In the fast paced world of dating, we are consciously and subconsciously making judgements about whether someone is a good fit. Sometimes you know immediately, other times it can take multiple encounters. When we find ourselves in a relationship we may be keeping an eye out for the ‘red flags’, but what about the ‘green flags’? Do we make notes of the qualities that make them a good partner, or do we only look for the ‘red flags’?
It is just as important to start noticing the green flags that would likely indicate that someone could make a great partner. Recognizing the green flags can keep us open-minded to someone that we might otherwise dismiss too soon.
With that in mind…..
Here are the Green Flags you should look our for in a prospective partner:
At some point you will find yourself in a less than ideal situation and to have a partner that can find the silver lining in a bad situation, or practice gratitude can make stressful situations feel more manageable.
Do you ever notice that someone who complains about everything brings down the mood? Imagine being with someone who can bring positive energy everywhere they go and makes the best out of every situation.
Even at the worst of times this will be the partner that will help you keep your head up.
Flexibility / Easy Going
Imagine being on a second or third date and finding out the place you were going to have dinner had a three hour wait. Now imagine the person you are on the date with made a big deal about it and “wants to speak to the manager” or refuses to go somewhere else because they want to ‘make a point’.
Compare this to someone who says, “why don’t we check out the restaurant down the street”? We might not typically think much about it, but this is a green flag.
We are constantly having to adapt to changing circumstances and when you think about the big picture of your life you are going to have to adapt to situations you have no control over. You are going to want a partner that can easily adapt and be flexible to the changes you will inevitably face as a couple.
Helps Without Being Asked
It’s great if you find a partner that is willing to help when you ask, of course this is a ‘green flag’, but really make note of someone who initiates helping without you even asking.
A simple example of this is when you are planning to go your separate ways and they help you clean the snow off your car without being asked. If you find someone like this, you have found someone who is clearly considerate and emotionally attuned with the needs of others.
When we think about a quality partner we think about someone who is going to have our backs and make us feel like we are being taken care of.
A Matching Work Ethic
If you are looking at a long term partner, you want to feel that they are actually that, a partner. Now this ‘green flag’ is a little bit more personal because we all have a different meaning that we ascribe to ‘work’. You likely don’t want to be with someone who is married to their work, or someone that doesn’t pull their weight, but that’s all relative to where your own work life balance is.
If you find someone who’s a match to your work-life balance, this is a personal ‘green flag’. It’s really important that you feel a sense of “team”, and that the person you are in a relationship with makes you feel like you work together for the greater good of the relationship.
Experience a Disagreement or Fight With You
You can learn a lot about a person when you find yourself in a conflict with them. In my experience you don’t know the quality of your relationship until you’ve had to navigate a really challenging conflict.
Noticing how the person you are with tries to make you feel during a conflict can obviously bring attention to some red flags, but they can also highlight a lot of green flags. Are they trying to understand you? Are they sensitive with how they talk to you?
Fights can bring out the worst in us, but if you are with someone who doesn’t want you to feel put down then you have found someone who knows how to navigate conflict with respect.
Comfortable With Emotions
Keep an eye out for a partner that is comfortable with confronting strong emotions. It is a green flag when you find yourself in a relationship with someone who can come up to you and talk about what is bothering them.
When issues are addressed as they come up they can be resolved easier, instead of building them up and exploding or holding resentment.
When you have a partner who can express their feelings you will know what’s going on in their mind instead of having to guess and feeling closed off. A partner that doesn’t keep you guessing about how they are feeling is a “green flag” partner.
Can Take Responsibility
In my time of doing couples therapy, I’ve come to see how crucial it is for someone to be able to take responsibility for their role in a problem. According to leading couple researcher John Gottman, defensiveness is a predictor of relationship demise and the antidote to defensiveness is taking responsibility.
If you have landed a partner that shows that they can take responsibility this is a “green flag”. Accountability is a sign of openness to vulnerability, emotional maturity and is a contributing factor to building trust.
This is a green flag because it’s not always easy for us to admit that we are wrong and someone who shows this behavior is less likely to always pass blame onto you.
Can Process Your Emotions
Validation is the core of connection. Having a partner that can handle your feelings is a big green light.
When you are sad, they come alongside and comfort you. When you are angry they support in allowing you to vent and tell you they are there for you. They can also share in your excitement with you to make the experience richer. You want a partner that is going to join with you on feelings not push you away when you have them.
Add to Your 'Emotional Bank'
When you find yourself in a relationship with someone who likes to express their affection towards you in a way that you can feel and understand, it makes a relationship feel easier.
Sharing positive feelings add to the ’emotional bank account’ of the relationship, and just like any bank account, if you don’t keep making deposits, it eventually dries up.
When you find someone that expresses their affection and appreciation towards you, especially in a way that you can really connect with, consider yourself rich!
These green flags can also be a reminder that you are in a great relationship or that your relationship might need a “tune up”.
If you felt at one point your relationship had all these qualities but feel that they might have faded away, it might be a good wake up call. If you feel your relationship is withering away, but there is a lot of good, then couples therapy can be a great way to reconnect with the qualities you know your relationship once possessed.