be aware that scenarios like this can be dangerous.”
If you feel like your significant other is constantly asking you to compromise, and doesn’t appear prepared to do the same in return, it could be more of a red flag than a white one.
Finally, Parker shares that, in some cases, you may not always be willing to surrender yourself, and the relationship may come to an end.
“But for the right person, you will wave the white flag and surrender yourself, so you can keep the relationship going and allow one another to thrive.”