Many of us remember the childhood game, “Red Light, Green Light.” The goal is to start at the beginning and be the first to the finish line. Along the way, a person designated as the leader yells “green light” when the participants should “go,” and “red light” when the participants should “stop.” It’s a simple game that’s easy to teach, but in real life, recognizing green for go and red for stop gets more complicated.
Trying to navigate the world of love and dating? It will help to recognize green flags in a relationship—these characteristics point to positive things happening. And just as important to recognize are red flags in a relationship, which are typically warning signs. Both flags are helpful while getting closer to someone.
We know that life isn’t as easy as a simple game of “Red Light, Green Light,” but with these pointers, and a little help from trustworthy family and friends, relationships can be wonderful, fulfilling parts of our lives. Pay attention, communicate well and you just might find a partner for life.
25 Green Flags in a Relationship
1. There’s a healthy give and take
Both of you have a good understanding of what the other needs, and enjoys. Maybe you don’t care that much about watching football every Sunday, but you take the time to do this together, and do something you enjoy more the next time you’re together.
2. You have things in common
You don’t have to hold everything in common (in fact it’s better if you don’t in order to maintain your own identity), but when asked, there should be a list of things you both enjoy doing together.
3. You can be yourself
Maybe you don’t let out your entire personality on the first date, but it should be obvious to both of you that you’re getting more and more comfortable as time goes on. There’s a sense that you’re being truly known, and he or she likes you that way.
4. Your values line up
We all have our list of non-negotiables. Work at creating opportunities to discover these about each other, and if you find you’re mostly lining up, continue to go forward in confidence. Make sure you talk about a broad list of values; including work, community and religion.
5. You’ve introduced one another to friends and family
Yes, the relationship is between the two of you, but ultimately it’s going to involve other loved ones too. If things are going well, you should both have people you want the new significant other to meet. Trust those you care about to be honest about what they see in your relationship. If it’s positive, all the more reason to go, go, go.
6. Thoughtfulness develops between the two of you
This can show up in a variety of ways. Maybe you stay home sick from work one day, and he drops off soup for dinner. Or more simply, she asks about a big project you’re working on, or how an interview went. There are a thousand different ways to show someone you’re thinking of them, so be on the lookout.
7. Disagreements don’t get blown out of proportion
Spend enough time with anyone, and you’ll find things, or situations, you don’t agree on. If it’s a minor episode, how well did the two of you communicate as you worked it out? If it turned into a major fight, did your partner fight fair? Was there name-calling? Did anger feel out of control or unwarranted for the situation? Were you both able to speak your mind? How one disagrees says a lot about a person.
8. You’re a priority on the calendar
It doesn’t mean you need to see each other every day. Life gets busy, but you’ll find time for the people you prioritize. Look for a good work/social life balance, and make sure you’re a big part of that.
9. They’re quick to apologize when necessary
Saying “I’m sorry” can be hard for anyone. Whether clumsy or fluent, appreciate the effort to own up to a mistake when one happens, because it will. This gives you both a chance to work on accepting the apology too, and learning to forgive.
10. You grow to depend on one another
This doesn’t happen overnight, but dependence grows as intimacy grows. Slowly, you realize you might be becoming one another’s “person.”
11. You’re still OK being on your own sometimes
On the flip side of that coin, you’re still able to do things independently. There shouldn’t be an unhealthy reliance that might range anywhere from slightly annoying, to suffocating. We should always maintain our own identity too.
12. You like who you are when you’re with them
A green flag relationship means both people are becoming better people. You’re a more confident you, and it seems they are blossoming as well.
13. There’s an openness about the past
We all have a past, and while you don’t have to divulge every last detail, there shouldn’t be notable secrets from one another either. Hidden surprises from the past don’t fare well in relationship-building. If you ask questions and sense there might be more unknowns than you’re comfortable with, have that conversation.
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14. Both of you have similar life goals
If there’s going to be a future for the two of you, there should be conversations about things like where you might live, whether or not you want children, what school or career goals you have, etc. Go online and look for lists of topics to cover if needed.
15. Mutual trust develops
Trust can be hard for people, especially if they have a history of being let down. Hopefully, you find one another to be largely reliable, leading to more and more trust.
16. You feel safe with this person
You can trust your gut on this one. Does it tell you this person means you no harm, offering protection and support? Are real-life circumstances matching up with your instinct?
17. Your heart skips a beat when they walk into a room
Admittedly, you won’t always feel giddy with emotion. It doesn’t stay puppy love forever. Still, seeing the one you might be falling in love with should be a highlight of your days. Months and years down the road, it should still be nice to see them coming.
18. They’re not holding you back
The opposite should actually be true, they should be encouraging you to go after all you want from life. He or she should fit in with the goals you’re setting for yourself.
19. They’re a good listener
Please, be a good listener in return. If your communication comes easily, with you both sharing and receiving thoughts and ideas, it’s a real, validating gift.
20. Things seem to be moving at a comfortable pace for both of you
This can be a deal breaker. Even as your feelings grow, try to stay on the same page with where things are going. No one wants to feel pressured to commit to more than they’re ready for.
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21. They know what they want
It doesn’t mean they’ve got their life planned out in six-month increments. It should mean they’ve got a healthy amount of self-worth and self-identity. When two healthy people find each other, it’s an invitation to begin to want something together.
22. You see kindness in them
Watch for the way they treat other people around them—from strangers, to their coworkers, to their parents. It shouldn’t be a fake niceness, but a legitimate concern for how others are treated.
23. They can talk about their feelings
Pay attention to what happens when the conversations turn vulnerable. A person should be able to express their emotions, understand yours, and talk about what this means in the relationship. For some, writing this out might come easier, and that’s OK as well.
24. You’re sexually compatible
Regardless of what decisions you make about physical intimacy, it should be a conversation you have together. It starts with a mutual attraction to one another’s looks, and moves into conversations about desires and expectations. Don’t leave this part out.
25. What do other people say about them?
Go ahead and ask the people in your significant other’s life what they think of him or her. Chances are, they’re going to tell you before you even ask, but make sure you know. If your relationship is going green flags ahead, you want to arrive at the finish line (whatever that is in your personal situation) fully prepared.