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8 relationship green flags you should pay attention to

By Primenewsghana
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When it comes to relationship deal breakers, there’s virtually no end to the list. From seemingly harmless behaviours like love bombing to talking smack about exes, red flags get plenty of attention in the dating world—even if some people choose to ignore them.

What you don’t hear about as often? Green flags in a relationship—you know, those promising signs that pop up and may shake you to your core because they’re so damn rare.

“Green flags are positive indicators that a connection has the potential to flourish into a safe, healthy, lasting relationship,” Shanita Brown, PhD, a licensed clinical mental health counsellor and instructor of counsellor education at East Carolina University, tells SELF. “They’re a good sign that you’re compatible with that person and can form a healthy bond.”

That all sounds lovely, and like what most people want in a partner, right? But in reality, green flags don’t always get the appreciation they deserve. “For many people, their default mode is to scan for red flags in relationships,” Kelly E. Green, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychology at St. Edward’s University in Austin, tells SELF. “We’re conditioned to look out for danger more than safety in most areas of our lives,” she says.

This “negativity bias” isn’t entirely unhelpful, of course: It’s super important to look out for indicators of a toxic person. But by failing to note the good stuff, you could also miss out on something really great.

That’s why we asked Dr. Green and other experts for their top relationship green flags. Surprisingly (or maybe not?), the list is far shorter than the red flags that should send you sprinting in the other direction.

1. They respect your boundaries, full stop.

The lines you draw for yourself in relationships are not only a way to ensure you feel comfortable and safe, but also to show yourself respect—and ask for respect from others. That’s why, according to Dr. Brown, when someone crosses those lines, or even slightly pushes them, you’re in red flag territory.

On the flip side, when someone is respectful of and curious about your boundaries and needs, that’s a big ol’ green flag. It’s an “appreciation of your individuality” and an open-minded acceptance of those limits you’ve set for yourself, Dr. Brown says.

If you tell a boundary-respecter that you don’t like to jog with other people because it’s your precious alone time, they might ask you about your feelings but they won’t guilt trip you, even if they’d prefer to hit the road together.

If a certain sexual activity makes you uncomfortable and you’re simply not interested in doing it, they won’t get angry or continuously try to push for you to give in. Along with respect, honouring boundaries is also about “feeling supported and safe to be vulnerable,” Dr. Brown says.

2. They know how to express their feelings—or are actively working on their communication skills.

You’ve heard it a million times for good reason: Communication is key in any healthy relationship. It won’t shock you to learn, then, that being able to talk with your partner in a productive and healthy way, in which you “both feel really seen and heard,” is the ultimate green flag, according to Dr. Green.

A good communicator will use “I statements” and avoid blaming you for something they did, Dr. Brown says. In other words, they take responsibility for their actions. If they come home late and forget to let you know, leaving you to worry, they might say, “I’m sorry for not calling you, and I was wrong to not consider how it might have worried you” vs. “You’re too sensitive” or “You always overreact.” (In turn, you can respond with, “I understand you may have gotten sidetracked at work. Just let me know going forward so I don’t worry. I care about you and I forgive you.”)

Communication isn’t easy for some people though, especially if they grew up in a home where expressing feelings and concerns wasn’t taught or respected, says Dr. Brown. That’s why another green flag is the acknowledgment of communication struggles and a willingness to work on them.

3. They make you feel like you’re on a team—or at least like they have your back.

Although you’re separate entities with individual lives and interests, feeling like you’re on a team when you’re with someone is a great sign of a healthy pairing. “You work together and support each other, and neither person dominates decision-making,” says Dr. Green. “You collaborate to navigate life stressors, and there’s generally a feeling of equity in the relationship.”

If you come home and tell them you’ve been laid off, they comfort you as you work together to solve the issue (by, say, respectfully agreeing that they’ll pay the bulk of the bills until you find a new position).

If you’ve recently started dating or it’s early in the relationship, this teamwork may be “as simple as feeling valued when you’re cooking a meal together, helping each other with routine tasks, or sharing in the responsibility of planning a weekend getaway,” says Dr. Green. The gist: You feel like they have your back and care about your needs.

