Monday, July 16, 2012

Green flags.

There's a lot of articles out there about "red flags" to watch out for when you're dating someone.  My favorite is the discussion of "Darth Vaders" in the comments to this post by Captain Awkward. The concept can certainly be used for victim-blaming--saying "why didn't you spot all the red flags?" is a great way to kick someone when they're down--but it's a good tool for someone facing the dating world.

A couple years back, I went on a date with a guy, jokingly disagreed with him about some silly thing I don't even remember, and he hit me.  Straight-up slapped me on the arm, hard enough to hurt, not hard enough to bruise.  He wasn't my boyfriend or anything; this was our second date.  I yelled "Hey!" and he started laughing and told me it was a joke and it's not like he really hit hit me, and I was probably taking everything so seriously because I was an uptight feminist, but he was willing to forgive me for that so long as I went ahead and laughed with him at this wonderful joke he'd made.

He called me for a third date and I did not call back.  I was closer than I'd like to admit to being sucked into the "it was a joke! horseplay! are you really going to hold that against him?" thing, but then I thought in terms of red flags.  Physically striking someone on a date is one of the reddest flags there is.  Even though I couldn't quite convince myself that the hitting itself was wrong, I could understand that it was a sign of wrong things coming.  I think that understanding saved me a lot of pain.



But the mere absence of red flags doesn't really say anything good about a person, does it?  "I went on a date with the most wonderful guy!  I don't think he'll emotionally or physically abuse me!  What a catch!"

So let's talk about green flags.  (Um.  White flags?  ...Cyan flags?)  Signs that someone is mature enough for a relationship, that they have a healthy attitude toward relationships, and that they have the potential to be a caring and responsible partner.  This isn't about compatibility--maybe they're a lovely person but you like Kirk and they like Picard--but signs that they'll be a good partner to someone.

 Here are a few.  I bet there'll be better ones in the comments.
  • They communicate, early and often, about what they're thinking and feeling, and they give you chances to do the same.
  • They introduce you to their friends and want to meet your friends.
  • They have a rich life outside of you. It can be many different things--job, hobby, friends, family--but they have something that makes them engaged and energized and has nothing to do with you.
  • They're excited by the things that make you different, not just the things that make you conventionally attractive.
  • They ask you for your opinion and advice as often as they offer theirs. 
  • They're willing to do un-fun, un-sexy stuff with you; when you need someone to hold your hand in the ER or take you to the airport at rush hour, they're there for you.
  • When talking about previous relationships that didn't work out, they admit fault and regret.
  • They always ask you before making a decision that affects you, whether it's trivial like "where to sit in the theater" or major like "whether to have sex tonight."
  • They respect your decisions and emotions even when you can't "logically" explain them.
  • You feel safe disagreeing with them, calling them out when they screw up, or telling them you don't want to do something with them.
  • They set boundaries with you sometimes, and they do it in a matter-of-fact, respectful way.
Your mileage may vary, some bad people will have a few green flags, some good people will be missing a few, all opinions given are only opinions, et cetera.  But when you're considering making a new person a major part of your life, I think it's important to think not just about "are there no bad signs?" but about "are there any good signs?"


P.S. While I was in the middle of writing this post, Captain Awkward put up a post on the exact same subject!  Curse you, synchronicity!  But if you don't mind reinforcing my terrible case of Blog Envy, I highly recommend you check her post out too.

116 comments:

  1. Hi. I love your blog, and I've been thinking about a lot of the stuff that you write, especially your stuff about consent. It prompted me to write a piece about why I don't spank my kids over on my little corner of the internet. Anyway, it's a riff on a similar tune. At least, I think it is. I suspect that "mom blogs" aren't always where you're at, but you might like to hear echos of your ideas in here - evenmomhastopee.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sometimes, I feel terrible about love and I can't find anything in the world to comfort me or console me, and then sometimes, later, your writing and ideas are like a warm, steady, healing hug around my pockmarked heart.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The 3rd from last one is a big one for me. Also the one about having friends, hobbies and generally things they care about outside of the relationship they are having with you. I had that with my first serious relationship when I had no idea of what kinds of things to look for. These are all great guidelines, as someone who is hoping to find a new relationship soon I will remember them. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. A big green flag for me is someone showing respect and kindness to EVERYONE...not just the person they are dating. They should be kind and respectful to strangers, service people, the homeless, their own family and friends, etc. AS WELL AS people they want to impress like their romantic interest, boss, or professors. When I was young and dumb I thought it was enough that my partner was nice to me. Guess what, selective niceness isn't niceness at all, and it doesn't last.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True. A date that is polite to you, but rude to the waitstaff is NOT a nice person.

      Delete
  5. absolutely brilliant. Couldn't agree more.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love your blog, Cliff, and have been reading it for years. But just wanna say that I miss the days when you'd post frequently about your own life. Reading your advice columns/editorials are really interesting and useful, of course, in their own right. However, I do miss the aspect of blogging on here lately that comes from gaining insight into someone else's personal experiences, and not just their personal experiences as aggregated into a more general advice/editorial piece.

    Just my two cents.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honestly, my life right now isn't super interesting? I've had the same boyfriend for two years, we've been having kinky sex on the regular, mmyep. Having a good, reliable boyfriend is extremely nice for me, but describing how good he is would make for boring and possibly annoyingly-gloaty posts.

      Also, a lot more people in my real life read my blog these days, and that means I have to be a little more circumspect. It's not exactly that I can't write anything negative or anything graphic, but it requires a lot more application of judgement than it used to.

      Excuses aside, I'll take this into consideration, and try to put more personal stuff up in some future posts.

      Delete
    2. How bout poetry?
      Awkwardly bad poetry
      is truly the best!

      Delete
    3. I am not
      a poet
      but
      I am pretty darn good if I do say so myself
      at
      placing line breaks

      Delete
    4. The raindrop trembles on
      the winter cherry branch like
      a misplaced linebreak

      Delete
    5. At my assent
      He thrust himself
      Into me;
      Gentle but firm.
      In my pleasure
      I cried out
      And the city heard.
      ____

      (BTW, it would work better as 'I am pretty darn good/If I do say so myself :P )

      Delete
    6. Thanks for the response. Totally understand your concerns.

      I'll continue reading either way.

      Delete
  7. You mentioned this in the context of past relationships, but I think it can be generalized: Generally being able to admit fault (and not in an attention-seeking woe-is-me kind of way) and giving others the benefit of the doubt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not necessarily. I'm "able to admit fault," in the sense that I blame myself constantly for every little thing that happens. Not necessarily out loud, but it does happen.

      There's a minor but important difference between responsible admission of guilt, and what depression does.

      Delete
  8. I just clicked through from Captain Awkward (I'm not even finished her post yet) and I love your list! This is something that's been on my mind a lot lately (synchronicity woooo!) as I've recently gotten out of an abusive relationship that was really crappy in a lot of other ways too. I mean, not only was he abusive and completely incompatible with me, but he was just not a good person for ANYONE to date, really. I seriously looked through this list and thought, "yep, that's the opposite of him, yep, that too, yep, yep, yep." So working backwards, I'd also add a couple of other "green flags" that my ex definitely didn't show.

