When you’re involved in a romantic relationship, it’s always important to keep an eye out for the subtle things that can drain the happiness out of your life. Whether your partner acts overly needy, exhibits controlling behavior, plays mind games or shows signs that they aren’t really the person you think they are, red flags are always things to keep an eye out for.
But you should also be looking for small signs that the person you are involved with has the ability to make your life better for the long haul. These are some green flags to watch for in a relationship that can reveal your partner is a keeper.
You wouldn’t think of “Pulp Fiction” as a movie to find great relationship insight in, but there is one scene that brings an overlooked green flag to the forefront. In it, Uma Thurman extolls the virtues of being able to share a comfortable silence with someone and how that means “you’ve found somebody really special.” If you and your partner are able to simply be together in a space without either of you feeling the need to constantly talk to fill the silence, especially early in a relationship, you’ve got something truly comfortable.
The ability to communicate clearly and without fear of repercussion may be the greenest flag you can find in a relationship. This can be as simple as having a partner who shares their naked feelings with you on any topic, no matter how trivial it may seem. Many of us have known people who leave the burden on others to wear a detective hat and decipher how they feel, based on nonverbal signs, the tone of written messages or the dreaded silent treatment. That type of behavior is a red flag but having someone who respectfully tells you what bothers them is a great sign.
No Head Games
This ties in with the previous green flag, as it boils down to clear communication. Many people unfortunately love to play immature head games with people they are dating, especially in the early stages of a relationship, that make the other person wonder if they are even interested in them. Communicating with your partner from long distances shouldn’t stress you out. If your partner doesn’t make you wonder whether they’ll respond to your messages, that’s a great sign.
You Know They Are On Your Side
Many people have known exes that tried to embarrass them in front of others, even if it was in a half-hearted, joking manner. In a popular Reddit thread about relationship green flags, user chapter2at30 shared a relatable example about a former boyfriend who would tease her in front of his family, sharing things she was embarrassed about or telling them how nervous she was to be around them, therefore compounding the uncomfortable feelings. When a new boyfriend told her he was on her side and that he’d never try to embarrass her, she posted, “it was like a freaking lightbulb.”
They Don’t Gang Up Against You
This is another one that you can see clearly when you spend time with your partner and their family or a close group of their friends. If you do something odd or different than that group and your partner defends you, rather than ganging up with the others to make you feel self-conscious, that’s a great sign that they respect you. A little playful teasing isn’t always a bad sign but if it feels like your partner is clearly trying to make you feel awkward or embarrassed in front of others that they respect, that’s something else.
Everyone knows that disagreements are a part of any lasting relationship but being able to have them without severing your emotional connection is a major green flag. A 2020 academic study found that holding hands while having a disagreement — or at least sharing light touches — had great effects on the overall mood and heart rate of the people involved. Touching your partner during a disagreement is a great way to diffuse tension and tell them you are still there and engaged with them in a silent way.
Arguments Without Consequences
You shouldn’t be worried your entire relationship is going to end every time you have a disagreement with your partner. It’s a bad sign if your partner exacts lasting punishments on you as a result of arguments, whether that be extended periods of tense silence, pretending you don’t exist when they are in the same room with you or more directly threatening behavior. Partners who keep a mental score of perceived slights at all times are also ones that can make you miserable.
It’s a green flag if you are able to continue getting along in the immediate wake of an argument because it’s a signal that the relationship is more important to both of you than the ways in which you might differ.
Criticism Can Be Taken And Delivered
Great relationships will strengthen each person as an individual and that’s why the ability to deal with criticism is a good sign. This should be a two-way street in a good relationship and both people should be able to give and take respectful criticism in a healthy way. It’s a great sign if your partner is able to listen to your criticisms without shutting down and if they are able to give you criticism that makes you a better person without making you feel like garbage.
You Like Who You Are With Them
If your partner encourages your most negative traits and dangerous or destructive activities, it may feel good in the moment but it will likely be a bad thing for everyone in the long run. If your relationship makes you act in ways that you feel uneasy about, that’s a red flag — but the opposite can be said for relationships that genuinely make you feel good about yourself. If your partner brings out the parts of you that you are most proud of and keeps your head out of the darkness, that’s a major green flag.
They Support Your Personal Growth
This one might seem obvious but so many people find themselves with partners who discourage positive growth in their significant other because it makes them feel threatened. If you are trying to do something positive for yourself, such as lose weight, get fit, go back to school, learn a new language or pick up a new hobby, a good partner won’t try to belittle it or make you feel silly for going out on a limb. If they back you up and support your new endeavors, that’s a green flag.
They Show Interest In Your Hobbies
A great partner doesn’t have to share the same hobbies as you — in fact, it may be better if they don’t — but it is a good sign if they at least show interest in what you enjoy. A good partner won’t belittle your hobby, no matter how offbeat it may be, or make you feel self-conscious about your participation in it when they are around. Having a partner who can introduce you to activities that may be foreign to you is a great way a relationship can spur personal growth, according to Psychology Today.
They Have Their Own Interests
Speaking of hobbies, a partner who has their own distinct interests and passions unrelated to your relationship is another green flag of a positive partner. Speaking to Bustle, licensed marriage and family therapist Sheila Tucker said, “relationships often work best when [you] have the ability to both do things apart, as well as together.” Having each partner maintain their own outside hobbies and interests is a valuable way for each to hold on to their own identity as a relationship gets more serious.
