10 Green Flags To Look For In Your Next Relationship

They're overbearingly clingy, they detest "Grey's Anatomy" and your beloved calathea plant, and they have a kooky science behind why they only shower once every two weeks. All are typical red flags we may discover when dating someone new, but why aren't we focusing on flags of other colors? When discovering fresh perspectives about a blossoming romance and whether it will play out, many of us tend to focus on the negative instead of looking at some high-key factors that will determine our compatibility with someone.

"For many people, their default mode is to scan for red flags in relationships," explains Kelly E. Green, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychology at St. Edward's University, to Self. "We're conditioned to look out for danger more than safety in most areas of our lives." Of course, it's always important to stay aware and keep your eye open for signs of toxicity in a partner. But by nitpicking all of their bad traits, we may be missing out on someone who could be great for us.

According to Marriage.com, green flags are all the signs you should be looking for in someone to figure out their potential for long-term companionship. The one you met on Tinder with a personal disdain towards Meredith Grey? Don't be so quick to swipe left; they may very well have some amazing qualities that will have you sailing your way into the healthiest relationship of your life. If you think you can look past their taste in television shows, let's dive further into some of the most important green flags to keep an eye out for in your next relationship.

There's open communication

"I love you more than anything else I've ever loved. "You're the most beautiful being in the galaxy." "I think of you every moment of every day." Sure, dwelling on those whispers of sweet nothings at the beginning of a relationship is fun. But at the end of the day, that's all those phrases really are — fun. Genuine, real communication with your partner takes a lot of patience, skill, and effort. In fact, Forbes Health notes that good communication is actually the number one factor in sustaining a relationship.

"The extent to which each partner is skilled at expressing themselves, their needs, and their preferences is the greatest indicator of the health and fulfillment of the relationship," Dr. Darcy Sterling, a New York-based licensed clinical social worker and host of E! Network's "Famously Single," tells Forbes Health. "Every relationship requires communication — and the quality of that communication is a predictor of how fulfilling the relationship is for both people."

So, what are some ways to ensure communication is where it should be in a relationship? When your trust is at its highest, you feel supported and safe, you stray from misunderstandings, your mood is uplifted, and you feel respected and heard are all great ways to gauge if you and your partner communicate efficiently (via Our Relationship). Furthermore, the best part of communication is that it's a skill that can be learned, so even if you or your partner are a little rusty in this area, there are many ways to improve.

They respect boundaries

Reflecting back on our hormonal, awkward teenage selves, many of us find the way we acted in our first relationships pretty cringe-worthy. Blowing up his phone until he answered, getting protective and jealous when she wore that pretty dress, arguing over whether Friday night should be spent with his Football buddies or you. Who's to blame us at that age, though? Our heads are oozing with personal insecurities and self-doubt. After a time, most of us should have gained the maturity to leave those trivial relationship insecurities in the high school halls. Unfortunately, however, that's not always the case and boundaries in adult partnerships are not always met.

According to Keir Brady Counseling Services, healthy boundaries can be described as "limits that you put in place to protect your well-being." Your physical, emotional, sexual, intellectual, and financial boundaries are the most important aspects of your life that deserve your sacred time and space. No matter how long we've been with a person, boundaries are an essential element to mental and physical safety.

"Anything that limits a person's options is an unhealthy boundary," James Preece, a dating coach and the author of "The Five Rules of Dating in the New Normal," shares with PsychCentral. "It could be around time, the way they act, even the way they dress." Moreover, in order to instill boundaries in a relationship, it's best to do so early on. The easiest way to do this is through open communication. If your partner is receptive to the space you need and respects your desires, you've found yourself a mentally receptive person.

They know what they want

You've been dating someone for a few months now, and things are going better than you could have imagined. You've met their parents, you think of their labradoodle as your adopted son, and your Pinterest engagement ring board is fuller than ever. You decide this is the perfect time to ask them where they see your relationship headed, only for them to reply, "I'm actually not too sure right now; I'm not really ready for a relationship. But I want to keep seeing you, of course!" What gives? This example is the classic tell-tale sign of someone confused about what they want. It could be likely that they aren't fully committed to your relationship but would like to reap the benefits at the same time.

