10 Relationship Green Flags to Look Out For
written by Macayla Temple
When it comes to relationships, everyone has heard of the red flags that mean your relationship is doomed. The flags can come in a variety of situations; for example, your partner being very self-centered, he or she dismisses your feelings, or you having a gut feeling that something is simply wrong. As precautious as we have been conditioned to be, no one ever talks about the green flags that can tell you there are good things in store for you and your partner. Green flags are everywhere so instead of looking out for all the things that could go wrong, it’s time to start looking out for the things that can go right!
Honors Your Boundaries
Your personal boundaries are the walls that protect your emotional energy. Naming your limits is key to making sure things stay comfortable in your relationship. However, before you can do that, you need to know where you stand. What are things you can tolerate? What can’t you tolerate? Knowing your limits and setting those boundaries gives your partner a heads up and mitigates the potential for unnecessary friction. Boundaries are nothing to fear; they are actually just a sign of a healthy relationship. Having boundaries can also show that you respect yourself enough to set them and work to preserve them.
If you’ve never thought about your partner honoring your boundaries, you might be wondering what that looks like. The action of honoring your boundaries is completely dependent on the type boundaries you have set and how big or small your tolerance for crossing boundaries may be. If you have a high tolerance for people pushing your buttons, you will be less likely to notice your significant other doing things that wouldn’t normally sit well with you. On the flip side, if you’re someone who has zero tolerance for boundaries being crossed, the smallest misstep on your partner’s behalf may be detrimental to your relationship. Figuring out whether or not your partner is respecting your boundaries is something that you have to reflect on and really evaluate the time spent with your partner.
Communicates Openly with You
There are two extremes on the communication spectrum: “You never have to guess what I am thinking because I will tell you as soon as I think of it” and “Nothing’s wrong even though I am on the brink of a crisis”. In addition to the two extremes, there are so many levels of communication, or lack thereof, in between. Just about everyone can agree that communication is key, but that doesn’t mean that they are actually communicating effectively. Lack of communication actually leads to the vast majority of issues in relationships. Keep in mind, communication requires two key players during the act: the speaker and the active listener. Without these two key players, communication does not happen.
More often than not, people will leave a relationship and say, “Yeah, I told [insert partner’s name] exactly what was wrong, but things were still terrible. Communication wasn’t our problem.” Actually, don’t count communication, or lack of, out as a likely cause for unrest in the relationship. Notice how an active listener was a key player in communication. The most common form of listening in rocky relationships is passive listening. Passive listening is one-way communication where your partner doesn’t provide feedback or ask questions and may or may not understand your message. Conversely, active listening includes responses that demonstrate that your partner understands what you are trying to tell them about your experience.
We all know communication is important, but why? Communication allows both you and your partner express what you are experiencing and what your needs are. For example, when setting your boundaries, you have to tell your partner what the boundaries are; otherwise, your needs will never get met. When you and your partner do communicate openly, you both will feel more connected in your relationship and communicating will eliminate many relationship-misunderstandings.
Has Healthy Hobbies
Your partner’s hobbies can impact your relationship in a number of ways. Determining whether those hobbies are healthy or not requires some thought on your end; however, if you invest or show interest in your partner’s hobbies, that can actually strengthen your relationship. That does not mean that you have to train for marathons if that’s your partner’s thing. Showing interest just means that you are supportive of your partner’s hobbies and respect them enough to let them have their time doing the thing that they love.
Some hobbies are not very healthy, but where is the line drawn between healthy and unhealthy? Remember, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. If your partner stays up for three days straight playing Call of Duty and neglects to do other chores around the house, that may be a sign that your partner’s hobby is becoming an obsession. Once the healthy “hour of video games” turns into “an all-time consuming binge”, that’s where you should be alarmed. If your partner chooses their hobby over actual priorities, it is no longer healthy. Again, this is up for your interpretation, and it is very clear that it is easier to spot an unhealthy hobby rather than a healthy hobby because we typically don’t give things that are working properly a second thought.
Is at the Right Level of Self-Sufficiency for You
Self-sufficiency isn’t always necessary depending on the relationship dynamic of the couple. Some people like having their partner depend on them whether that be financially or emotionally, but for other couples, they might value their sense of independence. If you are not the kind of person who wants someone relying on you, you can definitely appreciate someone that is self-sufficient.
For the most part, self-sufficiency is self-explanatory, but what you might not have considered is the pitfall of being too self-sufficient. Being too self-sufficient can stop the building of a healthy attachment in the relationship leading to a lack of trust and intimacy. The happy medium for some couples lies in being interdependent. Being interdependent is all about challenging your beliefs and attitudes about accepting support from your partner. You really have to oppose the instinctual need to be self-reliant around hot topics, such as finances, career paths, or family matters, and embrace the idea that you don’t have to do everything on your own.
Has Long-Standing Friendships
If your partner has long-standing friendships, you can breathe a sigh of relief. The Bioecological Systems Theory states that peer relationships can influence a person’s sense of self-esteem, social skills, and emotional development. Long-standing friendships mean your partner has successfully done four things: maintained contact (even if it’s minimal contact), set up get-to-togethers, has friend traditions, and showed up for life events. Your partner and his or her friend have been able to stick around through all the ups and downs of the friendship. Your partner has been able to overlook his or her friend’s faults. These actions described should perk up your ears when you hear your partner talk about their long-term friend and all the wild times they’ve had.
