• Sat. Dec 4th, 2021

Three emojis and you're out: The 'Red Flag' texting hack for daters

Oct 15, 2021

Three emojis and you're out: The 'Red Flag' texting hack to avoid dating the wrong people

Whether it’s benching or breadcrumbing, there are plenty of reasons to be frustrated with modern dating.

But the most common worry seems to be that people aren’t who they say they are, as evidenced by a Pew Research survey from 2020. One in three daters asked cited dishonesty and misrepresentation as the worst things about dating online.

This was the topic of conversation at a recent hen party I was at, where I got chatting to a friend going through the ‘talking stage’ with a man she’d met at a festival.

Although they’d spoken in real life, she felt like he was holding back a lot of detail about himself, and was worried his air of mystery was an act to keep parts of his life secret.

As the discussion continued (the general verdict was ‘he’s sus’) my friend pulled out her phone and typed a red flag emoji beside his name in contacts, explaining that it was a technique she used to vet dates and avoid creeps.

The ‘hack’ is simple. Each time someone you’re messaging does something that makes you feel uncomfortable or unhappy, you put a red flag emoji next to their name. When they reach three red flags, you delete their number for good and stop texting them.

By keeping a record of incompatibility issues, you take away the rose-tinted glasses common in the early stages of a relationship, and aren’t relying on your memory – which could be clouded by attraction and the desire to find love.

Psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos tells Metro.co.uk: ‘The sooner you set expectations on where you draw the line on certain behaviours and what makes you uncomfortable, the better.

‘While it can be daunting to address what behaviours might be making you anxious or stressed out, doing it in writing allows you to plan through what you want to say and lay it out in a clear way.’

It seems like an easy method on the surface, but the hard part comes when you try to decide what counts as a red flag to you.

Dr Papadopoulos says: ‘All relationships have different dynamics. What might be a red flag when messaging someone on apps like Messenger might not be a big deal in a different conversation.

‘Similarly, your red flags are something very personal, so whatever your own preferences and triggers are, remember everyone’s entitled to set boundaries and ask for them to be respected.’

For some, a red flag might be seemingly inconsequential, like wearing Crocs or saying specifically as Pacifically. For others, the emoji might be reserved for when their date is pushy, rude, or has opposing values that could cause clashes in a potential relationship.

It’s totally your choice how harsh you are with the three-strikes texting rule, as well as whether you do delete the number after they hit the big three. If you’re not ready to cut contact, you may find it more constructive to tell the person how you’re feeling.

‘For example, if you feel a bit overwhelmed when getting a series of short messages, make this clear and see if the other person is able or willing to change their behaviour,’ says Dr Papadopoulos.

‘Depending on the situation, you can always remind someone of the boundaries you’ve set, and let them know what else you’d like to try to address the situation together.

‘When all else fails, features like muting a chat or switching off your Messenger Active Status allow you to do what’s right for you.’

Ghosting is normally bad practice in the dating game, so try to be conscious of others’ feelings before you get too trigger happy with the flag emoji.

Remember, though, that your boundaries are valid – and you don’t owe someone an explanation or apology for that.

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