I grew up in a home not knowing what a healthy and loving relationship looked like. And I know countless other women may have experienced the same. The same goes for men too. We gravitate towards partners that resemble what we know or what seemed to be normal when it never was. The saying is true - what is not healed in your childhood later affects your adult relationships. We ignore red flags, settle for yellow flags, and most times miss all the green flags when it comes to dating. Why? Because it's a feeling that is foreign and doesn't register as normal. So, we run towards toxic and ignore the signs of what a healthy relationship may look like. And I was definitely the type to stay longer than I should in a relationship that wasn't for me. But my dating standards have leveled up. I learned the lessons and cut my losses.
The problem is we don't speak enough about what green flags are in a relationship. It's almost as if green flags are a rarity and hard to come by.
Because of social media, we have become hyperaware of nothing but red flags. And we now live in a world where we label almost any and all human behavior as "toxic". But this logic is hella flawed and can't be true. We can't just be out here labeling all men or some women as "toxic" or "ain't shit". C'mon now. But I'm going to stop here because that's a different conversation and a different article for another day.
But when you think of good or bad signs in general, we often think of universal signs, or we revert to what we learned as children. Traffic light colors. We all know red means "stop", "danger", or "warning". Yellow means "proceed with caution" or "slow down". And green flags mean you're "safe" or "good to go". As remedial as it sounds, this same concept applies when it comes to dating and relationships.
Not only do you need to know what type of personality traits you want in a partner, but you have to know what healthy relationship behavior is too. He or she can be charming and successful, but their habits or how they handle daily life can be detrimental. Here are some examples of red flags, green flags, and yellow flags (it's an actual thing) in relationships that you should know, look for when dating, or choosing to get serious with somebody's son or somebody's daughter.
Red Flags In Relationships
Red flags in relationships are signs that let you know that something isn't quite right. It's often a response, interaction, or behavior that leads to you question your partner and/or the relationship. And if you have to question it the first time, it's going to be a problem the second, third, and fourth time. This is where we fuck up. We don't listen to what our intuition is trying to tell us. According to a UK outlet, The Independent, a red flag in a relationship is defined as "something your partner does that indicates a lack of respect, integrity or interest towards the relationship."
Now, these signs of a red flag can vary, but it also depends on what you are willing to tolerate. Read that again. Some of us stay with partners because we're just not aware of unhealthy habits or behaviors.
Sheleana Aiyana, founder of Rising Woman on Instagram, shares some of the red flags you should look for when dating or consider before entering a relationship:
If any of these red flags exist in the person you are currently dating or in your relationship, you need to run the other way and/or amicably end it. I ignored all these signs in a past relationship, but I didn't know any better. I now know about non-negotiables in relationships. And it has been a game-changer. I know exactly what I won't tolerate and what identifies as a red flag for me.
Green Flags In Relationships
Now, let's talk about all things healthy in relationships. According to Nedra Tawwab, green flags in relationships are:
...up-front indicators that you're in a relationship that's worth continuing and nurturing. A new relationship full of green flags is a relationship in which you will probably be able to let down your guard and be your truest self.
Green flags are the complete opposite of red flags. What this means is that you won't have to question your partner's actions. You won't have to feel guarded or tolerate repeated behaviors that make you feel a certain way. It means they are willing to show up as a partner and be present in the relationship. It also means that the relationship is equally a safe space for both of you.
Nedra Tawwab and Sheleana Aiyana share some of the green flags to look for to cultivate a healthy relationship:
These are the healthy behaviors we want in not just a romantic relationship, but any relationship. Remember, love flows - it makes your heart expand. It makes your soul grow. What love doesn't do is make you feel small or constricted.
Yellow Flags In Relationships
OK, yes. Yellow flags are real. It's the things we don't necessarily pay attention to about a person, but we should. These types of relationship flags are not deal-breakers, but they are signs that scream, "I don't know about this," or "That's weird." Yellow flags are also considered a behavior that can be acknowledged and worked on. But more importantly, you need to figure out if the behavior exhibited by your partner is a trigger for you.
- Major debt. Everyone has some type of debt, but how someone handles their finances can be revealing about their money habits or level of responsibility.
- Indecisiveness. The ability to make life decisions are important. If one is not capable of making decisions about their own life, you may not want to keep rocking with them.
- Opinionless. Communication is key in any relationship. So, if a partner can't communicate their opinions to you, either they are not comfortable enough with you to share their thoughts or they don't have thoughts to share.
- Never had a long-term relationship. It's not a major yellow flag, but it could shed light on commitment issues.
- An ex is always why a past relationship failed. If someone always blames their ex for their relationship not working out, this means that they refuse to take any accountability for their actions or they are victimizing themselves.
- Different life plans. Again, it's not a bad thing, but if you and your partner can't meet in the middle about your life plans, then you may want to consider parting ways.
- Details about their personal life are left out. This is dependent on the stage of the relationship you are in, but if a partner can't open up with you in time it's grounds for concern. It could potentially mean he or she is hiding things from you.
- Highly insecure. It's never cool to have a partner who lacks confidence and who constantly seeks reassurance. It becomes emotionally exhausting. And if they're not willing to work on becoming a secure person, you might have cut ties too.
- Where are their friends? A healthy individual has a network of close friends. If someone doesn't have friends or you haven't met their friends, it could mean they have trouble maintaining close relationships. Also, the type of company your partner keeps can give you insight into who they are.
Some of the yellow and red flags mentioned seem like things you normally would pay attention to upfront. But let me just say, not all yellow flags are as obvious and some of us are still learning how to date. This is where your list of non-negotiables comes to play. Study them like it's the Bible or a college textbook. This way, when you're dating someone, and they say something or respond a certain way, the yellow flag will become more apparent.
I missed every single yellow and red flag in a past relationship. I was so blindly in love that I thought we could just move past these little issues or eventually grow together. I was clearly in denial. But it's OK. Because now I know what green flags are and what traits or behaviors create a healthy relationship.
And my only hope is that we learn to say deuces to red flags, pass on the yellow flags, and embrace the ones who come with all the green flags.
Because in the end, this is who you want - a life partner that is a safe space and more.
For more love and relationships, features, dating tips and tricks, and marriage advice, check out xoNecole's Sex & Love section here.
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