All too often, we go into dating situations hoping for the best but also looking for even the smallest red flags.
It makes sense. How many times have you had a relationship end badly and realized you missed huge warning signs? Or maybe you saved yourself a whole lot of heartache by noticing the flags early and putting the kibosh on a going-nowhere situationship.
So, yeah, red flags are definitely important. However, paying attention to green ones can help you determine if a would-be (or current) relationship is on the right track.
First, what’s a green flag? “A green flag would be something that’s an indicator that the person you’re looking to potentially have a long-term dating relationship with is a safe person to do that with,” says Joy Berkheimer, a licensed marriage and family therapist and owner of Renew Yourself With Joy in Boca Raton, Florida. “It lets you know you should allow yourself to be vulnerable with this person, and it’s OK to explore with them.”
Without further ado, some green flags:
The communication is on point. Healthy communication is at the heart of any good relationship. If someone is honest, expresses themselves openly (yet in a respectful manner) and listens when you do the same, that’s a good sign.
They respect your boundaries. “It’s very important to state your boundaries early on in the dating phase,” says LaVonya Reeves, a Houston-based relationship expert and founder of ReboundLovers.com. Then when someone respects those boundaries — whether that means not calling you at late hours of the night, not pressuring you to do something you’re not comfortable with, whatever you decide — it’s a green flag, she says.
They’re consistent in their actions. In a connection that’s going somewhere, you don’t have to worry about the person constantly canceling plans or ghosting you and then popping back up like everything’s all good. “Remember, people make time for who and what they want,” Reeves says. Some questions she asks: “Does this person keep their word? Is this someone who takes the time to actually call you and have an adult conversation? Is this someone who puts in the effort to see you in person?” If your date does all of this regularly, that’s a thumbs-up.
Your values are aligned. Ignoring your core values for something that looks good or is fun is why many relationships fall apart, says Berkheimer. She adds that it’s a positive sign if you and your prospective partner are on the same page about things like finances, spirituality, intimacy, lifestyle and relationship roles.
They’re curious about you. A person who asks questions beyond the bare minimum (and pays attention to your answers) is a waving green flag. It shows a sense of seriousness: “I’m going to ask you enough questions to know that I can build something with you and you’re somebody who I might want to introduce to my family or my kids,” Berkheimer explains.
They’re respectful of other people. How someone treats others is how they’ll eventually treat you. So if your companion is kind and courteous, even to the waiter who got your order wrong or the annoyingly loud guy at the movie theater, that’s good. And a person who doesn’t trash talk their ex, especially if they share a child, is top-notch.
And they love their mama. Both experts agree on this one and say how a person treats and speaks of their mother, sister, aunties (or whatever women played a role in their upbringing) is a reflection of how you’ll be treated. So if they think highly of those important women, it’s a promising sign.
Their health and finances are in order. The last thing you need is somebody who’s on the hunt for a nurse with a purse. Someone who’s already financially stable and has their health together is a big green flag because it means they won’t be asking you to foot the bills or expecting you to be their home health care aide, says Reeves. Not saying you should automatically write off someone just because they have a health issue. But Reeves recommends discussing it (and any expectations or boundaries) early in the dating phase.
You feel good just being with them. Even when you’re not doing anything. If you can sit on the patio, laugh and just enjoy being in each other’s presence, that’s a good sign, says Berkheimer.
Your intuition says “Yesss!” “Read your gut. How does this person make you feel when you’re around them, and who do they bring out of you when you’re around them?” says Berkheimer. “If they bring out a greater version of yourself, that’s a great green flag.”