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10 Relationship Green Flags 

By November 20, 2019 Uncategorized

I don’t talk much about this, but years ago I was in a relationship full of red flags. Like a parade down Main Street, the red flags in this long ago relationship waved loud and proud. I knew the flags existed early on, but I chose to ignore them to the detriment of myself and my family. It took me years (and years) to climb out from beneath the weight of these flags. I’m all too familiar with the struggle of a union steeped in this oppressive cycle. In “Psychology Today,” Dr. Abigail Brenner writes about 10 warning signs to look out for when entering into a relationship.

As I read over her list of cautionary signs, I was taken back in time. Taken back to moments of connection in each and every warning sign she highlighted. I also found myself breathing a sigh of relief in knowing I was no longer that woman in a bad relationship. I had clawed and clambered my way up and out of the destruction. I was done turning a blind eye to behavior that was harmful and hurtful. It took me a minute, but I persevered.

I could’ve easily remained stuck in the cycle of something I didn’t want to happen. It was one of those times in life in which we become so focused on what we don’t want that we realize we’ve never really nailed down what it is we DO want! I was finally free to connect with someone for all the right reasons. I knew all the red flags, now it was time to train myself to recognize all the green ones.

Green Flag #1 – Strong Communication Skills

What makes my communication with John so wonderful? I can trust him. I can trust him with the truth of who I am. I’m allowed a platform of vulnerability that enables me to get in touch with my true thoughts and feelings. John and I encourage each other to speak freely. We know the only way our relationship is going to continue to grow and prosper is by staying in touch verbally. We’re conscious in our speech, our tone, whether or not the words coming out of our mouths foster strong bonds, and how we speak about each other to others. We don’t shy away from the hard questions nor do we run when our fear surfaces. We lean into each other for support and as a guide in getting to the other side of our emotions. When you can create a safe environment for open communication you’re acknowledging the value of each other. Let’s not forget the art of listening is just as important. When our partner is passionate about a topic, let them voice those opinions completely. Really listen to what your partner is expressing. I know for me, those times John was a sounding board for my brainstorming were some of the deepest and most connective moments in my relationship with him.

Green Flag #2 – Responsible, Mature, Predictable

When you’re in a green flag relationship, being responsible, mature, and predictable are seen as the building blocks of a strong foundation. The health and wellbeing of the union is understood to be the responsibility of both partners. I know in my marriage to John, we both know the importance of showing up each and everyday. Marriage is a 365 day a year endeavor for us. We hold our union in such a place of honor that showing up is a joy. We also appreciate the maturity of our relationship. The comedian Sinbad, when asked by a woman at one of his shows why her husband wasn’t romantic enough, responded, “What do you mean romance? Do you mean fix the screen door or hold your hand? If you want him to hold your hand, then say so!” This is maturity to me—those couples who put down the fantasy of mind reading and just get real with what it is they want from each other. There’s much more room for love and movement in a relationship when we learn to voice our desires rather than a union based on telepathy. Can you depend on me? Can I depend on you? If you can answer yes to both these questions then you have the basic framework for predictability. In relationships a level of predictability is vital. There’s no doubt a comfort level those in green flag relationships benefit from, and knowing we can depend on our partner to be relied upon will give us the freedom to showcase our authenticity.

Green Flag #3 – Trust:

We all know what it’s like to trust someone. We can count on dear friends or family members to tell us the truth. You also know the reverence you have towards those people. They’re the ones you turn to time and time again for their honesty and advice. You know these people will be straight with you and you also know they’ll hold your innermost thoughts and feelings in high regard. You’re sacred to them and this is reflected in their behavior. This is trust in its simplest form. Trust is the mortar that holds all the bricks of your relationship walls in place. With trust you can build a relationship mansion that will withstand the test of time. When you’re trustworthy you’re basically saying the other person is worthy of trust. This is a huge message. If I’m worth the truth from you, I know you’re willing to be vulnerable with me. Trust moves in both directions though. If John tells me (and shows me) he loves me, my trust needs to be in a space in which I can accept that love. Both members of a partnership have to trust. Those giving trust and those receiving.

Green Flag #4 – Your Inner Circle of Friends and Family Like Your Partner:

If you find yourself defending your partner to friends and family, you might want to take a look at why. If the common denominator in difficult situations seems to circle back around to your partner, then it’s safe to say you’re the one blind to what’s happening. Look, I know it can be hard to want to listen to friends and family when they appear to be raining on your parade, but try to keep the situation in context. Your friends and family love you, that’s why you keep them in your life. You know they’re going to be truthful and will only have your best interest at heart. These people WANT you to be happy! I ignored comments from family and friends and spent 18 years struggling before I finally conceded they’d been right all along. We want to think we’re mature and healthy enough to make good choices, that our partner “picker” is in ship shape working order, but sometimes we aren’t where we’d like to think we are. We can’t see it, but our friends and family can. Like an intervention, sometimes we have to put down our ego in order to admit we’ve lost control. I mean come on, you know deep down you would prefer that your friends and family adore your partner. You want to be able to attend gatherings and parties and get togethers in which everyone is happy to see you and your partner. Remember who we choose says more about where we are in life than it does about our potential partner. Where do you want to be?

