By Morgan Winder – – –

It is not uncommon to see red and green flag emojis on all your social media platforms while scrolling through your feed. What do those red and green flags mean and what do they mean when thinking about romantic relationships? Each of those flags are considered warning signs in the start of our romantic relationships, those signs can either indicate unhealthy or healthy patterns. These patterns will continue to play out in those relationships, which is why there is so much insistence to identify these flags early on. This can feel overwhelming to have to identify these warning signs at the start of getting to know someone. The process of getting to know someone can be exciting and sometimes our brain does not want to identify any negative patterns that we are seeing, as well as feeling. The first helpful step is to be aware of what these red and green flags are, which will ultimately help you identify these behaviors early on.

Let’s break down red and green flags and identify ways we can spot these out in our relationships.

Red Flag: Controlling behaviors / Unpredictable behaviors

Controlling behaviors in a partner can be scary and manipulative. Ways a partner can control our behaviors are by demanding social media passwords, phone passwords, control what you can and cannot post. In addition, attempt to control who we spend time with, what we wear and additionally, how we act. Their behaviors can also feel unpredictable and intimidating at times which leaves us feeling worried and scared.

Green flag: Respects privacy & Trusts your decision making 

Respecting privacy and trust are a key part of creating a foundation for healthy relationships. Having our own privacy and having a partner trust our decision making is essential to feel safe, comfortable and feel like the best version of ourselves in relationships.

Red Flag: Lack of Communication

Lack of communication can appear in many different forms. Does this person leave you on “read” or leave you on “open.” Lack of communication can also appear as not following through with plans as well as not putting energy toward communicating with you.

Green flag: Follows through, direct communication & Has consistent communication  

Consistent communication is engaging with someone who you don’t have to question if they will answer, if they will follow through on plans and will be direct with you. If you constantly feel confused on where they stand and if they will respond, this person is likely not communicating in a way that can support your needs. Supportive and engaging communication is important in any type of relationship.

Red Flag: Lack of space to be our authentic self

The ability to be our true self in a relationship is so important. This means having the space to see friends, spend time with family, engage in hobbies we enjoy and even have alone time to ourselves for self-care. A red flag of this is when a partner does not understand the value of having your own time to engage in these activities and encourages you to only spend time with them and when you are not with them they demand nonstop communication via phone (text, call and Facetime with them.)

Green Flag: A partner who encourages and respects your hobbies, friends and families is a green flag. These healthy boundaries are important to be able to have time away from our partners and engage in activities that we value. In addition, a partner who does not demand your attention 24/7 to respect your time is admirable.

Red Flag: Puts you down / Notice a change in your self-esteem

Have you noticed a shift in your self-esteem? Are you feeling like you need to present or act a certain way around this person to get approval or attention? Also, be aware if this person is critiquing your appearance and personality.

Green Flag: Highlights your amazing traits & Encourages you to be yourself  

This person consistently has a pattern of uplifting you and highlighting your personality traits. Healthy behaviors of this include noticing that you feel you can be your true self around this person and they enjoy complimenting you, rather than put you down.

These red and green flags can be applied to any type of relationship that you may have in your life currently and in the future. Always be in tune with how you are feeling in relationships and trust your gut!


Morgan Winder is a Licensed Master Social Worker, she completed her degree with a concentration of direct practice with children, youth and families. Morgan specializes in working with teens, and families. Morgan is passionate on helping teens with anxiety, depression and self-esteem.