- Being honest with your partner — even when it means avoiding white lies — is a major green flag.
- Open communication and mutually validating each other’s feelings are also great signs.
- Integrating your partner into your life and making sure your goals align is also important.
We tend to spend a whole lot of time focused on identifying red flags in relationships, but what about green flags? It’s just as important to know what you want and need in a healthy partnership to determine if your relationship is on the right track.
“Green flags can be defined as positive qualities and signals present in our partner and relationship. Identifying green flags serves us in examining both the current health and future quality of our relationship,” says Robin Finley, a licensed marriage and family therapist with Thriveworks.
Here are nine green flags that indicate a healthy relationship.
1. There’s open communication
In healthy relationships, communication is key — both in the good times and the hard times.
It’s natural that conflicts will arise in relationships, so it’s important to engage in open communication when you are at odds. For example, it’s best to tell your partner when you feel like you’re taking on the majority of the household responsibilities, or if you feel unheard when opening up to them, says Finley. This will help you understand each other’s perspective to better come to a resolution.
But it’s not just about communicating when things are difficult –– it’s also about expressing gratitude, sharing things that excite you, and more. “When open communication is present, couples report feeling more emotionally connected to their partner,” Finley says.
A 2017 study suggested that the way you and your partner communicate early in your relationship may play a role in relationship satisfaction down the line. When partners are satisfied with their communication in the beginning of their partnership, this may result in a more healthy, fulfilling partnership later on.
2. You’re both honest and trust each other
Along with open communication, it’s crucial to be honest with each other, even if that means admitting you did something wrong, says Heather Browne, a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice.
Browne says that you should even refrain from telling white lies, since being dishonest in small or seemingly unimportant situations can damage trust with your partner.
A 2013 study found that trust is a major predictor of satisfaction in a marriage: those who trusted their partner were more likely to be satisfied with their partnership.
3. You validate each other’s emotions
“You and your partner should allow each other to express emotions without judgment,” Finley says. Listening to your partner and empathizing with their emotions helps them feel understood.
In a healthy partnership, your partner should never gaslight you or say you’re too emotional or too dramatic, says Finley. Instead, both partners should listen to each other and acknowledge that their emotions are both valid.
A 2018 review found that happy couples used effective communication skills to mutually validate each other’s feelings, express understanding, and provide emotional support.
4. You both share and feel safe
Feeling safe to share anything with your partner is an indication that you see them as a supporter and encourager, which makes you feel cared for and important, says Browne.
You and your partner should feel safe to share what’s on your mind or what’s happened to you, both the good things and the difficult things. Browne says some things that you might share with your partner to help them understand you are:
- Your childhood experience
- Your dreams and desires
- Past trauma
On the flip side, you should also listen when your partner wants to share things with you and validate them emotionally when they do.
5. You enjoy just being with them
Browne says that it’s a great sign if you enjoy doing simple things with your partner — like going to the store, hitting the gym, or even just folding laundry. In a great relationship, “life is simply more fun, and you feel your spirits are higher together,” Browne says.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that everything is always sunshine and rainbows, since conflicts will naturally pop up from time to time. But being able to have fun, laugh, and enjoy the day-to-day things together is a great sign.
Not to mention, enjoying being with your partner and doing fun things with them can benefit the relationship. A 2015 study found that one of the main predictors of relationship satisfaction is the quality of the time you spend together.
6. You want to integrate them into your life
Introducing your partner to your friends and family (and vice versa) proves that you’re both invested in the relationship and want to be a part of each other’s lives, says Browne.
This act shows that you care about each other in a way that goes beyond casual dating, since you’re integrating your partner into your circle of loved ones so they can all get to know each other and pave the way to a future together.
7. You both prioritize growth
“When both partners enter into a relationship and establish the intent to continue growing both individually and as a couple, the relationship is able to thrive,” Finley says.
Finley says some personal growth milestones that may help your relationship are:
- Understanding your weaknesses, which can help you take accountability for mistakes you make in the relationship.
- Embracing rather than avoiding difficult conversations to practice being open and vulnerable with your partner.
- Learning to leave defensiveness out of your conflicts so that you can more easily reach resolutions.
Reaching milestones like these is an ongoing process that continues throughout the relationship. “Making a commitment of continued relationship growth helps the relationship in gaining effective conflict management, problem-solving and effective communication skills,” Finley says.
8. Your core values and morals are compatible
A large part of compatibility involves your core values and morals. Finley says this doesn’t mean you and your partner have to agree on everything, but rather that you have a generally agreed-upon framework that guides their actions.
“If our basic values, beliefs, and morals fail to match our partner’s, we are likely to find much of the relationship being spent trying to change our significant other,” Finley says.
She says it can help to share the same (or similar) values surrounding:
- Relationship roles
- Work-life balance
- The importance of physical intimacy
- The importance of emotional intimacy
A 2020 study found that couples who reported sharing similar relationship-oriented values were more likely to be satisfied not only with their relationship, but also with their life.
9. Your future goals align
If you’re hoping for a long-term partnership, it’s important that your goals are compatible. “Certainly, we do not need to possess the same exact goals as our partner, but long-term compatibility does require that our goals not conflict with our partners,” Finley says.
Therefore, it’s helpful to identify and openly discuss non-negotiables with your partner when you’re deciding if you’ll be compatible long term. If you can align on a general path that doesn’t conflict with either partner’s major deal breakers, this is a great sign that you’re on the right path.
If you notice multiple green flags in your relationship, such as open communication, honesty, and aligned values, this is an excellent indicator that your relationship is on the right track.
Remember, a relationship is always a work in progress, and you must continue to prioritize the relationship and its growth so you can stay in a healthy, safe, loving place with your partner.
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