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Look for Green Flags, too

By now I think it's obvious that the modern dating landscape is a fucking jungle. I can barely keep up with the sub genres of relationships, behaviours and abbreviations because things evolve so quickly. One of the great things about us all developing a more acute sense of self awareness within dating is that we’re starting to understand ourselves and be able to articulate our needs and boundaries. However, with this efficiency comes a tendency to oversimplify and thus a hastiness to categorize. Regardless of how many definitions we dream up in order to define the variables of dating, humans are incredibly complex, ipso facto we can’t ever be relegated to boxes of “bad”, “promiscuous”, “avoidant” or “toxic”.

"Red Flags" is a clever labelling system that helps us identify potential issues when making new connections. It’s good to acknowledge any obstacles that you might be faced within dating, ahead of time. That articulation is giving rationality a seat at the table and minimising the chance of getting carried away with fantasy. However, the oversimplification of another human based on insubstantial evidence also lends itself to a tendency to be unnecessarily judgemental.

I’ve written about spotting Red Flags before so now it's time that I subvert the concept and focus on Green Flags instead. Here's four:

1. Transparency: People that tell you who they are, even if you might not like what you hear are worth listening to. Many of us masquerade when we are dating and a lot of it is for the intention of getting what we want. Pay less attention to being charmed by “the right words” and more to the facts that people give you. It’s not easy to say things like “I’m non-monogamous”, or, “I prefer to keep things casual” or “Commitment isn’t for me”, but the people that do are worth their weight in gold for the clarity that they provide you, up front.

Don’t judge everything based on looks: Fun fact, in Bali I matched with a guy on Hinge and IMMEDIATELY classified him as a walking red flag. He looked like the epitome of a fuckboy; huge, dark and covered in tattoos and piercings. In most of his photos he was partying or “looking lusty” - his words, not mine. I made an assumption based on looks alone. Of course I disregarded my expectations and met him anyway. In reality he was well spoken, had a great sense of himself and wasn’t a drug dealer with 12 kids. Yes, he parties and sleeps around yet he treated me with respect and kindness. He was also communicative and authentic. He didn’t hide who he was, nor did he pretend to be anything else.

2. They can say no: Arguably the hardest part of dating is the ambiguity that naturally accompanies it. Not knowing how someone feels about you or if they would like to see you again thrusts you into a space of anxiety (and often, insecurity). With that in mind, if someone says no to you, consider it a blessing. It’s difficult to say no when you potentially feel responsible for hurting someone, so if you’re met with a no, then understand that this is someone asserting their own boundaries. How much you take that as a rejection is up to you (and context always plays a role here) but if you’ve been met with a “No, I need some solo time tonight” or “I enjoy your company but would rather keep things casual” then respect the fact that someone has been courageous enough to share their truth and give you clarity rather than dipping out and leading you on.

3. Thoughtfulness: We all know that asking questions on dates is good manners, but there’s a difference between quizzing and being curious. When someone is inquisitive about you, your life or your passions it means that they’re wanting to understand you on a deeper level. Thoughtfulness is when curiosity comes full circle. It’s when another person remembers things about you, takes the time to learn more (without prompting) and follows up that we cross the line into thoughtfulness. Subtleties like remembering your coffee order, a bar you’d like to go to or that you had a tough presentation to give at work are all examples of thoughtfulness.

4. They’re impeccable with their word: Yes, it’s one of the Four Agreements and yes it’s a big fucking green flag. Simply put, they mean what they say and say what they mean. If they tell you they will text you tomorrow, they do it. If they say they’d like to see you again they match words with actions and make it happen. In the same breath, those people who are impeccable with their word will NOT say things they don't mean. They don't sweeten the deal by pretending to want to see you again, and although that might seem hurtful initially it will save you a lot of time and angst in the future.

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