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These days, many of us are quick to call out red flags in potential partners and in the relationships we see unfolding around us. Green flags, on the other hand, tend to get a lot less attention.

Whereas a red flag in dating refers to an early sign of an unhealthy relationship or problematic partner, a green flag is a behavior or personal quality that indicates the person you’re with will likely approach relationships in healthy, mature, and generally desirable ways in the future. The terms come simply from the idea that green means good to go, while red means stop and watch out. Red flags call attention to issues; green flags signal that you’re safe to proceed.

Knowing what to be wary of in relationships can be important in helping us avoid harmful situations. At the same time, it’s just as important for us to be able to recognize what healthy relationships look like, too. That way, we can start to move toward people who display those healthy qualities from the get-go and be more likely to find ourselves in the kind of relationships that actually feel good.

So, let’s talk about some green flags in relationships—i.e., signs that you’re with someone who will probably make for a great partner: 

1. They listen well.

Pay attention if your partner really puts in effort to hear and understand you. If they ask thoughtful questions, make space for you in the conversation, and seek to get to know your inner world well, those are all big green flags.

Active listening is a necessity for relationships to last in the long term. “When used in close relationships, active listening can foster an even deeper level of emotional intimacy,” licensed marriage and family therapist Tiana Leeds, M.A., LMFT, recently told mbg. “Essentially, it provides the speaker with the space and attunement to be able to be vulnerable, which can enhance relationships both in times of peace as well as conflict.” 

It’s inevitable that couples will disagree and unintentionally hurt each other from time to time, and being able to listen well and really make an effort to understand your partner’s perspective is key to healthy conflict resolution. So, a date who shows the ability to listen well early on is not only showing that they’re going to take the time to understand you deeply; they’re also showing that they’ll be able to hear you out in moments of conflict and really try to understand your side of the story.


2. They’re comfortable talking about their feelings.

Being able to go deep and get emotional is another green flag in a potential romantic partner. A healthy relationship requires two people who can recognize their own emotions, where they stem from, and what they need in a given moment, and who are then able to share those emotions and needs with each other. A person who can tap into and talk about their emotions with ease is demonstrating important relational skills.

3. They have high self-awareness.

Likewise, it’s a green flag if a person demonstrates overall self-awareness, including being aware of their emotions, behaviors, hopes, dreams, fears, and patterns, as well as how their actions may affect others. A person who spends time reflecting on their experiences and trying to better understand themselves is more likely to be intentional about how they behave in relationships and more likely to be able to identify issues in the relationship as they come up. Self-awareness also means they’ll be able to recognize and admit when they’re the one contributing to the issues.

4. They have empathy.

Empathy is the ability to understand and relate to another person’s emotions, or even share them. A good partner is able to recognize not only their own emotions but also yours. They might feel sad when you’re sad, or they can at least understand when and why you’re experiencing sadness, show compassion in such moments, and make you feel validated in what you’re going through. They can also identify how a person might emotionally respond to a certain situation, and they act in ways that prevent potential harm and support opportunities for joy.

5. They’re engaged in the relationship.

They make plans, they text you back consistently, and they generally show an active interest in you and nurturing the relationship. They’re not afraid to make it clear they like you. Being engaged is particularly vital to new relationships, but it continues to matter even for couples who’ve been together for years.

“The critical component is that both people are invested in [the relationship] and in a similar way,” relationship coach Shula Melamed recently told mbg. “Attendance is mandatory in a serious relationship—you need to show up every damn day. This is the first glimpse of that commitment.”

Relationships will always require active effort and equal give-and-take from both parties. And fortunately, that’s a quality you can actually suss out fairly early on in a relationship.

6. The relationship moves at a comfortable pace.

At the same time, a healthy relationship moves at a pace that feels good for both people and allows both people to think, process, have fun, and develop feelings for each other gradually. It’s a green flag when a new partner is willing to give you space and let you take your time, even if their feelings or readiness for commitment might be a little further along than yours are. There’s never any pressure or attempts to forcibly escalate the intensity of the relationship before you’re ready. (That’s known as love-bombing, by the way, and it’s known to be a common antecedent to abuse.)

