Green flags in a relationship are vastly underrated. Fifteen minutes into a coffee date and we tend to give our sole focus on spotting the red flags in a potential romantic partner, by instinct. This is only fair because we want to protect our little hearts from the same disasters we have suffered before.
How about, for a change, this time you go with an open mind? Instead of fixating on “OMG! She doesn’t like my favorite director!”, you embrace her witty humor. She has a cute smile, right? Plus she did the ‘check dance’ to split the bill. There you go, three green flags in talking stage, on the very first date. Calls for a second one, don’t you think?
So, what exactly are these positive indicators in a relationship that are so essential to form a healthy bond? To give you a clear picture, we spoke to psychologist Juhi Pandey (M.A. Psychology) who specializes in dating, premarital, and breakup counseling, and picked her brain for some thoughtful insights.
What Are Green Flags In A Relationship?
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In simple words, green flags are the traits of the inherent goodness in your loved one. Suppose, one morning you skipped breakfast and left for the office in haste. Just when you are the hungriest and crankiest, you receive a parcel from your favorite Chinese place with a small note, “Have your lunch before you start scolding everyone in the office”. You are bowled over by this sign that he cares deeply about you and think, “How can anyone be so considerate?”
That, right there is an excellent example of relationship green flags. It could be anything from their decent mannerism, to emotional maturity to intelligence, or that killer smile. Basically, green flags in a person refer to the admirable sides of their personality that give you the hall pass to safely enter a new relationship. Did you recently spot ten sure-shot green flags in a guy or a girl? You have our full support if you plan to invest your valuable time and emotional energy in this amazing human being.
Knowing that you share common values with your SO from the early stages gives you the hope that you are on the same page and are off to a good start. If all goes well, your relationship will be in for the long haul. In our conversation with Juhi, she made an excellent analogy between colors and the qualities stating your partner is compatible with you.
She says, “Just like the color green is a symbol of nature, growth, and prosperity, similarly, the green flags in a person suggest they are allowing their SO to nurture themselves. By accepting your partner’s individuality and being an undeviating support system, you are directly contributing to their personal growth with a solid boost to their confidence level and power to self-love.”
Related Reading: 12 Core Values In A Relationship For A Happy And Lasting Bond
13 Green Flags In A Relationship To Look Forward To
You know, there is no one way to define the green flags in a healthy relationship. Every individual has their own version. In your story, regular communication or face-timing might be the best approach for connecting with your partner on a deeper level. But if you talk to your next-door neighbor, they will probably consider it taxing and feel suffocated in a similar scenario.
Now that you are thinking about strictly inspecting the hallmarks of a good match, you should first set your version straight. Sit in silence and carefully ponder your needs and expectations in a relationship. It will be easier to prepare that mental checklist if you are candid with yourself. Of course, we urge you to stay grounded and be practical as you picture your dream partner clad in high values and excellence in every aspect of their life.
In case you didn’t notice already, even the Prince Charmings and Cinderellas of the real world come with their fair share of flaws and eccentricities. If you expect them to buy you a pony, fly you to Italy on your first date, or be sweet as a peach 24×7, you may have to wait in a life-long queue to finally meet that storybook lover.
There are certain examples of green flags in a relationship that are very basic and an absolute necessity for a healthy partnership. According to Juhi, “Three major green flags to look for in a relationship are – the person respects you, they allow you to have your own life, and you have a mutual understanding about your roles in the relationship”. Here, we have put some thought into jotting down 13 relationship green flags from a generic perspective for the benefit of every new-age couple:
Related Reading: Effort In A Relationship: What It Means And 12 Ways To Show It
1. You can enjoy the silence with them
Awkward silence is a real bummer. Even three to four people sitting at a dinner table can feel “Oh no! What to say next?”, let alone two people on a date. When you reach that state of contentment with someone, imagine how easily you two flow into each other’s vibe, how psychologically safe you feel with that lovely person.
You go on a rooftop. Sit beside each other. Do nothing, say nothing. Just watch the stars and the blinking city lights in silence. Absolute bliss! It’s a bit tricky to notice green flags in talking stage of the relationship. If you already have this level of comfort with the amazing person you are dating, then that’s a solid sign that they are a keeper!
2. They are sensitive to your emotional upheavals
Life is a rollercoaster ride. One day you get a promotion, the next minute death of a dear friend shatters you in pieces. Ever since the pandemic blues hit us, we have all been plunged into the threat of anxiety and panic attacks to some extent. When you are fighting with yourself to get over the shivering and the jitters, you would need someone to hold your hand and calm you down. They can explain how your anxious brain is magnifying smaller issues into something terrible.