Can be Vulnerable
Vulnerability is something that is very hard for some people to be. Being vulnerable in a relationship means allowing your partner to know you: the real you. Vulnerability is a two-way street. Your partner should let you know his or her thoughts, feelings, challenges, weaknesses. It can be scary for your partner to show those sides of themselves out of fear of being judged. To put it in perspective, it’s not always easy to reveal all the parts of yourself to someone you care about, but being open in a relationship is crucial if you want to be able to build intimacy and form an intimate connection that lasts.
The benefits of being vulnerable are plentiful. Research has shown that being vulnerable in inmate relationships can lead to improved physical health thanks to the reduced stress and anxiety levels that people experience. With those levels being reduced, people can experience increased life expectancy because as we all know, stress can take a toll on us physically therefore affecting us long term. The lack of stress and anxiety can also lead to a higher self-esteem for you and your partner, therefore, paving the way for an environment of increased trust in your relationship.
With a wild year like 2020, we could’ve all use a little self-reflection. If your partner does a lot of reflection here’s three things you can be sure of: they know their core values (or they’re at least trying to figure it out), they understand their purpose and potential (again, maybe they’re figuring it out), and can better make decisions based on their reflection. Self-reflection is a sign that your partner is trying to learn and grow from the past and setting goals for the future.
If your partner understands their core values, they have identified the “why” behind the choices they make, the company they keep, and the things they want to do with their life. Your partner has been able to look deeper into their own self and analyze what is most important to them. After taking a mental inventory of their values, they may realize that some beliefs just simply aren’t worth keeping, and they will learn to recognize that and let those beliefs go.
Part of any self-reflection should include questioning the beliefs that are held onto regarding potential, identity, and purpose. By using self-reflection, your partner may have discovered their purpose and potential. They will become more conscious of their strengths and weaknesses; therefore, they will be predisposed to work on the areas that need improvement. By analyzing his or her strengths and weaknesses, your partner is able to better understand how they can contribute to problem-solving in different atmospheres in his or her life, such as work, family, or intimate relationships. He or she will be more likely to focus their energy where it will have the greatest impact in those situations.
If your partner understands his or her core values, potential, and purpose, he or she can become more aware of their inner voice, or their moral compass if you will, and all that it’s trying to tell him or her. With the stronger connection to their inner selves being built through reflection, they can find that it’s easier to make decisions. Consequently, the more self-aware of their values and needs your partner is, the less distracted they’ll be by other people’s opinions and other mental clutter when it comes to making a final decision. That means they’ll think clearly, and clear thinking leads to major breakthroughs for them.=
To sum it all up, your partner’s self-reflection demonstrates that he or she knows what they want and where they stand even in situations like your relationship with them. Without reading too far into their self-reflection with regards to your relationship, you can be assured that he or she will not take decisions made at pivotal moments too lightly.
Your partner displaying empathy can directly impact you. In our times of need, having someone there to be empathetic to our hardship is essential to our wellbeing. Their empathy shows that our emotions are valid, and it can reassure you of your stance on the situation that is bothering you.
Empathy is often mistaken for its close relative “sympathy,” so many people wouldn’t be able to tell you what empathy even looks like. If you are empathetic, you are demonstrating the ability to understand and share the feelings of someone else. Sympathy, on the other hand, is a feeling of pity or sadness for someone else’s hardships. Empathy is a kind of next-level connection between you and your partner because are both able to truly understand what the other is going through and be there for one another to help each other.
Supports Your Personal Growth
Just as you have supported them in their hobbies, your partner should support you in your personal growth. Personal growth is an ongoing process that starts from an early age, but the process is mostly shaped by loved ones and life experiences. The process of personal growth has many outcomes, and personal growth itself can be achieved through various techniques for improving one’s habits, behavior, actions and reactions.
In order for you to be successful in your own personal growth, it requires motivation, the desire to improve, and the willingness to make changes. As you continue on the path to personal growth you will also need to be willing to get out of your comfort zone. That means doing things that are uncomfortable but will benefit you in the long run. With all that uncertainty and uncomfortable situations, it can be a lot easier to grow when you have someone there to support you.
The support of your partner can go a long way. Personal growth can be stressful for you due to the changes in lifestyle or mindset that you may experience, and it is almost guaranteed that there’s going to be times when you may stumble along your path to success. In trying times like those, having someone to vent to and seek advice from is important for you to continue to grow. Without that support system in place, may people find themselves abandoning the idea of self-improvement or personal growth all together.
Now you may be wondering to yourself, “Does my partner display any of these actions or traits?” If he or she does, you now know how those actions and traits can strengthen your relationship with them in a number of ways. However, relationships are all about give and take. Reflect on if you’ve displayed these green flags to your partner. How has that impacted your bond with your partner? We’ve all been conditioned to look for the red flags in our relationships, and by all means, continue to look out for them. From now on try to pay attention to all the flags: both red and green. They’ll pop up in your relationship for a reason.