If you date, you probably know all about red and green flags. Red flags are signs you should run away from someone (like if they bad-mouth their exes) and green flags are signs you should, well, calmly run towards them (like if they’re an Aquarius).
But according to TikTok, there’s now another color of flag to look out for—beige.
“Beige flags are signs on dating app profiles that the person behind the profile is probably fucking boring,” said TikTok user Caitlin MacPhail, the self-proclaimed CEO of beige flags. Indications that people might be boring are not new but we now have a catchy name for them.
MacPhail said she started using the term last year, while complaining to her friends about the grim state of dating apps. It wasn’t like there were heaps of red flags, she said, just that everyone seemed really boring and bland, like the color beige.
Like their red and green cousins, beige flags start popping up everywhere once you know what they are (that’s called the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon). For example, having strong opinions about, say, peanut butter is probably a beige flag. Surely anybody with a moderately interesting life would have better things to talk about than whether or not blended peanuts should contain slightly whole peanuts.
Another example of beige flags is referencing extremely mainstream sitcoms like How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory. Most people like those shows, so people who say they like them aren’t really saying much about themselves. Perhaps writing about beige flags is in itself a beige flag, but let’s not get into that.
For MacPhail, beige flags include having “loving food” as a personality trait and answering Hinge prompts like “The best way to ask me out is” with cliches like “by asking.”
And it’s not even about being average—you can be beige even if you present yourself as stereotypically “cool” or “hot.”
“I also think ‘hot girl beige’ has really resonated with the community, which is people (not just women) using ‘being hot’ as their personality and not really offering any information about what they are actually like, because they don’t need to. They’ll get matches regardless,” MacPhail told VICE.
Of course, much of this is subjective. For example, a strange love for spreadsheets and stocks may be a beige flag for many people, but could also be a blazing green flag for someone who, uh, also likes spreadsheets and stocks. MacPhail said that people have also pointed out the possibility that other people may genuinely just be a bit “beige” and are looking for someone who is also beige. After all, there’s nothing wrong with being basic, and even the most basic of bitches (said lovingly) should have a shot at finding love.
All this is to say that pointing out beige flags isn’t always a hostile act.
“Most of the followers of beige flags get it, and understand that the reviews are more for fun than an actual roasting. Anyone who has ever been frustrated on the dating apps finds it almost too relatable, and knows exactly what it means,” MacPhail said.
Sometimes, beige flags are not even about being boring, but about seeming boring—an important distinction in dating apps.
“A lot of people don’t even realize their profiles come across as beige. And in a lot of cases, it’s more just a lack of self-marketing skills than actually being boring,” MacPhail said. “It’s not necessarily that the person is super generic or beige when you meet them, although this can be the case. [It’s] more that you’re going in blind.”
Many profiles just don’t say much about the people behind them. The purpose of pointing out beige flags is not to change people (or to judge some as better or worse than others), but to encourage people to put their best foot forward (accurately).
“If our dating profiles all more closely reflect the IRL person, you can make better initial judgments on whether you think you might vibe with that person,” MacPhail said. “You may not go on as many dates, but you’ll probably have a better time when you do, and make better connections.”
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