By Stella Ladikos. Mental Health Educator and Advocate.

Let’s talk about the dating pool. Sometimes it can seem like shallow waters out there. But maybe if we shift our perspective and start looking through green coloured goggles rather than red, we may have more luck.

Think about it. How many times have you seen a blog, magazine article or socials post about relationship red flags?

Too many to count, right?!

But why don’t we flip the switch? Let’s shift our focus from constantly looking for red flags. 

Now, don’t get me wrong – it’s not a bad thing to keep an eye out for red flags; they’re important too! But what if we start watching for green flags and think about the things we should be actively looking out for?!

Green flags – what are they? They’re those things that you can quickly pick up on when you’re first meeting someone that give an indication that this could be a good fit. That’s not to say that spotting these green flags means you’ve met the one – but it could tell you that your time together (however long lasting) will be fun and less mentally taxing.

Alright, so what are we looking for?

Green flag number one:

This is the most important: you can be your authentic self around them. I’m not saying you need to be 1000% comfortable with them from the first date, but you should feel free to be yourself. The key is that the person should allow you the space to be who you are, quirks and all. And you should feel safe and secure enough with them to do that.

Green flag number two:

They seem genuinely interested in you. Sure, if they initiated a first date, they probably have some interest in you anyway. But it’s a big green flag when the conversation includes and features both of you, and they show a real interest in your life and hobbies. You want that first date dance of a conversation to be about both of you, and you’re actually able to get a word in.

Green flag number three:

They respect you, your space and your boundaries. This includes both when you need your ‘me time’ and how they treat you in the sexual arena. Of course, this goes without saying, it’s a huge green flag if they respect your body as it is, and they respect your limits, your pace, and what you’re comfortable with in the bedroom (or wherever you do it 😉).

Green flag number four: 

They actually listen to you! And not just listening so that they can give a response or talk about themself, but genuine, authentic listening. Not only does this make your conversation and connection better, but it helps assure you that they can be with you in a non-transactional way. 

Green flag number five:

They’re able to compromise. If it’s the person’s very first romantic relationship, they may need a bit of time and practice to get this right, but it’s always a good sign if they have the ability to bend and flex, and meet you in the middle.

Green flag number six: 

Your values align. Now, I’m not saying they need to be a clone of you, but trust me, a relationship is 10000 times easier on your mental health when you share similar values with the person you’re dating. This might not be a first date kind of question to ask point-blank, but you can begin to perceive their values pretty quickly through what they say and how they act.

Bonus green flag:

They go to therapy! I know this might sound like a really weird flex, but someone being in therapy doesn’t mean they’re “crazy” (please never ever use that word to describe someone!) or that there is something necessarily wrong with them. If someone is in therapy, what that says to me is: “I’m working on myself and open to exploring how I can be the best version of me, so that I’m also better for my partner”. And that’s one big, raging green flag to me!

What are some of your dating green flags? 

I know that dating isn’t always straightforward, but give this approach a go on your next first date – you may be surprised at what happens!

Stella is a Mental Health Educator and Advocate, and Founder of Meraki Mental Health Training.