What Is A Beige Flag?
The term went viral on TikTok as a way for people to describe their partners’ odd traits—like frequent napping or the inability to differentiate left from right.
Clinically Reviewed By: Don Gasparini Ph.D., M.A., CASAC
June 11, 2023
Table of Contents
Choosing a partner is a complex and inherently personal decision, but in the modern world of dating, there are some commonly accepted “red flags” (deterrents, like dishonest or disrespectful behavior) and “green flags” (go-aheads, like good communication skills). As of late, though, a new shade of flag has entered the zeitgeist: “beige flags.”
Caitlin MacPhail coined the term beige flag last year on TikTok to mean things that come across boring on dating apps—including but not limited to having an opinion about pineapple pizza and any mention of mainstream TV shows. “If you’re looking for the Pam to your Jim, I’m just going to assume you have no deeper meaning,” she said in the now-viral video, alluding to “The Office.”
As is often the case with the internet, the term has since taken on new meaning. According to users on TikTok, where #beigeflag has amassed over 770 million views over the last month, beige flags describe partners’ odd traits—quirks or behaviors that aren’t dealbreakers or dealmakers, just something that, as one user puts it, gives you a moment of pause. At worst beige flags might be mildly annoying; at best, they are endearing.
Examples of beige flags in relationships
Here are some examples of beige flags shared by different TikTok users. Beige flags aren’t exclusive to romantic relationships (people have made videos about their own beige flags or their best friends’ beige flags), but the trend is largely comprised of people talking about their partners:
- Setting timers instead of alarms, even to get up in the morning
- Needing to make an “L” with your hands to differentiate between left and right
- Searching for what happens in a show or movie before watching it
- Remembering random facts about people you don’t know that well
- Frequently napping
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How to identify beige flags in relationships
Many red and green flags are commonly accepted as such (cheating, the former, honesty, the latter), but they aren’t necessarily objective dating criteria. Green and red flags are often subject to personal values, experiences, and individual preferences. What may be considered a red flag for one person (being disorganized or regularly running late) may not be seen as such for another. The same goes for beige flags.
Beige flags are subjective, possibly even more so than red or green flags, because they occupy a more liminal space. What might seem like a loveable quirk to some, refusing to take medicine when you are in pain, for instance, could be a red flag for others—a sign that you can’t take care of yourself properly. On the other hand, what might seem odd or annoying to some, like a partner randomly organizing parties for just the two of you, might be a green flag for others—a generous and thoughtful surprise.
Here are some ways to identify beige flags in relationships, but keep in mind that these factors may differ from person to person:
Rule out red and green flags
If a partner’s behavior is a dealbreaker or dealmaker for you, it’s probably not a beige flag. Remember, you should be looking for traits that give you a moment of pause but don’t actually impact the foundation of your relationship (for good or bad).
Consider your partners’ quirks
Is there anything your partner does that you find odd or out of the ordinary? It may be a beige flag. Think about things that your partner does that are unique to them.
Beige flags should not have a significant impact on the overall compatibility or health of a relationship, so think small picture. Consider your partner’s preferences that set them apart, including taste in music, food, or hobbies. These factors may be beige flags.
How do beige flags differ from red flags or green flags?
Beige flags primarily differ from red or green flags because they don’t significantly impact the way you feel about your relationship—for better or for worse. Whereas red flags could make you question the health or stability of your partnership, and green flags could make you feel more confident in your relationship, beige flags are just a matter of acceptance. Everyone has oddities, and part of a healthy partnership is accepting your partner’s quirks, or so-called beige flags.
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How to know when beige flags might be signs of an unhealthy relationship?
If someone’s beige flags lead to unhealthy dynamics or signal value-based differences, they may actually be red flags. Remember, your partner’s beige flags should be neutral, not appealing or unappealing, so if they start to make you feel more turned off than anything, they may actually be red flags. One isolated incident may not always constitute a red flag, but consistent patterns or a combination of concerning behaviors should be carefully evaluated. Trust yourself and prioritize your well-being when assessing potential red flags in any relationship.
Here are some steps to help you identify if a partner’s beige flags are actually red flags:
Trust your gut
Pay attention to your instincts and initial reactions. If one of your partner’s preferences or quirks feels off or raises concerns, it could be a potential red flag instead of a beige flag.
Look for consistent patterns of behavior or actions that cause discomfort, unease, or conflict. Red flags often involve repetitive or escalating negative behaviors, whereas beige flags should be cringe-y at worst.
Assess the impact on your well-being
Consider how the behavior or situation affects your emotional, mental, and physical well-being. If it consistently causes harm, distress, or compromises your values or boundaries, it is much more likely a red flag than a beige flag.
Compare to healthy relationship norms
Compare the behavior or situation to healthy relationship norms and expectations. If your partner’s beige flags cause them to deviate from respectful, honest, and supportive dynamics, they are probably red flags.
Seek outside perspectives
Consult with trusted friends, family, or professionals who can provide an objective viewpoint. They may notice red flags that you might miss or label as beige flags due to emotional involvement.
Reflect on values and boundaries
Evaluate whether the behavior aligns with your personal values, boundaries, and relationship expectations. Red flags often involve violations of these important aspects, whereas beige flags should not impact your values or boundaries.
Consider context and intent
Assess the context and intent behind the behavior. Red flags can be more apparent when you observe harmful intent, manipulation, or disregard for your well-being. Beige flags, on the other hand, should not be motivated by harm or other negative desires.
Open and honest communication is vital. Express your concerns to your partner and see how they respond. A dismissive or defensive reaction could be a red flag.
Seek professional help if needed
If you are uncertain or struggling to differentiate between red flags and beige flags, consider seeking guidance from a therapist or counselor who specializes in relationships.
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