How can there possibly be things that seem like red flags but are actually green ones? I mean, red flags are red flags, right?
Actually, maybe not!
If there is one common theme in all of my coaching calls its to watch out for red flags in a new partner.
You know red flags, those things that pop up and make you pause and wonder if something is amiss – if you should still continue moving forward in this relationship in spite of them.
What I have come to learn recently is that things that you think are red flags in a partner might actually be signs of someone who is ready for a relationship!
How did I learn this? First hand.
My boyfriend had a lot of red flags when I met him and, as we tend to do, I ignored them. I figured that he would change or I could fix him or that I would adapt because I wanted to be with him.
And, for once, ignoring those red flags was a good thing because here I am, five years later, with the most amazing man.
Here are 5 things that seem like red flags but are actually green ones, things that actually ended up being signs that he was perfect boyfriend material!
#1 – Their strong attachment to their mother.
I have written before about ‘mama’s boys’ and how having a relationship with them can be challenging. I still believe this but I also know now that there is a flip side to this coin.
When I met my boyfriend, his mother was in a retirement home 5 minutes away. He went to visit her every Friday and Sunday nights. Yes, two weekend nights, every week!
When I learned about this, I thought it would be deal breaker. I mean, I wouldn’t want to hang out with his mom two weekend nights and I believed that he would always choose her over me. I didn’t want or need either of those things!
My worries were completely unfounded. While my boyfriend was extremely close to his mother, their relationship was a very healthy one. The Friday night visit usually involved a gin and tonic and on Sunday we had dinner. I genuinely enjoyed spending time with her. And the times that I wanted to stay home, he was fine with it, and if I really wanted him not to go, he wouldn’t.
So, if your potential boyfriend has a close relationship with his mother, don’t let it end things. Give it time and learn more.
#2 – Their lack of ambition.
When I met my boyfriend, one of the first things that I asked him was what was his five-year plan. Did he know where he wanted to go next professionally? When he wanted to retire? Where he wanted to travel to?
I mean, I had a five-year plan and I wanted to hear his.
When I asked him, my boyfriend just gave me a blank stare. ‘I don’t have one,’ he said. ‘Oh boy,’ I thought, ‘this is the end of this relationship.’
This is an example of things that seems like red flags but are actually green ones.
What I have learned from my boyfriend is the importance of living in the moment. Instead of obsessing about what is next, my boyfriend focuses on the here and now. He loves his work and does it well but it’s not the focus of his life. He likes to work on cars and build things out of wood. He likes to ski and hike and look at the sunset.
My ex-husband was extremely ambitious and I found it very appealing but now I realize that he is my ex for a reason. Being with someone who wants to live his life right now and not be on the hamster wheel – always striving to be more successful and make more money – is a wonderful thing.
With him I have lived more in the past 5 years than I did in the previous 50, because I stopped trying to get ahead of wherever I was instead of just being here with him.
So, if your person doesn’t seem ambitious and it looks like a deal breaker, pause and do some more investigating. Of course, there are people in whom a lack of ambition is a negative but it doesn’t always have to be that way!
#3 – Their lack of experience with love.
We life coaches always pause when someone tells us that they have just met someone who hasn’t been in many relationships. Why? Because with each relationship, and each break up, we learn something.
With each relationship, we learn what we want and need. We learn how to judge what someone else wants and needs. We learn how to get over a broken heart and the most productive ways to fight.
We also can learn absolutely nothing and get increasingly bitter as the years go on.
My boyfriend was a newbie when it came to relationships. He had been married for 30 years and, before that, had had a few relationships in his 20s but that was it. And I was sure that this was one of those things that seems like red flags but are actually green ones!
For many of us who are on the post-divorce dating circuit, we find that we meet people who have LOTS of baggage. People who have been so drained by marriage and divorce and disappointment and broken hearts that they struggle to trust or be vulnerable. Who go into new relationships very gingerly because they are petrified of being hurt again.
Because my boyfriend had had so few relationships, he had never had his heart broken. Yes, he had a horrible marriage that lasted much longer than it should have but the end didn’t cause him heartbreak. It caused him relief.
As a result, I have a boyfriend who came into this relationship with an open heart. I called him a ‘babe in the woods’ because every new phase of our relationship filled him with wonder.
I was very damaged by my marriage and I had developed (terrible) habits in relationships to prevent myself from getting hurt. Those habits pushed a lot of guys away after my divorce. But this guy wasn’t that way. He recognized those habits for what they were and he wasn’t triggered by them. He truly wanted to help me work through them because he loved me.
No matter how hard I tried to push him away, he stayed. Why? Because he still trusted love because his heart had never been broken. It was an amazing thing to witness. I am so very lucky.
So, if your person hasn’t been in a lot of relationships, it might be one of those things that seem like red flags but are actually green ones. You could very well find out that your ‘babe in the woods’ might be just the person you need to help you let go of your baggage and be happy!
#4 – They are too easy going.
I am 100% a Type A person. I like to always be in charge of what I am doing and where I am going. I plan ahead, make contingency plans, get stressed out if plans go awry. Not knowing what is going to happen next is really hard for me.
I have always attracted other Type A people. My ex-husband was very much like me – we made a plan for everything. And together we were very stressed out!
My boyfriend is SO not like that. My boyfriend wakes up on Saturday morning, lies on the couch with coffee and car videos and just chills for a few hours. There are no real concrete thoughts about what the day will hold – he just is.
And then, after he has his time, he jumps up and is ready to take his day on. BUT, because he isn’t trying to control it, he just eases into it. And easing into it makes everything way less stressful!
I never thought I would be able to put up with someone who goes with the flow but it has ended up being the best thing in the world for me because he demonstrates every day that you don’t have to control everything to be happy.
What a relief!
#5 – They more more into you than you are to them.
We have all been there – having met someone who likes us way more than we like them. And, for many of us, because we like the bad boys not the nice ones, the ones who actually want to treat us with kindness and respect make us want to bolt.
If you have someone who looks at you with love, who puts up with your baggage, who is willing to actually listen and respond in kind, who doesn’t disappear only to return a few days later with excuses, who doesn’t leave you behind on a Saturday night, keep that guy.
Niceness is not a red flag. Niceness is one of those things that seem like red flags but are actually green ones.
I know that niceness might seem like it would be boring, not a challenge, but, the truth is, if you have someone who loves you a lot, don’t push them away. Try opening your heart to someone who might be different from people you have dated before. You know – different from the people who are now your exes!
In most relationships, there is always one person who loves the other more. And that dynamic can often flip. If you have someone who seems more into you then you are to them, don’t run. You might find that the shoe is on the other foot sometime in the not too distant future.
So, take a risk. Try out a nice guy. You might be very happy you did!
I know that we all look for things that are red flags in a relationship but I would encourage to recognize some things that seem like red flags but are actually green ones.
Every relationship is different and every dynamic is different so don’t do a hard stop when a red flag gets raised. Pause for a moment, consider that the red flag is there, and why, and then reassess. Might it be time to explore this issue a little more before ending things?
I am so thankful every day that when I met this kind man who was calm and open and hardworking and who adored me. I was in a place where I was willing to open my heart to him and not run at the first sign of something that was amiss.
So, I encourage you to keep your eyes open for red flags, always. Some of them should not be ignored – being ghosted, treated with contempt, lied to, cheated on etc – but there are those that might be considered green flags, at least yellow flags, ones that should maybe slow you down for a bit, ones that will you look both ways before you proceed! Safely.