They Remember Things You Say
If you notice your partner recalling passing things you’ve said, especially when it comes to the things you like, it is a great sign that they respect you and are paying attention. For example, in the aforementioned thread on green flags, Reddit user SerenityFate wrote that they were flattered when their partner remembered that they like to use a smaller fork at dinner and therefore always gives them the right size fork when setting the table.
If you struggle with remembering small details, try to make a note on your phone any time your partner casually mentions something they really like, whether it’s a food, dessert, candy, flower, scent, how they like their coffee or any other small detail. These little things show you are interested in the person in a meaningful way.
They Give Non-Sexual Compliments
Compliments from your partner are always nice to hear, but it can feel a little hollow to only hear positive comments related to your looks. It’s obviously a good thing if your partner shows their physical attraction to you by telling you so but it’s a great sign of respect if they compliment you for other reasons. Whether it be about your personality, your judgment, your taste, a skill you have or something that they know you are insecure about, it’s a green flag to hear positive things from your partner.
You Want Similar Things In Life
You can often tell a relationship is on the right track if you find out early on that you and your partner have similar goals in life, whether it be professionally, personally or regarding your ideal family. This can be a great sign that you will be able to grow together and work toward goals that don’t require too much sacrifice from either person. If you discover that you both share the same idea of “success,” that could also be a major green flag as the road gets longer.
You Make Each Other Laugh
No matter which list of relationship green flags you consult, this one is likely to be there. Having a partner that genuinely makes you laugh will make a long relationship feel so much easier and more fun. Finding yourself laughing and smiling a lot early in the relationship is great but that shouldn’t be reserved only for the first few weeks. Conversely, if you find yourself involved with someone who gets off on making you the butt of the joke or has a sense of humor that makes you uneasy, that’s a red flag.
They Share In Responsibilities You Both Hate
If you’ve reached the point of living with your partner, hopefully you’ve already noticed several of these green flags. Once you get there, deciding which chores you both like and dislike can be a fun way to learn surprising new facts about your partner. When it comes to the responsibilities you both hate with a passion, the best solution is to share them and it’s a green flag if your partner is willing to do that. Reddit user AlfalfaFloozy wrote that they and their late husband both hated folding laundry, “but it had to be done. So we always did it together.” You know what they say about misery and company!
You Can Fart In Front Of Each Other
This one might sound gross, but it’s all part of being able to fully be yourself without embarrassment, which is arguably the biggest relationship green flag you can find. Marriage counselor Gary Brown told HuffPost that it’s a “healthy sign” in relationships and another expert told the publication it can even signal good things about your sex life. “This couple is probably having great sex because they are comfortable with their bodies and what they do and are more likely to enjoy different types of stimulation and play with less inhibition, fears and insecurities,” said sex therapist Shannon Chavez.
They Let You Be Alone In Their Home
A person’s home is the most sacred place in their life, so when a partner allows you to be there alone, it’s a major green flag. This is a great sign of trust early in a relationship, when both people are a little more guarded. For example, if they let you sleep in at their place when they have to leave for work in the morning, that’s a major sign that they are fine being vulnerable with you.
They Take Your Recommendations Seriously
It feels really good when a person you respect — which should include your partner — takes the time to check out a recommendation you make, whether it be a movie, book, TV show, song or something else. Several Reddit users wrote about people they had dated who would lie about having seen or read the things they recommended, “just to shut them up,” as Upstairs_Cow posted. It obviously made them feel terrible. It says a lot about the person’s respect for your intelligence and opinions if they take your recommendations seriously. It can send a big message.
They Put The Shopping Cart Back
When you go for a shopping trip with the person you’re seeing, keep an eye on whether or not they put the cart back in the proper place or they simply leave it loose in the parking lot. This is a small move that can reveal something major about their personality. This simple gesture can show you whether they are selfish and lazy or care about helping others and being responsible for their own messes. The “shopping cart test,” some say, is the “ultimate litmus test for being a good person.”
They Check To See How You Are
Getting a call or message from your partner, just to see how you are when they don’t need anything, is another tiny move that’s a big green flag. To be clear, checking in constantly in a smothering or controlling way is a major negative but sending a text just in a way that shows they are thinking of you and want to see how you feel is great. If your partner is kind enough to do that, it shows you are on their mind even when they may be busy with other things. Just remember to do the same thing back to them!
They Chip In Financially
Here’s a green flag you can probably spot early on in the relationship. If your partner never reaches for their wallet in any situation where you’re together, that can be a bad sign if you’re in it for the long haul. However, if they show they are willing to split the responsibilities from the jump, it can be a great sign that you can depend on them as the stakes get higher. It’s no secret that money is often cited as the top cause of friction between people in a relationship.
They Support Your Other Relationships
Relationship therapist Megan Bruneau told Women’s Health that isolating you from your friends or family is a major red flag that you’re dating a controlling person. A great partner will not only support your existing relationships but will encourage them. It’s a green flag if the person you are dating doesn’t try to belittle your friendships or other relationships and doesn’t try to keep you from spending time with other people, even if it means less time together as a couple.
They Can Laugh At Themselves
People who take themselves too seriously are not exactly a joy to share a long chunk of your life with. It’s also hard to be vulnerable around people like that because they are highly likely to make you feel judged. That’s why it’s a big green flag when your partner shows a willingness to laugh at themselves. This simple sign of their personality shows sensitivity, which is never a bad thing in a relationship.