A good communicator will use “I statements” and avoid blaming you for something they did, Dr. Brown says. In other words, they take responsibility for their actions. If they come home late and forget to let you know, leaving you to worry, they might say, “I’m sorry for not calling you, and I was wrong to not consider how it might have worried you” vs. “You’re too sensitive” or “You always overreact.” (In turn, you can respond with, “I understand you may have gotten sidetracked at work. Just let me know going forward so I don’t worry. I care about you and I forgive you.”)
Communication isn’t easy for some people though, especially if they grew up in a home where expressing feelings and concerns wasn’t taught or respected, says Dr. Brown. That’s why another green flag is the acknowledgment of communication struggles and a willingness to work on them.
3. They make you feel like you’re on a team—or at least like they have your back.
Although you’re separate entities with individual lives and interests, feeling like you’re on a team when you’re with someone is a great sign of a healthy pairing. “You work together and support each other, and neither person dominates decision-making,” says Dr. Green. “You collaborate to navigate life stressors, and there’s generally a feeling of equity in the relationship.”
If you come home and tell them you’ve been laid off, they comfort you as you work together to solve the issue (by, say, respectfully agreeing that they’ll pay the bulk of the bills until you find a new position). If you’ve recently started dating or it’s early in the relationship, this teamwork may be “as simple as feeling valued when you’re cooking a meal together, helping each other with routine tasks, or sharing in the responsibility of planning a weekend getaway,” says Dr. Green. The gist: You feel like they have your back and care about your needs.
4. They give you space to be yourself—and bond with other people.
No one, even people who are madly in love, should be together all the time, according to the experts we spoke to. In fact, part of loving someone is wanting them to have their own interests and goals outside of the relationship, Dr. Green says. In other words, the two-become-one cliché is actually a red flag.
An example of a green flag, on the other hand: “There’s no jealousy or resentment when you spend time with the other important people in your life, and you don’t feel guilty for taking time for yourself,” says Dr. Green. Instead of pouting or making passive-aggressive comments about your life outside the relationship—your friends, family, hobbies—someone worth your time will “enjoy seeing your growth and passion toward other people and pursuits,” says Dr. Green.
Do they encourage you to keep your standing Friday TV night with your best friend? Tell you how much they admire you for taking improv classes? Give you zero grief for canceling plans so you can support a family member? Those are all green lights—er, flags.
5. They have healthy relationships with others too.
Whether we’re talking about close friendships or family ties, having healthy connections with other people is a promising signal you should pay attention to, Rachel Riley Fancher, PsyD, licensed clinical psychologist and founder of Fancher Psychology & Assessment in Skokie, Illinois, tells SELF. This not only shows that they’re able to effectively communicate under a variety of relationship circumstances, she says, but that their entire life doesn’t revolve around you (see green flag number four). You want a partner who has other relationships and other things going on, but is willing to make space for you in their life, Dr. Fancher says.