We’ve all heard of red flags. These refer to the early warning signs of what may be an unhealthy relationship or toxic partner.
Common red flags in dating might include only talking about themselves, being rude to waitstaff, or being overly jealous.
But what about the green flags in a relationship?
While it’s important to know the signs of an unhealthy relationship, we should also pay attention to the positive behaviours and qualities that can indicate a healthy and mature partner.
Here are our top 5 green flags to look for in a new or existing relationship.
1. You have open and respectful communication
It might seem simple, but effective communication is a rare gift in relationships.
Growing research shows problems with communication is the most common reason for divorce or separation.
If your partner isn’t a good listener, dismisses your point of view, or shuts down at the first sign of conflict, your communication may need some work.
Some characteristics of a good communicator include:
- Active listening – They give you their undivided attention and really listen to what you’re saying, asking relevant questions and making an effort to understand you.
- Asking questions – One-sided conversations can be draining. If your partner asks thoughtful questions and shows a genuine interest in learning more about you, you’re on the right track.
- Seeking clarification – Good communicators don’t assume they know what you’re thinking or what your motives are. They respectfully ask for clarification to ensure you’re on the same page and both your perspectives are considered.
- Welcoming your thoughts – They make space for your thoughts and ideas, respecting your right to your own opinions, even when you don’t agree. They also respect your boundaries and validate your feelings, making you feel safe to share your needs.
- Being clear and concise – Unclear communication, such as dropping hints or being passive aggressive, rarely gets you the result you want – and often leads to resentment. Effective communication involves being clear on your expectations and preferences.
- Respectfully addressing issues – Disagreements aren’t always a sign of a fight or relationship flaw – they can be a great opportunity to understand each other and grow closer. In a healthy relationship, both people feel safe and willing to communicate respectfully through issues and disagreements, speaking up when they’re upset and hearing each other’s side of the story.
2. You support each other to maintain your independence
While it’s normal to get swept up in the love bubble of a new relationship, it’s not healthy to expect your partner to make you the centre of their world.
A healthy relationship is one where you encourage each other to maintain your independent lives outside of the relationship.
Your partner should support you to keep up the hobbies that fill your cup, even if that means spending time apart. They should encourage you to spend time with your friends and family, and be trusting and secure when you socialise without them.
Likewise, it's a good sign if your partner has fulfilling relationships, hobbies, and goals outside of your relationship themselves.
3. You put in equal amounts of effort
A relationship requires an investment in time, effort, and energy from both people.
If you’re always the one to initiate communication or organise dates early on, there’s a chance your partner may never match your effort.
Find a partner who gives you the same level of time, energy, and enthusiasm you give them. This might include:
- A balance of who texts/calls first
- Sharing who initiates and organises dates
- Alternating who travels to who (especially if long-distance)
- Each making time in your schedules to see each other, compromising when necessary.
In a longer term relationship, this could look more like sharing the housework and being equally as committed to having quality time together.
4. You feel safe and comfortable to be yourself
Many of us feel pressure to make a good impression and be the ‘best version’ of ourselves on those first dates. But you should feel more relaxed and comfortable being yourself as you get to know each other better.
In a healthy relationship, both people should be comfortable being themselves knowing their partner accepts and supports them for who they are – quirks and all.
If you feel like you need to hide things about yourself, act a certain way, or walk on eggshells around your partner, they’re likely not the one for you.
5. You consider each other’s needs and preferences
We’re not all going to like the same food, movies, or activities, and that’s OK. But spending time with people you care about is a lot more fun when both people are enjoying themselves.
Your partner shouldn’t have to entirely sacrifice their own needs and preferences to suit you, but it is important that they consider yours when making plans, and compromise when necessary.
It’s all about finding your shared likes and interests – which is part of the fun of meeting someone new!
This includes respecting your individual needs and boundaries in a relationship too. It’s a big green flag when someone takes the time to understand what it is you need and expect in a relationship and makes an effort to accommodate you.
If you could use some help navigating the dating world or just want to learn more about what you need from a relationship, speaking to a professional counsellor can be a great solution.
Call 1300 364 277 to make an appointment or to learn more about our counselling services, including relationship counselling.
We look at how long the honeymoon phase normally lasts and how to maintain the magic long-term in this blog post.