Red Table Talk: Red Flags in Relationships

Aaliyah Pollard | Staff Writer

Hampton University’s African Student Association teamed up with Campus+ to host a Red Table Talk on red flags in relationships and different types on March 21.

The African Student Association gives students opportunities to share their societal perspectives as first-generation Americans, while Campus+ is dedicated to motivating and uplifting plus-size women. 

The two organizations hosted this event to start an open conversation about red flags in relationships and navigating relationships as young adults of various backgrounds. 

Before getting into the actual discussions, attendees were taught the definitions of terms that would appear during them. While the term “red flag” is widely used, the hosts ensured that the participants knew that a red flag is a warning or sign that a person is problematic and even dangerous at times. 

One red flag that’s commonly associated with relationships is gaslighting. Gaslighting occurs when someone opens up to their partner about an event or action that made them upset, and in response their partner makes them feel delusional about their feelings by making it seem as though the event never happened. 

Almost all the attendees were familiar with the term but had various definitions of it, demonstrating the diverse ways in which the red flag can present itself. A few participants had associated gaslighting with someone dismissing and hyperbolizing their partner’s reactions to something they did, while others associated the concept with manipulating someone’s memory. For example, pretending they didn’t do something that they did, especially when their partner explicitly remembers that action. 

Lauryn Bass, president of Campus+ and a graduating senior journalism major from Atlanta, GA argued that to recognize and adequately respond to a red flag, “you definitely have to know yourself.” 

In agreement, one participant stressed the importance of believing in people when they tell you who they are. This revelation is rarely verbal, so it’s essential to be aware of the red flag when it presents itself. Participants were then able to discuss their experiences with red flags in relationships and share advice on how to identify them and move forward. 

The following prompt asked participants to state their love languages if they knew them. According to The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman, the five love languages are acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation, gift-giving, and physical touch. 

This sparked the discussion of how different upbringings can affect one’s love language because normally, how one receives and gives love to their family and other loved ones is what establishes their love language. Furthermore, when their partner doesn’t share that love language, they can get frustrated and second-guess their partner’s feelings about them. Therefore, it’s essential to be aware of the different love languages as one is of their own.

The last topic discussed was committed relationships and “sneaky links.” Participants compared their experiences with one or both types of relationships. A few preferred the perks that come with being in a committed relationship and how that preference goes along with their faith and upbringing. When it came to their perspective on sex, these participants felt that it was a practice that should occur with their partner in a committed relationship. On the other hand, some participants expressed the importance of going through a stage of having casual, safe sex to know what you want from your future partner sexually and long-term. 

Campus+ and the ASA plan to host another Red Table Talk, so students will have another opportunity to attend. The event is a safe space, so students are free to discuss their experiences and concerns as minorities. Establishing the discussion as a safe space allowed all the participants to learn about different experiences with relationships and how everyone’s backgrounds affect their view of them. 

Best explained by Gibson Mashua, President of ASA, the Red Table Talk allowed students of various backgrounds to discuss “personal expectations in relationships, how [they] view certain social issues, and what may or may not be considered ‘ok’ depending on where you are from.” 

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