Relationship Green Flags from a Queer Perspective
Most dating advice is aimed at straight couples — or at least, the way straight relationships are normalized. The knight slays the dragon and saves the princess. The man initiates the date with the woman. The best relationship green flags happen when you kiss and feel the fireworks popping off. Then you settle down, get a house, and have children.
But what if you don’t want any of that? What if you want to be the knight and not the princess? Or experience a kiss that feels like coming home? What if you don’t want babies, or god forbid, sex at all? Here’s some good news: you’re not alone.
When me and my partner started getting serious, I didn’t realize we had feelings for one another until the first kiss, after a very comfy date in a coffee shop. We’re seven years strong now, so we must be doing something right. So here’s a take on relationship green flags that, while coming from a queer perspective, can be applied to all relationships.
What should you be looking for in an ideal partner?
They’re comfortable learning new things and discarding norms
Straight romances saturate the media, but there’s little to no representation for queer relationships. That means we have to figure out relationship models on our own, especially in same-sex relationships, or relationships where one or both people are nonbinary. For example, you can’t follow gender roles anymore. This gives queer people a unique opportunity to build their own dynamics in relationship-building. That freedom of exploration can be super beneficial for any relationship, straight or otherwise.
Therefore, your partner should be comfortable ditching hetero-normative practices in favor of finding a dynamic that works best for both of you. Your partner values you as an equal and shares the work of maintaining a relationship with you. For example, if you live together, you split the housework or do them together, instead of leaving it to one person. Additionally, part of being queer is understanding that identities aren’t set in stone. Ideally, your partner should also understand this, and is comfortable with one or both of you exploring your own orientations and relationships to gender.
You can communicate with & be vulnerable around them
One of the best things about being queer is discovering how to stay true to your authentic self. Once the formalities of first dates run their course, you want a partner who will embrace your true colors, no matter how unconventional they seem. This includes collaborating with you to solve conflicts, accepting your past without judgment, and helping you stay safe.
Instead of keeping up an image, your partner can be their authentic self around you and encourages you to be yourself. They don’t pressure you to keep a happy face around them or to perform according to societal expectations. In a similar vein, they help you feel comfortable opening up and being vulnerable around them. Additionally, they listen to your feelings, whether positive or negative, without judging you for them.
When conflicts arise, you can talk to them about it rationally; it should feel like collaboration instead of fighting. They listen actively to your concerns and talks to you respectfully. If they made a mistake, they can own up to it, wholeheartedly apologize, and make changes to their behavior. On the other hand, if you slip up, your partner forgives you fully as long as you address that mistake. They don’t hold your previous wrongs against you, especially not when you’ve already both moved on.
If you’re out, they stand up for you and help you navigate the ways society discriminates against you. Being queer is an isolating experience, and a lot of the time queer people receive no help from the world around them. If you can feel and be safe around your partner, that’s a strong sign they’re a keeper.
They respect your boundaries and individuality
In any relationship, it’s important that your individual needs are met. This includes the need for boundaries, space, and privacy, for growth, and cultural and religious needs. For queer relationships, in particular, certain aspects of these needs hold different meanings compared to a straight relationship; your partner should be ready and willing to acknowledge those differences and learn to navigate them with you.
In terms of boundaries, your ideal partner should make you feel safe setting down healthy boundaries. This can be as simple as asking to drop a conversation topic that’s upsetting to you, to having your “nos” respected. On top of that, they understand your needs for space, privacy, and self-sufficiency. Your partner doesn’t feel the need to snoop, for example, around your texts and social media.
Queer people often have a complex relationship to their culture and religion — especially if they’ve received hate on the basis of religion and/or culture before. Your partner should honor your relationship with your culture and religion without judgment. This includes creating or maintaining a space for you to connect with your culture and religion in the ways you need, and participate in the aspects they’re invited to.
Most importantly, your partner should support your individual growth and ambitions, even if it doesn’t involve them. Your partner genuinely thinks you’re cool and wants to see you succeed in life. They like seeing you happy and admires you for the person you are. At the same time, you can be a “battle couple” when you’re together.
The truth about dating is, no two people will go through the exact same situations. That said, no matter what you’re looking for in a relationship, remember to acknowledge the good signs when they appear. If your partner shows these green flags, you can be sure that your relationship is a strong one.