    -They trust that your descriptions of lived experiences (i.e. what you think or feel about something) is true and real.
    -They respect your beliefs and opinions, even if they don't share them. I'm vaguely Christian, and I once dated a really lovely atheist guy who said very matter of factly on our first date that although he personally couldn't see the value of organized religion for himself in his own life, he understood and respected the fact that billions of people do value various forms of religion, and who was he to invalidate their beliefs? To contrast with my recent ex, who called me, and I quote, "a weak fucking sheep with no brain" for going to church.
    -When discussing past relationships, they speak of past partners respectfully and affectionately (although not in that obsessive "obviously not over him/her yet" sort of way). They may or may not have "a crazy ex" (bonus points if they don't use that term) because anyone can have bad luck with that, but they freely admit that most of their exes were decent people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These are good.

      Everyone with a few relationships under their belt has one or two where the problems really were the other person's fault, but if someone has a string of exes that they all call "crazy," that's a bad bad sign. Conversely, someone saying "my ex did what I thought were some very harsh and unfair things, but I still regret that things ended the way they did"--being willing to share the guilt even in a situation where they could get away with passing the blame--is a very good sign.

      Delete
  9. Quite a lot of years ago a friend of mine said she had second thoughts about the guy she was dating, since he claimed to love her, but couldn't say anything about WHY. I agree with her. She (obviously) didn't mean to say that one must be able to offer up a perfect logical explanation of why one loves a person, but one should be able to mention things about the person that makes zir so loveable. If one can't, one has probably just convinced oneself that "yes, I DO love this person!" because one really wants a partner, or is horny but wants to disguise it as looooove, or something along these lines.
    I've discussed this with other people and some agree with me and my friend, while others take the opposite stance and thinks that "real love" must be inexplicable.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Well, darn. Looks like I have very few green flags then.

    They communicate, early and often, about what they're thinking and feeling - Not really. I strongly tend to be very calm and unopinionated, and quite often there literally isn't anything along those lines to communicate. Not something I can change without lying (red flag) or getting a personality transplant (is that even possible?).

    They introduce you to their friends and want to meet your friends. - I don't really have friends. You try having friends friends when you work alone from home (self-employed) 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, and have a lot of unpaid chores on top of that. I do have some acquaintances, but unless you're willing to be a paying member of a nudist/naturist social group you can't meet them. Privacy concerns and such.

    They have a rich life outside of you. - Unless you count the above as a "rich life", no.

    They're excited by the things that make you different, not just the things that make you conventionally attractive. - Dunno. I don't date people based on how they look. Does that count?

    They ask you for your opinion and advice as often as they offer theirs. - I don't often do either, so... technically yes? Somehow I suspect that doesn't count for much, though.

    They're willing to do un-fun, un-sexy stuff with you - Among people I've known for a long time (even if I don't know them well) that's pretty much all I ever do anymore. Even if they're never willing to do the same in return. Not that this has ever come up with dates, though.

    When talking about previous relationships that didn't work out, they admit fault and regret. - Has never come up in conversation. If it did, I would probably not assign fault anywhere, mostly because they've been too short and too few to draw any reasonable conclusions.

    They always ask you before making a decision that affects you - In general, I make decisions so that they will not directly affect other people, because I've had it beaten into my head that people do not want to be asked. If I have to ask, I will, but with the expectation that they will be annoyed with me for not reading their mind or angry about some tangentially related issue, and that expectation is rarely disappointed. Even about supposedly fun things. (Apparently I need to meet less dysfunctional people.)

    They respect your decisions and emotions even when you can't "logically" explain them. Definitely yes, I don't even ask for an explanation and accept it a face value unless I have a very, very good reason to believe they're lying. I don't recall this ever having been significantly relevant in terms of dating, though.

    You feel safe disagreeing with them Dunno. I don't see why anyone would, as I never deliberately attack anyone for disagreeing with me in IRL conversations and rarely do so even in online ones, but the only person who's ever given any such indication would be my mother. One person doesn't count much as evidence either way.

    They set boundaries with you sometimes In my experience, if I need to set boundaries with someone, then they're just going to ignore them and continue to be abusive anyway. Still, I always do so before resorting to serious measures, and warning them what those measures will be before using them, so they can't say that they were attacked out of nowhere. But that's probably not relevant here, as I've never needed to set any with dates. (Unless you mean discussing each others' boundaries before a violation happens, which is something I've never really thought of before because it never comes up in conversation. Maybe I should try to make sure it does?)

    Don't have any of my own to offer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These are relational things, not things you can judge about yourself in a vacuum. However, some of this, honestly, sounds like you're really self-deprecating in a really nasty way. These two bothered me in particular:

      "If I have to ask, I will, but with the expectation that they will be annoyed with me for not reading their mind or angry about some tangentially related issue, and that expectation is rarely disappointed."

      "In my experience, if I need to set boundaries with someone, then they're just going to ignore them and continue to be abusive anyway."

      Are you, and I'm not asking this rudely, in therapy? Because if you're expecting the worst of people and responding by having zero assertiveness, that's a pretty serious problem, and one that's going to stand in the way of romantic or non-romantic relationships.

      Also, I have to set boundaries all the time with good people, because they're good, not psychic! If I don't want to be contacted on Sunday nights because I have to get up early Monday, that's a boundary. The fact that I have to express it hardly means that we're doomed, only that my partner doesn't have my calendar. Even more emotionally charged boundaries work the same way.

      Delete
    2. You're being very harsh on yourself, but if what you say is true then you're problems aren't that you're bad for other people, but that you need some help for yourself. Very self deprecating, thinking others want nothing to do with you, being passive rather than imposing, lacking assertiveness to the point where it seriously harms your life? Sounds a bit like me, tbh, and I *am* in therapy for it.

      Delete
    3. I am not sure what you mean by "responding with zero assertiveness". If people act badly then I will point out very clearly what the problem is and what will happen if they continue to act badly, and if they continue to act badly (which they usually do) I do my best to make sure they're punished for it. How is that passive?

      Usually I ignore suggestions for therapy, but since I'm getting tired of hearing it, I'll explain why not: I already tried it. Twice. The first time I was in middle school and my father pushed me into it. I suspect why me and not anyone else even though the entire family was messed up was because I had a paper carrier job and was "allowed" to "keep" a small amount of it as "allowance" (the rest went toward family expenses) and I could spend my own money on therapy. (My cousin probably needed it more than anyone else, as she was the sole survivor of an accident that killed her parents and brother and had never gotten any real help dealing with it.) Basically what came of that was that I needed to get more of a social life, and I was hoping to discuss how to have much of a social life when my parents keep moving every 6-9 months (for work-related reasons) without warning when it was cut short by my parents moving without warning. I didn't have another job for quite awhile, so...

      I tried again in my mid-20s, but in order to be able to afford it I took on some extra work, which reduced my rather minimal social life to basically nil. What came out of that, again, was that I needed to have more of a social life (really, according to my therapist that was the only major issue) and I did get some discussion in about how to make it possible under my fairly difficult circumstances. But it was cut short due to my being hospitalized for having both influenza and pneumonia at the same time. According to my doctor I should *really* cut my workload and take a vacation. So...