It’s important the person you are dating understands and empathizes with your struggle instead of mocking you. It is one of the green flags in a relationship that you just cannot ignore. Juhi says, “Your partner has to be sensitive about your emotional turmoil because that is the essence of any functioning relationship. It also indicates that the person accepts you as you are. They understand when there are ups, there will be downs. And both partners should be supporting each other through it all.”
3. They understand when you say ‘no’
In all our articles, we amplify the importance of open communication in a healthy relationship, and being able to voice your boundaries should be a top priority. Just because you are in love with someone doesn’t mean you have to say yes to everything they ask for. If you do, that will only heighten your insecurities in the relationship.
You are trying to make them happy by sacrificing your own needs, opinions, and choices. Well, that isn’t healthy, is it? You are allowed to refuse a movie date proposal if you are tired after a long day. You can say no to sex when you don’t feel like it. And you can raise these concerns when your partner has the emotional capacity to take the feedback sensibly.
They could have responded by throwing a tantrum, getting mad at you, or giving you a silent treatment. You never know! However, these reactions don’t add up to examples of green flags in a relationship. Juhi mentions in this context, “Respecting your ‘no’ means your partner respects you as a person and an individual. It is a sign that you are being valued and appreciated in a relationship.”
4. They willingly share responsibilities
Relationships are essentially team ventures. It’s unreasonable to expect one person to take charge of all the responsibilities – big or minor ones. I am not talking about just household chores. Responsibility in relationships falls beyond that and it can appear in many forms and shapes. There are financial responsibilities, emotional endurance, commitment toward the future, and so forth.
You can make this out once you start living with your partner. Do they voluntarily join you to take your mother to the dentist? Or maybe you don’t have to remind them twice to get the groceries when you are busy doing the laundry. Mark this as a sign of love. It’s a clear green flag.
5. One of the most attractive green flags in a guy or girl: They maintain eye contact
As insignificant as it may sound, eye contact attraction has a deeper influence on the fate of the relationship. Have you ticked this off in your checklist of green flags in a guy or girl on the first date itself? If yes, then I believe you are in for a treat. In case you didn’t know, there are studies that prove unbroken mutual gaze has the power to increase feelings of passionate love. Sounds about right.
A person who can maintain steady eye contact (unless they are autistic and find eye contact uncomfortable) is honest about their intentions. They are very much present in the conversation – both physically and mentally. Nothing in the world is distracting them from spending that moment with you in its entirety. And do I have to say out loud that it is romantic as hell? Staring into each other’s eyes, hearing the wine glasses clink – oh, think about the chemistry in making!
Related Reading: 19 Examples Of Healthy Boundaries In Relationships
6. Emotional availability is their strong suit
One of the most crucial green flags in a relationship with a man or a woman or anyone at all: their emotional availability. Men, especially, are not always vocal about their growing feelings for you. Expressing their emotions and inner turmoil doesn’t come that easy.
When you meet a person who is open to sharing their childhood trauma, you know it’s the real deal. The fact that they are vulnerable around you shows how much they trust you and value this relationship. Emotional consistency is a desirable green flag across genders.
7. They see you in their future – near and far
We consider this a green flag in a relationship because it shows if your partner’s a commitment-phobe or not. A person who genuinely appreciates your presence in their life would never leave you out of their future plans. Perhaps they would ask you to go to a wedding as a date which is nine months from now. They might even share their ideas for a dream house and ask for your suggestions.
You will understand exactly where you are standing in this relationship, and whether you are on the same page or not. Juhi says, “Seeing your partner in the future – be it the near future or five years from now – is a classic relationship green flag. That’s how you know you are in for something real. Otherwise, it’s just a casual relationship that is not taking you anywhere.”
8. Green flag in a person: They prioritize you in their life
In our mind, we all know our top priorities in life – these could be our parents, our career, a passion, or maybe a special friend. We allot time for all of these depending on the scale of importance. You would somehow manage time to rehearse for your ballet performance despite busy office hours. As they say, “It’s all about priorities.” The same thought holds good for relationships as well.
As you top a person’s priority list, it should be visible in their actions. If you feel like they are keeping you as a backup and never give you due importance, it’s better to walk away. Let’s look for a few green flags in a relationship with a man, woman, or a nonbinary person. Are they curtailing a couple of other appointments just to spend more time with you? Do they reach out to you for advice before making any big decision? Keep adding. As this list grows, your relationship grows stronger than ever.
