Okay, so you understand red flags, negative traits, green flags, positive traits.
You’ve just met the person. Initially, they do something that sets off your spidey senses. They showed up late to your first date, come on! After that, though, they never show up late again and you live happily ever after. Red flag averted.
Okay, not really. But they mostly show up on time. Like a regular human being amount of times.
Or you seek out a green flag. You’re pretty sure you know that it was just a flag, because their pattern of behavior did not match the initial green flag that attracted you.
But what if you don’t know? How do you know if something is just a green flag, or the actual desired behavior? How do you know if it’s real or an illusion?
That’s it. Sorry. I hope you weren’t expecting more. Eventually, like red flags, green flags will prove themselves. Nobody can keep up a lie forever, whether through lack of ability or lack of caring.
Because people just don’t care enough to put in the effort required to fake it long term. Nobody is going to be kind, loving, supportive for years only to one day go, “Hah! I lied! I faked it this entire time, just to make you suffer that much worse in the end!” They might fake it for a short time, but the signs, the countering red flags, come out pretty quickly.
We pretend they don’t exist, of course, because it stinks to admit we’ve wasted our time on someone. We cling to the original green flags, because of course we want to believe the best. But…the slips happen. And they keep happening until we can no longer ignore them.
How do you know when it’s been “long enough to know”?
You don’t. I know, that’s not what you wanted to hear. But you don’t. For me, I’ve found people generally can’t last through three dates. Some can last for about six months. Longer than that? Most will move on to easier prey. You might be unlucky enough to find the one, really persistent, patient abuser. If so, I…feel for you. But this is for most of us. And most predators are goddamn lazy.
This doesn’t mean that six months is the end all and be all of determining trust. But after six months, you’re perfectly warranted in saying this is beyond a green flag, but solid enough evidence for you to believe this is who the person is. Especially after a couple of years. Or ten or twenty.
If they betray you at that point, I don’t know what to say. They’re a bigger idiot than even I can imagine. Because they’ve given you more by that point than they can ever take away. You just need to not let your guilt prevent you from leaving their ass in the dust, just because of sunk costs.
Bear in mind, green flag or not, people change.
That doesn’t mean you were wrong to believe in them. Or to be with them. It might mean you need to change, too, but at some point, if you want to believe in the relationship you’ve got to let go of the “green flag mentality” and give the person your trust and vulnerability.
Sometimes you need to have faith.