At Day One, we provide services for survivors of domestic and dating violence, but we also provide preventive education for people who have not experienced abuse. Part of this education included identifying what is healthy in a relationship – because knowing what is healthy helps you figure out what is unhealthy. With this post, we want to highlight “green flags,” or signs that you are in a healthy relationship.
Respect is one of the most important green flags of a healthy relationship, because it shows that you both have the freedom to be yourselves and value each other’s opinions and feelings. It’s important to know that respect doesn’t mean that you and your partner have to agree with one another all of the time. It’s okay, and can even be good, to disagree when you each have different views, backgrounds, and experiences. However, it’s important that any disagreement is expressed in a respectful way. Putting one another down, screaming, saying an idea is stupid, and being afraid of your partner’s reaction when you voice an opinion or disagree with them, are just some examples of potential red flags. An example of a green flag would be having a discussion about an issue, voicing your opinions and acknowledging they’re different, and being able to resolve the issue without either of you feeling bad or belittled. When you respect each other, you build trust, which allows you to feel safe, secure, and comfortable in your relationship.
Trust and respect go hand in hand in a relationship. Trust means that you can rely on your partner and they can rely on you; you each keep your promises. You are comfortable telling your partner personal information about yourself or sharing photos, and you aren’t worried that they’ll share the information or images without your consent. If your partner pressures you to tell them things that you’re not comfortable sharing, that is a red flag. A green flag is when you and your partner feel safe around each other, can communicate openly and with respect, and have one another’s best interests in mind.
Another green flag for a healthy, trusting relationship is that your partner doesn’t demand you share your social media passwords, cell phone password, location, or other information. An example of trust is when your partner doesn’t constantly check up on you or accuse you of cheating just because you have friends of the opposite gender.
Trust is something that takes time to grow; developing a relationship with trust takes time and energy. Some people may not feel like they can completely trust their partner at the beginning of a relationship, and that is okay but in a healthy relationship mutual respect and communication can build trust over time.
Support Without Judgement
Another green flag in a relationship is when your partner supports you. Support can look like listening to you without judgement, paying attention to your needs, and encouraging you to reach your goals. Even though being in a relationship is a two-person job, you are both still unique individuals who should have your own goals and hobbies. Your partner should encourage you to work towards your goals and participate in things you enjoy without feeling guilty or bad about it. They should also support you spending time with family and friends without them, and should not try to control where you go and with whom you spend time. It is a red flag if your partner is often putting you down or making you feel bad about yourself, discouraging you from reaching your goals, or trying to get you to spend every second with them.
Moving At A Comfortable Pace
An intimate relationship should move at a speed at which you are both comfortable. A partner should respect your boundaries regarding sex and intimacy of any kind–physical or emotional. Some potential green flags include being completely honest with your partner about your intimacy comfort level, having your partner respect your wishes, and checking in with one another as you engage in intimate activites, from holding hands to having sex to sharing stories. A red flag in a relationship occurs when your partner tries to coerce you into intimacy that you are not actively excited about and happy to engage in. You should never feel forced or pressured into doing something, especially if you don’t want to do it. It’s a green flag when you tell your partner you’re not comfortable and they stop what they’re doing without making you feel bad or—even better—they ask what you would be comfortable with!
Thoughtful Gestures and Actions
While romantic gestures like sending flowers, gifts, or cute text messages can be wonderful, doing all of these at once might be a red flag known as “love bombing”. Love bombing is when someone showers you with affection, gifts, and promises in an attempt to make you feel obligated to or dependent on them. You may initially feel special, valued, and loved in your relationship, and your partner may seem perfect. Eventually, though, you might get overwhelmed or notice that your partner has become manipulative or abusive and expect a lot from you because you “owe” them. No matter what movies have told us, it’s probably a red flag if your partner says that you’re their soulmate after the first date! Taking time to get to know one another, doing things that interest both of you, and moving from one stage to the next at a pace you’re both comfortable with are green flags.
Autonomy and Privacy
It’s very important that you maintain a sense of autonomy and privacy. Even if you are dating someone, they do not have a right to your phone, your passwords, your text messages, your social media logins, your cloud, or your location sharing. You may choose to share some of these things, if you want to, but you should never feel pressured to give anyone this access. In fact, it’s smart to keep things like passwords private.
You should be able to go out with your friends or see family without your partner getting angry or jealous. A green flag in a relationship is when a partner encourages you to cultivate your relationships with friends and family. Time apart–whether it’s time to one’s self or time spent with others–shouldn’t negatively affect a relationship. Your partner should not make you feel guilty for wanting space.
Relationships are complicated. It can be helpful to talk with people you trust, including family members, friends, teachers, counselors, and coaches about what healthy relationships look like. Oftentimes television, movies, and books show us unhealthy relationships that are made to seem like something we should want. If something doesn’t feel right to you, trust your gut and talk to someone. Creating a healthy relationship takes time and effort from all parties in the relationship, but you should always feel good about being with your partner and strive for both of you to be your best selves.
If you have any questions about what a healthy relationship looks like, check out Day One’s Know Your Rights Guides: click here