How did your last relationship end? Did you spend the evening reminiscing over a bottle of red, before happily deciding that it was time to go your separate ways? Or was there dissatisfaction or betrayal, even heartbreak?
Chances are it was the latter. It’s the nature of the beast.
So it’s hardly surprising that we might be a tad pessimistic when it comes to embarking on a new relationship. But adopting a defensive stance from the outset can put us on the path to future disappointments.
Why is red flag culture so damaging?
Narcissism, selfishness, bad manners, still living with mummy dearest…
We are bombarded by dating red flags nowadays and tips and hints on how to protect yourself from the crazies, weirdos and creeps of the world. But what about the positive qualities of a romantic partner?
There’s no doubt that it’s important to understand what is unhealthy for you in a relationship, and if you spot a serious red flag in someone you’re more than justified in beating a hasty retreat.
But if you’re on full alert for warning signs when embarking on a new relationship it can set you on an immediate downward spiral. Because if you begin to apply red flag logic to the small stuff too it becomes all too easy to undermine a relationship before it has begun.
After all, if you look close enough you’ll end up stumbling across any number of trivial deficiencies that we all possess. And it justifies looking for it in the first place. The perfect vicious relationship cycle.
But focusing on the negative, searching out for those bad points that suggest the individual is bad news and any relationship is doomed before it’s begun, can often cause us to overlook the potential good in people.
So, as we approach Valentine’s Day 2021, why not flip this all on its head?
Hooray for green flags
Relationship green flags are the wonderous antitheses of their crimson cousins. They are those behaviours or character traits to seek in a romantic partner and are indicative of a well-balanced adult who may just prove to be your match.
Check out some of the green flags that we’ve come across in our research, but there are infinitely more, depending on what is important to you.
Authenticity and consistency
When you meet someone new, you have your date-ready best self on display to make the best possible impression. The same can be said for your date. But you know you’re onto something good when they – and you – can let the pretence go completely, and you still enjoy being around each other. This builds an environment of absolute trust, somewhere that you don’t doubt yourself and you can share your obsession with Golden Girls without fear of judgment.
Similarly fundamental is their consistency. If your partner is the same person with you as they are at work or with their mates, this is a beautiful billowing green flag. It shows authenticity of spirit and suggests a person who’s comfortable in their skin.
The comfort that comes from being able to rely on a partner is a big deal. They call when they say they will and they don’t rock up an hour late to your date. It’s knowing that if a partner makes you a promise they’ll always follow through.
It’s reassuring and affirming when a partner values you and your time – it proves that you’re important to them. Their reliability is indicative of their commitment to you too. If you find yourself regularly bottom of the pile, rather than nearer the top then you might want to think twice about buying that Tom Ford belt for his birthday…
It’s a good thing if a partner has a life outside of what you are together. Being independent of you means that there is no uncomfortable co-dependence on your relationship, which over time can be debilitating.
Also, if a partner has a healthy relationship with his close family and isn’t overly reliant on them (no trips each weekend to mum to do their laundry) you can celebrate this as another green flag! This points to a well-rounded human that isn’t going to threaten to fling themselves off a bridge if you suggest a solo weekend away with friends.
And if a partner respects your independence it also means they respect your boundaries. If you’re given the space to embrace your individuality and your world outside of your relationship it reinforces the trust between you.
Then it’s time to do a happy dance because this one’s a keeper.
Humility and empathy
They need not be the modern-day Saint Francis of Assisi but having an understanding and appreciation for the feelings of others is a big green flag in a romantic partner. Being able to put themselves in someone else’s shoes – often yours – means they are unlikely to be overly selfish because they’re are guided by how their behaviour can impact others.
Having empathy also means they are also able to admit when they are in the wrong so they’re willing to say those two little words: “I’m sorry”. Being unwilling to accept fault turns little bumps in the road of any relationship into insurmountable mountains, and you certainly don’t need that in your life.
Communication is the foundation of any healthy relationship - from actively listening during conversations to regularly checking in when you’re apart. If a partner is tuned in rather than zoned out with you then you’ve got a keeper. Try dropping in a random comment about how you noticed that you’ve started sprouting spaghetti from your armpits and see if they notice…
Good communication with a partner is also a testament to your compatibility and chemistry. If you find yourself bouncing off one another happily in witty repartees it is a magnificent thing indeed.
A trickier challenge is to keep up an open line of communication when you disagree or have a falling out. If they want to talk it through with you instead of stonewalling you with silence – in person or from afar – you can be sure that rather than an immature specimen, you have found someone willing to have adult conversations, even when its uncomfortable.
So don’t red flag yourself…
…Because by acknowledging those qualities that you appreciate in someone, rather than what you’re afraid of, you might just open up to a whole new way of thinking about relationships, and at the same time, make a romantic partner feel accepted, appreciated, and dare we say, loved?
Get in touch
But if this Valentine’s Day you find yourself without a date (virtual or otherwise), why not book in with our resident dating coach Robert Noakes to discuss how he can help you get authentically date-ready in time for the end of lockdown?