Another day, another TikTok trend taking over our FYP.
While dating “red flags” frequently go viral on the clock app, this time, users are sharing what they call the “beige flags” that their partners do.
A beige flag is essentially an odd habit or behaviour that someone does that is “neither good nor bad.” It’s not a red flag and it’s not necessarily a green flag— it simply makes you pause for a minute because it’s quirky or weird.
“Beige flags are a relatively new term and don’t inspire a clear emotional reaction like green or red flags. Rather, they are neutral and might go unnoticed — until you realise the intriguing quirks your date or partner have don’t make them a unicorn, but are actually shared by others through platforms like TikTok,” explains Chantelle Otten, Bumble’s Resident Sexologist.
Discourse about beige flags dates back to at least 2021, however, the concept has taken off in recent weeks (mostly among women) following the rise in conversation about dating trends on TikTok, including dating “icks” and “green flags.”
The hashtag #beigeflag currently has over 285 million views at the time of writing.
On why the trend has seen so much popularity, Otten says it all comes down to human nature.
“Even pre-TikTok, dating trends have always been a topic for healthy conversation, whether over a cosmo with your girlfriends in the 90s, or now on your social feed. We can’t get enough of the ins and outs of how we date,” she explains.
On what constitutes a beige flag, users are sharing everything from their partners’ superstitious habits to weird ways in which their partner comforts them when they’re sad.
The videos are almost always set to the sound ‘Summer Background Jazz’ with text overlayed.
“My partner’s beige flag is that he doesn’t put his phone on silent mode throughout the night because he’s scared it means his morning alarm won’t go off,” wrote @cassandrapalumboo over a video of her boyfriend. “No matter how many times I tell him, or secretly do it and it still goes off – he just won’t risk it and I have to be consistently woken up all night by his notifications.”
“My boyfriend’s beige flag is that if I’m ever crying hard he will get on top of me and say ‘I didn’t want to have to do this,’ and then he will aggressively suck the tears off of my face like a human vacuum until I get into a laughing fit and cheer up,” said @michelleyam0 on TikTok.
Some beige flag videos have sparked controversy, with users claiming that they’re more of a red flag than a neutral habit or behaviour.
One such video that’s sparked mixed reactions is by @popomatys who said her boyfriend’s beige flag “is that he’s so unbothered he never asks for details.”
“His best friend broke up with his girlfriend. Why? He didn’t ask. His sister got a new job. Where? He doesn’t know,” she wrote.
Her comments have been flooded by users claiming that it seems her boyfriend is disinterested in the lives of people he’s supposed to care about.
“That’s…a red flag,” wrote one user.
“He’s not refraining from gossip he’s simply disinterested in people he’s supposed to care about,” commented another.
“My partner is like this and it actually hurts me how uninterested he is in those he’s meant to love,” said Brittany Formato.
Others related to her video, claiming that this is very typical behaviour from men.
“A true man,” wrote one person, to which Paolita replied, “For real hahaha I need the gossip.”
Somone said this sounds just like “almost all of the dads in the world,” while another commenter noted that her boyfriend will live a long, unbothered life.
Otten suggests we don’t subscribe to this controversy. Instead, we should consider how this trend helps us better understand how societal norms, including gender expectations, influence our behaviour in relationships.
“What is ‘typical man behaviour?” she asks. “This time last year, Bumble released a report called The Romance Gap that looked at the discrepancy in behaviour expected from male/masculine presenting people and female/feminine presenting people when dating and in relationships. It found traditional gender ‘norms’ don’t just influence how we behave, but also how we think, including our perception of what is romantic, sexy and attractive in a partner and this has a very real world effect. This video is an example that you can’t yuck another person’s yum. While someone will find curiosity incredibly attractive in a partner, another person might find being unbothered or unphased attractive. I’d consider this video a beige flag.”
Despite some disagreements on what should be considered a “beige flag”, it’s clear that TikTok users are having fun with the discourse nonetheless.
For more on beige flags, check out @lois_choi’s series about the beige flags of K-Pop stars.