It should not fall solely on Women who date men to identify the red flags of the men in their lives. Just like the feminist critique of the #NotAllMen fallacy, we have an important responsibility to call out when men’s toxic behavior gets in the way of creating positive and lasting relationships. But, it isn’t just so we can do our part to help women who date men to steer clear of these folks. Rather, it is because these red flags should be red flags to us as well. They should be red flags for our friendships and for our working relationships. They should help us to identify those men who are willing to be partners in dismantling patriarchal and racist structures that hold our society back.
And yet, as I also try to find ways of seeing people as complexly as possible, I think we should not see red flags as deal-breakers for our relationships because I believe that everyone is capable of growth and change. While, I think there is some merit in knowing who is ready to make changes and those who are still stuck in cycles of toxic behavior, for the purposes of this video I’m going to call out The Red Flags I see as barriers to connection and Green flags as avenues for that connection. Red flags, therefore, are indicators that there is still work to be done before this man can be a good friend, coworker, or partner. They need many more avenues to connect, more green flags in their lives before those connections can be made.
So, without further ado, here are the first few Red and Green flags for The Detoxing Man:
Green flag: He talks about his family in both honest and kind ways. His parents and siblings, his partner and children. He is not the hero or the savior in his family story, but he is proud of them and honest about how they have contributed to his life.
Red Flag: He is overly invested in the care of his lawn. The specific obsession over having the best looking lawn in the neighborhood is an indication that outward appearances are far more important than the work going on inside of the home in taking care of domestic responsibilities, including the emotional work of building and deepening relationships.
Green Flag: He makes things. This could be woodworking or music, intricate figurines or found object art. If he is doing something with his hands or his mind that is primarily for his own enjoyment it shows that there is an inner life and it also shows that he has figured out how to deal positively with failure. There is no one who has made things for an extended amount of time that has not experienced failure as well as the perseverance required to overcome it in order to make something he is truly proud of.
Red Flag: He talks about his partner in exclusively possessive terms and never uses their name in casual conversation. If “My wife” or “my girlfriend” is the only time they are mentioned as if they have no life outside of the relationship to him, these men are not yet ready to consider that women are full human beings capable of making their own decisions independent of his input and control.
Green Flag: He is patient in conversation. When he is speaking with others, particularly women, does he tend to wait for them to finish their thoughts or is he constantly supplying the answer that he thinks that they are trying to say, attempting to finish their sentences for them. It is a green flag whenever a man can let someone finish a thought before speaking himself. It shows his patience and his ability to listen, often a sign that he actually cares what other people think.
Red Flag: He tells the same stories over and over again, many of which are about his times in high school or college. This red flag gets progressively larger as the man ages. If he is 40 and still sharing mostly about his heyday in high school as the most interesting stories he has to tell when people gather, it brings up the question of what he chooses to do with his time when it isn’t planned for him. In high school, he had a built-in cohort of friends because they all shared the same pursuit of going to school. But, when he has to organize his time, has he actually invested in deepening relationships with those who did not happen to be born in the same town within the same 12 month period?