When I was younger, I wrote an article called, “10 Things to Know before Trying to Date a Cool Girl.” Or something like that. It included warnings and useful tips on subjects like, “How to NOT be a fool.” Warnings that are still useful today, but today, I’d rather focus on the positive.
I have met so many cool, amazing people in my life. And I would like to pass along to you ways that I spot “winners,” or, people who I would like to keep around, as friends, and also as romantic partners.
Green Flag #1: They make you a meal, or two, or three.
My Mom once said to me, “Food is love.” Maybe this is the Korean in me, or maybe this is just a universal truth. My friends cook me meals when I am sick, when I am in town, or when I am just hanging around. I cook for my friends, who reciprocate by showing up, keeping their dates with me, or bringing over ice cream for dessert.
Later, we will often do something else for each other: bring a flower, or call and say thank you, or cook a meal in return. Food + Reciprocity = Green Flag!
Green Flag #2: They are able to listen and respond to everything you say, even when it causes them a little discomfort.
A recent conversation between my dearest friend Jenny (who after all this time, has just given me permission to use her name) and me:
Me: You have your shit together more than you know.
Jenny: Thank you! That’s so nice of you to say.
Me: I’m not saying it to be nice. I don’t waste my time on platitudes and flattery. You’d stop trusting my opinion if I just spouted empty compliments.
Jenny: I KNOW that. That’s why what you just said means so much to me. I know you say what you mean.
Me: I do mean what I say. I guess the flip side is….. I really meant it that time I said you were using Middle School dating strategies.
Jenny: Yes, I just tell myself in those moments that the good is coming soon.
I’m so lucky. I have friends who tolerate my brutal honesty. They know how to check their own egos when they need to, and they will check mine in return. If someone is unable to listen and respond to what I say, even if my honesty is awkward for them, they will not be able to handle a closer relationship with me.
On the other hand: Someone who is able to joke about a mistake they made? Or nod and consider it if I tell them I think they are wrong? Or say, “Hey, sorry I messed that up! I’ll fix it tomorrow!” is a winner.
Green Flag #3: In bed, they make sure your needs are met first. This is something you will only know when you get involved with them. (If your person isn’t doing this, stop wasting your time. Like, right NOW.)
If the person I am with does not care to improve his skills with me after a reasonable period of time (reasonable = two times… although I *have* let Total Boredom go on for, you know, up to two full months…..we all make mistakes….), they clearly are not noticing me. People who do not notice me in bed, do not deserve to date someone as awesome as me out of bed.
The same goes for YOU. If your person does not notice you and your needs in bed, they do not deserve to be with someone as awesome as you out of bed.
On the flip side, if your person asks you, “What can I do for you?” or better yet, the Ultimate Winning Question: “Can I go down on you?” — that is a Green Flag.
Word of Caution: Beware of people who repeatedly chirp things like, “I love pleasing my partner!” or, “I always make sure my partner orgasms first!” but never follow through on that. Actions speak louder than words.
Green Flag #4: People who reach out to you for YOU, not just for them.
Do they call you to complain about their boss? Or do they call to ask, “Hey, how are things going with your new job?”
We all want someone to lean on for emotional support and guidance, and certainly, that is part of ANY friendship. So yes, that happens, too, as long as this “leaning” is a two-way street.
But if your person is calling because they sincerely also want to know how YOU are doing, not just because they have something to vent about?
Green Flag #5: People who remember what matters to you and treat you accordingly.
Once, I had a fling with a dear person who learned quickly about my jealousy attacks. Even AFTER we stopped our involvement, he’d ask before sharing a story about dating someone new: “Hey, is it OK if I talk about this girl? Is it OK if I tell you what we did?”
That is a dear friend move. That is the question of someone who remembers my requests for support, and wants to honor them. (My Answer: Of course it’s OK. We’re not dating anymore.)
Of course, there are things I ask for that have been called “unreasonable,” like the time I wanted friends to call me, instead of texting. Apparently this is totally 20th century and I should stop asking for so much.
But when it comes to something I have thought deeply about, something I value, something that requires simple effort from those around me? The ones I pursue relationships with are the ones who will remember, and honor, these small things.
Green Flag #6: People who share similar values as you.
Okay, the world would be super boring if we only surrounded ourselves with Self-Clones. Just because someone is different from you does not mean you cannot be their friend. In fact, it’s key for us to befriend a wide variety of people. It keeps our biases low and expands our minds and hearts.
But if we want a dear romantic partner, similar values are important — even more than similar interests. Here is a quick breakdown of the two:
My interest = playing soccer; My value = teamwork
My interest = reading books; My value = education & learning about the world
I would totally date someone who is passionate about teamwork, even if they couldn’t kick a soccer ball to save their life. On the other hand, I could not get close to someone who likes soccer because they’re working on getting a 6-pack of abs. What would we do after the soccer game ended? It would get hella boring, hella fast.
Common interests are fun, but run shallow without common values. Common values run deep. Common values = Green Flag!
Bonus Green Flag:
This is just particular to me, but if I am dating someone, they should be like, “Oh my god, I get to date Elisa? I am SO lucky because she is SO amazing!” So if my person is reminiscing about another romance? Or dreaming about another woman while they’re with me? I’m not mad, but I am OUT. I’d much rather be alone than some idiot’s 2nd or 3rd choice.
Here’s the thing: I’m awesome. And I get not everyone will think that. But the person I am choosing to be with, WILL think that. And my person will focus on me because they will think I am THAT amazing.
And, honestly? You deserve to be with someone who believes that about you, too.
PS: These can be green flags for choosing friends, too!
PPS: If you can’t find someone who has any green flags….. be your own 1st choice. You deserve that. I believe it. XOXO.