lessons on “green flags”: pt 1: when someone isn’t who you think they are

Red flags are fairly straight forward.

Things you don’t want. Things to avoid. But sometimes we see a behavior and we are sure it means something terrible- but it turns out it was only a big, old, red flag. This person wasn’t trying to isolate you (red flag of an abuser and predator); they just had social anxiety. When you confronted them, they realized their behavior and are now working on their issues.

You were worried, and rightly so, but now everything is fine.

Of course sometimes that warning turned out to be real. Sometimes that red flag was more than just a flag; but a sign of who they are.

Red flags are only warnings, remember.

Red flags aren’t always bad!  They are a sign of something bad, yes, but it could be a miscommunication or some other explanation.  Perhaps they forgot about the first date…but it turns out they had to take their dog died and they got really flustered and they are genuinely sorry…and, I mean, their dog died.  Maybe have a little sympathy here?

A red flag ≠ toxic behavior.  Toxic behavior is a continuous, proven behavior. It isn’t merely a signal. If it becomes a pattern, that goes beyond a red flag. Which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look out for red flags, but don’t let that cause you to misjudge a person.

Similarly, we seek green flags. But, sometimes, they are just flags.

While a red flag indicates a potential toxic/harmful behavior, a green flag is a sign of a wanted behavior.  Sometimes it turns into a lasting, fulfilling relationship. Which is great. Only sometimes it turns out it was only an illusion. The green flag was just that, a flag, a sign, a signal. It didn’t turn into anything real.

I am not saying you ought to be jaded, only cautious.

Just know that they can appear to be a kind, loving, intelligent person.  Perhaps they even are.  I dated a goddamn therapist trained in communication.  Good sign, right?  Only she couldn’t talk to women.  Or at least she couldn’t talk to me.

These things happen. We look for all our green flags. We hope they turn out to be genuine. But sometimes it was only a flag, not a desired trait, and that is okay, too.

Just know the difference.

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