7. They’re willing to be vulnerable.

A person who’s able to form secure attachments with others is willing to emotionally open up, be vulnerable with another person, and become close to others. Rather than holding their cards close to their chest, they are willing to be candid about how they feel about you, to be openly caring and affectionate, and to let you in.

Relationships require this type of vulnerability in order for real intimacy to develop; people need to be willing to take emotional risks and open themselves up to the possibility of love (or rejection). A person who’s emotionally unavailable or closed off is often trying to protect themselves from those risks—which doesn’t at all make them a bad person, but it does mean they’re preventing this particular relationship from deepening.

8. They know what they want.

Clarity is always a good thing in dating. Whether they know they’re looking for something serious or know they’re only interested in casual dating right now, the point is that this person is clear about it and not beating around the bush with you. They also care about what you want from the relationship and ask about it, and they’re not afraid to have frank discussions about where the relationship is (or isn’t) going.

In comparison, it’s a red flag if a person you’re seeing keeps you perpetually in the dark about their intentions for the relationship. A caring, mature partner doesn’t play games.

9. They’re kind—consistently.

They care about your feelings and well-being, and they put in the effort to treat you well and make sure you’re OK. Importantly, this kindness isn’t selectively given—they’re just as kind to you when you’re needing to cancel plans as they are when they know they’re going home with you tonight. They’re even caring and gentle when you two are in conflict.

10. They treat others well, too.

They also extend that care and consideration to everyone in their lives—their mom, their friends, the waiter, even their exes. How they treat the other people in their lives is a reflection of how they’ll eventually treat you once the two of you are more familiar and established in your relationship. No one is perfect 100% of the time, but in general, you want to be with a person who is consistent in trying to do right by other people.

11. They have stability.

It’s a green flag when the person you’re interested in dating is someone who is relatively stable in terms of what you can expect from them. You can trust that they’ll be consistent in how they treat you and how they approach various situations in life. Volatility and unpredictability, on the other hand, can be red flags—if you don’t know how your partner will generally behave from moment to moment, you’ll struggle to feel safe and at ease in your relationship. Roller-coaster romance makes for interesting movies, but in real life, comfort and balance are what allow healthy love to flourish.

12. They’re easy to be around.

You feel like you can just be yourself around this person, without worrying too much about trying to impress them or walking on eggshells not to upset them. You can be honest and speak your mind. Feeling at ease with someone is always a green flag—it’s an internal signal from within that you feel safe with this person, a core building block of trust.

13. They take active steps toward becoming better.

Truly no one is perfect when it comes to relationships, and it’s important for a romantic partner to be able to recognize their own shortcomings and the areas where they still need to grow—both as a partner and as a person in general. It’s a green flag when someone can take feedback without getting defensive, take responsibility for their actions and issues, and then actually take steps toward change. Values and words should translate into actions.

14. They accommodate your needs.

Even an all-around great person still needs to take time to learn what it means to be a great partner to you, specifically. They take the time to understand what it is you need from the relationship, and they put forth their best effort to deliver and accommodate you. Likewise, they can recognize when they’re not able to fully give you what you need, and they can communicate their boundaries and limits without making you feel “needy,” dramatic, or unreasonable. 

15. You both have your own lives.

In a healthy relationship, partners don’t feel the need to be attached at the hip at every second—in fact, they ought to value and encourage individuality and independence. Couples who over-rely on each other run this risk of becoming codependent, which can put a strain on both people and their relationship.

“To give up the journey of self-discovery—at least some of which needs to occur during alone time—is to give up one of the richest dimensions of our lives. And our partnership will suffer, as we will,” psychotherapist Ken Page, LCSW, recently told mbg.

So, it’s definitely a green flag if your partner supports your personal growth, hobbies, friendships, and general life outside your relationship. They give you space to nurture the other parts of your life that don’t involve them, and they’re happy to cheer you on as you pursue your personal goals and pleasures.

