The Green Flag Test: How to Spot a Potentially Toxic Relationship

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The thing about being in a toxic relationship is you can’t see the forest for the trees.

What I mean by that is when you first start dating someone that New Relationship Energy overwhelms you. This can make you miss some important yellow flags.

You might dismiss a moment of jealousy from your new partner or accept light verbal abuse as just kidding around.

The problem is, when we let those things go they grow into red flags later on.

And by then it’s too late.

At least that’s how it was for me. Before I even knew what was happening, I had become entangled someone else’s emotional web for years.

I was lucky the person who held my emotions for almost four years finally decided to let me go (not everyone is so fortunate). Since then, I’ve done a lot of soul searching and was determined not to get into another relationship that didn’t pass The Green Flag Test.

What’s the Green Flag Test? Well, it’s six things that should and should not happen at the start of a mentally healthy relationship. If your new person displays 4-6 of these green flags, then it’s a good idea to go forward with a serious relationship.

Check them out below:

They aren’t afraid to tell you when They’re Upset

Relationship wise, if something bothers your new beau do they tell you or do they squirrel the feelings away only to have them come out in a fight later?

People who don’t have great control over their emotional lives are going to use passive aggression, manipulation, stonewalling, and anger instead of expressing their needs. That kind of behavior is a definite red flag.

People who do have a decent handle on their emotions are going to let you know right away when you’ve crossed a line. Bonus points if they can express their concerns in a kind and gentle way and talk it out to a place where both of you are happy.

They Validate your concerns

When you tell your new love about a relationship concern do they lean into the conversation or do they dismiss it?

It’s important to notice the frequency of the behavior with this flag. Everybody gets defensive sometimes, everybody can be dismissive by accident. The red flag comes when your SO is routinely dismissive of your concerns, never wanting to engage in conflict or a difficult conversation.

The green flag is when your partner agrees that, while your concern may or may not make sense to them, that it’s valid to you. More often than not, they work with you to understand the root of the problem instead of dismissing or gas-lighting.

They are respectful towards your feelings

On that same note, an emotionally savvy partner will be respectful to your feelings.

This was one thing my ex failed miserably at. He knew things like teasing really hurt my feelings. But instead of stopping, he would intensify the teasing because he thought it was funny. Spoiler: it was not funny. Red Flag!

The green flag here is going to come when you openly express your frustrations. Instead of dismissing your feelings, they take them into consideration for next time and act accordingly.

They Listen

Great listening is a rare skill that few people actually possess. It takes work, practice, and a lot of messing up to get right.

Let’s be real, most people aren’t going to be awesome at it. But they should at the very least pay attention and be present with you when spending quality time together. Especially at the beginning of a relationship.

You can always tell the red flags on this one: they make a habit of playing on their phone at times where you should be connecting, like at dinner. They can’t seem to remember or don’t care about important details like where you’re from or your last name (yikes).

A partner who’s paying the proper attention will know a lot of your preferences as well as have a decent understanding of what makes you upset. One of my favorite expressions of this green flag is when someone knows what I’m passionate about and starts sending me articles and memes about it.

They Have Good BOundaries

Good boundaries are essential for a relationship’s overall health. That being said, during that NRE phase it’s pretty normal for boundaries to dissolve a bit. It’s just a thing that happens when the love chemicals are coursing through your brains!

The red flag happens when your paramour can’t seem to be without you. They stop spending time with their friends and get angry/jealous/extremely anxious when you need some space. That’s called co-dependency and it is not healthy.

Green flaggers recognize they have to spend time on their own and/or with other friends in order to be emotional healthy. They tend not to get jealous when you’re out there doing your own thing and if they do they 1.) don’t act on it and 2.) look inward to figure out why that bothers them instead of being upset with you.

They Look INward

And last but not least is my favorite green flag. People who are emotionally healthy are going to look inward when upset rather than expecting their partner to change to accommodate their feelings.

If your love gets mad and repeatedly demands you change your behavior to make them “less mad” – that’s not a healthy relationship; that’s a serious red flag, folks.

Partners who take a moment to consider why they’re really mad, sad, or upset are going to take the green flag in this instance. Why? Because they recognize their feelings are are not someone else’s responsibility to change. Looking inward like this helps them see more perspectives than just “i’m mad” which in turn can really aid a couple in finding a solution faster.

Wrap Up

Now here’s the part where I have to get real with you guys. Just because someone can’t pass the Green Flag Test doesn’t mean they’re a bad person.

Why do I say that?

Because there were plenty of times in my life where I wouldn’t have passed either. I’ve certainly been toxic and emotionally unstable but I wouldn’t consider myself bad. I was just… growing up; making all the natural relationship mistakes.

With that being said, I sure as heck wouldn’t have wanted to date myself during that time. Yikes!

That’s why it’s so important to be able to identify the red flags. If a person is showing them they’re just not ready to be in an emotionally stable relationship with you. For your sanity and theirs, you should let them be.

On the other hand if someone passes the Green Flag Test, then hooray! You’ve got yourself a keeper!

As someone once told me, “choose wisely” when picking a mate, especially one with marriage potential. Now that you’ve got the Green Flag Test in your relationship toolbox, you’ll be able to do just that!

Much Love,


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