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Recognizing the Green Flags of a Relationship

Can you spot the signs that your relationship will stand the test of time?


Most of us can look back on past relationships and pinpoint red flags — both small and large — that should have signaled a problem early on.

He spent your entire first date crying about his ex? Sure.

She called her mother several times a day to help her make decisions? Yes.

His music collection included six Nickelback albums? Let’s just say that last one hits close to home for me.

Green Flags and How to Spot Them

But can we also pinpoint “green flags” — signs that the person’s a keeper? A recent popular thread on Reddit asked this question, and the resounding answer was: Yes. Green flags mentioned ranged from bringing soup to a sick partner early in a relationship to communicating clearly when something isn’t working.

If you’re like a lot of us at this stage in life, you’ve already been through your share of relationships or you’re married. So I wondered: Is the secret to a lasting relationship the presence of green flags throughout the relationship — whether it’s five years or 75 years?

Have you spotted the green flags in your relationship, and when did you recognize them as green flags?

Since my aunt and uncle recently celebrated their 50-year wedding anniversary, I thought I’d ask Aunt Jane to weigh in.

“You know, we’ve had a lot of ups and downs through the years, but I think the one green flag is when you need to rely on support for one another, you can,” she said. “Often, it’s in these big moments or traumatic events — the birth of a child or the death of a parent or loved one. Those are the times that bring you closer together, because you realize you need the other to support you.”

I’ve been married to my wonderful partner for 10 years, and this idea of having each other’s backs resonates with me. It’s a variation of the typical marriage vows, but this green flag notion also suggests something more proactive and historically consistent throughout a relationship.

What about you? Have you spotted the green flags in your relationship, and when did you recognize them as green flags? Please share your response in the post below.

By Shayla Thiel Stern
Shayla is the former Director of Editorial and Content for Next Avenue at Twin Cities PBS.@shayla_stern
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