Red flags can be so quick to catch your eye in a new relationship. They look so intimidating and off-putting. Yet, in these early stages, people can fall into habits of obsessing over small mistakes that people make, so much so that they forget why they enjoyed their company in the first place. With failed attempt after failed attempt to form a healthy relationship, it’s easy to look out for the worst in people so you can save yourself from feeling that pain all over again. Yet, what we should be telling ourselves is to go in with a more positive mindset, and appreciate green flags, instead of scouring for the red.
I’m definitely that annoying friend that slightly irritates people around them because somehow, in the words of Maurice Moss, I’ve “bagged a normal” pretty early on in my life. I know I’m very lucky to have managed to find someone that not only tolerates me, but actually enjoys my company, and treats me very well. So, when it comes to knowing relationship green flags, I can, probably a little snobbishly, consider myself pretty knowledgeable. Personally, I can think of three main qualities in a person that, generally, solidify for me that they can be a worthwhile person in my life.
Someone who says sorry
If you’ve ever dated anyone or even known anyone that cannot admit when they are in the wrong, I’m sure you can understand the frustration and pain they can bring to your life. When I finally met someone that was comfortable to say sorry, it stops small bumps and mistakes becoming mountains to climb. When someone can apologise to you when they’ve hurt your feelings, and on top of that show genuine changes in their behaviour, they’re showing you how much they care. It is so valuable to find someone who has the courage to have difficult and vulnerable conversations with you.
It goes both ways too as you should absolutely recognise your own shortcomings when you upset your partner, otherwise, you cannot expect it from them. I don’t know a single person that leads a flawless life, but there is nothing wrong with that. Admitting you are wrong shows that you can understand each other’s boundaries, and is one of the most valuable things both of you can bring to a relationship.
Someone who is consistent
Moving swiftly on from saying sorry, something that is even more valuable is consistency. When someone says they are sorry for something, they mean it and show it. When they tell you they will call, they do. When they promise to meet you somewhere, they’re there on time. If they tell you they are kind, trusting, and loyal, they prove it. To have someone that will follow through on their promises, no matter how small, is a great indicator of their respect and their dedication.
Of course, people have bad days. It’s hard to give 100% to someone all the time. But at the same time, their respect and care for you should not need to rely on whether they have a good day or not, or if you fumble. A green flag, for me at least, is showing someone that you value them, their feelings, and their time. It feels good to know that when someone tells you that you are important to them, they make it known.
Someone who respects your independence
New relationships can be so exciting, and your instinct is often to completely intertwine yourself with your partner but as years have passed something that I have valued more than anything is having someone appreciate my individuality and my world outside of them. What you come to understand is that you do not have to be the absolute priority in each other’s lives. It does not mean that you matter to each other any less or mean that they do not want to share things with you.
When someone respects your independence, it allows you the freedom to have your own individual thoughts, feelings, friends, what have you. You know that they appreciate your boundaries as a human being and there is an affirmation of trust between the two of you. Acknowledging that you do not have to consume every waking part of them and knowing you should not have to compromise yourself for them.
So, red flags are things that you should be looking out for. It’s important to know what is unhealthy for you, and it’s definitely justified to get out while you can when you feel like someone could treat you badly. However, when it comes to smaller things, red flag culture begins to allow people to detach themselves from blame when things don’t work out. When you begin to acknowledge the qualities you want to see in someone, rather than what you need to run from, it allows you to think about whether you’re applying these qualities to yourself. So instead of fixating on tedious shortcomings that everyone possesses in some form or another, I feel we should start appreciating why we are so grateful for each other’s green flags.