Green Flag #5 – Non-Controlling Behavior:

When you find a partner who encourages your freedom of expression, you know you’re on the right track. John and I never lost sight of those traits we saw in each other that cemented our love for one another. We chose to capitalize on those qualities. I adore John’s extrovert personality. His magnetic vibe means he’s a natural draw. People want to be around him. I never ever want him to change this part of who he is. For me, I love connection. I cherish those times in which I can be completely engrossed in another person. John loves this about me. We come at our relationship as a sharing of two lives. We’re never blended into one, but remain two distinct beings. This balance of individuality is what makes us such great friends. We don’t complete each other, because we view ourselves as already complete, and this is another reason why any need to control each others’ behavior seems out of place. Look, the man I chose to spend my life with is an adult. He shows love and respect for himself and me, and I know he would never do anything to fracture the relationship we’ve built. Besides, we both understand the benefits of compersion… happiness in each others’ happiness.

Green Flag #6 – Security in the Relationship:

When both partners are actively contributing to the relationship then a sense of security is present. I know how John feels about me. I know he loves me and values our union. John knows these same attributes about me. I’m never left wondering whether or not he’s “all in” when it comes to our relationship. I know this because he shows me on a daily basis his commitment and vested interest in our marriage. When I see John, I’m filled with a desire to show him through actions and words how much he means to me.

Green Flag #7 – Your Partner is Open and Honest About Their Past:

When you’re in a green flag relationship you know all about the good, bad, and ugly of your partner’s past. Not only are you privy to their past, but you’re also knowledgeable about how any amends were made. You’ll know the truth about your partner’s journey towards you. If they suffered from an addiction… you’ll know. If they suffered from bad monetary decisions… you’ll know. You’ll know about past relationships, and you’ll know what steps your partner has made to rectify any of these past issues. Look, we’ve all at one time or another made decisions that cause us to cringe later on. The last thing we want is to be judged by those past choices. One way we can show we’ve taken our past and put its lessons to good use is by showing the steps we took to grow from the experience.

Green Flag #8 – Amends of Past Relationships:

Most of us have a story about a difficult relationship, whether it was with a past partner, a friendship gone south, or the collapse of a family relationship. Most of us at one time or another have dealt with confronting the pain of a relationship gone bad. What makes our resolutions to these past relationships such a green flag is our ability to look at self. If we were the ones causing the pain, did we make amends? If we were on the receiving end of amends, were we able to accept the apology in love? How we’re able to lovingly deal with difficult situations with others says much about our capacity for empathy, patience, and understanding. These are all qualities we should want in our green flag relationship.

Green Flag #9 – Your Partner Doesn’t Need You to Complete Them:

Oh boy! This is a big one. When you’re in a green flag relationship, you and your partner are in the partnership as two complete people. I don’t need my partner to complete me. I don’t expect my partner to fulfill all my needs, nor does my partner expect me to fill the void needed to make them complete. If I believe my sense of affirmation can only come from John, I place an enormous amount of pressure on him. If I make John 100% responsible for my needs being met, then this also means I make him 100% responsible when I claim those needs aren’t being met. When I can come at the relationship from the standpoint of I’m in control of my needs, then all the interactions I have with John are a bonus to the relationship.

Green Flag #10 – Affirming Behavior:

When we’re in a loving and growth inspiring relationship, the desire for each partner to be loved completely is what it’s all about. You want your partner to be their most authentic, most organic, most expressive version of themself. You’re joyous in their joy and celebrate in what your partner finds fulfilling. You’re supportive, patient, and receptive to your partner. You want your partner to know through words and actions just how important they are to you and how much you love them. In an affirming relationship, both partners are guilty of these loving acts towards one another.

Focusing on all the wonderful green flags a relationship can offer will change our view towards what it is we WANT from a relationship. Instead of looking at all the horrible red flag warning signs, maybe if we searched instead for all the things we DO desire will draw those desires towards us. Remember, “A good relationship is when someone accepts your past, supports your present, and encourages your future.”

6 Comments

  • Joel says:

    I want to learn more!!

  • And I’ve never denied him the opportunity to have sex with another female. It just was very hurtful to me because I have tried so hard. And we’ve only been together less than a year. says:

    My companion has informed me that I am close minded. And that is why we unable to do a Full swap. I have been with him for almost a year have gone to so many swing clubs and sex resorts almost every weekend. I have tried very hard to be enticing and sexy. Have spent hundreds of dollars on lingerie. And sexy outfits to wear to these clubs. But there has been no interaction with other couples. He said that I just do not attract the other men. That hurt me deeply to tell me that I was close minded. When I have had sex with him at every single night club openly in front of hundreds of people. I have not spoken to him in three Days. And I am heartbroken. I really don’t know what to do or how to handle the situation. He said he was going to give up the lifestyle because I would never have sex with another man. Each time we go out to dinner he always sees a woman and says how much he would like to have sex with her in front of me.I am not that kind of the person that would want him to give up something he enjoys so much. Should I suggest he find another woman??? that’s better equipped to take him to the levels that he is wishing for. He is wanting to engage in orgies gang bangs threesomes swap’s etc. etc. Can you please give me some suggestion I am not that kind of a person that would want him to give up something he enjoys so much. I have never denied him the opportunity to go to any clubs ever, in fact I encourage it. And I’ve never denied him the opportunity to have sex with another female. It just was very hurtful to me because I have tried so hard. And we’ve only been together less than a year.