      (Vacation part didn't happen, though not because I didn't try. But that's a long, messed-up story that I won't get into here.)

      Right now I'm still in the position of having to make dangerous sacrifices somewhere in order to be able to afford therapy. Given how it went last time, and the fact that I may just end up being told pretty much the same things as both of the first two times, I'm not willing to risk it. And assuming that more of a social life really is the main thing that I need, then I should be focusing on *that* instead, anyway. (Not that it's much easier under the circumstances either...)

      Delete
    4. From what you have said, it sounds to me like A. you haven't had many opportunities to practice making connections and B. Most of the long term connections you have had have been with family members who tend to squash your view of things, leading you to put up defenses, like not offering your thoughts and avoid situations where you have to make cooperative decisions. If that's accurate, maybe dismantling some defenses is a good first step.

      I have two thoughts. One is that to counter your problem of not having interesting opinions, go ahead and express your non-opinion. Think about why. Are there aspects you like and others you dislike, that are kind of canceling each other out? Do you not know enough about the topic to offer what you feel is an informed opinion? If the other person is passionate about something you know little about, can you give it a try? If you tried it and didn't care for it, that's still an opinion. Neutral opinions can still lead to interesting discussions, if you express them fully. The other is to invite people to hang out, and force yourself to have joint discussions about what to do. "These are some places I like and that are affordable for me. How are they for you?" "These days and these times would work well for me, which one is best for you?" That's the kind of negotiation Cliff is talking about.

      Can you try getting to know your acquaintances at the nudist/naturist colony better? If that's a block of social time you have, probably trying to make the most of it is better than trying to carve out more time from your already full schedule. Don't worry about dating, just try to make some friends so you'll have that green flag for the future.

      Delete
    5. @ Lane: Maybe, to all of that. I'll certainly think about them, at least.

      Note: The group in question is a nudist social group. Not a "colony". How it works is like this: During winter they meet after hours at a local (otherwise normal and does not advertise these events to the public) swim club, and occasionally also at an otherwise normal bowling alley. During summer, it's usually at clothing-optional beaches. Spring and fall, parties at members' houses, and occasionally at actual "nudist colonies" (though more properly, nudist resorts, as the colony/commune model mostly went out with the 1960s). Though I don't do the resort thing mostly because of travel issues.

      Delete
    6. Re "colony"; Sorry about that. I was pretty much picturing what you are describing and I didn't mean to imply anything else. I dunno, I hear those words together so often and I was kinda tired when I wrote it, so I missed that on the edit. My bad. :-)

      Delete
    7. As others have said, you sound pretty down on yourself. I empathize with your bad therapy experiences, but even still, finding the right therapist could probably really help.

      In the meantime, why not focus on improving your quality of life in some small ways, and maybe put thoughts of dating on hold till you are feeling better? It's ok to look at your life and say "hey, I might not have that much to offer a potential partner right now, I really need to work on my assertiveness and meet some new friends first." That doesn't make you some kind of failure. Sometimes people have phases in which it's important for us to deal with our own baggage first, that's not a bad thing.

      Delete
    8. Lane: Holy crap, that sounds like me too. My boyfriend's been on to me about us sitting down and planning an upcoming trip together, but for me, leaving town is something that:
      a) happened on a regular basis, either through family vacations or Yet Another Move, and
      b) I never had a single smidgen of input into the planning process (except as a small child, when I was allowed to pick one or two favorite toys to keep with me during a move instead of packing them up)

      Well....that isn't anything like the experience of a 35-year-old man who's lived in the same spot since he was 2 and was included in the decision-making process as soon as he was old enough to understand what was going on. I have very little faith in my ability to plan in advance, and always end up falling back on routine.

      Delete
    9. I used to be like "In general, I make decisions so that they will not directly affect other people, because I've had it beaten into my head that people do not want to be asked." and "In my experience, if I need to set boundaries with someone, then they're just going to ignore them and continue to be abusive anyway.".

      Then I went somewhere awesome surrounded by people who are the opposite of this, and after a few years of interacting and lots of reading people-philosophy books like The Ethical Slut*, I started to feel safe sharing my feelings and desires with people and having them listened to. Years. I've talked to a few therapists, but close friends were better. In retrospect I'm glad no one dated me back then.

      * The Ethical Slut improved my friendships dramatically. I don't even see the book as particularly about sexual relationships, though it is certainly written that way!

      Delete
    10. Sounds a lot like my life....

      Never ask, because they'll always say "No" anyways. No exceptions.

      Delete
  11. I sorta like your list, but I also think there is a tendency for these kind of lists to get overly idealistic. e.g. 'they will *always* be understanding when I have a bad day', 'they will *never* get freaked out when I get clingly', which ignores the fact that your potential future partner is a person.

    However well meaning, they will make mistakes, and get things wrong, and have their own insecurities, and sometimes make wrong assumptions etc.

    Maybe I have low standards but I don't expect my partner to always treat me right. I expect them to *try* to always treat me right, and to acknowledge and work to fix it when they get it wrong. That's certainly all I can offer in return.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The list is a starting point. It's not a no-exceptions hard line.

      However, I think it's a good idea to look at what exceptions you're making and how often. The distinction between "everyone has a bad day, everyone makes mistakes, XYZ is a special situation" and "wow, I am straight up making excuses for this person" deserves reflection.

      Delete
    2. I think another thing that helps is do they admit/apologize when they've had a bad day? Or do they insist that being non-understanding that day was okay?

      Delete
    3. If I'm upset and the conversation doesn't have to happen right this second, the best thing for me to do is not talk to anyone until I've had time to calm down. If somebody can hear, "I need to be alone for a while" and take it gracefully without trying to push me into interaction before I'm ready to deal with people, that's a green flag.

      Not calling me is another one. It sounds weird, since it's considered more polite and personal to call people than to text them, but talking on phones makes me super uncomfortable. I tell new friends I'd much rather text or send e-mail, and dismissing that is a big red flag.

      Delete
  12. I think another one to add to the list is that they encourage you to have a rich life outside of them. It is a good sign when they are happy to spend time with you, and also happy/accepting when you do fun and exciting things sometimes on your own.
    Also, they seem to be interested and accepting of your life plans and goals.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Further to what, uh, anonymous said, I look pretty hard at how they treat waitstaff, bartenders, taxi drivers etc. A date who is not just polite to them, but warm, conversational and unfussy about mistakes they make, gets a big green flag.

    I also want to hear them say positive things about their exes. Not 'fault and regret' - in my experience most relationships don't end through bad decisions but through expanding mutual differences. I don't want them to regret the relationship having ended! I want them to express satisfaction, that it was worthwhile and lovely, even though it ended, and affection and friendliness towards the ex (assuming there wasn't abuse obviously).

    A like a date who doesn't think of different careers as low or high status, whatever position they might be in. If they're in a culturally high status job they're just as interested in people who do low status jobs, and if they're culturally low status they're not ashamed or worried about it. They think of it as a bunch of stuff we all do, rather than a hierarchy.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh, oh! My biggest green flag. When a date is honest about something even though they know it will probably upset me.
    I do not want someone who will let me mistreat them. I have a penchant for really laid-back guys, so that can happen. If I do something hurtful, I need them to speak up and let me know that it's not okay.

    (Um, I'm edgy about the phrase 'let me mistreat them' - I hope you understand what I'm trying to say. I am extremely rigourous at trying to be a decent person, but I fuck up, and I want to be called on it).

    It's easy to be honest when you're saying nice things, hard when it's going to cause tension.

    I actually have a theory that this is what 'negging' is attempting to replicate. (If he's telling my jacket is ugly, then when he says I have gorgeous hair, he must be telling the truth).

    Honesty is so important, but it can be hard to know when someone is only saying nice things. You only *really* find out when they're brave enough to say the not-nice things.

    With compassion of course. This isn't an excuse for just being cruel or dickish (as in the ugly jacket example). But those people have already been weeded out by the red flags.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! I want to know they're not afraid to tell me "no" or disagree with me, because that way I know they mean it when they say "yes" and express an interest in things I like. I knew a few guys in high school who just nodded along with whatever I said because they were too shy to actually ask me out but wanted me to like them anyway*, and I was really, REALLY bad at picking up on subtle cues back then, so I'm afraid I ended up walking all over them without realizing it. (Not in an "oh, I want that book but I don't have any money. Can you spot me this one?" way! Just in a "didn't realize you wanted to talk about something else now" way.)

      *I'm pretty sure about 90% of "girls want to date jerks!" really means "most people think assertiveness is an attractive trait. I prefer passive-aggression because there's basically no way somebody can reject you if you don't actually make a move, and the thought of rejection scares me. People who take the direct approach just look pushy to me."

      Delete
  15. Wow, that's a really tough list.
    I just compared that to my lovely-perfect boyfriend and even he misses some of them. Not completely, that is. I guess nobody is perfect.
    For example, setting boundaries in a respectful way is quite hard for people who have been hurt a lot in the past.

    As for dating, an important "Green Flag" would be for me that the other one will not just invite me somewhere, but will ask for my initiative. What would you want to do with me? And they try new things. They will go to places with me they haven't been before, just to be with me (:
    And vice versa. And when they take me somewhere new, they show me around. Dating has a lot to do with discovering another person's world, not just being shoved into it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that there is a distinction to be made (that we aren't really making here) between "positive signs" and "requirements."

      Delete
  16. Here's a really big green flag for me: When you tell the other person about how you feel about something, zie immediately understands what you mean and can relate to that.

    Many of the green flags discussed so far are things that means your date is a nice person in general, but this one is about zir being good for YOU in particular.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Being open minded enough and willing to learn can be a really big green flag for me. Sometimes it's more rewarding to be the person who taught your partner why opening up and communicating is such an awesome thing.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Even if they don't understand something you're through (not a bit), they are always willing to listen and learn. And thus end up becoming a better person to go to than someone who's "been there," strangely enough, because they have perspective.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I would say two of the best green flags with my current, nearly married, relationship were when first starting initiating sex he was actively seeking verbal consent: "Tell me what do you want to do?" "Is this okay?" "Can I do this?" No "speaking will ruin the romance!" attitude for this guy. Also, another time, I said "should I pick up a bottle of wine or something?" "Actually, no, if we're doing anything I want to know it is still okay when we're all sober."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sadly, I once briefly dated a guy who thought he had consent figured out and considered himself a damn superhero for saying the words (words which, in his mind, all other douchebag guys forgot about) when, trust me, he didn't really get it.

      He constantly sought verbal consent for every move like a storybook gentleman, only to do something else instead in a "Gotcha! Haha!" kind of way. For example, early on one time we were just making out, fully clothed, when he put his hand on my side, barely cupping some boob and tenderly asking, "Does it bother you if I touch you... here?" I said something like, "I don't mind, it's nice," and he immediately, mechanically, shoved his hand up my shirt and under my bra, practically ripping it. And I, startled, said, "Woah, that's not what I expected and it's not really sexy. Please stop." And he got really condescending and annoyed and asked "What? I ASKED. Did you think I meant OVER your shirt? Seriously?" And I said, "Yeah, honestly I did. Because that's what you were doing when you asked if it bothered me." Something like this could be just a misunderstanding or pure clumsiness... except that instead of him going "Oh, my bad, I thought we were talking about your bare breast here" and me going "It's okay, we both probably need to work on clarity. Let's take a break for a sec," he proceeded to act like I was an idiot and NOT TAKE HIS HAND OUT OF MY SHIRT while making a "reasoned" case that this WAS what I had agreed to, so obviously he was in the right. (When I physically took hold of his arm and moved it away, he acted like I was suffering from complete irrationality and proceeded to inquire "What had happened to me" as if only someone with PTSD or a previous rape victim would be so sensitive. When I said nothing had happened to me (except someone just now pawing unpleasantly at my chest), he patronizingly refused to believe me and insisted that I would eventually open up about my past and that when I did he would totally understand and be there for me. And, seriously, I had never been molested or abused, but I think he imagined that all women had been-- by OTHER men, you know, the BAD ones-- and if they said they hadn't, they were lying or confused or repressing it).

      Regarding alcohol, he didn't drink at all and I drank lightly. He was of the opinion that if anyone had had anything to drink at all, any sex that took place was automatically rape. So if I had a glass of wine at a meal he'd huff and puff with righteous anger and throw out a comment like "Oh, GREAT. Why do you have to do that? If we were going to have sex later, we can't now." It's worth noting that we were not even having sex at the time of this conversation (or ever, btw), so this was assuming a lot on his part. I'd point out that having one slow drink over dinner wouldn't even give me a buzz and I'd certainly be capable of giving true consent three or four hours later when this supposed sex occurred. He insisted that, no, it would make him a rapist, thanks a lot for ruining the entire night.

      Definitely focused more on the letter of the law while completely failing regarding the spirit of it. He was the most controlling person I've ever met, but he seemed to think he had found some magic rules and phrases that would give him a pass to behave the way he wanted without being wrong. Even when specifically accused of being wrong, he'd snap back with a detailed explanation of why, no, he'd done everything just the way you're supposed to so I had absolutely no excuse to be offended or even feel sexually turned off. Like "But I entered these passwords and pressed these buttons, and there are a prescribed set of results. No take-backs! You're contractually obliged to be aroused now. If you're not, it's your fault, there's something wrong with you."

      Delete
    2. That sounds like the sort of relationship that is hilarious in fiction or hindsight, and absolutely horrible to actually live through. :( *hugs* I hate the "Pharisee mindset."

      Delete
  20. I would also suggest ''taking an interest in you outside of a sexual/romantic context and indicating aspects of their personality other than what a good boy/girlfriend they'd make.'' While I realise that taking this too far might not be an ideal way to kick-start a romantic relationship, I think it would make sense to confirm that you'd work well as friends before initiating anything else

    ReplyDelete
  21. My second date with my husband we went back to my house and he called his parents to ask them something. He ended up talking to most of his siblings before he got his mom, (each sibling was doing a silly voice "pretending" to be their mom, and then handing the phone off to the next person) and I got to observe their joking interactions. This made a very good impression on me.

    So I'd say having a good, healthy relationship with your family, is a big one of ... whatever we're calling these flags.

    Now contrast that with the guy who, on our first date told me he'd kill himself if I ever left him. I ran (figuratively) in the other direction.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A good relationship with your family is nice, but it isn't always possible. Not all good people come from loving families. For some people, a successful phonecall with your parents is one we're you've avoided all their traps and dodged all their attacks. I totally see why overhearing that phone call would have made you like him, but seems harsh on people with unluckier births

      Delete
    2. How about 'loving with people they claim to care about'?

      Delete
    3. Shortly after we started dating, my fiancée told me that he was glad to meet me because he seemed to only attract crazy women, which started blaring alarms in my head. I was lucky, in that it it turned out he really was very unlucky in love, but I AM still glad I had my antennae up, 'cause that could easily have not been the cale.

      One thing that mollified me a little is that he has a great relationship with his parents. He calls them every Sunday and talks to them for an hour.

      My sister, meanwhile, dated a guy who hated his mom…and every other woman. Fortunately, she is no longer dating him.

      As someone who comes from a somewhat messed up family, “comes from a messed up family” IS a red flag, but not something that can’t be overcome by a bunch of green flags. So maybe it’s a yellow flag. I mean, there’s the people who overcame their families, and then there’s the people who didn’t.

      Delete
    4. Ok, obviously some of us are taking the metaphor slight differently than others. I didn't think we were talking about a situation where a lack of one of the green flags is automatically a "red flag" - I don't feel that the lack of one positive attribute is always automatically a negative. I don't do too well in social situations, so some of these are never going to apply to me, but I don't think it makes me a bad relationship.

      Cliff specifically said-
      "Your mileage may vary, some bad people will have a few green flags, some good people will be missing a few, all opinions given are only opinions, et cetera"

      I certainly didn't mean to offend anyone. I don't have a good relationship with my family either, perhaps that's why it was so great for me to find someone who did.

      Delete
    5. As someone who comes from a somewhat messed up family, “comes from a messed up family” IS a red flag, but not something that can’t be overcome by a bunch of green flags. So maybe it’s a yellow flag. I mean, there’s the people who overcame their families, and then there’s the people who didn’t.

      Personally, I try to assess the "anger factor". If I ask a new acquaintance about their family and they calmly tell me "Yeah, my parents and I have...issues. I try to avoid talking to them" that's a much better sign than if they go on a screaming, swearing tirade. (We're talking about a conversation in a neutral place and time, here; if someone gets off the phone with their abusive mom and is really angry and distraught for a while, that's a whole different thing).

      Mind you, getting angry at the drop of a hat is a bad quality in general. :P

      But yeah...I guess you could say my "green flags" when someone has bad family relationships are 1) they seem to have accepted that they're never gonna have a perfect Leave it to Beaver family 2) they don't blame themselves for their family's fuckupitude, and 3) they don't get sucked into their family's weird dynamic anymore.

      Delete
    6. "If I ask a new acquaintance about their family and they calmly tell me "Yeah, my parents and I have...issues. I try to avoid talking to them" that's a much better sign than if they go on a screaming, swearing tirade"

      Not necessarily. Sometimes a person learns to cope with a genuinely BAD family situation (read: not even up to normal standards, much less the TV ideal) by essentially becoming a doormat. I shut off so much of my personality to avoid setting off a Dad "Lecture" that I am just now, at 27, discovering who I am and what I want out of life. Which means that I tend to become a carbon-copy of SO's for the first couple months before actually branching out and doing what I want to do sometimes.

      Delete
  22. One green flag for me, similar to what Dvärghundspossen said above and relevant to my current relationship: when I tell the other person how I feel about something, they usually understand and can relate. If not - and this is important - they will ask, rather than jump to conclusions, and they will assume they *can* understand me.

    ReplyDelete
  23. A good relationship with your family is nice, but it isn't always possible. Not all good people come from loving families. For some people, a successful phonecall with your parents is one we're you've avoided all their traps and dodged all their attacks. I totally see why overhearing that phone call would have made you like him, but seems harsh on people with unluckier births

    ReplyDelete
  24. If I had an issue with my (now ex) husband and tried to bring it up, he'd get defensive and end up berating me, somehow. So I stopped telling him stuff, and obviously this ended in divorce.

    The first time I had an issue in my current relationship (rather, the first time I realized I had an issue - I'd been repressing my feelings out of force of habit) and told my boy about it, his first words were "Thank you for telling me." (!!!!!) Then he validated my feelings and talked with me about what we could do to fix the situation so it didn't happen again. (!!!!!)

    Also, he's way more tuned into me sexually than my other exes have been. Which is to say, when he accidentally bashed me in the cervix so hard that I started to sob, he stopped having sex with me and comforted me instead. Sad to say, I've had other partners who didn't (they did ask "should I keep going?" and I said okay out of a sense of obligation, so they kept on going. I'm sure if I'd said "no, stop" they would've stopped... but I prefer the boy who prioritizes my well-being over his orgasm, and stops without having to be asked. My boy wants all consent to be enthusiastic).

    ReplyDelete
  25. So, what do you do if there's someone you really like, but they have a few traits that are the opposite of these green flags?

    I recently started dating a school friend, who I have loads in common with. He's funny, affectionate, sexy, has great taste in movies and music... but he can be extremely uncommunicative. We generally email instead of calling each other, but sometimes he just won't reply to my emails, even if I'm asking a direct question, telling him I'm upset, etc. It won't be until I see him a week later, in class, that he'll tell me he saw it and "just didn't reply." He has some kind of written-message anxiety, which I try to be understanding of, but it feels like he just doesn't care. He also sometimes blows off our dates/hanging-out-appointments without notice, and tells me later that he "thought I would be mad if he tried to explain." If I tell him why it upset me to be waiting around all night, confused and disappointed, he turns it around and blames me for being emotional, needy, unreasonable, etc.

    Does that sound as strange to everyone else as it does to me? I don't want to believe that it's my fault for caring about this stuff, but it really hurts to think that he could be so sweet to me one minute and then cruel to me the next, and blame me for it. Is it something I could fix, somehow? I've tried to tell him why it hurts me, but he gets defensive and accusatory about it. :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds pretty bad, actually, anon. It's not "your fault for caring," the guy is a complete flake and his defensiveness is scary. And the fact that he tries to make you feel like the aggressor every time he lets you down--that is NOT OKAY.

      There are lots of funny, affectionate, sexy guys out there who won't play the "ask me to apologize for breaking my promises? HOW DARE YOU, NOW YOU ARE THE REAL MONSTER HERE" headgame. You deserve one of them.

      Delete
    2. Crimson flag! It's hard because when they *are* there, they're so very lovely. My method is to keep a record for a month, and make a little cross for every day the relationship made you stressed and miserable. It's not a creepy "keeping score" thing, it just gives me objectivity so I know - am I only remembering the bad things, and blowing them out of proportion, or are half my days spent worrying and obsessing about him? Regardless of whose *fault* it is, you're not right for each other

      Delete
    3. Anonymous, I agree with Cliff. That's pretty bad. That's award-winning passive aggression, right there. That, or simply not giving a damn about you.

