New relationships are exciting. There is so much to learn about each other. It can also be a tricky time as you figure out your compatibility.
We often talk with clients about “red flags,” or warning signs of unhealthy relationships. Understanding and recognizing early warning signs can empower us to avoid abusive partners and help us choose healthier relationships. But sometimes abusive behavior doesn’t appear until later in the relationship.
We also use “green flags” to highlight positive actions and traits in intimate partners. Green flags are usually promising signs that someone understands healthy behaviors.
Each of us is unique and every relationship is different. Our emotions and needs fluctuate depending on a variety of things like if we feel fulfilled in our life and if we are getting our basic needs met. We also have different values and priorities. For some people, consistent communication is necessary, while others are okay with sporadic communication. Ultimately, a relationship is healthy when both you and your partner feel you are equal, and the connection meets both of your needs. Here are some relationship green flags that will help you identify whether a new person is a worthwhile investment of your time, energy, and attention:
COMMUNICATION. You talk openly about problems and listen to one another. You can safely express perspectives, needs, and feelings. Your partner is accepting and validating, even when they don’t agree with what you are saying.
TRUST. Your partner believes what you say and doesn’t feel the need to “prove” or “test” your credibility. You feel safe being vulnerable and open with them, as well.
HONESTY. They are transparent and truthful while respecting privacy. Your partner does not pressure you to reveal information you are not ready to share and honors your boundaries.
RESPECT. Your partner values your opinions, rights, beliefs, and needs. You both have equal freedom to be who you are and pursue individual goals.
EQUALITY. You make decisions together and have an equal say about major decisions within the relationship. Both partners have access to the resources and support they need to thrive.
BOUNDARIES. You enjoy spending time together, apart, alone, and with others. You respect each other’s privacy and personal space. Partners openly communicate what they are and aren’t comfortable with in the relationship and honor each other’s requests.
CONSENT. You can talk openly about physical, sexual, and reproductive choices together. Both people always willingly consent to sexual activity and can safely express needs and boundaries.
EMPATHY. Your partner understands basic kindness and genuinely values your experiences, perceptions, and point of view. Healthy partners care about your feelings, even when they get upset. They avoid name-calling, personal attacks, and belittling.
ACCOUNTABILITY. They apologize, admit shortcomings, and take responsibility for their mistakes. Likewise, the capacity of both partners to accept an apology and move past conflict allows for building trust, better communication, and individual growth.
RELIABILITY. Your partner shows up when they say they will and follows through on commitments. You can count on each other for help and support when you need it.
YOU ARE A PRIORITY. While all partnerships require different amounts of personal time, what’s most important is you feel valued and seen. If you feel ignored or pushed aside, this could be an indication your partner doesn’t have enough time for you or might not share the same desire for time together.
At The Friendship Center, we believe everyone has the right to flourish in healthy relationships free from violence and abuse. While none of us are perfect partners and no one can predict the future, green flags can indicate that someone has the capacity and skills necessary to participate in healthy relationships.
You can learn more about healthy relationships and warning signs of abuse from love is respect, a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline aimed at disrupting and preventing unhealthy relationships and intimate partner violence.