One thing that's for certain is that the right person for you will know exactly how they want to proceed with you. As noted by Marriage.com, a person who truly knows what they want will stick to just that. They'll have the communication skills to express what they desire and need and won't fear being brutally honest about it. They have a single goal in mind and won't waste time trying to figure out if you're part of that goal or not. If you're not, they'll simply move on instead of stringing you along.

Many people end up with partners they aren't truly happy with, per Up Journey. They don't take the time to think about their own endeavors, values, or what went wrong in their previous relationships. If you've found yourself seeing someone who can reply with something more than just "someone nice" upon being asked what they want in a partnership, you've won in this category.

They're always looking to better themselves

If you spent the majority of your last relationship thinking of all the things you wish your partner would change about themselves, it's probably best that things didn't work out. Relationships should be a space for growing together, but if your partner doesn't show any interest in giving you the best version of themselves they can possibly be, they may not be worth your time and effort.

In the words of Mark Manson, "No, you can't make a person change." According to the New York Times bestselling personal development author, forcing someone to change in order to benefit you is actually a form of manipulation. You can inspire and encourage someone to change, but the act of trying to make it happen will cause nothing but tension in your relationship. The best way to avoid this? Finding a partner who is self-aware and always looking to become better on their own — without you pushing them and their boundaries.

Your lover's pathway to change doesn't have to be a solo journey, however. Psychology Today discloses that incorporating yourself in their visions of a better future can benefit your relationship. Filling in the gaps with certain skills you have but your partner is lacking, highlighting their strengths verbally, planning goals together, providing your partner with a sense of self-awareness they may have overlooked in the past, and being stable enough in your own life to provide them with a safe haven can all further guide your significant other towards the success they desire.

You feel safe with them

When we picture our dream homes, most of us imagine a place with all of our favorite things — our most beloved scented candles, calming plants, and paintings or artwork that all bring harmony to our hearts. The reason that objects we love come to mind first is because, subconsciously, these are the things that make us feel safe. Just like our dreamhouse loaded up with all the best memorabilia, our relationship should function similarly. Your partner should contain all of those amazing aspects that make you feel at home and safe.

In fact, Lisa Arends, the author of "Lessons From the End of a Marriage" and a blog of the same name, explains that if safety is not met inside your relationship, your focus will actually shift to "protection" rather than "connection" with the other person. Relationship safety is often something that is often misunderstood as well; feeling safe in the walls of love can mean anything from knowing what to expect day to day from your significant other, all the way to being able to fully express all parts of yourself without ever having to hide.

Amy McManus, a licensed marriage and family therapist, adds on Arends' discoveries, saying, "If you feel emotionally safe in your relationship, you are able to express your emotions without fear of being ridiculed or shamed" (via Bustle). "You may not be fully understood, but you will be listened to and you will feel heard."

They have their own hobbies and interests outside of you

Imagine you've had a very dear friend for the good part of nine years, and your "thing" with her over those great years was meeting at Starbucks once a month on a Friday to discuss a book you both chose to read. Suddenly, however, she starts seeing a new guy and inviting him to your monthly book meetings. It's a little, well, annoying, especially because this guy doesn't even like to read. It seems like his personality is totally void and he lacks all interests outside of activities planned with your friend. Sounds pretty unhealthy, right?

While it's great that your friend found love and wants to incorporate him into her life, by doing that too often and too much she's actually losing part of herself in the process (via Marriage.com). "It's very important for people to retain their own identity in a romantic relationship and not lose themselves," licensed clinical and forensic neuropsychologist Judy Ho tells The Knot. "When one loses their identity in a relationship, it completely changes the relationship dynamic, which can actually be detrimental to a satisfying relationship for both partners."

So, what should a healthy version of this look like? "You have your own friends, hobbies, and work, and you don't rely on your partner to fulfill your every need," Ho says. By finding an independent partner, you're finding someone with self-respect who's also their own person and will let you be your own person as well.

