in: Dating & Relationships

Recognizing Relationship GREEN Flags

Leslie Malchy

Green means go, Darling, so hop to it! If you and your honey are noticing these relationship green flags, you just might have something magical.

People talk about relationship “red flags” all the time. Those dire warnings that we often ignore at the beginning of dating. As things go awry, we say to ourselves “I knew from the start that person was bad news for me.” But what about green flags? What are those signs that things are going very right? And that we should keep going in the right direction.

Lets take a look:

“It is so great! She wants exactly the same things in life as I do”

Early on, we are so caught up in getting to know each other and falling in love that we focus on the ways in which we are similar to our dates and the ways in which we feel good in their presence. It’s easy to see the similarities as green flags, and in the early stages of relationships and dating, they are!

Shared goals, values, ideals, life directions, common interests are really important. We both want to live a zero waste lifestyle? Great! We both value entrepreneurship and self employment? Fantastic, we can support each other! We both subscribe to buddhist philosophy and daily meditation? How wonderful! These are things that are going to make the relationship easier. These similarities offer ease to relating and grease the wheels of the relationship, promoting ways in which you can move forward together without much discussion or conflict.

“He makes me feel so good, so loved”

Feeling good in each others’ presence is also an early relationship green flag. Taking pleasure in each others companionship is ideal. Why else would you want to be with someone at this point? Do you feel happy, confident, safe, and cherished? Do you laugh together? Cry or feel moved together? If so, enjoy it! And do pass go and move on into the next phase of the relationship.

Longer term green flags may be a bit more confusing. Those happy chemicals present in the earlier moments of getting to know each other and falling in love can and do start to taper off. And in a longer term dating situation, partners begin to have other emotional experiences besides joy, elation, and passion. Sometimes emotions such as hurt, anger, jealousy or confusion come into the mix.

“I can really let my guard down and be myself with her”

You may have felt special and exclusive with your partner and then you see him hug a close, long-time girlfriend at a party and feel scared, hurt, or jealous. Or you may hear your partner make plans with her friends on a night when you were hoping to go out together and feel angry and confused. Green flags to watch for are how comfortable you feel opening up about your feelings to your partner and how receptive they are to hearing about your experience.

Do you feel safe to share your opinion or experience? Does your partner make time to listen to you? Do you feel understood at the end of the conversation? Is your partner responsive to what you are saying? It can be a great relief to talk about how you are feeling and get reassurance from the person you love. It can also be a way to reach a deeper level of intimacy, as it takes courage and trust to share about hard feelings as well as a level of comfort with vulnerability. Your partner may have a different interpretation of the situation, may have different feelings than you do, and may have feelings about your feelings. This is all normal and expected.

The Green flags are waving if there is a good deal of listening, communicating, and understanding going on between the two of you. Those are signs that you will be able to move forward and handle conflict and stressors between you if and when the relationship gets even more serious.

“We had issues, and we worked through it together”

It is natural as intimacy deepens with your partner to encounter differences in your values or life experiences. Conversations that took place while you were dating, like preferences about organic food restaurants or going to see a certain kind of music show, were easy. But what abut when those conversations deepen into preferences about relating with family members or choices around career possibilities and children?

Relationships and people also change over the course of time. So what may have been true at the beginning of the relationship may no longer be true. Your partner may want to continue living in the city, but you are ready to move to the suburbs. Or you may develop an interest in a healthy lifestyle and start jogging or hiking while your partner remains content to sip coffee on the couch and watch Netflix.

The differences themselves are not as much of the red or green flagging at this point in the relationship as much as HOW you handle the differences.

Green flags to watch for are willingness to communicate and talk about the differences, openness to different points of view, the ability to accept influence from each others perspectives and talking with respect to each other about those differences that are cropping up. These are the skills and traits that take you from “two people dating” to being “a couple who has the ability to handle differences.”

In other words, at this stage of the relationship, green flags are less about each partners’ personal preferences and more about the dialogue between two people relating as a couple. It can feel incredibly rewarding to “get through things together”, building a sense of competence and confidence in your “we-ness”.

About the Author:

Leslie Malchy Leslie Malchy

Leslie Malchy is a Relationship psychotherapist working in private practice, Soft Landing Therapy, in Downtown Vancouver, BC, Canada. She is an experiential therapist working from a bio-psycho-social-spiritual and strengths based framework of change. She holds a Master of Science degree in Psychiatry from McGill University and a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy from Antioch University Seattle. When Leslie is not working, she is busy writing creative and literary fiction, tending to and growing kale in her community garden plot or jogging along Vancouver’s gorgeous Stanley Park seawall.



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