Why “Capture the Red Flag” Shouldn’t be Your Favorite Summer Sport

Why “Capture the Red Flag” Shouldn’t be Your Favorite Summer Sport

Why we’re unable to control the impulses attracting us to individuals inherently problematic, toxic and disruptive.

SexJune 06, 2022

There’s certainly a trend in our culture towards coping with our issues and traumas by making memes and jokes. Although it temporarily relieves the tension, instead of laughing about this, it is important to try to understand, take accountability, and heal ourselves. Wearing those captured red flags like a badge of honor and pride is not a good look. 

Are we akin to the proverbial moth burned up in the flames, unable to control the impulses attracting us to individuals who are inherently problematic, toxic or disruptive to our lives? Why do we keep doing this?

Freud theorized that the two fundamental human drives were Eros and Thanatos, or Sex and Death. Just as the French call the orgasm “le petit mort” (the little death), the danger in being so vulnerably intimate with someone who could break your heart can be an aphrodisiac - especially for high sensation seekers who instinctively desire stimulation and risk. Perhaps this explains why some of us ignore the warning signs and fall for dangerous people (or why our culture fosters such weird intrigue surrounding serial killers and murder porn documentaries?). 

Yet anyone you love can hurt you or break your heart if you let them- That’s the risk we take when we open up. While danger may be part of the equation, it doesn’t tell the whole story. 

The attraction to red flags may also be rooted in our own conditioned patterns. No one has had a perfect childhood, and we have all learned subconsciously from our parents’ behaviors. For example, if you had withholding parents, you may be attracted to emotionally unavailable partners or become emotionally avoidant yourself.  If you grew up in a home with lots of interpersonal conflict, you may subconsciously self-select relationships with the same energy. 

Why? Because there is a level of comfort in the familiar, and we often play out the same patterns we internalized as children in our adult relationships until we become aware of them. We may fall for the same characteristics over and over until we realize we are the ones choosing to be stuck in this loop. No matter how we were raised, as adults we can resist the temptation to fall for people who don’t value us, who manipulate others for their own personal gain, and/or who are just plain liars or narcissists.  

Sometimes to cope, people adopt the “fixer upper” mentality where through helping someone with similar patterns of damage they experience the illusion of power or control. Many of us have made huge sacrifices to help or rescue someone who wouldn’t do the same for us. This never ends well. 

Perhaps we keep chasing red flags because our self-esteem has collectively taken a beating over the past few years. Self-worth means acknowledging that you ought to be a priority when you treat someone else as a priority. While you have no control over how anyone else acts or feels, you have total control over your behaviors and reactions. Worthiness necessitates taking savage ownership of how your choices affect your life. We are all deserving of better than self-sabotage and drowning ourselves in a sea of red flags. 

As cathartic as it can feel to laugh and meme about chasing red flags, if you’re genuinely hurting from this then you alone have the power to course correct. Especially on this subject, please remember: IF ITS NOT A FUCK YES, IT’S A FUCK NO!