As anyone who's swiped through a dating app lately will tell you, relationship red flags are inescapable. Whether you're dealing with someone who overshares, under-texts or forgets to show up at all, first dates can feel disheartening. But what about those magical moments, like when your dinner companion asks a question that inspires deep conversation? Or when you both discover you're into the same obscure music genre? These, friends, are the promising signals of a second date. Ahead, we asked a group of relationship experts to share their top 11 green flags that indicate a good chance at a healthy relationship.
11 Dating Green Flags to Look Out for on First Dates, According to Relationship Experts
1. They Open Up About Their Last Relationship
Entering ex territory during the early stages of dating isn’t a bad thing. In fact, healthy feelings around a former partner signal that your date has found closure. Johnson calls this green flag “re-establishing a single self” before moving on to something new. Listen for cues that your date has learned from their last relationship without any lingering emotions. Per Johnson, this can sound like: "My last relationship was two years long, and we had immediate chemistry. But ultimately we couldn't communicate effectively and after a year of therapy, we finally called it quits."
2. The Dating Pace is Collaborative
Dating is a tandem bicycle, especially when navigating a new relationship. Setting a pace that works for both of you is essential. Do you prefer Saturday night hangs or want weekends to unwind solo? Your date scores points by “letting you know their intentions, but leaving room for your needs, too,” says Johnson. For example: “I'm having a good time getting to know you. I'd like to see you again this week. Are you up for it?!” Bonus points if they’re willing to work within your timelines, which the expert tells us is an early sign of emotional maturity.
3. They Stick to Self-Care Practices
Whether they’re sinking into a nightly bath or never miss Sunday football with Dad, meaningful rituals are a win. “If your date has activities they hold sacred even if you're around, this communicates healthy boundaries and a healthy sense of self.” says Johnson.
4. They Respect Your Routines
Your new partner knows you have pottery class every Wednesday. The best part? They never try to get you out of it. A green flag text like, “I know you have pottery tomorrow after work, would you like to grab dinner after?” proves your date is mindful of your schedule, while also showing security in their self-worth, Johnson points out.
5. They Respect Others
During your coffee meet, your date asks the cashier how her day is going or takes time to hold the door open for a stranger. According to a recent Plenty of Fish survey, the number one green flag for singles is when someone they’re dating is respectful of people around them. “Notice how your date treats those in the hospitality space—it’s a good indicator of the type of person they are and their value system. If they’re kind, appreciative and generous, that’s a major green flag” says Smith.
6. They're Quick to Respond
Between work deadlines and family commitments, no one has time for nonstop texting. But a date who gets back to you quickly prioritizes you and your time. Even better: They clue you in when they’re having a hectic day rather than leaving you on read. Along with prompt replies, Smith says your partner’s detailed responses and follow-up questions are digital green flags worth celebrating.
7. They're Open-Minded
Did you catch a slight recoil when you told them your cats sleep in your bed? Or did they barely chuckle when you recounted a story about falling asleep on a couch at Ikea? Meeting a complete stranger is difficult enough, but feeling like you can’t be yourself is worse. That’s why an essential green flag is feeling complete acceptance from your date. Some examples of this include their ability to listen without judgement, open up about their vulnerabilities or laugh at your dreadful Hagrid impression.
8. They Cheer You On
Your partner doesn’t know the first thing about painting. But they ask which colors you use most, how you got started and encourage you to set up shop at the local art show. A person you’re dating should learn more about what lights you up and celebrate your talents, says Smith.
9. They're a Little Awkward
Your date elbowed a glass off the table and you broke out into a fit of nervous laughter. First date jitters are uncomfortable for both parties, but Trombetti welcomes these awkward interactions, since they show this person cares about the date's outcome. Plus, it’s comforting to see that a new partner isn’t overtly smooth and practiced.
10. They're Punctual
You want to enter into a relationship with someone who can commit. The first sign of their dedication? Showing up on time for your sunset hike or post-work cocktails. “When I ask my matchmaking clients about their former loves who didn't commit, chances are they were late to many dates,” says Trombetti. We’re not saying your connection is doomed if your partner runs into traffic, but someone who consistently prioritizes your time is a walking green flag.
11. They Embody Your Personal Green Flags
To pinpoint your personal green flags, write a list of all the traits you value in a partner. If you skew introverted, find someone who fosters your alone time. If regular road trips are the highlight of your year, you’ll want a date who favors spontaneity and adventure. Another way to identify your green flags? Look to your red ones, says Johnson. If people who don’t like dogs fire off all your warning signs, your green flag person might be someone who just adopted a rescue. Joint dog walks are the best kind of dates, anyway.