Likewise, it’s a good sign if your partner has strong, long-standing relationships, hobbies, and goals outside of you. That makes them less likely to rely on you and your relationship for their happiness—which is a good thing! That’s too much responsibility for a person to have to be responsible for someone else’s feelings of wholeness, no matter how in love you are.

16. You feel good around them.

At the end of the day, relationships should feel good.

According to research by psychologists John Gottman, Ph.D., and Robert Levenson, Ph.D., what sets happy couples apart from unhappy couples is that happy couples generally have a ratio of five positive interactions for every one negative interaction.

So, if you two generally enjoy being around each other and bring out the best in each other, and the vast majority of your time together feels positive and pleasurable, that’s a good sign for the relationship overall.



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When Sophia Ruan Gushée, author of A to Z of D-Toxing, began the process of detoxing her home environment, the bedroom was on the top of her to-clean list. “I think it’s the most important part of the home to consider,” Gushée tells mbg. “If you are an average person who spends about a third of their life sleeping in their bedroom, or spending time in their bedroom, it’s a high-impact area.”

And though the healthy home expert admits that sleep is her “greatest weakness,” she’s noticed that making a few key changes in her bedroom have helped her out tremendously. Here’s the routine that she recommends for clearing the air in your bedroom so you can rest a bit easier.

1. Nix heavily scented products.

Gushée opts to reduce synthetic fragrances in her sleep space in an effort to cut down on volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that contribute to poor air quality—and potentially compromised sleep in turn. While naturally scented products and essential oils are OK in her book, any synthetic candles or air fresheners are left out of her sleep sanctuary.ADVERTISEMEN

2. Simplify your cleaning routine.

Along those lines, heavily scented cleaners that contain ingredients and byproducts like ethylene oxides, 1,4-dioxanes, and VOCs have also been associated with skin and respiratory irritation. Instead, Gushée uses a simple mix of plant-based Castile soap and water to clean her bedroom. She’s also sure to dust all surfaces down with a wet cloth twice a week. Keeping the room decòr on the minimalist side makes this process go faster, and cuts down on distractions at bedtime.

3. Crack open the windows.

Indoor air tends to be more polluted than outdoor air, even in densely populated cities like NYC, where Gushée and her family live, so she’ll often crack open the window to let some fresh(er) air into her sleep space. While some allergens, bugs, or debris might make their way into the bedroom as indoor air slips out, “Nothing is perfect,” she admits. “But it’s just good to let your home breathe every now and then.”

4. Consider saving up for big-ticket items like an organic mattress and air purifier.

While an effective air purifier and organic mattress made from natural materials will cost a pretty penny, Gushée considers both of them really important to the bedroom’s overall comfort. She uses Intellipure’s air purifier and appreciates that it can filter the air in her entire bedroom, down to the teeniest, tiniest of particles. As for mattresses, she recommends going with one made from natural materials like 100% natural latex foam. 

5. Move phones and electronics out of the room (or at least away from your bed).

Gushée notices a big difference in how she sleeps when she isn’t surrounded by tech. “It’s generally impossible for most people to have no technology in their bedroom,” she knows, but finds that simply moving her phone to the other side of her room and turning it on Airplane mode before she goes to sleep can be helpful.

Not only does this cut down on EMF exposure, but it also makes it less tempting to scroll at night and derail your bedtime in the process. “I really try to limit my digital screen exposure overall,” Gushée says. “Even during the day, it has a big impact.”

Beyond these bedroom tweaks, Gushée has found that keeping her room at a cool 68 degrees, cozying up under a heavy wool blanket, and taking a relaxing magnesium supplement before bed has helped her overall sleep quality.* “I sleep more deeply and longer, and I fall asleep more easily when I do,” she notes.

The takeaway.

Simplicity is the name of the game when it comes to maintaining a bedroom that promotes rest. Keep clutter, heavily scented products, and technology out to make space for deep, restorative sleep to come in.


