6 Relationship Green Flags
Caitlin Weese LCSW-C, 200 RYT
If you read the blog last week, we were talking all about relationships, more specifically signs of an unhealthy relationship. This week, I’ll be focusing on the signs of a healthy relationship or relationship “green flags.” When we've experienced complex trauma or previous toxic relationships, it's normal to be unsure what a healthy relationship look like. If this sounds like you, don't worry! I got you! I made this list just for you. Before we jump in though, it's important to note that relationships are nuanced and even the healthy ones can have unhealthy moments. I like to think about a relationship in terms of percentages. This means looking at what percentage of the time (x) happens. For example, what percentage of the time are you able to have constructive disagreements. There are of course exceptions, like violence or threatening which are big red flags regardless of if they happen once or repeatedly. Outside of these situations, the percentage technique is usually a good way to gauge your relationship's health. If
1. You feel like you can be yourself around your partner.
One of the biggest signs of a healthy relationship is feeling comfortable being yourself. In order for relationships to flourish we need to feel secure and comfortable. A large part of this is not having to put on a mask around your partner. In healthy relationships, we feel safe to show sides of ourselves we might otherwise be afraid to. Here's a few things to think about: do you feel like you can show all aspects of yourself to your partner? Do you ever feel judged for being yourself?
2. You navigate disagreements constructively.
Every relationship has disagreements. In fact, not having disagreements can be a sign of an unhealthy relationship. However, it's all about HOW you disagree. In a healthy relationship we can share our opinions, and disagree while remaining respectful of one another and looking for solutions. This means we see our partner as being on the same team versus as an enemy. In addition, we focus on specifics the situation at hand versus making general statements like "you always do this" etc. From that place, we can work together to find common ground. If you're looking for more information on healthy disagreement, check out this link.
3. They express their emotions and encourage you to express yours.
Communication is key. In any relationship, romantic or otherwise, feelings are going to come up! It's important that your partner is able to recognize and communicate their feelings. It's also important that they encourage you to do the same! This ability to be open with one another allows you to deepen your connection and work through misunderstandings.
4. Your partner encourages you to be your own person.
Like we talked about last week, it's normal to want to be connected to your partner and definitely part of a healthy relationship. However, it's also just as important to have a life outside of your relationship. A sure sign of a healthy relationship is a partner who encourages you to keep up your interests and maintain your individuality.
5. They respect your boundaries.
As I mentioned last week, relationships are built on trust and a sense of safety. Boundaries are a way that we keep ourselves safe and differentiate ourselves from our partner. Therefore, its important that our partner respects our boundaries. But what exactly does this mean? There are many types of boundaries: physical, emotional, sexual, economical, emotional, and boundaries around time. Here are the definitions and some examples of each
Emotional Boundaries: These are boundaries around your feelings. This may be around what you choose to share or the responses of others to the feelings you share. Example: choosing not to share sensitive information with a coworker or not wanting your feelings to be belittled by another person.
Physical Boundaries: These are boundaries around your physical space and physical interactions. Example: not wanting to be hugged by strangers.
Sexual Boundaries: These consist of limits around the physical and non-physical elements of sexuality. Example: not wanting to engage in certain acts or not being interested in someone sexually.
Intellectual Boundaries: These are boundaries around your thoughts and ideas. Example: Wanting others to respect your opinions even if they disagree.
Material Boundaries: This covers limits around material possessions and money. Example: Not allowing your sister to borrow your car.
Time Boundaries: This refers to limits around the use of your time. Example: Letting your friend know you can only stay for an hour
6. They validate your feelings, even if they don’t agree with them, and own their mistakes.
This is a big one. It can be easy to validate someone’s feelings when we agree with them or to take responsibility when we don’t feel defensive. The real work begins when things become harder. Notice how your partner responds when you express yourself. While they by no means need to agree with everything you think or feel, they should be willing and able to understand your emotions when you communicate them and validate that experience.