13 Green Flags in a Relationship: Signs He’s a Keeper

Starting a Relationship

By: Milena J. Wisniewska

Life’s too nuanced for a simple good/bad checklist, or red and green in this case. It’s not just about what someone does but why they do it.

Take door-holding, for instance: charming if he’s considerate to everyone, but a red flag if it’s only for you and no one else. 

Same action, different motives.

The internet is awash with jokes about red flags and guides on how to avoid them, but not enough is said about their positive counterparts — the green flags. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Green flags are positive signs that indicate a healthy, happy, and fulfilling relationship.
  • They encompass communication, respect, trust, support, emotional intimacy, and shared values.
  • Recognizing green flags can help you build stronger relationships and avoid potential red flags.
  • Everyone has different green flags, but some universal ones apply to most healthy relationships.

1. Effective Communication and Active Listening

Effective communication and active listening are major green flags to look for in a new relationship. 

Imagine you’re on a date at a cozy little cafe, the kind with fairy lights and comfy chairs. Your partner slides their phone into their pocket, looks you in the eye, and . . . actually listens. 

As you start sharing the story of the random run-in with an old friend — they’re not just nodding along. They’re leaning in, eyebrows raised in curiosity, asking thoughtful questions that show they’re genuinely interested.

Suddenly, it hits you — this isn’t just a date; it’s a real connection. 

That’s the power of active listening, my friend. When your new partner gives you their full attention, really tries to understand your perspective, and responds with empathy and validation, these are all signs of a good communicator. Major green flag!

That effective communication will come in handy beyond the first date. Couples who are comfortable talking through difficult topics without getting too emotional or defensive generally show strong relationships built on mutual respect and understanding..[2]

When they have good communication skills, validate your experience and respond to it in mature ways, it’s a very promising sign. 

2. Respect for Boundaries and Individual Autonomy

There’s a reason why Aretha wrote a whole song about it. R-E-S-P-E-C-T is nonnegotiable. Has always been and will always be. Period. 

When they respect your boundaries, like the need for privacy and independence, it is some big green flag energy. 

I’m talking about a partner who doesn’t expect you to text them every five minutes, so you have the space to plot world domination in peace. Someone who values your autonomy in chasing your dreams, even if it’s taking over the world. 

This kind of respect for boundaries in a relationship ensures you both flourish individually while still being an unstoppable duo. Look for a partner who gives you space to flourish in and out of the relationship.

3. Emotional Intelligence and Empathy

When it comes to relationships, emotional intelligence and generosity, combined with empathy and support, can turn things from “Meh” to “Magnifique!” 

In the Science of Trust, Gottman (again he, but his work is just great!) writes how emotional attunement, the ability to be deeply in tune with each other’s feelings, significantly enhances relationship quality and is “a blueprint for building trust in long-term committed relationships.”[3]

You get home after fending off office trolls all day, and your partner greets you with a comforting hug, a ’90s throwback playlist cranked to eleven, and your favorite takeout on the table.

Then, they not only listen to your tales of triumph and frustration but nod, saying, “I can only imagine how tough it is for you” instead of “Sucks to be you” (a direct quote from my ex). 

That’s emotional intelligence in action — turning everyday moments into support and celebration, creating an uplifting relationship.

Keep your eyes peeled for a partner who is attuned to their and your emotional needs. Someone who not only lifts you up but also knows when to grab a bucket of ice cream and a pack of Kleenex.

4. Shared Values and Life Goals

The secret to becoming #RelationshipGoals is to have the same relationship goals.

If you share the same values, beliefs, and long-term aspirations, that’s the ultimate green flag in relationships. 

After all, when you’re both dreaming of the same future, you get to build it together, brick by harmonious brick. And that’s what makes relationships last. 

When you and your SO are on the same page together, you can turn life’s lemons into lemonade. You can then turn them into a music album and become a multimillion-dollar business. 

5. Consistency and Reliability

Consistency and reliability are to a relationship as Hermione Granger is to Harry and Ron; they would have got nowhere without her. 

According to a study published in Mindfulness, consistent and reliable partners build more trust and security, leading to happier and longer relationships. Keeping promises and being emotionally available are key behaviors that make relationships stable and trustworthy.[4]

I’m talking someone who follows through, someone who sticks to their commitments, someone who doesn’t flake when things get tough. 

A romantic partner who’s not just a PowerPoint sales pitch — a partner who delivers.

Say you are having a Bridget Jones-level bad day. Your partner shows up, umbrella in hand, ready to shelter you from the rain. They’re there for you whether it’s rain or shine. Green flag. 

6. Mutual Trust and Loyalty

Mutual trust and loyalty are the foundation of meaningful relationships.

When that twit Janet says your perfect blueberry muffins are too dry, your partner steps in, defending both you and your muffins with calm strength. 

If they’ve got your back in public, you can be sure they’ll stay loyal when you’re not around, too.

A good partner embodies trust, loyalty, and unwavering commitment. 

