Red Flag

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A red flag is a subjective piece of information that could be interpreted as a warning sign. If encountered throughout the course of a relationship, especially a new one, it might indicate potential danger if ignored. A series of these warning signs is known as a red flag list.


Red flag lists are often criticized because they are not only entirely subjective, but also speculative and offer insight that can be misleading to others as they may adopt a red flag list without giving it much thought. Further, the boundaries that any individual may have will not necessarily be even remotely the same for another, and expecting that they should be can be a form of Slut Shaming.

Example: One person may identify that if a person states in an online profile that they are interested in Rape Play and has decided this is a red flag because this indicates that they are dangerous(?) and do not respect boundaries and consent and thus eliminates a potential partner because they have a stated interest that they may even not want to indulge in with this partner rather than having an adult conversation with them about their boundaries. Instead they choose another partner that does not list rape play on their profile as an interest, however, after finding out the hard way, the partner that they did choose does not respect boundaries or consent and did not advertise that fact on their profile in any way shape or form. Remember to treat others fairly and beneficially.

Common Red Flags

While the BDSM wiki does not support the use of red flags as a strict measure (see best practices below), a list of common red flags is listed here for reference.

  • Moving too quickly for your comfort zone
  • Inappropriate attitudes, comments or questions that make you uncomfortable
  • Repeated reported safety violations or unwillingness to follow certain safety guidelines
  • A lack of communication or many frequent inconsistencies in communications
  • A persistently reported bad reputation
  • Consistently speaking ill of previous partners

Best Practices

Best Practices indicate to be thoughtful, use excellent judgement, trust your instincts, and treat others fairly and consistently when encountering them, pursuing relationships or contracting for the exchange of any service or measure. If you aren't sure about something or someone, err on the side of caution. Always be sure to exercise assertive speech during negotiations and conversations following a scene.

There is only one red flag, and that is that something makes you uncomfortable, and that simply means that it is not for you and you should remove yourself from the situation, it does not necessitate that there is anything wrong with the activity or the individual that has made you uncomfortable necessarily.