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Staff Picks: The Red Flags I’ve (Repeatedly) Ignored by Brianna McCabe

The concept of red flags within the context of dating is currently quite trendy on social media. Plenty of influencers are cashing in on this focus, even from the skeptical position. In this case, Brianna McCabe (author and marketing professor), skillfully utilizes the zeitgeist in the promotion of her very personal memoir, The Red Flags I’ve (Repeatedly) Ignored. I sat next to the writer on a return flight from Miami. She was holding a hot pink book with a very catchy title. Initially, I wrote the information in my phone’s note app for future reference because it seemed like a fun read. However as we flew towards New Jersey, we started talking and she introduced herself as “Bri”. I asked her if she liked the book and she answered affirmatively and said that she was ‘checking it out’. Only when I got home and looked at her social media did I realize that she was, in fact, the author.  She claimed to not want to push her book on people and explained that she was checking for errors. Clearly the book sells itself.

The book is structured almost as a workbook-memoir. In the course of telling her various relationship stories, McCabe offers compassionate reflections on her previous actions as well as clear boundaries for future situations. Framed within the space of working with a therapist, various red flags that (in her case) were exhibited by men are analyzed through her rationalizing, ignoring or sometimes heeding of these signs. As a reader, this breakdown is entertaining and educational. It is easy to empathize with her as protagonist and to hope that she learns from these experiences as the book progresses. The book comes with trigger warnings for sexual content and stories of abuse. Even though many of the stories are extremely explicit, McCabe shares these sexual coming-of-age experiences in order to reevaluate undesirable situations, not for the purpose of erotica. In this way, her stories are very powerful and bring to mind The Vagina Monologues or some of the writing in my other posts on recent feminist texts.

As the book unfolds, we learn more about McCabe’s childhood experiences of trauma, emotional and sexual abuse, alcohol use and instability. Her story is told through a relatable tone in a writing style that seems contrary to her professional capacities as a community college professor. The power of this book lies in the fact that a professional and academic figure chose to share such volatile material. I think it is a successful text and can create grounds for many types of reflection for different readers.

Some interesting titles on dating available at Rutgers University Libraries: