Rosie Green: I can recommend a romance checklist

Rosie Green
David Venni

When I was a smug married I didn’t go in for relationship analysis. I didn’t know my ‘attachment style’ from my ‘intimacy blocks’; my ‘abandonment trauma’ from my ‘trust issues.’ I thought it was all a bit navel-gazing. But there’s nothing like your own marriage blowing up like a North Korean missile to make you re-evaluate.

Divorce made me think about how I had acted in my relationship – and how my behaviour might have contributed to its downfall.

So these days I’m more aware of the things that trigger me and the sometimes irrational responses that result. I know all the lingo. I can tell a narcissist from a control freak; a gaslighter from a hedonist. This means that in my new relationship, I’m looking for compatibility, emotional maturity and self-awareness – as opposed to ooh, he looks
nice in a T-shirt’.

It was early on in my dating odyssey that I first encountered the concept of red and green flags. A date had sent me the main points via WhatsApp then ticked off my
qualities against a checklist. Luckily, I passed on most fronts (or maybe that’s just what I inferred).

Thanks to him I understand the concept of working out the yeses and nos you want from a partner. Some are obvious and don’t require a crash course in psychology to figure out. Take personal hygiene. That’s non-negotiable. It was a hard ‘no’ to the guy I met in a London café who hadn’t moved out of the student self-washing-hair phase. Ditto the man who told me that because you’re clean after a shower, you need never wash your towels.

It’s also about knowing yourself and what you can and can’t deal with.

I couldn’t date a flouncer or anyone who could keep an argument going for days. I have friends who maintain the silent treatment for a week‒then by the end can’t even remember what they’re peeved about.

So, here are the green flags to look for in a potential suitor ‒ and the red to beware:

GREEN FLAGS

  • Self-responsibility. How much do you own your mistakes? Beware the man who blames everything on someone else: his predilection for five-day benders on his absent father or his lost job on his ‘psychopath’
  • Self-care. We are not asking for Gwyneth Paltrow-style clean eating or Daniel Craig levels of nattiness, just the basic ability to clothe and feed
  • Long-standing friendships. Pub or work ones don’t count because they are more about circumstance than choice.
  • Empathy. This is key.
  • Supports your personal growth. I take this to mean a partner that wants you to do well without being threatened by
  • Honouring boundaries. Emotional, sexual and physical. And they respect that stealing your expensive moisturiser is crossing the line.

RED FLAGS

  • They think you are perfect. This is thrilling at first but soon becomes like eating a giant bag of Celebrations – delightful, but sick-making.
  • They hide you from their friends. This says, ‘I’m keeping my options open.’
  • They rush relationship milestones. See point one. I once talked to a guy on a dating app and before I had even met him, he was booking me on a flight to his villa in Ibiza.
  • A different attitude towards money. If they’re a stingy tipper or don’t want to turn on the heating because ‘snow insulates’ – it will soon be discounted soaps for Christmas.
  • They can’t communicate. I refer you to my earlier flouncer comment.
  • They can’t apologise.

One green flag I love about my boyfriend is our sleep compatibility. I’m famously an early-peaker – dancing on the tables at eight, unconscious by 11pm. Only last week he passed out at 10pm, mid-dinner party.

He’s a keeper.

@lifesrosie