They're stable

Arguments in the heat of passion. Ups and downs fast enough to give you whiplash. A lover with a mysterious, dark past. These are all great themes if you're reading the latest hot romance novel that dropped last week, but let's save this stuff for the bookshelves. A stable and, most importantly, healthy relationship doesn't involve any of the turbulence you may find written in books solely for our entertainment. For some reason, there are a lot of us out there that are attracted to toxicity. It keeps things fun, right? Not so much.

"Happy couples that stay together experience five good moments for every one tough moment," relationship and life coach Keren Eldad shares with Bustle. This is called the 5-to-1 ratio in a relationship. So, if you're experiencing the opposite — only one happy moment for every five terrible, rocky moments — you may not be in a healthy partnership. Expanding on this, personal and professional coach Laura Hugill adds that when "expectations are clear and agreed upon, and — especially in conflict — there is a mutual trust that the intention of the other is always in service of the strength of the partnership," stability is present (via The Knot).

Stability comes in the form of your partner as an individual, too. Everyone goes through rough patches, but when these habits become a pattern, it can mean trouble for a relationship. Instead, look for someone who is independent, financially and mentally secure, and knows what they want and how to get it.

They treat others well

You're on a first date at a restaurant, and everything is going amazing: the divine food, the smooth ambiance, the rolling river of conversation. Your date is laying down the moves with some sexy flirting and compliments; they even pulled your chair out for you when you arrived. However, every time the waitress comes over, your date paints quite a different picture of themself. They're extremely rude and impatient with her, dismissing her every chance they get. How is it that the kindness they're extending towards you is flowing like notes in a symphony, but they can't harmonize the act with some basic couth towards the waitress?

True colors are a real thing. In the beginning stages of a relationship, a lot of us tend to mask them in order to impress the other person. Don't worry, though. There are plenty of cues and clues that we can pick up on in order to peer into the characters of our counterparts. One of those inconspicuous hints is how they treat other people, per Creative Healthy Family. If they show gratitude, manners, respect, and dignity towards others — no matter who they are — it's a great sign that they'll treat you with those same gestures.

In fact, an even greater indicator of how this person will treat you is how your partner treats their parents (via PreEngaged). For example, if a man treats his mother with disrespect, it's likely that he will mirror this towards a significant other. If a woman treats her father as her personal money machine and continuously "whines" or "complains" about him, she's likely to eventually show these true colors in a relationship as well.

The relationship moves at a good pace for each person

Some couples meet one night and the rest is history. The next thing you know, they're moving in together the following week. Others follow the old "slow and steady wins the race" lifestyle and prefer to savor the getting-to-know-you phase. Nothing is wrong with either, but the point is that no matter what timeline you and your partner are on, it needs to be one that is mutually decided upon. If you're ready for him to meet your family but he isn't, or if she wants to put the "Facebook official" label up and you haven't reached that state, then the two of you may be on different pages.

"Every couple has a different pace, this is not a one-size-fits-all situation," Tina Wilson, a dating expert and creator of the Wingman app, tells Bustle. "As long as the couple is aligned in terms of timing and expectations, it's all good." Furthermore, according to One Love, even if you and your partner may be finding yourselves pacing things at different levels, there are ways you can communicate your thoughts to ensure you guys are moving at a speed comfortable for each of you. Whether you've been together for four weeks or four months, as long as neither of you feels rushed or held back, you're good to go.

They stick to their word

Along with the whisperings of sweet nothings, the earliest phases of a relationship can hear a lot of words with big promises — promises that will either make or break the partnership. Do they call you at 7 when they said they were going to, or do you not hear from them until 10, followed by some lame excuse about how their Christmas tree fell over? Do they actually bring you to that new show in town that they promised they would get tickets for, or do they text you the night after the event saying they forgot? Not only does continuously not following through with their words magnify the type of person they are but it also signifies how important you are — or aren't — to them.

In fact, Rolling Stone declares that honesty and always following through with your word are the cornerstones of respect. Why? Whether in a relationship or just in general, sticking by what you say can make another person feel wanted, appreciated, important, and most of all, loved. While forgetting to call someone on time may have little to no effect on you, it may be a detrimental feeling to the person on the other end of the line. Thus, when your significant other is following through with everything they say, they're non-verbally communicating just how much you mean to them (via The Times of India).