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Here’s what dermatologists say to expect, plus sunburn-soothing products that can help speed healing.

Whether you forgot to apply sunscreen before spending the day outdoors or didn’t reapply the SPF often enough during a day at the beach, you might end up paying the price with a sunburn. How long will your sunburn last—and when will the redness, pain, blistering, and peeling finally subside? Here’s everything you need to know, plus warning signs of a sunburn that requires medical attention.

What is a sunburn, exactly?

“A sunburn, like a suntan, is the body’s defense mechanism against harmful ultraviolet (UV) sun rays,” New York City dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, tells Health. When skin is exposed to UV light, the body produces melanin, a dark pigment made by skin cells called melanocytes. Melanin is designed to protect skin, and how much a person produces depends on genetics, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. When people who produce less melanin are overexposed to UV rays, it causes damage to the DNA in the upper layers of skin cells—resulting in a radiation burn, known as sunburn.

Not everybody responds in the same way to sun exposure. In general, people with fair or light skin, freckles, or red or fair hair are more susceptible to severe sunburn, according to the American Cancer Society. But all skin types, from light to dark, are vulnerable to UV damage. The damage can occur on very sunny days as well as overcast days, because UV light penetrates cloud coverage.


How long does a sunburn last?

How long a sunburn lasts depends on how severe the burn is, Connecticut-based dermatologist Rhonda Q. Klein, MD, tells Health. “Most sunburns will lose their associated pain and red tone in three to five days. But if you have a more severe, blistering burn, this could last for up to 10 days,” she says.

Pain from a sunburn usually starts within two to six hours of sun overexposure and peaks at about 24 hours. If you have a more serious sunburn, the skin may blister and peel. Blisters typically show up between six and 24 hours after exposure to the sun, but sometimes it takes longer for them to appear.


Peeling of the skin is part of the healing process after a sunburn, and it tends to start after about three days. It should stop when the skin is fully healed, which can take several weeks in cases of severe sunburn. While the peeling occurs, resist the temptation to pick at it, which can cause further damage, says Dr. Jaliman.

Sunburn symptoms to watch for

Sunburn symptoms vary depending on the severity of the damage. If you have a mild sunburn, your skin will be red and painful. A moderate sunburn may also result in some swelling, and the skin may be hot to the touch. A severe sunburn typically has extreme redness and painful blistering, and it can be so bad it requires medical attention.

Call a doctor right away if you develop a fever along with your sunburn, advises, Dr. Jaliman. In severe cases, too much UV exposure may lead to shock, dehydration, or heat exhaustion, signs of which include extreme thirst, extreme pain, confusion, chills, and rapid pulse. Blisters that cover a large surface area may also require a doctor’s care. Be alert for signs of infection in the blisters (pus, swelling, and/or tenderness).

Skin peeling sunburn peel

How can you soothe a sunburn and make it heal faster?

Once you realize you have a sunburn, Dr. Jaliman recommends applying soothing aloe and hydrating shea butter. Make sure the aloe comes direct from the plant, or is fragrance-free, to avoid aggravation to the skin. If you have itching and inflammation, she advises using over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream, which may also help to reduce any swelling.

Woman applying Aloe Vera gel on her sunburned shoulder

To speed healing of peeling skin, Dr. Jaliman recommends holding a cold compress against your skin to cool it down, and applying moisturizer or plain petroleum jelly regularly for constant hydration. “This will help with the skin that is peeling and the skin that is trying to heal itself,” she says. Ditch the exfoliator until your skin has completely healed. The damaged skin will shed by itself, and the new skin is delicate and susceptible to irritation.

“Sunburn dehydrates you, so it’s important to drink plenty of water,” says Dr. Klein. “Hydrated skin will recover more quickly.” She also suggests taking a bath with colloidal oatmeal, an anti-inflammatory that offers relief from burning and itchiness. Always stay out of the sun until your skin is fully healed—or you could find yourself back with even worse sunburn symptoms.


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