Recognizing Relationship Red and Green Flags

How do you know if your relationship is good? Sometimes it’s hard to look in from the outside and really assess what’s going on and whether or not it’s healthy. So, let’s take a look at some relationship red and green flags and why they matter.

Red Flags

Here are a few red flags to look for

  • Comes on too strong and pushes for quick involvement.
  • Jealousy of anyone else you know, even close friends and family.
  • Calls constantly or visits unexpectedly; prevents you from going to work or socializing because “you might meet someone.”
  • Controlling behavior with money, with your time, and may insist that you ask permission to do the smallest errand or visit with friends and family.
  • Expects you to be the perfect partner and meet his or her every need, which is completely unrealistic.
  • Tries to cut you off from family and friends and tries to vilify them to you.
  • Cruelty to animals or children. This includes overly harsh corporal punishment and emotional and mental cruelty.
  • Throws you down, chokes you, or holds you down against your will during sex.
  • Constantly criticizes or says cruel, hurtful things, humiliates, and calls you names. This is verbal abuse.
  • Expects you to serve, obey, and stay home.
  • Switches from nice to mean in minutes.
  • Admits to hitting a partner in the past but says the person “made” them do it.
  • Says things like, “I’ll break your neck,” or “I’ll kill you,” and then dismisses them with, “I didn’t really mean it.”

If you encounter any of these red flags at any point in a relationship, it may be time to seek help and extricate yourself.

Green Flags

Now let’s look at the other side of the coin. Good relationships do exist and there are a few green flags that let you know a relationship is or has the potential to be healthy.

  • Using we language. When more statements use “we” instead of “I”, that can be a great sign. Thinking about the other person in the relationship and involving them in plans shows a sense of partnership and friendship. It means the other person isn’t completely self-absorbed, narcissistic, or afraid of moving forward.
  • There are very few awkward silences and when there is silence, it’s comfortable. When we’re in a new relationship, we tend to find distractions to brush off the awkward silence. Not talking should feel as safe as talking.
  • Making an effort. Relationships are only as strong as the effort we put into them.
  • Respecting your time alone. Someone who is comfortable with themselves won’t be threatened when you need some alone time, whatever the reason.
  • Consistency is a key green light. Consistency begets predictability and reliability and a little predictability in a relationship/partnership shows trust and investment. If they message you every day for a week but then ghost you for the entire next month, they are clearly neither consistent nor reliable.

Here are a few more green flags to look for:

  • Patience
  • Flexibility
  • Calm conflict resolution
  • Reciprocity
  • Empathy
  • Clear communication
  • Honesty

It can be hard to know what to look for in a relationship, especially if you’ve suffered past relationship trauma. Trusting your instincts and using these guidelines can go a long way in keeping you safe and helping you find a fulfilling, respectful, loving partnership.


The Greene County Family Justice Center is a non-profit collaborative of local agencies offering comprehensive services to survivors of domestic, sexual, and family violence. Our services are trauma-informed, survivor-centered, and we welcome survivors at any point in their process. We partner with local non-profit service providers as well as local law enforcement, the Prosecutor’s office, and Children’s Division to make victim services more accessible and completely voluntary. If you do not want to participate in the criminal justice process, we support you.

Our vision is a future where we all work together to meet the needs of domestic violence and human trafficking survivors through comprehensive and accessible services, education, and perpetrator accountability. Through a coordinated framework and co-located response, we strive to break the vicious generational cycle and community impact of domestic violence and resulting victimizations.

We can help you plan for your safety whether you plan to stay in the relationship, or you are actively trying to escape. All our services are free, confidential and survivor centered. Have questions about what services are available? Visit us at 1418 E. Pythian Street or give us a call at 417-874-2600. We are open 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM, Monday through Friday. For after-hours assistance, call the Harmony House/Victim Center’s 24-hour safe line at 417-864-SAFE (7233). If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.