There are so many “red flags”. Every article, post, comment, Reddit thread is about the “warning signs” you should look out for at the start of a relationship. Does this behaviour mean the person is a cheater? A manipulator? Maybe an undercover psychopath?
What if they’re none of these things?
What if they are a green flag kind of guy?
Here’s how to tell.
A sense of joy.
How much do you laugh? Even if you’re driving into the night, have no idea where you might find food, there’s a long way to the next town, and you’re running low on petrol, can you still laugh?
This might sound idealistic. But having a ‘sense of joy’ is not just related to the good times. Any relationship will bring with it difficult moments, but a feeling of joy runs deeper than this.
“To be joyful is not to always be happy or expansive,” integrative psychiatrist and author Henry Emmons wrote for the Elephant Journal. “Joy comes from accepting that which is most life-giving, with an accompanying sense of gratitude.”
A good laugh. Really key. A relaxed, genuine, spontanous, unguarded laugh. A natural laugh that is the manifestation of joy. – kmkm34534n3j3j on Reddit.
One of the writers at Mamamia interviewed countless couples in their 70s for her masters in psychology. The number-one thing she took out of this project? The importance of being intellectually compatible.
There are a lot of elements within a relationship that might wane and re-surge throughout the course of life. Sexual attraction, busy schedules, career aspirations. But not the way you connect intellectually. Can you challenge each other? Keep each other interested? Debate, suggest, discuss?
Having similar values is certainly important in maintaining a lasting relationship, but a willingness and openness to discuss different points of view can be extremely exciting. Green flag.
How do you problem solve?
Intellectual compatibility plays into problem solving. You might drift apart and come back together throughout the course of your relationship. One of the most important aspects of this ‘coming back together’ is the way your minds connect.
Can you have the discussion? Stay calm? Listen? Understand each other?
Sooner or later there’s going to be a problem in the relationship and you’re both going to have to sit down and work it out. The way we handle the first problem that comes up tells me a lot about whether or not I want to get serious. Resolving personal issues amicably is an absolute must for any long-term relationship. – Dear_Occupant on Reddit.
Doing things for each other, just because. This is the simple stuff. Cooking extra dinner, so you both have lunch in the morning. Sending a ‘good luck’ text before a tough meeting. Suggesting a weekend away together. Realising the other person needs to laugh, so showing them a funny video.
Thoughtfulness shows connection and concern. It shows that you’re in this together; that you’re thinking of each other; that your well being and happiness is important.
A big one for me is when my SO goes out of her way to do something nice for me. My current girlfriend did this when she came over to my apartment when I was sick and took care of me until I got better; all I did was to reply to a text saying I couldn’t go out as I was not feeling well. – Irene_Adler on Reddit.
A recognition of each other’s successes is another green, green flag. Sometimes, being ‘there for each other’ in difficult times is easier than being supportive and congratulatory of each other when things are going well.
Does your partner celebrate your successes with you? Do they recognise and understand the things that are meaningful to you? If so, ups to them. It means your relationship is not based on one-upmanship. Instead, it’s about mutual support and admiration. Green. Green. Green.
Do you you feel yourself, act yourself with the other person? Are you both comfortable enough with each other to say what’s on your mind? To laugh when you want to laugh, and get upset, anxious, when it’s time for that as well?
“Authenticity requires a genuine sharing of our inner self, irrespective of the consequences,” psychotherapist, couples counsellor and author Mel Schwartz wrote for Psychology Today. “I am not suggesting that we be callous or insensitive to others’ feelings. Learning how to communicate challenging matters in a delicate and compassionate manner opens the pathway to an evolving relationship.”
If you’re 100% yourself – hairy legs, dad jokes and inner-anxieties included – then this is a big, waving green flag. Keep at it.
Hearing too much about the drawbacks of other people, whether it’s friends, colleagues or a waitress at your favourite restaurant, is a warning sign of someone who is judgemental and likely criticising you and the relationship in a similar vein. But this post is not about red flags, it’s about green flags.
If you can both see the positive sides of most people, and will admire before tearing down, you’re onto a good thing. A relationship should be about bringing out the best of each other and those around you, not placing yourselves – or one of you – on a pedestal above the rest. Share the love.
Independence & togetherness (at the same time).
Motivation and personal goals are sexy; they’re often what drew you together in the first place. Maintaining this individuality and sense of self is just as important (and often integral in) maintaining the relationship ongoing.
“Being in a successful partnership does not mean that you “complete” each other, as Jerry McGuire professed to Dorothy,” psychotherapist, re-partnering coach and author Deborah Hecker wrote for the Huffington Post. “You do not need to love to do the same activities or agree on everything. You need to respect the differences that exist between you and your partner.”
Hecker suggests each person in the relationship should often take stock of the following questions:
- What is important to me?
- What thoughts and feelings are worth protecting?
- What are my values?
- Which are the friendships I want to maintain?
- What are my needs?
- What are the traditions / hobbies I want to keep?
- Am I always striving for personal satisfaction and happiness?
Quite simply, you’re into each other.
This is a simple one, but oh so important. In the age of dating apps and horrible things called benching and ghosting, actually being prepared to admit that you’re crazy about each other is refreshingly positive. When done genuinely, this a stupidly-big-smile-inducing green flag.
The biggest green flag is that she is truly into me. – Profile since deleted on Reddit.