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Red Flags: Warning signs in relationships, situations, and life in general

By MONIQUE TODA, The Philippine STAR Published Apr 10, 2022 5:00 am

I was with my friend Arpee in Korea, and we were lost. We were supposed to go see someone in Seoul, but because of incomplete information, we went to the wrong place.

Despite language barriers and using our best universal sign language, with lots of pointing and “thumbs up” gestures, we managed to ask a uniformed gardener how to get to our destination. He seemed like a hard worker with leathery skin and even had some soil on his hands. From what I understood from him, it would take us an hour’s drive to get there.

Wow, we were really far off. Suddenly, he gestured for us to follow him and communicated that he would take us. My friend and I were overwhelmed by his kindness towards two lost ladies. We got to the parking lot and he showed us his car and opened the door.

The car was covered in dust like you can’t imagine. It looked like it wasn’t used in years. In a split second, images from K-dramas with serial killers entered my mind. I got nervous and hesitated. My friend and I just looked at each other and knew that we shouldn’t get in that car. It was a red flag.

We just love to justify our actions and overthink things. Red flags are there for a reason: they trigger our primal instinct to fight or flee.

Were we foolish, judgmental, or just cynical? Arpee and I kindly declined his offer and profusely gave thanks. We talked about it after and asked ourselves, “Are our hearts so black that we couldn’t believe in the kindness of strangers?”

It’s either we escaped danger, or missed the chance to accept a well-intentioned and generous offer. We both laugh about it now like it’s a comedy, but could it have turned out a tragedy? We will never know.

A red flag is “a sign or warning of impending danger, disaster or doom,” according to the Urban Dictionary. There are red flags in certain situations, relationships, and life in general.

We see the flags and get that dreadful feeling in the gut. However, most of the time, we negate them. We just love to justify our actions and overthink things. Red flags are there for a reason: they trigger our primal instinct to fight or flee.

Here are some red flags to watch out for.

  • You meet a man over a matchmaking app who is handsome, decked out head to toe in designer wear, flies via private jet, and claims to be a billionaire.

Red Flag: He asks you to wire him money and promises to pay you back and dodges payment.

The Tinder Swindler on Netflix tells the story of Simon Leviev who defrauded women he dated. Many red flags were ignored.

Conclusion: Run away! He is the Tinder Swindler.

  • You find the man of your dreams and he asks you out.

Red Flag: You notice his tan hand — with the white marking of an absent wedding band on the ring finger.

A mark of an absent wedding band on the ring finger of your date is a red flag.

Conclusion: He is married and a jerk. Walk away and find another dream man.

  • You are friends with a so-called “heiress” who wines and dines you in the best places.

Red Flag: She always hands you the bill and says she will wire you payment but never does. She then tells you that “I have no time for you!”

Conclusion: Her name is Anna Delvey; she has been convicted for fraud. She is not your friend.

  • You are dating a really handsome man.

Red Flag: You find him constantly looking at the mirror, even using the dinner knife to check out his looks.

Red flag alert! If your partner always looks admiringly at himself in mirrors, cellphones, and even dinner knives — he is in love with himself.

Conclusion: He is not in love with you. He is in love with himself.

  • You work for a decent company under an experienced boss.

Red Flag: He asks you to do some ethically questionable tasks.

Conclusion: Report him to Human Resources, and pray for the redemption of his soul.

  • You get introduced to someone you idolize and respect for his integrity.

Red Flag: You get vibes that he is making a pass at you and sees if you will respond.

Conclusion: Flee! And never worship anyone you have never met.

  • You get an email with a special offer for luxury goods.

Red Flag: The prices are a tenth of what they should be and it sounds too good to be true.

Anna Delvey was a fake heiress who fooled many in New York society. There were red flags everywhere and she eventually got caught.

Conclusion: I assure you, the luxury items are fake.

  • You get a direct message on Instagram from someone who finds you beautiful and would like to befriend you.

Red Flag: You don’t know this person and his posts are full of him in sexy shirtless poses flexing his muscles.

Catfishing is when one tries to lure you into a relationship with a fake persona.

Conclusion: This is catfishing, an online scam where one tries to lure you into a relationship with a fake persona. Eventually, this person will ask for money. So delete that DM pronto.

There are so many red flags everywhere, but it is up to us to decipher them. Sometimes, though, with all the noise all around us, our senses get dulled. There is also the sensation of our kind hearts beating, wanting to open ourselves to others, and give people and situations the benefit of the doubt.

Whatever it may be, just be wise, always practice good judgment — and don’t ignore the red flags.