4. They give you space to be yourself—and bond with other people.

No one, even people who are madly in love, should be together all the time, according to the experts we spoke to. In fact, part of loving someone is wanting them to have their own interests and goals outside of the relationship, Dr. Green says. In other words, the two-become-one cliché is actually a red flag.

An example of a green flag, on the other hand: “There’s no jealousy or resentment when you spend time with the other important people in your life, and you don’t feel guilty for taking time for yourself,” says Dr. Green.

Instead of pouting or making passive-aggressive comments about your life outside the relationship—your friends, family, hobbies—someone worth your time will “enjoy seeing your growth and passion toward other people and pursuits,” says Dr. Green.

Do they encourage you to keep your standing Friday TV night with your best friend? Tell you how much they admire you for taking improv classes? Give you zero grief for canceling plans so you can support a family member? Those are all green lights—er, flags.

5. They have healthy relationships with others too.

Whether we’re talking about close friendships or family ties, having healthy connections with other people is a promising signal you should pay attention to, Rachel Riley Fancher, PsyD, licensed clinical psychologist and founder of Fancher Psychology & Assessment in Skokie, Illinois, tells SELF.

This not only shows that they’re able to effectively communicate under a variety of relationship circumstances, she says, but that their entire life doesn’t revolve around you (see green flag number four). You want a partner who has other relationships and other things going on, but is willing to make space for you in their life, Dr. Fancher says.

What do “healthy” relationships with others look like? Pay attention to how they talk about these people. “Do they talk respectfully and kindly about their sibling, ex, or best friend, or do they speak derisively about the close people in their lives, or belittle them?” asks Dr. Fancher. If it’s the former, yep, you’ve got yourself a green flag—a sign that someone is capable of forming loving and respectful relationships.

6. If they say they’re going to do something, they do it.

Even if there’s no serious commitment involved in your relationship yet, just the fact that someone follows through on plans and responsibilities is a positive sign worth noting, says Dr. Fancher. Someone who says they’re going to, say, show up to a family event or pick you up from the airport and then actually does it not only speaks to their respect for you, but for themselves, since honoring commitments builds self-worth, she says.

Likewise, frequently flaking or backing out on plans that are important to you, or complaining they have to go at all, is a thrashing red flag. It suggests a lack of responsibility and means they’re not invested in you. “A good partner is someone who demonstrates that you can count on them to show up when it’s important and that they have your best interest at heart,” Dr. Fancher says.

7. And their behavior is reliable too.

Not only does a quality partner follow through on commitments, but they’re consistent in their actions in general. You know they’ll show up, yes, and you also don’t need to worry that they’re going to fly off the handle at a moment’s notice, or that they’ll suddenly shut down when an issue—like them not taking responsibility for chronically showing up late, say—arises. They demonstrate that you can count on them when it’s important, as Dr. Fancher says.

Everyone’s mood fluctuates, of course, and we all have days where our communication could use improvement, but in general, you know what to expect with green flag behavior. And this consistency allows you to be at peace, instead of always feeling guarded or on edge, as you would in an unhealthy relationship, Dr. Brown says.

8. You feel good about yourself when you’re with them.

Someone who puts you down or doesn’t seem to value your best qualities is a major red flag, which is why feeling yourself can be an important green one. Having a strong sense of love, appreciation, or acceptance of yourself “as you see and feel how the other person experiences and appreciates you” is a sign of a healthy relationship, according to Dr. Green.

It’s not that you should depend exclusively on your partner’s validation for your self-worth, Dr. Green adds, but it’s natural to get a self-esteem boost when you feel valued by someone else. For example, some of the green flags above—like honouring your boundaries and showing up for commitments—signal that your partner appreciates and respects you, which can make you feel pretty damn good about yourself.

“This one is important for everyone, but particularly for people with trauma histories or those who struggle with self-worth for other reasons,” Dr. Green emphasizes. The ability to value yourself because someone else sees your strengths and general you-ness is a beautiful thing. As Dr. Green puts it, “A healthy relationship can be a mirror that lets you see your best self.”