Listing red flags is worthy of a novel, so I’m taking the shorter route. Looking for people based on attraction alone is secure. Looking for red flags is also relatively easy (it’s paying attention that seems to be the problem). So maybe it’s time we learned to give credit where credit is due and actively look for GREEN flags. In other words, here’s what you should pursue; the signs that someone is a healthy, non-psychopathic, well-rounded individual.
The “Goldilocks” (I made the name up, go with it). falls somewhere between intense and negligent, not too hot, not too cold. This person’s making an effort to get to know you, but there’s a feeling of freedom and space about the whole thing. Someone who texts, snapchats, and hits up your DMs excessively is scary as fuck (in my experience, anyone who DMs you their acoustic guitar videos or snippets of poetry they wrote before you’ve even met them are soft-cock psychopaths). Likewise, someone who lays it on ten layers thick right off the bat might flatter your ego, but they’re probably not going to hang around that long, à la old adage: ‘the light which burns twice as bright burns half as long.’ On the other hand, you shouldn’t feel like you’re dying for the tiniest crumb of attention or shred of evidence that your crush is keen. If they’re not making any space for you and you feel like a detective clinging at straws of affection (a horny detective), that isn’t it either. A green flag equals a healthy level of attention.
A massive green flag equals someone that has their shit together. They’re employed (or living la Vida de student), and they have their hobbies, interests, and social life intact. They spend time with their friends/family and expect you to do the same. No significant sacrifices should be made right off the bat. Let me also say this: sharing similarities with a potential beau in terms of values and ethics is crucial. Sharing interests is a bonus. But what’s especially attractive is a person that’s not afraid to have a different opinion to you. You don’t need to be in constant debate, but you don’t want someone who agrees and morphs into your every enthusiasm better than a redneck camouflages into a Trump rally.
It Feels Light, Easy.
This is meant to be fun, do we realise this? It really shouldn’t feel stressful and burdensome (butterflies are, however, very healthy. Cutie x). Of course, some amazing people happen to be going through some rough shit that you may learn about later on; this isn’t about that by any means. My concern is the type of person who tells a virtual stranger about all of their problems right off the bat like they think it’s solid romantic bait, harping on about the whores/man-whores that treated them wrong, or using trauma almost as a pick-up line to hook you in with the victim card (take it to therapy, not Tinder). A green flag is easygoing; a healthy person does not act super erratic, jealous, emotional, or aggressive when you’ve only just started hanging out. You don’t feel the weight of their expectations or jealousy from day dot, because they’ve got their head screwed on right. It’s light. You’re having fun. You’re happy. It’s a start on the right foot.
I’m talking about a cool, secure kind of confidence (being introverted or shy doesn’t exclude anybody here). A green flag has done their healing; they aren’t going to strike you as desperate, lonely, broken, and deeply pessimistic. They are happy in their own company. Confidence doesn’t equal loudness; it means a person doesn’t feel the need excessively boast or trash talk others to fuel their ego. A confident person isn’t too intimidated or threatened by you to do anything about their feelings. They’ll give and take, so you don’t feel left to make the first move all the time. And they won’t ignore you just because their mates are around, even if they cop a bit of shit for it. Because we’re adults here and not embarrassed tweenagers, right?
You know they respect your boundaries and standards, and by association, they’re honest and clear about their own. Communication is vital – we know this, however, the flag’s Fluro fucking green when a person is capable of being open, transparent, succinct, and straight-up about what upsets them (directly to you, not just to other people). They’re the ‘what’s the problem so we can fix it’ type, and they respect themselves enough to have limits on what they’ll tolerate. It links back to confidence. A person who’s brave enough to say what they think and what they want without making a huge fuss about it is a person worth keeping around. The ability to listen, apologise without getting defensive, and resolve conflict appropriately have got to be the most unsexy-sounding yet sexy set of traits a person can have. Ask anyone who’s married.
People have good things to say about them. You like the people they’re friends with (it’s a reflection of their character, after all). They’re supportive of your interests and complimentary of you – but that doesn’t equal sleaziness, nor does it equal worshipping the ground you walk on like a total pushover. A healthy mix of kindness and teasing the fuck out of you is ideal.
Last but not least
A green flag makes you feel like “you”. You don’t have to pretend to be somebody you’re not just to impress them. Underneath the sex and frustration and lust, you have a remarkable friendship. Because if this one lasts – like, really lasts – you won’t be relying on the sexual appeal of their white, saggy, arthritis-ridden limbs when you’re old and grey. It’ll be the other gooey stuff that keeps the romance alive: good conversation, mutual respect, unconditional support, and the fact that you genuinely still like each other enough after sixty-odd years.
My number one green flag? Humour. It’s not complete if you can’t have hysterical, snorting laughing fits. Healthy love is someone who makes you smile, every day, in any circumstance, and through any situation (after all, we have a lifetime worth of bullshit still to get through. I told you I’d get cheesy). So, above all, look for someone who makes you laugh.
In summary, be attracted to what’s right for you, not what sends your cortisol levels sky-high. Maybe use this to spark conversation about what constitutes green flags for you. Talk about it with your friends, mentally brainstorm it to yourself, whatever. In a world that’s wired to focus on flaws, notice the good that’s out there.