    • Caliana says:

      I don’t usually chime in and respond to other posters here, but I feel like this is a post where I sense a lot of pain and anguish and would like to say a few things if I may. First of all, I think it is very admirable that you want to let him be himself and live the life he wants. It shows a great deal of love, respect, and maturity. I see you affirm over and over that you want him to be happy, do the things he wants, and be the person he truly is. This is awesome and it would make for the perfect relationship – if that same attitude, behavior, feelings, respect, and maturity were mutual. However, based on what you are saying (this is all I have to go on as I don’t know more about the situation), it doesn’t seem like this is a two-way street. Only you can judge if this is correct.

      Secondly, I don’t hear you saying what you want. While it is important to want to see your partner have their wants met, it is equally important to have your own wants fulfilled. It doesn’t sound like you want the same things as your partner. If this is the case, it isn’t fair to you to have to conform to what he wants. You should both be free to be the people you want to be. If the goals you both share fall within boundaries you are both comfortable with then you are going to work well together. However, if those desires, goals, wants, et cetera, are incompatible, then you may have to reassess whether or not the two of you really belong together.

      The fact that you are already questioning whether or not you belong together, and the fact that you are feeling like you are not “equipped to take him to the levels that he is wishing for” should be a huge concern. Not because of any failing on your part, but because he has obviously made you feel that way and this should be an indicator that maybe your overall goals and views on life are too different to be compatible.

      Keep in mind Green Flag #1 – Strong Communication. It sounds as though there may be a disconnect in the communication department. Have you tried sitting down with him and having an open and honest conversation about all of this?

      Additionally, “suggesting that he find another woman…” is making him responsible for your future. You need to determine what is best for you. You cannot leave that decision up to someone else. If you feel that you are not a good fit for him and that you will only struggle to fulfill HIS wants and needs then you will only be setting yourself up for more “heartbroken” feelings.

      Jackie does a great job of applying the 10 green flags that Abigail talks about. Go through these and ask yourself if your relationship has these green flags. No relationship is perfect and every relationship has room to improve. However, if the relationship isn’t actively focused on improving those things and you don’t see progress, then you really need to question whether or not you are doing something that is healthy for you and your partner.

      Just because you want something different than your partner doesn’t show any defect in yourself. You sound like you are taking a lot of the blame for not being what he wants. Being told you are close-minded is not a productive way to have a conversation and affect positive change. The fact that you have sex with him in front of others shows you are not a typical “close-minded” person. It may just be that he wants more than you do. That doesn’t mean you need to want the same things he does.

      Only you can determine what is right for you and your life. At the end of the day, you only have one question you need to ask yourself that is paramount to all others – are you happy in your current situation? If not, and you don’t think it will change with the person you are with, then perhaps it is time for a change. That change should be made on your terms, it is your life and no one else is responsible for your happiness but you. He is responsible for his happiness and you are responsible for yours.

      What do you want? Answer that question and then make it happen. If you feel like you cannot figure that out on your own, then seek out the help of a professional that can help you.

      I hope something in here helps in your quest to find happiness in your life. I feel your pain and empathize with you. I wish you the best in your journey!

      Caliana

    • John says:

      Given the problems you describe and being together less than a year, yes, definitely pull the plug, bail out, go your separate ways.

      Thing number one about men is, we’re easy. There’s no such thing as a woman that no man finds attractive. Take a week to regroup, and start dating single men.

      — J.S.

  • Syren says:

    If you were closed minded you wouldn’t be going to clubs etc with him period. Your partner is controlling, selfish and manipulating. He is theabsolute opposite of what a real partner in the lifestyle should be. A real partnership in the lifestyle is open, honest, and respectful. Your partner is suppose to protect you, not belittle you. Please leave this guy he is a jerk, the only thing wrong with you is being with him. Save yourself all this drama.

  • Caliana says:

    Jackie,

    As always, you have really made me look at myself and what I can do to improve myself. Your adaptation of the 10 Green Flags by Abigail showed me some things in myself that I need to work on. You have an amazing ability to take complex things and break them down in easy to understand concepts that really hit home. It can really suck to have to see things in yourself that need to be improved, but it is also exciting because it gives direction for self-improvement which results in greater happiness and wellness.

    Seeing mistakes I have made, many of which I hadn’t noticed before, is a tough pill to swallow, but I am grateful for you posting this. I think it can be very easy to blame our own shortcomings on others for our own unhappiness. Thank you for presenting things in a way that makes us look at ourselves first instead of focusing the attention on what our partners are doing.

    Another excellent post!

    On a separate note, is there any way you could transcribe your videos and turn them into textual posts? I am often at work with people around and I can read, but watching and listening to a video is “complicated”. I love watching you both interact with each other and hearing your voices, it just isn’t the easiest thing to do a lot of the time.

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