It is once again time to find the Red and Green flags for The Detoxing Man. What I find so compelling about this format is that the opposite of a Red Flag which I see as a barrier to connection is nothing but a Green Flag which I see as an Avenue for men to connect with themselves, one another, and the wider world. So, while you will hear me decrying something I would like to see less of within people who perform masculinity, I am simultaneously encouraging more of its opposite. The goal is not to insult men who exhibit toxic behavior, but rather to provide alternatives that lead to more connection and less isolation.
It is in this spirit that I would like to identify 6 more flags:
Red Flag: He is not present when he has access to his phone. Whether it is texting, reading the news, or otherwise becoming distracted during shared conversations or a movie watching session on the couch. His attention is transported to wherever the conversation on the other end of his screen is taking place, even if he puts away the device momentarily to pretend presence.
Green Flag: He goes on walks. While exercise and physical activity is essential for everyone, regardless of how they feel about the need for gender equity, the fact that a man would voluntarily go on a walk without needing to race anyone or even necessarily get his heart rate up is a serious green flag. It shows that he is interested in the journey and not just the destination. He doesn’t idolize productivity at the expense of mental health and is interested in moving even if the purpose is not yet known.
Red Flag: He has plans to “get rich quick.” Whether that is in consistently talking about Crypto, hot stock tips, or other forms of MLMs and inside tracks on companies that are so close to becoming Unicorns, if he is not interested in building value or sustained growth, he is telling you that he has no need for long-term decision making or commitment. That includes friendships and paying kindness to those he is not directly connected to.
Green Flag: He reads novels. Even though there are a great many things to learn from non-fiction out there, and if he reads long-form works of any kind it shows that he has enough attention span to hold a good conversation, but if he reads fiction he is showing you his powers of empathy, plain and simple. If he reads fiction, he is capable of seeing into other perspectives and gaining the truth that is found within. He is seeking out characters and ideas that are outside of his own experience and he is showing that he is capable of imagining a world where he alone is not the hero.
Red Flag: He can’t cook. If he is an adult man who cannot cook at least one thing well, he has spent his entire life being catered to by others, whether that is his parents and partners or by paying for take out. While it isn’t imperative that he is a chef capable of fine dining, he should be able to contribute to a family dinner or a Friday night with friends without resorting to buying chips and salsa at the grocery store. His ability to cook not only shows his independence, but it also shows his interest in caring for others and in contributing to his community.
Green Flag: He goes to the doctor or therapist regularly. If he is consistently engaged in looking inward to see how he feels physically and mentally, he is accustomed to checking in on how his body is moving through the world and how is mind is developing and making progress. He is also aware of the space that he takes up, and how he impacts others. It shows that he is unafraid to recognize when things are not going well, and that he is willing to take action to address his own needs rather than relying upon others to do with work for him.
While these 6 flags could be seen as relationship advice, I think of them more as simply reminders to myself of who I want to be. I want to be someone who goes to the doctor and cooks for his family. I want to read novels and go on walks with my thoughts. As The Detoxing Man, my journey is never done. And as I look for others who are on the same journey, these are the things I look for too.