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Navigating Relationships: Green, Yellow, and Red Flags & How to Approach Them

Relationships can often be positive experiences where two or more people connect, support one another, and create meaningful, fun memories. However, it’s sometimes hard to navigate the ins and outs of relationships, whether you’re curious about potential red flags in your partner, or are starting to see toxic behavior arise. Toxic relationships and red flags can appear in both subtle and extreme ways. Here are some key things to pay attention to in your intimate, platonic, and even familial relationships: 

Green Flags 

Green flags tend to get swept under the rug with all the buzz around red flags, but it’s equally important to pick out the positive, healthy, stable things your partner, friend, family member does. Remember, you should feel your best when you are in a relationship. These are a few relationship qualities that might indicate you are in a healthy, respectful relationship:

  • There are equal boundaries set 
  • There is mutual respect and trust in the relationship
  • You can comfortably be yourself 
  • They encourage, empower, and celebrate you
  • There is an open space for vulnerability, empathy, listening, and growth 

Yellow Flags 

Yellow flags are behaviors you might notice that could potentially be problematic in the future, especially if not conversed about; they are caution signs that could lead to red flags. These might be comments they make that you find unusual, or a repeated behavior that just seems off. If you are noticing one or more of these flags, it might be a good time to try having a conversation with your partner about how you are feeling. Communication is key in relationships and talking it out before these issues or behaviors segue into red flags might save the relationship or bring light to deeper issues that can be addressed.

  • They never seem to be happy for you
  • Their opinion is always the right one, and you can’t have a different one
  • They make mean, degrading, or condescending jokes or comments about you, and there is a clear verbal disrespect towards you
  • They pressure you to do things you’re not comfortable with
  • They have unreasonable expectations or enmeshment

Red Flags 

Identifying red flags is extremely important in any relationship. Toxic behavior and actions can create a whole lot of turmoil in relationships, and can even be unsafe. Here are some common red flags in relationships:

  • They are overly controlling and there is a clear imbalance of power in the relationship 
  • There is a complete lack of trust 
  • They are constantly defensive  or overly jealous
  • They repeatedly dismiss your feelings or don’t allow you to talk about how you’re feeling
  • Your boundaries are repeatedly violated
  • The relationship is all about them and they always blame you for things 
  • They are often unpredictable and possess a bad temper
  • They are emotionally, mentally, or physically abusive

Dealing With Red Flags: The Next Steps

Once you’ve noticed red flags in your relationship, it’s important to assess your next steps.

Do you feel safe and comfortable enough to have a conversation with your partner? Explain your feelings, thoughts, and concerns, and let them know you don’t think this relationship is a good idea for either of you. 

Do you feel unsafe in this relationship? Are you worried your partner will try to hurt you, or have they already hurt you? If this is the case, it might be better to make a plan and get out as fast as you can. Notify a loved one who can help you. You can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224. They will direct you to the nearest organization in your area and help you make a plan. 


About JFCS Pittsburgh Youth Services

Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS) Pittsburgh is committed to supporting youth and young adults achieve their goals and secure a strong future. For more information about education, workforce development, and mental health support services available, please call JFCS Youth Services at (412) 422-7200 or visit www.jfcspgh.org/youth-services.