Check out my latest podcast interviews where I cover a range of topics around dating, attraction & relatioships!
Dating online? Then you need to check out this free guide.
Hey, I'm Jiveny Blair-West an Australian Dating, Attraction & Relationship Coach. Want to navigate the modern dating scene with more clarity and insight? Then stick around, explore or click here to learn about working with me.
When it comes to dating, many of us have heard of “red flags” before. What might be less clear is how to identify a true red flag? And while we’re on the subject, what about green flags?
Whether you’re just starting out with dating or already in a new relationship, it’s important to pay attention to these signals every step of the way.
Below are 10 red flags and their green flag alternatives to help you decide whether or not a relationship is worth pursuing.
Here’s the thing, generally speaking people put the most effort in on the first few dates. The caveat here is that first dates tend to be the most nerve racking and sometimes those nerves can cause people to talk more about themselves rather than asking questions.
For this reason, you might want to give a person the benefit of the doubt the first time around. But, if you’ve had a second or maybe even a third date and you feel like it is more of a pattern, then this could be an important red flag to consider.
In general it’s not much fun to be talked at and usually the richest conversations come through asking follow-up questions that touch on the more emotional elements of an experience. Ideally we want to ask questions that give the other person permission to open up for example:
“What made you decide you wanted to get into… [their industry or career]?”
“What do you love most about… [their job or hobby]?
“How did it feel when you…[accomplished an important goal]?”
“What was going through your head when you… [made that hard decision]?”
These kinds of questions help to get below the surface of a person and show them that you’re interested and paying attention.
The green flag alternative: When it comes to choosing a great partner you’ll want to see them asking follow-up questions and remembering key details about your life.
This is one of the most annoying habits of the 21st century! As with all of these “flags” we want to look for the greater pattern. If it’s just a one-off late cancellation, that’s okay, there are times when life genuinely gets in the way.
However, how they deal with communicating this change in plans is important to consider. Do they give a reasonable reason as to why they need to cancel? Or in the case of running late, do they let you know when they’re running behind schedule?
The green flag alternative: When it comes to choosing a great partner, you’ll want to feel that they respect your time and communicate to the best of their ability when plans change.
Generally speaking, hetero-women tend to want to see men taking the initiative and putting effort into organising at least the first couple of dates. We certainly don’t want to feel like we have to push along the process or organise everything ourselves!
This comes down to our biological drivers… Women being vulnerable to pregnancy means that on an unconscious level we often want to feel that a man we are dating is capable of taking action and showing interest. This helps us to feel more safe and secure as the relationship progresses as it gives us the sense that if we were pregnant or in a similarly vulnerable state he would be there to support us.
Of this same vein, one of the biggest turn offs for a woman is when a man suggests a date but then says something to the effect of “Let me know what you want to do.” This is a massive attraction killer.
To the men reading this, you’re much better off putting forward a couple of suggestions for us to choose from as it shows that you’re willing and capable of taking initiative, and that shit is SEXY!
That’s not to say that women shouldn’t also put thought and effort into organising some dates, particularly as the connection continues to grow.
The green flag alternative: Both people are active participants in building the connection and putting thought and effort into organising fun things to do together
While proposing to move in together or talking about kids after just a couple of weeks into a whirlwind romance might reflect the intensity of feelings you feel, it is also likely to scare off a new flame. Many people will be confronted by this kind of conversation too soon into a relationship – and with good reason! This is mainly because there hasn’t been enough time to truly get to know one another, and a potential partner will often freak out when they think the person they’re seeing is moving too fast.
Diving too deep too fast tends to put a new partner on a pedestal, which can feel uncomfortable for the person we are dating. And while we might think we are helping the bond grow, we are not actually doing ourselves, or them, any favours. This kind of behaviour can quickly have us slipping into the territory of unrequited love.
The green flag alternative: Both parties respect the dating process and value getting to know the real versions of each other before making any big commitments
It’s important to get multiple perspectives on a potential partner while dating, and close friends and family are the best resources for this! These are the people who know your date the most intimately, and more often than not they’ll tell you a lot about the kind of person you’re dating.
When someone is hesitant to introduce you to their friends and family, it may indicate that they don’t have many solid relationships in their life. Alternatively, it could be an unconscious message from that person that the’re not really taking the relationship seriously.
Ultimately, a developing relationship flourishes within the context of shared friends. Meeting your date’s friends can be a great way to introduce yourself to a brand new social circle – at the same time as introducing your partner to your own established social group. Why would anyone want to miss out on that?
