The counterpoint to red flags are relationship green flags. They are signs for accelerating a relationship. What are some polyamorous green flags? What about kinky green flags?
I've come up with a few green flags I've found useful with my (albeit limited) experience dating. But first, we have to answer an obvious prerequisite: What are green flags?
What are Green Flags and Red Flags?
If you're not already familiar with red flags, they are small warnings early in a relationship that signify a larger problem with the person.
They're not pet peeves, but rather significant underlying issues that are muted as part of the impression management that goes on during early dating. If they are ignored, they can lead to discord and emotional turmoil further down the line.
Green flags are just the opposite. They're small details that show someone is compatible and dependable. With green flags you may feel comfortable accelerating a relationship.
General Relationship Green Flags
Polyamory involves a lot of one-on-one dynamics, especially when you're like me and prefer to practise parallel polyamory.
As a result you expect experienced polyam people to be well acquainted with green flags and red flags that apply to relationships in general.
Those relationships need not only be about dating, either. They can be intimate friendships for instance.
Without further ado, here's some green flags in relationships:
They can articulate. Desires, interests, feelings, boundaries, and so on are all important to learn about. If you ask and all you ever hear is "I don't know" or "I hadn't thought about that" you've got a red flag on your hands.
It's fine to not know the answer right away, so long as they try to articulate their thoughts. Even stumbling through their thoughts is better than getting a blank wall of "I don't know."
They ask you questions and are inquisitive. There's a natural flow to conversations, where you might ask one question then have it answered and returned back to you. "Hi, how are you?" to "Fine, how are you?"
Generally the answer comes with the phrase "And what about you?" It's a high sign that someone is interested in learning about you, which is a green flag. If they also spontaneously ask you questions to get to know you better, that's an even better green flag.
They are therapy positive. Being actively engaged in therapy or recently using it are good signs that they are working on themselves. The world would be better off if everyone got a little bit of therapy.
They take care of their health. Exercise, eating healthily, taking medicines, and being involved with their health practitioners are all parts of looking after themselves. The green flag is found in moderation of all of these, not going overboard or neglecting any of them.
Acknowledging wrong-doing and apologising. Being able to gracefully admit their own faults is a huge green flag. This is especially true if they learn from their behaviour and don't commit the same wrongs.
You feel comfortable voicing concerns to them. If they encourage difficult conversations and reassure you after hearing you out, that's a green flag.
However, if you bring up a problem or concern and they fly off the handle or mope or otherwise discourage honesty, that's a red flag!
They're willing to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is a huge part of communication, so much so that I wrote an article about that:
In short, you can't have open communication without being brave enough to be vulnerable. You also need the integrity to stand by your self-truths.
They have independent interests, hobbies, and friends. I'm a big believer in autonomy, hence why my D/s household is styled after a business. I don't like all-consuming relationships.
I can't fulfil my partners' every need, which is where their own network of friends and interests come in. Having a strong network is a green flag that they won't dump undue hardship on me.
Remember things you say and call back to them. It's an unpleasant feeling to realise that your words go right past someone without registering. Therefore it's super pleasing when you instead find someone engaged, who remembers things you've said in the past and relates them to your present.
Finally, Page Turner over at poly.land has this single biggest green flag: Self-control.
She posits that self-control is a form of empathy for your future self, and that detrimental impulsivity and selfishness is therefore a red flag. I quite agree!
Green Flags in Kink Relationships
Kink relationships can overlap a lot with the above flags, but there's a few green flags worth highlighting in particular.
They have boundaries. If they can't immediately tell you what their boundaries are, you'll want to push them to find their first "no." Everyone has boundaries and limits, and those that claim to have none are raising a massive red flag.
This ties into the above point about articulating. I had a dynamic with someone who had distinct boundaries, but she struggled to say what they were. It makes for perilous play, where you're never certain that you're not hitting some unmentioned limit.
They operate under a consent model of life. Not just paying lip service to consent, but they actively embrace it in all ways. For instance, they don't unilaterally decide on things that affect you. They ask for your input early and often.
They take "no" with grace. No backtalk, no arguments, no wheedling to get you to change your answer. This ties in with the above point about consent.
Treats you like an equal regardless of D/s dynamics. They want to understand your kinky nature, they listen to your desires, and they work with you to fulfil your needs.
Takes things in a slow, methodical progression. Rather than diving into the extreme stuff right away, they have a progression. For instance, first having a meetup in neutral territory to establish rapport and learn each other's kinky desires. Then gaining consent, testing out that continuing consent in play, and developing trust.
Polyamorous Green Flags
Likewise with polyamory, there are a lot of overlaps with general relationship green flags. There's a few things worth pointing out though:
Time commitments and scheduling are on point. I treasure someone's timeliness, and it goes a long way to build trust when they call forward something that they then follow through on. Keeping appointments are one such way of doing that.
It's also a total meme in the polyam community that most of polyamory is using google calendar. There's a kernel of truth to that, and someone that is disorganised to the point of double-booking or forgetting appointments is showing red flags.
Partners are still dedicated to fulfilling your needs even when they're going through New Relationship Energy (NRE). NRE can make people infatuated and love-struck negligent. It's a huge green flag if they continue to meet obligations and help with your needs even when they're going through NRE.
They respect your existing relationships, including friendships. This should be a given, but the ways the counterpart red flag can crop up are numerous. They might demand so much from you that it excludes other relationships, or they might badmouth your choice in friends, or demand that you do something with your other relationships – such as breaking up, or setting extreme "rules."
They have experience with polyamory already. Some people are simply sampling polyamory in a process of becoming, and it may not suit them. Lots of newcomers are inexperienced and will blunder into harming you. Let's not even begin to talk about the unicorn hunting that goes on...
What results is that there's a lot of reasons to avoid newcomers to polyamory. Just like there are reasons to be wary of someone who has no experience dating at all. They're an unknown that may turn out to be good, but odds are they'll make a lot of mistakes along the way.
Green flags aren't the whole of the picture, of course. Having a lot of green flags but a few red flags means that the balance is on the red flags. Red flags are more important to factor in than green flags are.
That said, a lot of these green flags have been coming up lately with my dating experience. I've been enjoying seeing all these positive signs as I learn more about my dates. It makes me optimistic again!
If you enjoyed this article, I have a more meandering one about kink and polyamory in my relationship here: