As if life isn’t too complicated already – do we need to identify and understand human behaviour before starting every relationship?
The answer is – probably!
In this article-
- What is a Green Flag?
- Your Partner Tells the Truth
- Your Partner Respects You More Than They Love You
- Your Partner Looks Beyond Winning, Especially in Disagreement
- Your Partner Supports Your Right to Have an Opinion
- Your Partner Plays a Positive Role in Your Personal Growth
- Your Partner “Listens” to You (Not just “Hears”)
- Your Partner Makes You Feel Better About Yourself
- Your Partner Chooses Kindness and Empathy
- Your Partner Forgives You When You Can’t Admit You Made A Mistake
For those who didn’t see the ‘Red Flags’ in their previous relationships, learning a little about what to look for instead might help you navigate the sometimes rocky world of dating and meeting new people.
As someone who has researched human behaviour and run prediction (mathematical) models (plus learned my lessons along the way), here are some helpful green flag guides to ponder before your next foray into the unknown.
What is a Green Flag?
Opening up your life to someone else can make you vulnerable to hurt and unknown potential collateral damage.
It makes sense to learn about what a good relationship looks like.
Unlike Red Flags, the green ones highlight things like maturity and other healthy actions and behaviours (as outlined below).
Of course, people can be a little complicated, and green flags are not always a guarantee that things will work out.
However, there are a few fundamental things to look out for in a partner that demonstrates that this is a healthy and safe partnership.
💚 Important Tip – Not all healthy signs discussed here will show immediately in a relationship. Taking things slowly at the start is one way to help you observe a range of healthy behaviours in a new relationship.
1. Your Partner Tells the Truth
Truth is the foundation of anything robust, and this is especially true for relationships. A relationship can often survive anything – except lies.
And I am not saying you have to tell the truth about everything. I mean, if someone says, do I look fat? – maybe don’t tell the whole truth.
But where it matters, and you will know where it matters the most, you will tell the truth.
So, if your partner is telling you the truth, even though it might be risky, that’s the greenest flag in a relationship.
(Lying, therefore, is a huge Red Flag – don’t overlook this in the early stages as it could indicate an unwillingness to be mature and take responsibility, as well as a willingness to straight out mislead you).
2. Your Partner Respects You More Than They Love You
Respect may not always be the first word that comes to mind in relationships – especially at the beginning of a new relationship.
Sometimes, in long-term relationships, as you fight over who will put the garbage out, ‘respect’ can feel like a very foreign concept.
But it’s not about little disagreements.
A ‘green flag’ to look for in a partner is that they respect “who” you are as a person, not “what” you are.
They look beyond your appearance or social status, and see your character and true nature.
They respect your beliefs and values.
They respect your boundaries.
And they keep that respect, even if the “love” dwindles.
Love may not always be there in a relationship consistently or in an obvious way. It might fluctuate. It might disappear. And it might take a hiatus while you struggle with other life issues.
However, if your partner respects you (in the absence of what you deem to be love), then value it more than anything.
Because even if your relationship might break down, and the love goes, respect will help you avoid painful and unnecessary damage.
Many couples endure breakups for any number of reasons, however, the ones who respect each other find ways to have cordial relationships (especially important when you have kids together) or move on without mucking things up.
3. Your Partner Looks Beyond Winning, Especially in Disagreement
In most relationships, things may become tricky at some point. You will have your moments of illogical thinking and irrationality. And you will know it.
But sometimes, you will want your partner to understand you. See beyond your irrationality, support you, and hold your hand.
Tip – If you disagree with your partner and cannot reach a consensus, you can end it with “Agree to Disagree”. However, that agreement should be accepted by both.
4. Your Partner Supports Your Right to Have an Opinion
Disagreements are part of relationships. However, how you deal with it defines it. As a couple, you might not agree with your partner on many things. Politics, diet, finance, and child-rearing are just a few areas you might find disagreement.