      I also agree with mckinleyvalentine - it doesn't matter whose fault it is. Sometimes there's no way to *tell* whose fault it is. But the overall dynamic, however you got there, is damaging for *you*.

      Get out. It sounds like you've already been 'round the merry-go-round on this issue more than once, so it's a pattern and you clearly don't have a handle on changing it. Break the pattern. Get out and find someone who has the fundamental courtesy not to stand you up repeatedly and then blame you when you care.

      Grace

      Delete
    4. I agree with Mckinleyvalentine about a calendar with x's on it. It is hard to remember those AWFUL days when he shows up and makes you happy on... some days.

      I was in a relationship with a passive aggressive narcissist. I had to start writing down events that made me upset or stressed out, and dating the pages so I could see how often it happened. That way, I would remember all that sh*t when he was there and being incredibly nice and sexy and irresistible. I kept coming back for those times, for far too long (8 months). He played the same head games Cliff pointed out in your guy. But finally, I left out my notepad with all the nasty notes about how he's treated me all year, and by looking at it every day I got the strength to tell him goodbye, and went NO CONTACT. (This guy was abusive as well, and did not deserve an explanation of where I went or why)

      Delete
  26. Another suggestion:

    They have a healthy enough view on sexuality and the human body to not be grossed out by natural things, like pubic hair, secretions and bodily functions.

    I've encountered a good handful of people who see cunnilingus as 'weird' or gross and are unwilling to try it. If you want head, you should be willing to give it. I'm not saying you have to worship pussy as the ultimate or anything, but you should be willing to give it a try for the sake of mutual pleasure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it's okay if someone doesn't want to go down--that's a fair limit for them to set--so long as they do it in a mature way.

      "I'm not comfortable with cunnilingus, sorry, and I hope that isn't a dealbreaker, but what I'd love to do for you is..." = GREEN FLAG!

      "Ew, no, I'm not going down! It smells down there! You've got hair!" = RED FLAG!

      Delete
    2. I've gotten that red flag like two times now and it's extremely disheartening. You really hit the nail on the head with the maturity thing. I had a guy actually gag one time...All he needed to say was "Hey I'm not comfortable with this, but I'll totally (blank) your (blank) since I know you like that." I would have been like, 1000% less angry and bonerkilled if he had said it maturely instead of pinning it on me like "Ew god, its just your disgusting vagina is just so disgusting, it's not MY fault I don't want to go down on you."

      Delete
  27. Big green flag for me when I was in the early stages of getting involved with the person who is now my master (at the time we were doing casual friends-with-benefits in theory): Noticing - during some pretty heavy fooling around - not only that he was approaching areas where we hadn't explicitly discussed boundaries and what was okay, but also that I was in a state where I could not give meaningful consent (even though he didn't have the tools to recognise sub-space yet) and thus waiting until I was in a coherent and rational state to have the discussion, even though it meant stopping the fun.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Great list! People really do need to emphasize those list items more. There'd be a lot less messy break-ups if people just understood their own basic needs.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Over at the Captain Awkward post, Oyceter said something to the effect of "they like you for the same reasons you like yourself." THIS IS THE TRUEST THING. There's nothing greater than the feeling of being admired for something that you've worked really hard at.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Before transition, on the occasions when I dated straight dudes, I was a big adherent to the rule that they should have some platonic female friends--it showed they're capable of genuinely liking & connecting with women beyond just wanting to get laid, and most truely creeptastic dudes seem to repel women from all corners of their lives.

    It doesn't translate as well to queer relationships, but I still seek out guys who self-ID as feminist, have lots of female friends, and are generally not caught up in defining themselves as Totally Not Women.

    Also, I do prefer that my partners be on friendly terms with a plurality of their exes (with the usual caveats that it's OK to steer clear of an ex who was really hurtful, it's best to get some space right after a breakup, etc). For me, that's more important than remorse; 'He's great, but it just didn't work, oh well' is usually fine. The rationale is twofold: 1) anyone who habitually vilifies their exes is probably unwilling to accept their share of the blame for their own shortcomings, and 2) I live in a small town with a small, slutty queer community, and it's just damn inconvenient to have to avoid anyone for any length of time. We don't really have the surplus population to excommunicate anyone who hasn't done anything objectively bad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "It doesn't translate as well to queer relationships, but I still seek out guys who self-ID as feminist, have lots of female friends, and are generally not caught up in defining themselves as Totally Not Women. "

      Actually, I think it translates quite well -- I'm a cissexual gay dude and this is a huge green flag for me. When a dude is misogynist it just fricking makes my teeth hurt -- it's like "excuse me, my mother is a woman!" -- and I figure it means he's stunted in other ways.

      Delete
    2. I think it works well in the other direction in queer relationships, as well: don't date anyone who seems incapable of having platonic relationships with your gender, either. I'm a lady, and I know of lesbians who aren't okay with having straight female friends (and not just in the "I don't want to have to hear about their boyfriends" sense), and that's a huge turnoff for me. I don't want to date anyone who wouldn't want to be friends with me if we weren't sleeping together.

      Delete
  31. You like who you are when you're around them.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I certainly hope that people don't take this list as a checklist of qualifications... more like things that if you see them, you go "aha"! and get a little more excited about your date, imo.

    Some of mine would include...

    - Interested in entering into my world of friends, hobbies, etc.

    - Has some friends who I like (it doesn't have to be everyone, but it's nice if they have some people who strike me as simpatico)

    ReplyDelete
  33. If you want a good serious relationship (as in moving towards commitment or marriage), I think one of the most important green flags is if they are willing to talk about the mundane stuff that makes up 90%+ of day to day living. I'm talking about things like division of labor in the relationship, what do you want long-term out of life (including how to get there from here) and similar topics.

    This can include things like laundry detergent preferences, who mows the lawn or patches the drywall, or will she drive when they go out together, but does NOT include the funfunsexytimes talks (although this IS a HUGE flag as well - if you don't discuss these, one of you will almost certainly be unhappy).

    ReplyDelete
  34. My big green flag was when I wasn't ready for a relationship and he took it as me not being ready for a relationship, and not as me personally rejecting him, and he was mature enough to be okay with that.

    ReplyDelete
  35. My biggest green flag with the person I'm with now (and planning on marrying) is that he doesn't love me in spite of the problems I have (my mental health is somewhat messy) but loves me because they make me part of who I am...if that makes sense.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I like this a lot. The problem with red flags is you can always find negative when you're looking for negative: I'm a generally paranoid person who often thinks that things which are intended to be harmless are actually insults driven at him. This is largely because (and this is an explanation, not an excuse, please learn the difference) when I was growing up the vast majority of my family was emotionally abusive even going so far as to insist that the physical abuse I sustained must have just been me asking for attention or because I wanted more video game time.

    As a result I tend to look for the worst in people by default. Were you terse in disagreeing with me? Clearly you're insinuating that I'm stupid and you're not willing to listen to me. Did I make a mistake and break your favorite dish because it slipped out of my hands? Obviously you're going to react like I hate you and yell at me for an hour.

    I mean hell, "You can be so weird sometimes" can be viewed as either an insult or a compliment depending on how you are feeling at the time.

