Look for Relationship Green Flags Instead
For years we've been taught to look for red flags in the relationship. If you're new to Happy Partners Project, we believe that relationships drive our evolution and conflicts present our biggest opportunities for growth. Flags, of both colors -- red and green, are like beacons of light shining on our patterns. Red flags are the areas that require the most attention. These are the areas where you're playing out old unhealthy habits and attracting people who embody them into your life.
Now, as people start building more conscious relationships and integrate mindfulness into the courtship process, there's a new way to assess the relationship and the "flags" that come up. The modern relationship conversation is turning towards green flags!
So let's break down both.
What are the negative (red) and positive (green) flags (actions/behaviors) to watch for?
And, Hang with me to the end of the article where I tell you how to identify the green and red flags unique to you!
Remember, relationships are designed to push evolution within us, so neither “flag” is “bad” or "good", they just shine a light on *our* own behaviors and patterns as well as what we have attracted into our lives.
Some Common Red and Green Flags, by category:
1. Readiness for a committed relationship
RED: Unfinished business with an ex. If your date is talking about his/her ex or if the relationship has recently ended, this is a red flag. In order to be fully present with a new partner, there needs to be completion (some call this closure), a grieving period and a time for re-establishing the "single self" before moving into a new relationship.
GREEN: the Single self is strong and alive. Ghosts of relationships past are not haunting the present. The person can express / relate lessons from previous relationships. "My last relationship was 4 years long, and we had immediate chemistry. But, ultimately we couldn't communicate effectively and after a year of on again off again, and therapy, we finally called it quits about a year ago."
2. Ability to Trust or Awareness of Broken Trust
RED: Without reason, constantly questioning where you are, who you're with, what happened and wanting to control what you do and with whom. This person has a trust issue but it controls him/her, not the other way around. Checking your phone and emails would also go here.
GREEN: Once a guy said to me that his "trust machine was broken". Some might see this as a red flag, but I'm categorizing it as green. Trust issues are problems when the person is completely unaware that their trust issues are like a tail wagging the dog. If someone can say to you that they have had their trust broken and can shine a light of awareness on a growth area, this is a wonderfully green flag in my book.
3. Pace and Mututal Movement
RED: Rushing and too available. Nothing says red flag more than a person who wants to sprint into a full-blown relationship overnight. Like plants, Relationships, well healthy ones at least, need to unfold at a steady pace.
Presence in each other's life is *earned*. If someone is moving at light speed, it begs the question: "what are you running from? And why?" Usually in these dynamics, one person is the aggressor and the other is the "go along with it" type. Then the latter has a Stage 5 clinger on his/her hands.
RED: oversharing early in the relationship. Some information is first, second, third date material and some information is reserved for those who have shown they can hold space for stickier subjects. Oversharing doesn't create intimacy. Oversharing is self-absorption masked as vulnerability. This may also signal emotional neediness and/or lack of boundaries.
GREEN: mutual movement. Your date lets you know his/her intentions. "I'm having a good time getting to know you, I'd like to see you again this week. Are you up for it?!"
BONUS GREEN: your date can accept if the pace is too fast for you. "I'm having a great time too. This week won't work, but I could do the weekend or next week!"
4. Availability + Boundaries
This one is related to #3 as shown above.
RED: someone who is *always* available and will abandon prior plans or commitments for a date with you has compromised integrity, could be codependent and isn't reliable. (S)he doesn't create boundaries.
GREEN: has a activities he/she holds sacred. Soccer league every Monday? dates will need to happen other days. Likes to work out in the morning? won't let a sleepover compromise that (except on occasion!). This is a sign of someone who creates healthy boundaries and has a healthy sense of self.
RED: Can't say or handle hearing "no". This person wants all boundaries to be down. He/she lives in the grey area. She can't say no but doesn't want to hear no either. He is an energy vampire that wants to take take take and leave all options open.
RED: your date only or mostly talks about conflicts or drama in his/her life and/or the ways he/she was "wronged".
GREEN: There's a balance between conflict and celebratory stories. And stories that do have conflict or drama are (Mostly) met with a lesson learned, a silver lining, or a positive outlook.
"This guy at work totally threw me under the bus and it made me look bad. I was embarrassed but I got the reminder I needed about office politics! Sucks, but I'll just watch what I say now."
6. Destructive and Constructive Behaviors
RED: If the person your dating is involved in addictive behaviors -- out-of-control alcohol intake, drug abuse, a history of sex with many partners (often overlapping), binge eating or depriving are all signs of deeper issues going on with someone. This is not to say that you should throw them out with the bathwater but don't go in blind. This is perhaps the most important RED flag to observe. If you notice these behaviors, broach the subject directly. Practice Non-Violent Communication techniques.
GREEN: Does your date exhibit control on alcohol consumption or drug intake? Does (s)he thoughtfully enter into sexual relationships with people (it's OK to ask him/her about his sex history!). Does this person take care of himself/herself? Is (s)he invested in self-care?
These are a few biggies that serve most people but remember that red (and green) flags are personal to you!
The way a person is in one area of their life, they are probably the same way in most, if not all, areas of life.
So the most important thing is to slow down and take inventory of YOUR patterns.
If you call in women/man with trust issues, what were the shared behaviors and characteristics they each had?
These are now *your* RED Flags! List out the opposite characteristics and those are the GREEN flags you'll want to watch for while dating!
If you call in guys who hop from relationship to relationship, look at the signals they gave you in early dating. These are your personalized warning signs.
Find the pattern and you'll find your red and green flags.
Good luck out there!