There’s been a lot of talk in this section that I’ve engaged in regarding manipulation and what it is to communicate in healthy ways, directly, honestly and openly, while still having the right and space for your own boundaries. So here’s a list of green flags in a relationship.
Disclaimer: look for these green flags within yourself, and let your partners show up as they will. If they don’t meet your standard you have every right to terminate the relationship, but don’t make someone jump through hoops of conditions and expectations that you yourself don’t embody.
- Being able to engage in vulnerability
Unless you have the ability to be vulnerable with others, you won’t feel heard, seen and understood because you won’t be able to share the things that truly matter.
What vulnerability is: Sharing feelings and emotions preferably using ‘I statements’ such as ‘I feel heard/hurt’, not ‘You make me feel xyz’.
What vulnerability isn’t: it is NOT needing to share every single emotion you have with your SO, it is NOT making your SO responsible for all your emotions and wellbeing. It is NOT expecting your SO to never trigger your emotions that stem from your past experiences and family dynamic.
- Respecting the free will of your partner
Great example of this is just informing and asking your partner’s permission when making choices that affect them and the relationship. Such as if you’re booking a vacation for you and your SO, and for some reason you dislike the food that they serve in the hotel, before you buy the option that excludes food (breakfast, dinner and what not) you run it by your partner and ask their preferences and reach a compromise, just to make sure they have a say in the matter.
It’s never an option to assume that you know better than your partner and so it’s okay to make a choice ‘for them’. It’s always extraordinarily important to run it by them.
-Having a good relationship with space and closeness between the two of you
Some people are overly focused on closeness and terrified of space - because space may represent an option for your partner to cheat, abandon or betray you. Closeness is important but only when you have the space necessary to process all that you’ve experienced in the moments of closeness.
In the same way, individuals who are afraid of being smothered, taken advantage of, and neglected may be terrified of closeness and need copious amounts of space to preserve their own autonomy that they on some level feel like is being threatened. Here’s the hiccup - If you’re in a relationship and need unhealthy amounts of space, you will never have enough of it, because the very thing that is giving you space (your partner) is the thing that you need space away from, and so it’s more about making peace and regulating yourself within closeness, rather than escaping and running away towards your own space. It’s not that you can’t have space, but not at the expense of the intimacy that is the very building block of your relationship.
-Having the ability to get curious when your partner acts out
Let’s say your SO gets triggered, fails to show up or makes you feel miserable. Before jumping to conclusions how horrible of a partner they are, can you actually get curious ? Such as, oh wow I feel like shit about this, okay let’s regulate my feelings first and then inquire about your partners behaviour - ‘Hey what you did was a big deal to me and I feel like I need to know what your motivation and thought process were in order for both of us to be able to work through it together.’ - this can be done without blame and still with the option of holding your partner accountable. - This shouldn’t be applied to rationalise and enable toxic behaviour.
En example of this NOT happening is your SO breaking a promise such as not picking you up from work, and you giving them a silent treatment as a punishment - again, that’s manipulation.
-Being able to ask for what you need
We all have emotional needs. If you feel unseen, Unheard, sad, lonely it’s always okay and needed to ask for some quality time from your partner. They don’t have to show up 100% of the time, but just in the act of asking for what you want, and seeing your partners response, intimacy is deepened.
- Equal accountability
It’s fairly simple. Take responsibility for your own traumas and neuroses, not for your partner’s. While it’s always important to be open and kind towards an SO, it’s never reasonable to be an enabler to toxic tendencies, to allow yourself to be a doormat to abusive, neglectful or abrasive behaviour, and to have the right to set strict and absolute boundaries around things that hurt the integrity of your relationship, and you as a person.