Friday, 20 September 2019

[ yellow flags ]

With the newest season of The Bachelor having come to a close, there are any number of romance articles out there. How to keep them interested, where to go to spice things up, when they say one thing and mean another, how many calls a day is considered clingy (more than one, apparently, is a stage 5 clinger. That's me done then...).

My favourite is the mention of 'yellow flags'. Not quite as disturbing as their red cousins, yellow flags aren't complete deal breakers, but things that make you go...hmmm. As in, ok, we're not calling it quits over this, but I gotta be honest, that's pretty crazypants.

Obviously, this got me thinking. I might be getting back in the dating game myself, so it's good to reflect. And we all know what happens when I get thinking. You got it; it's list time! But I promise you, this is the real deal, and we're going to talk about stuff you should actually take a breath and consider. Stuff you should say; wait a sec, we might need to pause and take a breath here.

For those of you thinking that leaving the toilet seat up or not wiping the bench after making a sandwich are yellow flags, don't be mean. You're a slob too. Still gross, but not complete deal breakers.

Let's crack on...


1. Anyone who still smokes after the age of 30 should be right up there, tingling your Spidey sense as soon as the moment it presents itself.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of death in Australia, and in 2010 it was estimated a staggering 81% of lung cancer deaths were caused by tobacco smoking.

So that got awful serious real quick, didn't it? Soz, but really; what kind of willpower does someone have if they can't give up smoking? Mainly because most people, most smokers, say they would love to give up.

So, if dear darling Freddie, who brings you flowers, takes you nice places, and has a good relationship with his mother, but can't seem to put down the gaspers - you might want to take a breath (literally) and reflect.

2. Speaking of good relationships; if she has a shitty relationship with her mother, you might want to know why. Is it years of estrangement, the old we've never really been close, or even, my personal favourite - she loves my sister/brother/the dog more?

Here's the thing; you're not a kid anymore. You are a grown adult, with thoughts and opinions of your own (if you're anything like me, LOTS of thoughts and opinions), and you have not only developed but maintained many interpersonal relationships over the years. It then beggars belief that you can't maintain some sort of beneficial familial bond, however superficial, with the persons who birthed and raised you.

Don't misunderstand me; there are exceptions to the rule. I'm not going to go through all the depressing details, but there are those of you who know what I'm talking about.

As for the rest of you, if you haven't called your father this week because he forgot you had to work late, or your mum didn't ask how the fight you were having with your partner over who did the washing last went, or, gods forbid, you weren't given dolls when you were a kid (girls or boys) - grow the fuck up.

One day, all their light and love and experience will be gone. All their recipes for the good cakes, all their old memories of the best times, all their years of knowledge on how to navigate the world; all this will be given back to the universe. It will disappear into the void, and you cannot get it back.

Pick up phone, ask how your their day was, and don't be such a self-involved, yellow-flag-waving, narcissistic tool.

3. Money is big flag of all different colours, from your standard amber to neon-scary red. Hopefully we can tell the difference between them, but here's a crash course if you're feeling unsure;

If he pays for dinner, but hasn't ever paid off a credit card debt in his lifetime, wonder why. If she can afford to go to Bali with her mates for 3 weeks, but can't manage to consistently pay rent on time, consider a breather in proceedings.

If anyone, ever, earns more than $60K a year and hasn't anyone but themselves to care for, but appears to spend money like they're supporting a small African nation, you may want to ask yourself if this person can afford to date you on a weekday, let alone a weekend or holiday period. Just saying.

4. If you reach the age of 30 and tell me you 'don't know' how to cook or parallel park, you're either a liar or an idiot. We've discussed this before; you don't have to like it, you just have to do it. This one can go from a flag of butter soft yellow to rage red in an instant.

5. Ditto eating your vegetables. Unless you're on the FODMAP diet, this is non-negotiable. No one is asking you to down Brussels sprouts (gag) like they're a foreign delicacy, but even yours truly gets her greens in a few times a week. And the next smartass who tells me that certain proteins can provide more nutrients than veggies can join Pete Evans in a long walk off a short pier (honestly, who gets grant money for these sorts of stupid studies??).

6. After a certain age, you figure out the kids question. For some of us that was younger than others, but the top limit for this is about 30. Anyone who says they 'don't know' if they want kids is kidding themselves, and you (see what I did there?).

There's the long-winded explanation of if you meet the right person / if the circumstances are right / if the planets align / etc. To be fair, this one can usually be considered plausible enough with a good delivery, but no one should be replying with 'dunno'.

To be honest, if anyone answers dunno to any serious life questions, let alone this one, upgrade; you can do better, and date someone with the courage of their convictions.

