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Book Review: The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags

Much like the blog (also run by the authors), The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags is a compelling read. It is human nature not to be able to look away from a train wreck, and some of the stories told in the web and print versions of "Big Red Flags" certainly fit in that category.

Big Red Flags should be mandatory reading for a lot of men and women, and is sure to be good reading for all. While both the book and the blog have real-life dating war stories that make each a captivating read, the book has a lot more substance and explicitly instructive material. The books subtitle, "Relationship Warning Signs You Totally Spotted... But Chose to Ignore" is a glaring example of instruction. The overarching theme of all these stories and the book is that if things within a relationship feel "off" in any way, it is likely that something is off.

The mandatory read list for this book includes women who need any help with establishing their own relationship boundaries or who lack the confidence to trust their own instincts. If you are a woman who does not have a dating game plan or your own set of dating rules of thumb, this book is a great read. Learning from the mistakes of others, when possible, can help you to avoid repeating some of those mistakes. The stories in this book can be instructive in illustrating what happens when women go against their better judgment. It can be easy to explain away behavior and ignore flags. By being explicitly aware of the flags, it puts people in a better position to translate those flags into rules. For example, if the fact that a guy over 25 lives with his parents is a red flag, how about make a rule that you will never date a guy over 25 who lives with his parents. This book also encourages you to have the courage and strength to stick to you rules, stick with your gut, and be prepared to walk away.

Men can also benefit from this book. If you are able to attract women only to have them flee from you a short time into your relationships you may be throwing up a bunch of red flags. Knowing what constitutes a red flag and understanding why it is an issue for women is an important step in moving forward. For men interested in long-term relationships, but unable to maintain them, this book should be mandatory reading.

Even if you do not fall into one of the categories described above, this book is certainly hard to put down. As a fan of most types of true-crime reporting, I am not sure what it is about stories about people behaving badly that appeals to me. But judging by the proliferation of this type of info-tainment, I am not alone in enjoying it (though I must say that it is somewhat of a guilty pleasure of mine.) I think this book appeals to that part of me.

For whatever reason I can't help but make comparisons between those women who ignore relationship red flags to stick with their men and the those who have been victims of recent investor fraud and ponzi schemes who ignored warning signs. While there are severe limitations in the usefulness and accuracy of such comparisons, I nonetheless find them interesting. For one thing, there can surely by issues that are so well hidden by one party (either the man in the relationship or the recipient of investor funds) that the “victim” certainly bares no blame for not catching on to the scam. On the other hand, when there are red flags that are ignored, my own level of sympathy for the “victim” tends to drop somewhat.

Another important element shared between dating relationships and investing relationships in the need for trust. Trust is something that when easily bestowed can easily be betrayed. My grandfather often repeated the phrase “I would rather be trusted than loved.” He was cautious with his bestowal of trust and valued trust very highly. It seems that a hasty bestowal of trust is often involved both in cases where women get short-changed in their relationships and in cases where investors get ripped off.

The last common element between situations of financial fraud and emotional fraud is that often the victim is lured by unrealistic expectations. Don't let your hopes of some huge future payoff blind you to the warning signs that you are witnessing. This book provides many cautionary tales illustrating the need to be prepared to cut your losses and move on from relationships that are turning out not to be what they originally seemed.

This book has re-enforced the safety that can come from being very conservative in your approach to relationships and firm in sticking to your rules. You do not have to put yourself out there for people who do not share your values and who do not conform to your expectations. If is your duty to effective communicate those parameters up front in a relationship. If something in a relationship is incompatible with those parameters, you have the responsibility to walk away.

by Cameron Hatch
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