Related Reading: 20 Tips To Be A Better Boyfriend And Make Her Your World
9. A prime green flag in a relationship: Undivided attention
Have you been on a date where the person sitting next to you is lost on their phone the whole time? They ordered mocktails even though you clearly wanted cold coffee and meanwhile received ten phone calls. Isn’t that one of the biggest turn-offs? Being distracted, self-absorbed, or preoccupied during a conversation is not what we call ‘hallmarks of a good match’, especially when you are starting to go out and they are supposed to be excited about the time you spend together.
So what are the green flags in talking stage of the relationship? Your partner is eager to know you better. They won’t miss a chance to have a coffee and a chat with you. They would laugh at your silly jokes and not just give out a pity laugh. Just kidding! When a person is 100% into you, you will know they are listening and your opinions are valued, be it mindless chatter or strong conviction on a certain matter.
10. You love the physical intimacy (not just sex!)
You heard me right. Sex is indeed a deal-breaker element that might make a difference in how close you feel to a person. But the sweet, innocent physical intimacy has its own charm. Sleeping together could also mean you cuddled and got lost in beautiful dreams. Does it always have to be sex?
Scene 1: You two are sharing a cab in the rain. They pull you closer and put their arms around you. The radio’s playing What a wonderful world.
Scene 2: You are making coffee in the kitchen. They come in to get a bottle, give you a little peck on the cheek and leave. No drama, just a fleeting moment of affection.
Scene 3: Whenever you cross the road, their hands instinctively clasp yours.
Picture yourself in these scenarios and see how warm you feel inside your heart. Folks, that’s the one. In fact, a recent study conducted by Binghamton University scholars found a strong connection between non-sexual intimate touch (such as hugging, hand-holding, or cuddling) and rock-solid marriages. What say? Isn’t it one of the fundamental green flags to look for in a relationship?
Related Reading: The Dynamics And Importance Of Sex In A Relationship
11. They are open to problem-solving
Let me tell you, there are two kinds of people in a relationship. One who asks you to sit and have a productive conversation to find a solution to the problem at hand. The other one will get defensive right away and shift the entire blame on you. Now you decide which one appears to be more sustainable in the long run.
Do you want to go through a never-ending game of breakups and patch-ups? Or do you crave stability to handle the relationship like two mature adults? The choice is yours. To give you a bit of research-backed suggestion, an article published in Science Daily shows that majority of the couples tend to argue over more or less the same topics – children, money, in-laws, or intimacy. What makes the happy couples stand apart from the miserable ones is their solution-oriented approach to conflicts.
Juhi mentions in this regard, “There is nothing like open communication in a healthy relationship in order to acquire a problem-solving attitude toward all major and minor issues. If both partners have the patience to convey and listen to each other’s side of the story keeping their cool, any problem can be sorted out. Plus, when you share common values with your SO such as this, it makes explicitly clear how they are compatible with you. ”
12. They are confident in their own skin
Your partner being confident about their expectations, capabilities, and most importantly, knowing themselves very well is one of the positive indicators in a relationship. The fact that they are clear about their intentions ensures there won’t be any sudden pitfalls or ugly arguments between you two.
You don’t have to worry about them getting over-possessive at any point in time. This person will honestly trust you because they have full faith in your motives. They know they can handle any minor or major setback in the relationship without losing their mind. You will get a taste of their maturity as they are not afraid of taking accountability in the relationship for their actions. Tell me, if not this, then what’s a green flag?
13. They make the ordinary extra special
You know after the honeymoon phase is over, all we are left with is the monotony of routine activities and the same old conversations. But if this person is the one for you, you will see even the utterly uneventful days brighten up for their mere presence in it. They make you laugh and feel like the happiest person on earth!
The boring lectures in college don’t seem so tedious with them sitting beside you. You don’t always need fancy dates or expensive gifts to impress each other. Just their very company soothes your heart. And with that ends our checklist of the essential green flags in a relationship. If you could put a tick on more than half of these, we bet your relationship will make it to the long haul.
- Green flags refer to the inherent good qualities in a person that turn out to be blessings for a relationship
- Keeping an eye out for the green flags from the very first date can be helpful in chalking out your relationship trajectory with a potential partner
- Respect for your individuality, opinions, personal space, and boundaries is of paramount importance while listing green flags
- Not being afraid of commitments, emotional availability, and paying attention also count as some of the desirable qualities in a mate
- When you are trying to check the compatibility ratio with a partner, maintain a balance between the red and the green flags to build a happy and healthy bond
But we don’t intend to stop you here. You carry on with your own list adding the admirable qualities your loved one keeps presenting. Let me leave you with a little food for thought. Every human being is an embodiment of both green and red flags. You won’t find a mate devoid of any one of these. But to form a healthy bond, it’s not wise to get so swept away by the green flags that you miss the reds. We hope you find that fine balance somewhere on the road. Cheers!
This article has been updated in December 2022.