7. Here's a little test to see if someone can plan for the future; do they know what would happen if they got hit by a bus tomorrow? I'm aware that this has taken another serious, slightly morbid turn, but stay with me here.

Back to the gruesome bus incident. If you did get hit by a bus tomorrow, do you know what your health insurance covers you for? (If your initial response to that question was what's health insurance?, go immediately to the bottom of the class).

Next question; should the absolutely appalling actually happen, who gets all your stuff? (Hopefully you have at least some stuff, materially and financially, and if you have haven't - at all - I'm waving a little yellow flag in advance). Can your savings (yes, you should have some) pay off your debts? Will your family have piece of mind after you're gone? Do you want to be buried, burned, or do a weekend at Bernie's style send off? (Sorry, the alliteration worked a little too well there).

My point is this; what's your plan? Because you have to have one - if not for your sake, then for everyone else's. And if you do have one and your potential life partner doesn't...well.

Let's just put it this way; if someone can't manage the reasonably straight-forward task of allocating all their shit among their nearest and dearest, I'm not overly keen on them doing a grocery shop for me, let alone say, organising a holiday (what do we need travel insurance for again...?).

8. Saying no. This one seems simple, but the amount of people who can't do it will certainly give you pause.

Your boss tells you there's a 10am deadline for some work the following day. When faced with the dilemma of staying back late or going home, getting some rest and tackling it all early in the morning, what do you do?

Your best mate asks you to a dinner party with a few friends, his partner, and it's a week night. It's the only time you can all get together and chances are another gathering is months away. Is your answer an instant yes, a hesitant maybe, or a respectful no?

Whether they be catch-ups or special occasions, your Sister in Law  refuses to have visits anywhere but their house. It's a bit of a drive and you always bring a plate. You've made a variety of other suggestions, but she's having none of it. Xmas rolls around - what do you do?

Here's the thing; no isn't necessarily the right answer to any of these situations. But neither is yes. Life throws out the punches hard and fast, and we can only make decisions based on the information we have at the time.

In that regard, think about the above with some extra information; your boss goes on leave that very afternoon, and won't actually be in the office or checking emails for a fortnight. You and your bestie are actually catching up for breakfast later that week, and you're not really that friendly with anyone else invited to the dinner. You really don't get along with your SiL - and unlikely ever will - but you adore their 3 kids. All of whom are under the age of 5, and individually have more energy than a category 5 hurricane alone.

See what I'm getting at? Whether there's a flag here isn't necessarily a black or white question, but it is a matter of disposition.

If you read all those scenarios and didn't even consider saying no - without being an asshole - I'm waving the yellow flag like I just got offered a job at the Grand Prix.

9. This one relates superficially to the above point, but takes things in a different direction. In the past, I've dated a certain way and I'm sure many of you have too.

The first meeting happens, numbers get exchanged, and you're both all flushed with the bloom of new lust, if not quite love. The first date gets organised and it's a success (varying degrees for various people, but enough that you decide on a second date at least). The next date gets planned, and then the next. Introductions to family get talked about and organised. Surprise outings and trips away follow, maybe/probably even moving together. The usual timeline of relationship events, you get the picture.

I imagine most people aren't seeing much wrong with the above yet, but I'm sure some of you are asking the obvious question straight off the bat. Who, might we ask, is doing all this 'organising'?

And there it is. Who indeed. To be honest, I've been that person. You know the one; the one who organises everything, initiates everything, plans what and where and how. Some relationships do actually work like this. I've never been in one, but being fair, I have seen them and seen them be successful.

The yellow flag is someone who can't or won't. It's a sad state of affairs, but there it is. Someone can be the loveliest person you've ever met, but they couldn't organise the proverbial piss-up in a brewery, and that's an issue. No one person should be responsible for organising how a relationship runs, from where you eat to what furniture you buy to where you spend xmas holidays.

Because, to be absolutely clear, that person then isn't your partner; they are your mum. Savvy?

10. Astrophysicist vs. astrologist. Let's end on a giggle, shall we.

Can your beloved tell the difference between an astrophysicist and an astrologist?  What about a gynaecologist and a gastroenterologist? Lastly, how about an accountant and an actuary? (the last one stumps even me occasionally, and I have to push the synapses a bit).

Don't get me wrong here, this is not a question of intelligence. It's more common sense. You don't have to know what the words mean, but it's also best not to guess. It also displays how much you have in common with someone.

So if your partner thinks you craft witty shorts on what star signs are doing this week, and what you actually is this, maybe crack out the knitted yellow polyester and take a breather.