Not everybody is meant for us. Sometimes we realize that straight away on a first date, other times it doesn't hit us until we're deep into a relationship with somebody.
"No potential partner will be perfect," Maria Sullivan, dating expert and vice president of Dating.com, tells TODAY.com. “However, if someone is exhibiting far more red flags than green, they might not be the best match in a relationship.”
Just like the traffic lights on the road, green flags mean you're safe to keep moving forward. Red flags, on the other hand, are there to remind you to pump the brakes.
With that in mind, it’s important to be able to spot the green flags. That's why we asked seasoned dating experts to share some good signs that'll tell you if you're in a healthy, viable relationship.
While this list is comprehensive, keep in mind that green flags tend to be situational and thus, can vary from one relationship to the next. “Green flags come in many forms and fashions and are only seen as green flags if a person, themselves, values the behavior or statement that is occurring,” Leanne Leonard, a licensed marriage and family therapist with Mindpath Health, tells TODAY.com. “What we consider valuable in a partner is unique to each of us.”
Ahead, experts share the most common green flags to look out for.
You enjoy their company
Ask yourself: Do you actually like spending time together — or do you try filling up your calendar with, well, anything else? “Perhaps the biggest green flag to look out for is how your partner makes you feel when you’re together,” Sullivan says. “If you find yourself comfortable, confident, and are enjoying yourself when spending time together, it is likely a relationship worth pursuing.”
This may seem obvious, but it can be easy to overlook things about a person in the desire to find a partner. Consider not only the big, exciting moments but how it feels to do small tasks such as grocery shopping together. These will become significant parts of your life if you stay together long-term.
Sure, work and other life commitments can distract us, but it only takes a minute to send a text or check in over a call. With that in mind, it’s important to keep reasonable expectations but not excuse continual bouts of ghosting. Sullivan argues that it says a lot about a person (and a relationship, really) if they make an effort to reach out to you, make plans and respond in a timely manner. If they regularly do this, it’s a good sign.
They communicate honestly
A relationship is hard-pressed to survive without open, honest communication. While it may take some time to get comfortable fully sharing how you feel with each other, it’s a big green flag when someone shows they’re willing and able to. “Indicators of effective communication can include being upfront about your relationship expectations, sharing your true feelings when faced with conflict, and feeling comfortable expressing your thoughts on any given situation,” Sullivan tells TODAY.com.
This open communication will only help your relationship grow. According to Leonard, it's equally as important that they openly share how they feel about you.
You know exactly how they feel
Nothing about playing games screams “green flag.” Your partner — and in turn, you — should be clear with you from the very start. A good sign: They consistently express what's in their heart, making you feel confident about them — and the status of your relationship.
Shoshana Polansky, a licensed marriage and family therapist with her own private practice, tells TODAY.com that this can be done through both words and actions. Do they clearly show you how they feel? Do you feel secure with them? These are essential questions to ask.
They have good manners
You should be able to identify this one right away. Early on, consider the following questions: Do they give you space to speak and listen? How do they treat those around you, such as wait staff? Pay attention to this, Sullivan suggests.
You share similar beliefs
Is it necessary to you that the person you’re with is also a vegetarian or follows the same religion? Maybe the manner in which they want to include families in your relationship matters? Regardless of which area of life it is, knowing you share similar beliefs is a big green flag, Leonard says.
Your views align
What are your priorities? What causes do you believe in with your whole heart? What morals and values guide you throughout your life? Think about which of these are important for your partner to share. Having similar outlooks on life are especially important when it comes to finding someone to do life with, according to Leonard.
They consider you when making plans
A healthy relationship requires balance in all forms. Not only should your partner give you space to express yourself, they should ensure that the things you do together also align with your interests. Say your partner insists that your date nights always involve a sporting event or watching movies you don’t like, this is a telltale sign that they are not considering your wants and needs. Leonard recommends seeing what plans they come up without your guidance.
They show you support
A good partner may express when they are wary about your choices or seek compromise in certain instances such as where you will live and work. But when it comes down to it — unless you’re doing something that endangers you or another person — they should generally show you support. Ask yourself if they cheer you on as you continue on your path, Polansky suggests.
You have compatible goals
The idea that love conquers all is a beautiful one but is rarely true — especially without a lot of compromises. The first few dates don’t necessarily have to be filled with questions about if you want children or where you hope to settle down. “An individual may need to know that a partner wants children and doesn’t drink alcohol within the first two dates in order to consider moving forward, while another might consider asking these questions early as a red flag," Leonard warns.
Either way, they do need to happen before things get too serious. It's crucial to see if someone "has similar goals as you — whether that be professionally, personally, or just general life goals,” Sullivan tells TODAY.com. “Dating someone who has goals that differ completely from yours could lead to conflict down the road, so taking note of aspirations early on can be very helpful.”