Think of the Morticia and Gomez Addams dynamic: Their relationship, whether facing family dramas or financial setbacks, radiates an unshakeable trust and loyalty. Gomez’s declaration says it all: “I would kill for her. I would die for her. Either way, what bliss.”

In the haunted forest of life, having a partner like Morticia or Gomez transforms every twist and turn into a delightfully macabre adventure.

7. Support for Personal Growth and Development

A person who shows support for your personal growth and development is a healthy and nurturing partner material.

Say you’ve always wanted to learn endurance running but your longest marathon was bingeing Friends on your day off. The supportive partner signs you up for running club, trains with you, and is there at the finish line with a goofy poster, a grin, and a celebratory donut. 

Or maybe you’re hesitating about a career change. When Leslie ran for city council on Parks and Rec, Ben wasn’t just her campaign manager; he was her emotional rock, keeping her focused and fired up.

Ben was a walking green flag.

So, when your boo pushes you to conquer your fears and lifts you when you stumble, they’re not just investing in you now — they’re watering your roots so they can witness you blossoming.

8. Healthy Conflict Resolution Skills

Healthy conflict resolution skills are what distinguish healthy and unhealthy relationships. 

A study published in the International Journal of Psychology and Educational Studies states that 

whether conflict weakens or strengthens the relationship depends on the way the partners manage the conflict. Conflicts, when effectively managed, can be productive and foster understanding, intimacy, and respect for one another. It can reveal issues, offer collective solutions, and boost intimacy and relationship pleasure.[5]

Having a partner who knows how to handle conflict, bringing empathy, active listening, and compromise to the table, is like casting Ryan Reynolds as an indie rom-com love interest: It won’t fix a bad script, but it will still kill at the box office.

The healthiest relationships are those where partners can disagree without disrespect. It’s about finding solutions together and understanding each other’s perspectives. 

So, here’s to partners who tackle conflict with quick, positive actions, turning potential battlefields into stepping-stones for a better relationship. 

9. Appreciation and Gratitude

Appreciation and gratitude are important green flags to look for in a relationship with someone. 

A study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that higher levels of perceived gratitude in relationships are linked to increased relationship quality and stability. 

Specifically, couples who feel appreciated by their partners experience less decline in relationship satisfaction and confidence, even when facing common stressors like financial strain and negative communication patterns​.[6]

In a world where ghosting and breadcrumbing are actual dating terms, having someone who consistently appreciates you and genuinely shows gratitude for your mere existence can feel like finding a diamond in the rough. 

10. Shared Sense of Humor and Playfulness

A partner who can laugh with you, enjoy lighthearted moments, and maintain a sense of playfulness is a major green flag in any romantic relationship. 

According to a study published in Personal Relationships, “Playfulness . . . is a crucial component in bonding and establishing relational security. Laughter, particularly shared laughter, is an important indicator of romantic attraction between potential mates and is associated with relational quality, closeness, and support in established relationships.”[7]

So, if they can diffuse a heated argument with a well-timed inside joke or ease the stress of a long day with a goofy dance, it’s a sure sign of a healthy relationship. 

A partner who can laugh with you, enjoy lighthearted moments, and maintain a sense of playfulness is a major green flag in any romantic relationship.

Humor is our buffer against the harsh realities of the world and creates lasting, positive memories.

Just look at John Krasinski and Emily Blunt! Their playful banter and shared sense of humor are pure pleasure to witness. They exude an aura of a strong, loving partnership. 

So, take note: A good laugh can be the glue that holds your love together.

11. Mutual Respect and Admiration

Having a partner who treats you with respect, values your opinions, and admires your accomplishments is like finding Mr. Darcy in a world full of Wickhams. 

Imagine you’ve just taken up painting, dreaming of becoming the next Frida Kahlo. You’re excited and inspired. 

Then, one day, you overhear your partner boasting about your talent at a family dinner. They don’t just respect your new pursuit — they openly admire it. Your heart swells.

But respect and admiration are a two-way street. You can’t just soak up all that love without giving some back. 

Recognizing your partner’s worth, ideas, and achievements is crucial. Maybe they’re obsessed with coffee making, practicing their latte art. Celebrate every morning coffee they bring you, whether it’s a perfect heart, a flower, or a wonky elephant. 

12. Commitment to Personal Accountability

A person who can take accountability is some partner-worthy stuff. It’s like a neon-green flag, seriously.

Name a thing that’s hotter than someone who can take responsibility for their actions and admit an honest mistake. I’ll wait. 

No one is perfect, but those who own it come very close. 

Imagine planning your first road trip together. They were on road duty, and you had snacks covered, but they missed a turn, and your French cheese turned the car into a foot-scented shoe box. Instead of pointing fingers, you both crack up, owning the mishaps and turning them into a hilarious story to share with friends.

Or maybe, a bit more seriously, you got stood up for a movie because they thought it was next Wednesday. Instead of making a million excuses or shifting the blame on you, they own up, admit the mistake, apologize, and suggest a plan to prevent future mix-ups.

It’s a sign they’ve got maturity and integrity, willing to grow for themselves and your relationship. That kind of mindset is giving green flag. 

