Red Flags

If you don't know what the color red is yet, you can't tell they are red flags.

Red Flags

~When I look back on it I suppose I was looking through Rose Tinted Glasses~

I've never considered myself a naive person. In fact, I'd like to think I'm pretty good at spotting bullshit. But of course we all have our flaws and our moments. When it comes to our own endeavours we tend to put on rose tinted glasses and act like we don't see the red flags.

In my case I didn't really have any experience with red flags in my own life so I suppose this was a bit of a learning experience.

So here is the story of how I learned once and for all to not trust people's words so whole-heartedly.


I met this guy on Tinder, big surprise there. He super liked me and I started chatting with him. I wasn't very interested at first but as time went on he seemed very genuine and kind. We exchanged numbers and started texting daily. We connected immediately. He loved animals and had two cats and we talked about our feelings and how our kindness tends to get abused by others. I am an extremely open book at this point in my life so right away I informed him about my mental illnesses, my past, my relatively deep thoughts. He did the same. He was a huge romantic. Cutesy texts and promises after a week or two of talking.

Then, what should have been the first red flag popped up.

"I recently broke up with my ex as you saw in my bio."

"Actually, she is still living in my house."

"But she doesn't have anywhere else to go."

And of course my tender heart eagerly eased his worries and said that it is all okay. I understand. No worries. He was 22, and it was normal that he had some type of longer relationship problems. But really I should have decreased my contact then.

Instead I kept falling deeper into the rabbit hole.

We talked constantly and he went on and on about the abusive relationship he had been in, how she had insulted him and treated him awfully.

I have had so many friends be in such abusive relationships. I've been through years of tear-stained pillows and lectures that took so long to get through. Even my parents came to mind. I saw my dad's eyes when I looked at the screen. So of course I couldn't leave this poor soul.

He feigned victim.

I took my usual protecting role.

If I could save this person from pain and suffering and emotional abuse, why the hell wouldn't I? But of course nothing is ever that simple.

I shared deeper with him. Trust formed. I disclosed how I loathed being placed as number 2. All my life. I've never been in a relationship. I'm scared of how weak I am in that position. I don't know how to accept touch or love. I told him how sick I was of being the second option. In every situation. In my family I was second-best to my sister. In life, I was always second best. My best friend is a borderline and being used and hurt is a very big part of my relationship with her. With guys looking for something I was always something rather than someone and I was a side thing. Once they saw I was kind and would stick with them they decided to explore their options and know that I will always be there waiting. I was sick of it.

He assured me he would never do that to me.

He comforted me when I described my past and current struggles.

He offered to bring me tea when I was sick.

He wanted to see me.

Thank goodness for my social anxiety and my rule that I must know a person first before meeting them.

It all turned to chaos.


Yet another red flag sprouted.

His ex had taken his phone.

She had read the messages and got upset.

She hit him and moved out.

I suppose my questions should have been:

Why would she take your phone?

Why would she be upset with you if she broke up with you?

But instead they were:

Are you okay?

Do you need anything?

I'm a sucker.

I comforted him. I discussed my suicidal thoughts with him because he seemed to care. I shared too much, as usual.

His ex messaged me.

Her message stung me with heat. The one word that remains in my head even now:


I talked to her rationally. She was irate.

I asked for her side of the story. She insulted me and asked me how I met him.

I told her and she stopped replying.

She had gone to his house and thrown things at him and hit him.

She texted him and told him to die.

I messaged him and gave him my heart.

He thanked me. He cried. He shook. I cried with him. I shook with him.


He said she showed up at his house and forced them back together. I was seeing a demon in action from my side of this so far. What a vindictive woman. Leave him alone. Let him be happy. Stop torturing him.

So many red flags.

Why would she be so mad if they had broken up?

Why was he so upset still?

Why would he let her come into his life again?

How does one get forced into a relationship?

I was seeing him as fragile. I was looking through my rose glasses and thinking:

"What a kind man. What a pure soul. To be so kind, to be so gentle."

He seemed so mature, with a job, a house, a good mind. But really he was a child.

I told him we could only be friends since they were together and he insisted on continuing talking to me.

I had a mental breakdown.

I'm fragile and of course I felt broken, not so much because of him but because of the situation. I told him this. I trusted him enough to tell him how empty and depressed I felt because of this. I could feel the number 2 embroidered onto my chest like the Hester Prynne's A.

Red flag. Red flag. Red flag.

She blocked me on his phone. He found a way to contact me. We talked. I told him I was there for him and I know how hard it is to leave an abusive relationship.

The next day his tone changed.

The next day his emojis stopped.

This red flag was too obvious even for me to ignore.

I asked him what happened.

His girlfriend messaged me again.

And the real story came out.

I could feel the bile rising in my throat and my head clouding.

My favorite part was that I felt like I was in the show F.R.I.E.N.D.S

"We were on a break."

Good thing this induced a manic episode. I was choking on laughter. Absolutely delirious.

I talked to her. She revealed that they were taking a break because both of them were in a bad place.

He was messaging me during this, telling me how he loved her and we had only been friends.

All the words about cuddling and forming a relationship together ran through my brain. How we were gonna build animal houses together. How goal-oriented we both were. How I was his savior.


I replied.

But he was playing victim. He needed to. That was all he had ever been in his life it seems. He complained how he had kept talking to him and now she was leaving him again, how he was broken, but oh do you still like me? Because you know we could form something. But oh I miss her and how could I do this?

And then the biggest bomb of all hit.

"I only kept talking to you because you threatened to kill yourself."



Excuse me? Did you just say what I think you did?

You just made up a lie based on my mental health. After I shared so much of my struggle. After we both discussed our personal battles.


It takes a lot to make me mad. But this was the breaking point.

I shut him out. I comforted the girl. I talked to her, told her I was there for her. She kept asking me if I was telling the truth if we really hadn't met or done anything and saying how sorry she was I got involved in this. We ended on a friendly note. I thought.

I tried to message her recently to ask how things are going. She hasn't replied. He has me blocked on everything and his Tinder profile is *Poof* gone. So I'm sure they are back together. Suffering.

My view on that is:

They are two people who are so extremely attached to the point where no matter what happens, they cannot cut the ties. They keep coming back to each other, despite the fact that ending the relationship would be best for both of them. Not because lack of love, arguably because of too much love. So much so that they ignore the dysfunctions and pretend things are okay 'til one of them breaks and does something and they spiral into chaos and then the chaos brings them back together and despite the natural entropy in the world they still manage to collide into one another. It's sad.

One thing I said to both of them was that they were lucky I was the one involved in this situation. It could have been so much worse. I really only have good intentions.

I told him, next time this happens, and it will, do not get someone else involved.

Don't pull anyone else into your little gravitational pull.

And in the end I learned a lot.

I learned what the color red is.

I learned not to fall so deeply from the start.

That kindness isn't always what it it seems and that sometimes being involved can do more harm than good.

I've thought about it a lot. My take on people is more withdrawn, In a good way.

I am an observer.

I take in and I absorb.

And the tears I spent on this will not be wasted like past ones. Each one holds weight.

And I discovered other people in my life that care who supported me during this time. How what you've been looking for usually tends to be right underneath your nose. Cliche but true. Give everyone a chance but don't give everyone your heart.

Take careful steps and keep yourself first and foremost.

Because people are selfish even if you aren't.

And don't wear rose tinted glasses.

Especially indoors.

They may help protect you against the sun but they do not help protect you against heart break.

Victoria Nicolova
Victoria Nicolova
Read next: 'Chocolate Kisses'
Victoria Nicolova



College student

Mental illness warrior

See all posts by Victoria Nicolova