The green flag alternative: They view meeting your loved ones as an exciting and natural progression of the relationships
People who think the furthest down the track tend to have the most success in achieving their goals and living a fulfilling life. Bringing this back to relationships, a partner who has a long-term view is also much less likely to engage in an impulsive affair because they consider the longer-term impact it will have on their relationship.
Alcoholics Anonymous uses this in one of its core teachings. They get the person to consider how they will feel the next morning after they start drinking. It is a simple manoeuvre to combat the natural inclination of the unconscious mind to ignore the longer-term consequence of our actions.
Things to consider when exploring this potential red flag might include:
The green flag alternative: They’re thinking about the future and have goals and plans for creating a life that they love
Often this can be a sign that they’re not truly invested in the relationship. I mean, come on, one should be able to expect that their partner will follow through on the agreement they sign up to.
Not to mention that relationships perform well in an environment of mutual respect and support – and that disowning your partner in public could typically induce a lot of anxiety into said partner.
Rather than accepting being cast off, look to cultivate a healthy relationship with some degree of mutual respect and perhaps even twinges of pride when your partner proclaims you as their partner in public. You deserve that, right?
The green flag alternative: They make it clear to acquaintances and friends that you’re “together”
A true connection with another person is developed over time as we allow another person to see more and more of our weaknesses. As we do this, we are saying, ‘I feel safe enough to trust you with this sensitive information.’ In this way, we deepen our intimacy. In a social media–driven world, this is more necessary than ever.
Once the infatuation phase of a relationship arrives, it is a time to build intimacy through sharing our vulnerabilities and our fears. Failure to do this will leave the foundations of our relationship shaky.
Sharing our vulnerabilities, concerns and anxieties gives us a rock-like foundation. Keeping them hidden gives us a sand-like foundation.
Of course, in order to be vulnerable we need to feel a sense of trust with our partner. Trust is a central part of love. The essence of trust lies in how carefully we deal with our partner’s vulnerabilities. If our partner shares their insecurities with us, do we keep it secret from others or do we lord it over them when we are angry?
Of course, this is a two-way street. To build intimacy and trust, we all have to take the risk of giving our partner sensitive information to see how they deal with it. The key is to start small and watch for feedback.
Green flag alternative: They keep your secrets and respect sensitive information you have shared
Decision making is an important life skill. When it comes to this sort of thing, two heads are generally better than one – as long as there are no cooks spoiling the broth.
Let’s run with the cooking analogy and agree that when two people are making a meal together, it works best if the cooks talk and listen to each other in order to coordinate some kind of shared strategy through the stages of chopping and stirring.
Well, life partners have much more important decisions to make than what’s for dinner. This is why a shared strategy regarding key decisions such as where to live, whether to have children and how to co-exist, is going to make big a difference to the outcome of that relationship. It also adds to the feeling of a solid partnership, to know that your partner is willing to consider your needs too and essentially “has your back.”
The green flag alternative: When it comes to big or life-changing decisions, they respect and value your opinion and want to make decisions together as a couple
We live in an age of personal freedom, and your partner should not be the boss of you. Even if they are literally your boss, that ends after 5 o’clock and even while you’re on the clock – you are the one who is ultimately responsible for your own boundaries, health and choices.
That being said, it’s not always easy to identify situations in which you have surrendered your personal control to someone else. Misplaced trust can be a big factor that leads us into situations in which we feel our own personal control slipping away – but it is always up to us to identify when this is happening and to make sure our boundaries are keeping us safe.
Boundaries are an essential relationship skill, which is why I teach an entire module on how to express healthy boundaries in my course, The Alchemy of Attraction.
The green flag alternative: They respect your boundaries & your personal life. your connection is built on trust rather than control
Sometimes the first time a potential red flag pops up there may actually be a valid reason. For example: if they don’t ask many questions about you on a first date, it might just be because they are nervous. Or, if they cancel a date at the last minute it might be for a valid reason.
So whilst you need to be on the lookout for both red flags and green flags, it’s important to consider the bigger picture of what a person’s behaviour is telling us.
By knowing what to look for, in terms of both red flags and green flags, you can evaluate your compatibility with a potential partner, before you jump straight into something you may regret in the future.
Got something out of this? Parts of this article have been excerpted from our book ‘How to Make the Biggest Decision of Your Life’ by Dr George Blair-West & Jiveny Blair-West. Get your copy here!
Get my best tips for creating a charismatic online dating profile that stops the swipe and makes a captivating first impression!
Want my free guide to maximising your online dating profile?
Co-author of 'How to Make the Biggest Decision of Your Life' and online dating, attraction & relationship coach committed to helping you attract a healthy, sustainable and passionate relationship.