By now, the red flag is a widely understood metaphor for a warning sign in a relationship (or in a person we’re considering dating). Red flags may be so glaring as to become dealbreakers. But less known is the concept of the green flag, a promising sign of good things to come. Green flags indicate the likelihood of compatibility.
A surefire way to keep an eye on the health of your relationship is to take note every once in a while of the number of red flags versus the number of green. The ratio shows you the potential of future conflict or harmony, and gives you a strong idea of how well the relationship could be managed. Of course, different flags manifest for different people, but some common red flags include:
- disrespecting service workers
- disinterest in the details of your life
- badmouthing others behind their backs
- making false promises
It’s important to establish where your own personal boundaries lie when it comes to giving someone the benefit of the doubt with regard to their red flags. Some people are most comfortable addressing the concern as soon as it becomes apparent. Others prefer addressing it later after having taken time to mull over what it means and how you feel about its implications. Maybe you conclude that the red flag would simply be too much to deal with in the long run and break things off accordingly, saving both of you time and heartache.
By contrast, green flags are often overlooked. It’s only natural, after all, for people to focus disproportionately on negatives rather than positives. For that reason, then, it can be helpful to take a step back and consider everything that makes your partner brilliant, such as:
- respecting your personal space
- open communication
- willingness to resolve conflict
- sticking to promises
- remembering small details about your life.
By weighing red flags against green, you develop a fuller understanding of your relationship and its potential to blossom into a life partnership. This process also provides feedback that your partner can use to pave the way for even more green flags in the future. After all, a little positive reinforcement of the traits that make them wonderful to be with goes a long way, encouraging closeness and stimulating mutual affection and respect.
The process of comparing the number of red flags to the number of green can even have a positive effect on your psychology. While considering the red flags in your relationship increases the production of the stress hormone cortisol and exacerbates anxiety, thinking about green flags boosts your dopamine level, which not only makes you feel great, but also strengthens your mental association of your partner with feelings of warmth, comfort, and security.
It’s important to take note of the occurrences of red and green flags in your relationship, especially if you’re still in the early days. Use the comparison process as a framework to understand your partner’s habits and values, as well as a way of getting to know yourself better and what you really want, both out of a relationship and in life. Understanding the ratio of red flags to green is an eminently useful method of knowing early on whether this relationship will just be a bit of fun, a learning experience, or instead has the potential to grow into the real deal. And if you need a little extra help figuring it out, we can help.
Maclynn (formerly Vida) is an elite, multi-award-winning international dating agency. We’re world-renowned for bringing together highly compatible singles, and our estimable matchmakers are relationship experts in their own right. So if you’re feeling unsure about a new romantic interest, are feeling like your long-term relationship now has more red flags than green, or have been affected by a red-flag-laden relationship in the past and are seeking a fresh start—get in touch. We’re here to listen. Together, let’s set you on the path to meeting that special someone you deserve.