Many relationships turn sour, however, when someone doesn’t defend the right of their partner’s opinion, it might be a sign of unhealthy things to come
This behaviour can often show up in front of others, such as family, in-laws, friends or colleagues.
Look for being asked to remain silent or not engage in conversation.
Such actions can leave a partner feeling isolated, especially in disagreement, and might feel like a betrayal.
5. Your Partner Plays a Positive Role in Your Personal Growth
If your mental and physical health improves after starting a relationship with someone, it might be a green flag that your new partner is good for you!
You might find that your perspective might have improved, too. You might have a better vision of what you want your life to be.
Explore our straightforward guide for restarting your life, which you might find beneficial.
While toxic relationships can take an enormous toll on your health, a good relationship can improve it.
Some of the common traits of a supporting partner to look out for are:
- They take an active interest in helping you realise your dreams
- They put effort, even when no one is seeing or noticing, into solving your problems
6. Your Partner “Listens” to You (Not just “Hears”)
If you are feeling heard in a relationship, then protect it.
In modern times, everyone is busy talking – commenting on social media, on their phone, working late etc.
If your partner takes time to hear what you say and also “listens”, it may be one of the best green flags in a relationship.
These behaviours feed back into the green flag mentioned earlier – respect.
And if your partner listens with the intent to understand (and not just to reply) that’s even better!
I know it seems obvious to expect in any relationship, but listening is a skill we have not all learned.
Tips for Active Listening
- Ask questions, when needed, to understand what is said.
- Avoid giving answers, especially when your partner wants a listening ear, not advice.
- Avoid questions, especially when your partner doesn’t want to be questioned and wishes to tell what they think or feel.
- Ask how they feel when they talk about something.
Read More – Men’s Guide to Better Communication
7. Your Partner Makes You Feel Better About Yourself
How you feel when around someone is a simple green flag to notice, yet many people ignore their instincts and make excuses.
Observe how you feel when you are with this person. Are you on edge, nervous or unhappy, or comfortable to be yourself and happy?
What about when they are not around? Try and observe how you feel when they are around you (Not what you think or are being told by your partner, or others).
Watch out for inconsistencies and feelings of confusion – this could be gaslighting, an insidious behaviour where someone’s reality is deliberately altered (“No, you liked that restaurant, remember?” Ahh, no I didn’t!).
8. Your Partner Chooses Kindness and Empathy
Sometimes your partner may face tough life challenges and react out of character or need some support.
A green flag, in this case, is when they do not judge you but can empathise with your situation.
In other words, a huge red flag is a lack of empathy!
For example, when you are wrong and accept it, and your partner has seen that they have “won” ( e.g. a simple bet, or a general knowledge question), a ‘green flag’ partner will not shove it in your face.
They will not make it their life mission to bring it up all the time and make you feel bad about yourself, especially in front of others.
Sometimes, they might say it in a joke, but if they see you are getting hurt, they will show kindness and empathy.
There are many ways kindness and empathy can show up in a relationship. Try to look out for genuine acts of kindness that are not transactional and performed for a reason other than to help you.
9. Your Partner Forgives You When You Can’t Admit You Made A Mistake
Now, this is a difficult one.
Sometimes, your partner might want you to admit and apologise when you make a mistake.
But if a green flag partner can see you are struggling to do it, or feeling ashamed and guilty, they will forgive you and help you deal with the feeling (rather than make you feel worse).
Also read- How to deal with emotional pain
The way someone treats you when they have the so-called ‘upper hand’ can be very telling.
After all, most of us want to spend time with someone who lifts us and treats us well – not as something to be used, mocked at, or for their gain.
Harsh is the founder of menPsyche. He enjoys using his extensive research and writing skills to communicate ideas and concepts, with the aim to improve people’s lives.
Harsh trained as a Communication Engineer and published a MSc (Research) thesis, as well as worked in a variety of marketing and consultancy roles.