13. Openness to New Experiences and Personal Growth

A partner who embraces new experiences, steps out of their comfort zone, and encourages you to do the same is a keeper. A 10/10 green flag. 

Embracing new experiences isn’t just a trendy hashtag — it’s what’s going to keep things electric for a lifetime. 

A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology delves into the dynamics of couples’ shared participation in exciting and novel activities, revealing a compelling link to relationship quality. 

The research highlights that engaging together in these adventures not only sparks excitement and novelty but also strengthens emotional bonds, leading to increased satisfaction and closeness in relationships.[8]

You can never get bored with (or of) someone who nudges you to try a new hobby every few months or announces a trip to Bhutan on a Tuesday evening, all because they believe in #YOLO 

After all, life’s too short for comfort zones, and in the words of psychologist Carol S. Dweck, “The hallmark of successful people is that they are always stretching themselves to learn new things.”[9]

“The hallmark of successful people is that they are always stretching themselves to learn new things.”

Green Flag Meaning

As Sheleana Aiyana puts it in Becoming the One: “Green flags mean go! 

In the context of a relationship, a green flag is a sign that both partners are operating from a place of mutual respect, authenticity, trust, and appreciation.”[1

A green flag relationship is one where you feel safe and secure. You can let your hair down, be your quirky self, and share your weirdest thoughts, opinions, and dreams without fear of judgment. 

Green flags shine through a person’s words and actions. Here are some examples of the biggest green flags: 

  • Encouraging connections outside of the relationship
  • Respecting boundaries around physical touch and personal belongings
  • Being accountable for how you show up in conflict rather than one person always or never being right

And when you see these signs often enough, you know you’ve found someone with a solid character and integrity.

Conclusion

A green flag in dating is the equivalent of a thumbs-up emoji — a signal that things are moving in a positive direction. 

These are the qualities and actions in a partner that indicate healthy and promising potential. 

Think of consistent communication, respect for boundaries, shared values, thoughtfulness, accountability, and a genuine interest in your well-being.

Dating a walking green flag isn’t just about someone who doesn’t roll their eyes at you being a die-hard Swiftie. 

It’s about dating someone who has their own favorite Taylor song and can quote your favorite lines back to you. 

It’s about dating someone who knows all the lyrics to “Anti-Hero” and gets why you scream-sing them with tears in your eyes. They grab your hand because they get it. They get you.

Check out our page to learn more about getting into a relationship.

FAQs: Your Green Flag Questions Answered

Is a green flag good or bad?

A “green flag” in a relationship is a good sign, indicating that a person possesses qualities or demonstrates behaviors that contribute to a healthy, supportive, and fulfilling partnership.

How do I know if I am a green flag? 

To know if you are a green flag, reflect on your own behavior and qualities, such as your communication skills, emotional maturity, respect for boundaries, and ability to offer support and empathy to your partner. Exhibiting these qualities consistently suggests that you may be a “green flag” partner.

What are green flags on a first date? 

Green flags on a first date might include behaviors such as active listening, respectful conversation, showing genuine interest in getting to know the other person, and respecting boundaries. These early indicators can signal the potential for a healthy, positive connection.

References

1. Aiyana S. (2022). Becoming the one: Heal your past, transform your relationship patterns, and come home to yourself. Chronicle Prism.

2. Gottman J. (2023). The seven principles for making marriage work. ‎Orion Spring.

3. Gottman J. (2011). The science of trust: Emotional attunement for couples. W. W. Norton & Company.

4. Gesell, N., Niklas, F., Schmiedeler, S., & Segerer, R. (2020). Mindfulness and romantic relationship outcomes: The mediating role of conflict resolution styles and closeness. Mindfulness 11, 2314–2324. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-020-01449-9

5. Yildiz, B. (2023). Attachment, growth fear and conflict resolution in close relationships. International Journal of Psychology and Educational Studies, 10(2), 453–462. https://doi.org/10.52380/ijpes.2023.10.2.1011

6. Barton, A. W., Jenkins, A. I. C., Gong, Q., Sutton, N. C., & Beach, S. R. (2023). The protective effects of perceived gratitude and expressed gratitude for relationship quality among African American couples. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 40(5), 1622–1644. https://doi.org/10.1177/02654075221131288

7. Hall, Jeffrey. (2017). Humor in romantic relationships: A meta-analysis: Humor meta-analysis. Personal Relationships, 24(2), 306–322. https://doi.org/10.1111/pere.12183

8. Aron, A., Norman, C. C., Aron, E. N., McKenna, C., & Heyman, R. E. (2000). Couples’ shared participation in novel and arousing activities and experienced relationship quality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78(2), 273. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.78.2.273

9. Pagliarini, R. (2011, June 2). Carol Dweck: Change your mindset to fulfill your potential. CBS News. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/carol-dweck-change-your-mindset-to-fulfill-your-potential/

Author

  • Milena J. Wisniewska

    Milena might not be a relationship professor, but she's definitely been through it all, learned her lessons, and is here to spill the tea. She combines the wisdom of renowned relationship specialists with her own romantic adventures to offer relatable and practical advice.

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