Red flags in dating present themselves as a warnings that something isn’t quite right, that a person may not be a good match for you. Green flags can be just as valuable when looking for meaningful ethical non-monogamous partners.
What Are ENM Green Flags?
ENM green flags are signs that a person or couple possess qualities, characteristics, and behaviors that are positive and healthy, and what you are looking for.
Green flags can indicate that someone is ready for a polyamory relationship and that they will have your best interests at heart.
Some green flags are universal, like empathy and kindness, respect and understanding. But some are less tangible or rank differently for different people looking for ENM relationships.
10 Green Flags in ENM Dating and Relationships
1. Know What They Want
A lot of people would consider this a non-negotiable when looking for a new relationship. There are so many variations and different kinds of ethical non-monogamous relationships that it can seem daunting to find that “perfect match,” but it certainly helps when you are up front about what it is you actually want in and from a relationship.
Do you want a primary partner? Do you want a secondary? Are you and your wife opening your relationship to a third for the first time? Are you looking to join a couple for something more serious than a threesome? Are you looking for someone to explore the swinger lifestyle with? Know what you want and share.
2. Knowledgeable about ENM
The average person knows very little about polyamory and the misconceptions are shocking sometimes. Many people who are interested in exploring non-monogamous relationships think it’s primarily about sex, but this is only a small part.
Anyone new to polyamory should want to learn more about the lifestyle: different types of ENM relationships, communication styles, living arrangements, rules of engagement, boundaries, health risks, and more. A willingness to learn is definitely a green flag.
3. Honest and Transparent
The beauty of ethical non-monogamy lies in its transparent nature. Honesty is at the foundation of ENM and is expected by those practicing. Dating transparency can include sharing how long you’ve been polyamorous, what kinds of relationships or arrangements you have had and some of the challenges you still experience.
A green flag is waved when someone is open and readily divulges how they came to polyamory, what they want out of it, what type of relationship makes sense to them, and who they have already that is important in their life.
4. Possess and Respect Boundaries
Having boundaries is a green flag in all relationships. And it’s important that they are shared, respected, and reviewed as a relationship grows.
Two separate partners may have completely different boundaries that can be challenging to navigate. Discussing boundaries early in a relationship is best because they often present as dealbreakers for some, or rules that are expected to be followed for others.
5. Safe and Accountable
We all want to feel safe in a relationship. If you don’t, then there’s really no point in moving forward. Does the person you are dating make you feel safe—physically, psychologically, emotionally, sexually?
Accountability is another green flag to watch for. Do they recognize when they have made a mistake? Do they acknowledge and own their mistakes or do they brush them under the rug, or worse, lie? Observe conduct and take mental notes.
6. Respect for Time and Schedule
Balancing more than one relationship can get tricky, so many people become skilled at time management and scheduling to keep things running smoothly. Some partners have a set days of the week for date nights. Some couples open up their relationship one weekend a month.
A person waving a green flag will not attempt to disrupt what is already in place that works for you as an individual or as part of a couple or larger group dynamic.
7. Comfortable with Alone Time
Filling up your calendar with non-stop dating is not what polyamory is about. Most polyamorous people relish their time alone as a way to recharge and then be fully present with each partner.
You want a new partner to be okay when you’re with your wife or husband or girlfriend or boyfriend, not pining away, feeling jealous when alone. You want to know that their free time is being used to pursue their interests, passions, and to spend time with their other loved ones.
8. Strive for Better Communication
One misconception in polyamory is that everyone who juggles multiple relationships must be an awesome communicator. While some people are better than others at communicating in relationships, we can all do better.
A green flag in new relationships is when a partner speaks openly about not only their feelings and needs, but also their desire to grow—to share more, to be a better listener, to be more flexible, and to be more receptive to your needs.
9. Check In Regularly
Some poly partners, throuples and quads, do regular group check-ins where they can talk about what’s going well and what needs improvement. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to communication, but it’s a sure-fire way to make sure nothing slips through the cracks or has time to fester.
In new relationships, insecurities can make you feel vulnerable. Are they as interested as I am? Are they feeling jealous of my primary? Do they want more time? A simple check-in is a green flag that means someone cares how you feel.
10. Open to Feedback
Listening and being open to feedback from partners, without becoming defensive, is a big ENM green flag. No one likes criticism because it can be painful, but it’s how we grow not just as individuals but as a couple or throuple.
If we don’t recognize behaviors that annoy, upset, or hurt others, we can’t change or grow. Even the most self-aware people can be blind to how their actions affect those they love the most. And it’s not always easy to be critical, but open hearts and open minds always prevail.
What ENM green flags do you look for when dating? Please share!