    Plus it's annoying to read red-flag lists: "Does he yell sometimes?" Well yes. I yell at the TV when the refs make a bad call, I yell at my computer when the game I'm playing goes the wrong way. "Does he get angry easily?" About some things, yes. I get angry when I feel like people don't respect my opinions. I get angry when I feel like people are ignoring what I'm trying to say in favor of what they want to believe I'm saying. "Does he hit things?" Yeah, sometimes I like to punch a pillow or break a stick across a tree. Heck, I *love* the feeling of swinging a stick so hard against a tree trunk that it snaps in two and leaves a resonant feeling all up my arms. LOVE it. It's cathartic.

    Some of the worst are, "Does he come from a rich family he doesn't want you to meet and hide his richness?" That one's especially annoying. Yes, my family is rich. I hide it because a) I'm not rich and b) they're racist homophobes down to the last person. Yes, I still think they're good people (generally) they just have their heads up their asses about certain things. I don't want you to meet them because it's difficult to explain to someone why "They don't respect who you are but at the end of the day they're very generous."

    Honestly the reason I hate the "red flag" lists more than anything is because they paint a black-and-white picture of human beings... which isn't fair. "He hit me on the arm and that's not ok." Maybe he thought it was ok and funny and as soon as you say "That's not ok to me" it's not ok around you. My friends say homophobic, misogynistic, and racist crap all the time. We tell dead baby jokes and rape jokes and make sexual come ons to each other and from the outside it looks like we're horrific and evil people that no one would ever want to be around, but the first time anyone says "Hey that kind of talk makes me uncomfortable" the general consensus is immediately "Then we will not speak/behave like that when you are around us."

    Hell at work the way we communicate is very much something that most people would consider sexual harassment, but *we're* ok with it. If we weren't we all know we can just say "I wish you wouldn't talk like that" or "that makes me uncomfortable" and people will stop.

    TL/DR: Yay for green-flag lists, boo for red-flag lists. Yay for pervocracy. Boo for Boy Scouts of America.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HAHAHAH, you know what? If your friends only make homophobic, misogynistic and racist jokes when people who object aren't around? They're *still* horrible people.

      Delete
    2. Sorry dude, but if somebody needs to be told that it isn't funny to hit people, and that somebody is over the age of 6, I still don't want to hang out with them.

      And if somebody only makes misogynistic, homophobic and racist jokes behind my back... I still don't want to hang out with them.

      This isn't rocket surgery dude.

      Delete
    3. "Does he hit things?" Yeah, sometimes I like to punch a pillow or break a stick across a tree. Heck, I *love* the feeling of swinging a stick so hard against a tree trunk that it snaps in two and leaves a resonant feeling all up my arms.
      Context matters here. If you're whapping sticks against trees just idly for fun, or doing it alone to get out some tension, more power to ya.

      If you're in the middle of an argument with your significant other and to show them how angry and out-of-control you are, you loudly slam a stick into a tree, NOT OKAY. That's what's generally meant by hitting things.

      "He hit me on the arm and that's not ok." Maybe he thought it was ok and funny and as soon as you say "That's not ok to me" it's not ok around you.
      If someone needs to be told not to hit me after they've already done it, I don't want to know what else they'll do until I specifically tell them not to. Causing someone else physical pain should not a "I'll assume you like it unless you stop me" thing.

      Ditto for homophobic/racist/misogynist jokes.

      Delete
    4. The problem with your arrangement at work is that it may not be obvious to another person that it is ok to speak up about what is happening, or that when they are triggered they are unable to speak up about it, or that it may be difficult to tell you it's not ok when it used to be ok.

      Delete
    5. superglucose, your philosophy seems to be that it's OK to do shit that hurts other people as long as you don't MEAN to be a jerk, and as long as you stop doing it (at least where they can hear it) if they speak up. Do you....really not see the problem here?

      Green flag: considers the effects of their actions on others, and doesn't immediately assume it's OK to do whatever they like as long as they're not told to cut it out.

      Delete
    6. "He hit me on the arm and that's not ok." Um...we're not talking about the "Oh, you!" playful slug where you barely touch someone with your fist and it doesn't hurt at all. We're talking about actual hitting. Like, the kind that stings when it happens. That is never ok under any circumstances.

      I'd even lay off the not-really-hitting type fist touch until I know someone well enough to judge their reaction.

      Ditto the dead-baby thing. If you don't already have an idea how a potentially harmful or offensive behavior will be received, don't do it.

      Delete
  37. This is over-all REALLY apt, and something so many people I know would benefit from taking into account. Saved for future reference.
    I'd like to say though, as a depressed person, I find it very hard to have a ' rich life' in general, and I don't think that makes me a bad partner.. I guess you put that in because it means somebody might be likely to be clingy or possessive or something?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey I'm dealing with depression too, and I know what you mean. The hardest things are when my partner has a ton of stuff to talk about, and I'm like "... I managed to get out of bed and cook a meal today?" He is very understanding and can deal with that, but I can see where others might pigeonhole me as boring or one-dimensional due to that.

      It's not easy, but there are people out there who will understand. Just because we are having a hard time, doesn't mean we are bad partners. Our lives are rich too even if maybe day for day we don't have as much going on :)

      Delete
    2. I really didn't mean these to be all "absolutely must have" qualifiers. They're just good signs. No one's going to have all of them.

      Delete
  38. I just left an identical comment over at Captain Awkward, but I think it bears mentioning twice:

    Green flag: You have a similar sense of humour. Sure, you're not going to laugh at all the same things, 'cause you're different people, but if you find yourselves laughing at a lot of the same stuff, it's a good sign.

    This is important because if you're in for the long haul, you'll want to be able to joke with each other. Laughter is one of the best stress-leavening techniques.

    ReplyDelete
  39. The moment on my boyfriend and my first date that was HOLY-COW-HE'S-AWESOME was when we were joking about tampons and he was not fazed at all.

    Green flag that made me want him as my boyfriend? He came to my 21st birthday party and had a little too much to drink because he was nervous. The next day he texted me and apologized for being so drunk. The next date we had he apologized AGAIN. That was actually the first time I had a guy I was dating apologize for drinking too much and all of my exes loved drinking.

    ReplyDelete
  40. The biggest Green Flag there is *for me personally* - they indicate they are interested in me as a person, not just for sex. Not pressuring, talking about other
    subjects without bringing everything back to sex.

    Related, it's a major green flag for me if a guy has lots of platonic female friends - shows he values women as people, not sex objects.

    Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It also shows that he isn't one of those guys who believe that men and women "can't" be friends.

      Delete
  41. Some of my Green Flags:

    - They are consistently nice and helpful to strangers, and not just to attractive strangers of their preferred gender(s).

    - Going along with that, they treat service industry employees like their equals, even if their job is higher-paying and/or more prestigious.

    - They are neither a sore loser nor an obnoxious winner, and, in particular, have no hang-ups about sometimes losing games to members of the opposite gender.

    - If they have pets, they take good care of them and treat them with love. (Ditto for "if they have kids.")

    - If you say anything to the effect of, "This thing you did bothered me," their first reaction is to apologize, not to try to explain why you shouldn't have been bothered.

