Afternoon Inqueery

AI: Green Flags

I recently read this post from The Pervocracy, which is about the idea of “green flags.” These are sort of the opposite of “red flags,” in that they are things that can demonstrate good things about a person when you’re getting to know them. In a potential romantic relationship green flags are things that a person does that demonstrate respect, strong relationship skills, and emotional maturity.

I LOVE this idea. Instead of just focusing on red flags (things that indicate someone is dangerous, or just a bad match) it makes sense to also talk about the things that indicate positive features and respect from someone early on in getting to know them.

I like the ones listed on The Pervocracy quite a bit, but there is a big one for me that is important to me: Saying positive things about their previous relationships/ex-partners is really good. Having friendships with previous partners is even better. That shows maturity and good communication to me better than nearly anything else. It doesn’t need to be ALL of their ex-partners of course (lots of people have a terrible, immature, or abusive ex) but when someone has a long list of people they can’t stand to be in the same room with because they used to date, it worries me. Having an ex with whom there is still friendship or at least positive things to say is great.

What are your green flags for romantic relationships? What things can someone do or say in the first few dates that indicates emotional maturity and respect to you?

Previous post

QUICKIES 12/10/2012

Next post

The Gay Epi-genes?

Benny Vimes

Benny Vimes

Benny Vimes is a queer polyamorous transman, curious skeptic, and enthusiastic seeker of knowledge. He's an undergraduate student in his 30's and loves teaching people about alternative sexuality and gender issues.


  1. December 11, 2012 at 4:01 pm —

    I like this concept in some ways, but I think we have to be careful not to create unrealistic “checklists” of traits that people must have to be considered suitable to date. If there’s an emotional connection there, if you feel that *spark* or whatever you want to call it, you should feel free to explore that and see where it takes you … not spend hours stressing and fretting over the fact that they don’t have friendships with their exes, or a good relationship with their mother, or a love of dogs. Nor should we pressure ourselves to rush ahead with a new relationship just because a person *does* have those “green flags” waving: we should take it at a pace that feels natural and safe, whatever that pace may be. Relationships are scary and difficult (and wonderful) enough without over-analyzing things.

    • December 11, 2012 at 4:09 pm —

      I don’t see green flags (or red flags) as a checklist at all – but as guidelines that can help me make good decisions about relationships. There can be wonderful “spark” with someone who is dangerous, immature, or abusive. Red flags are helpful for noticing those traits when otherwise blinded by infatuation. Green flags are similar – they can help me notice great things about someone, and take them more seriously as a dating possibility.

      • December 12, 2012 at 4:43 am —

        Like I said, I do like the concept, and I think that being analytical about our emotions can be helpful (and as an abuse survivor, you had better believe I’ve got a list a mile long of “red flags” that make me stop and think about what I’m doing with a person). I just see this as something that we have to do in moderation, since the best relationships can spring up from unlikely places. While in general terms I think it’s good to say “I like it when a person has friendships with their exes”, I think we need to use caution when using that as a metric for judging a person’s worth as a partner, because a person who *doesn’t* have those friendships might not be to blame for that — there might be legitimate reasons why those ties were cut, or they might not have had a choice in the matter. The same goes for any “green flag” that you can look for (or many “red flags”, for that matter).

        I think Dae put it well with the distinction between analytical due diligence and analytical paralysis. We have to be careful not to over-quantify things.

  2. December 11, 2012 at 10:28 pm —

    I like the concept as well – my girlfriend and I had some fairly in-depth discussions (recently, in fact) about how we went from pleasant acquaintances to emotionally joined at the hip as quickly as we did, when both of us are normally inclined to caution.

    I have a few pretty big ones – self-description as a feminist early on; responding to a statement from me about my creative pursuits with multiple interested questions (I’ve found I stay closest to people I can share ideas with on such things, and quickly lose interest in those I can’t); any statement that indicates they’re a moderate to strong introvert (I need a LOT of alone time and other introverts are less likely to feel neglected because of it).

    Then there’s one that’s a bit more nebulous but has become a big deal to me thanks to misunderstandings in my last relationship: reacting positively to concepts that are ‘unnatural.’ That indicates that they’ll probably be at least okay with my heavy transhumanist bent (necessary), and usually also that they’re generally pro-science (absolutely necessary).

    Regarding ‘the spark’ mentioned in a previous comment – there’s a difference between analytical due diligence and analytical paralysis. I find it really useful to recognize what contributes to an intuitively positive reaction to someone because of what it tells me about my own values as much as what it tells me about them!

Leave a reply