    - They do little things that are nice for you without having to be asked, just because they like making you happy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. - If you say anything to the effect of, "This thing you did bothered me," their first reaction is to apologize, not to try to explain why you shouldn't have been bothered.


      I was just about to write this. Bonus points if they actually change their behavior.

      Delete
    2. "You choosing to spend time with your dying mother rather than help me pick a dress bothered me..."

      Honestly, if you think somebody should automatically apologise for _anything_ that bothers you regardless of what it is, you are suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. RLY

      Delete
    3. Whoa there, pardner. We don't use legitimate psychiatric diagnoses as handy synonyms for "poophead" around these parts.

      Preferably, we also don't use a reductio ad absurdum on a goddamn hair-trigger like that.

      Delete
  42. - They're willing to apologize and take responsibility when they've done something to upset you, even if that wasn't their intention.

    - You don't have to have the same opinion about everything. They think flipflops are an abomination but you love them? No biggie. Also no endless teasing until you just stop wearing flipflops when they're around because it easier that way.

    - They're respectful of your friends and family, even the ones they dislike. Because you like them and they don't want to put you in an uncomfortable position.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Just want to point out that all these things apply to non-sexual relationships too! Friends are every bit as important as lovers, and should be a positive (not neutral) influence on your life. I can't count how many people I've known who kept up a relationship for the sole reason of they're-not-a-jerk.

    I'll also say that most of these green flags? If they're not true than it's not really a relationship. It's two people sitting in a room together. A relationship is about communication, give & take, sharing, and supporting. If those things aren't there then why waste your time?

    ReplyDelete
  44. Do we have to call these people "Darth Vaders"? Darth Vader was the first person i ever had a crush on. Can't we call them "Edward Cullens"?

    ReplyDelete
  45. And while we're at it, what's with the green flags? Where I come from, green flags mean M'uad Dib's Legions are approaching and your planet has already been "pacified" for the most part. These Fremen have no mercy. They appreciate the water park more than most tourists, but still. It's not a happy association.

    (I come from a middle-school library, I guess.)

    ReplyDelete
  46. .thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete
  47. To me, talking about flags means we're looking for things that signal important traits that are hard to see directly when you're first getting to know someone. We're talking about "what sort of things would be the tip of the iceberg"? Most of these actual things aren't the concern - it's the iceberg we're looking for!

    There are some green flags where the absence would be a red flag; but some are simply a small, observable demonstration of a trait that is important in a general sense.

    - Relatively early in one of my current relationships my now-boyfriend was chatting me up near my car when it was time to go home. Because of how we were standing I was blocked/boxed in by where he was standing. He noticed this, commented on it, apologized and moved. Now, I wasn't uncomfy at all, but the effort to make sure I wasn't was a big clue that he was going to actually, genuinely pay attention to consent (which is essential) AND that he had a basic level of awareness of certain kinds of privilege/feminist issues (which is an awesome and hot bonus for me).

    ReplyDelete
  48. A major green flag I encountered when I'd just started hanging out with the woman who's now my girlfriend: in conversation, I called something "lame", then immediately realised the unfortunate implications and said "no, that's ableist, I take it back". She didn't accuse me of being overly-PC, nor did she blame me for making the ableist slip-up in the first place. Instead her response was something along the lines of "Ooh, good call; I need to remember not to casually use that word too. Could we use 'ridiculous' instead?"

    ReplyDelete
  49. "I went on a date with the most wonderful guy! I don't think he'll emotionally or physically abuse me! What a catch!"

    This line cracked me up. My gentleman friend and I joke about this all the time. We both grew up in abusive homes and have been in emotional and sexually abusive relationships, and "So you think I'm awesome?", "Well, you haven't assaulted me yet, so that's something." is a common conversation.

    ...We're only a little screwed up. Cough.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha, my husband and I used to have conversations that went like:

      Me: You're so nice to me, swoon.
      Him: Ha ha ha, it's all part of my evil plan to make it so you never leave me.

      (I mean, that's literally what he'd say.) Plus a few weeks ago I was like:

      Me: I hope you're not going to divorce me soon. (joking around)
      Him: Hmm, well, I haven't gotten around to it *yet*, it's such a lot of work.

      Delete
    2. Sounds about right. =)

      Delete
  50. Ooh, I have one.

    Green flag: You would want to be friends with him/her even if dating -weren't- in the picture.

    My now-boyfriend and I first got to know each other as friends, and even before I was attracted to him as a partner, I was already attracted to him as a great person who really knew how to love and value his friends and family. And that hasn't changed in the least as we moved into a dating relationship.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Green flag: they pay attention when you talk, and later show that they were paying attention by mentioning/acting on what you said at a point when it's relevant. That can be as simple as "I made you a sandwich without mayo because you said you don't like it" to as serious as checking in with you if a movie you're watching contains something that might be triggering given history you've shared with them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Two of my exes did that. With one, it was kind of sweet, and helped to mask the not-sweet-at-all things that he did for a while. The other takes it into annoying territory by extensively researching things I express a passing interest in and presenting me with sheaves of notes next time we talk. So for me, it wouldn't be a good sign at all.

      Delete
  52. Here's one: They help you to not feel bad about the "weird" but harmless hobbies that other people always shoved in your face as "evidence" you were "regressing."

    ...I really need to talk to my father about all this instead of talking about him behind his back. But I'm terrified it will end in a shouting match, and I have a lower-than-usual tolerance for being yelled at.

    ReplyDelete
  53. I like the idea of green flags. IT helps to put the red ones in perspective.

    ReplyDelete
  54. After manufacturing some excuse for me to give him a ride home after a party (so we could make out), we ended up sitting on the curb and having an hour long conversation about gender roles first. He's assertive and manly, but is an articulately enthusiastic feminist. So. Hot.

    When we have kinky sex and I call yellow or (rarely) red, I get immediate and heartfelt praise. Every time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I feel like that sounds bad, that'd ever be calling a safe word in a new relationship, but I'll add that I'm not very experienced with kinky stuff but I have a huge desire to push my pain tolerance and play with 'consensual nonconsent' stuff, so yeah. If you're deliberately trying to hit a limit, you will probably hit it.

      Delete
    2. I think that sounds fine. If you like playing to your limits and aren't safewording sometimes, you probably either aren't actually playing to your limits, or you're not safewording when you actually want to. ANd I think that's a great green flag.

      Delete
  55. Doesn't sound bad to me at all. On the contrary. If you managed together to have safewording something normal, that's absolutely great. I think I picked that thought somewhere in this blog: If you can show your partner that you feel secure to communicate what you don't like, he/she can really believe you when you say that you do like something. At least for me, someone who is safewording me often would be a great partner to play with.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was meant as a reply to "Elle".

      Delete
  56. They realize that sometimes my kinks are coping mechanisms and not at the moment explicitly related to sex. If that's the case, we communicate about how to safely partake in them, and recognizing when communication is too hard to safely partake in a kink that could be extremely comforting. If they also have nonsexual kinks we repeat this process.

    Example: "Hey, I am going to do a cognitive reboot, you may pet my hair because this is a comfortable physical gesture, but no other physical contact. We will have to hold off talking about stressful things afterwards for a little while as I re-calibrate".

    ReplyDelete