In the early stages of a relationship, it's hard to resist the urge to switch on your 'red flag' radar and search for behaviors and character traits you just can't tolerate.
Of course, this is important — but so are the 'green flags'. When you're focusing on what's not quite right (your date loves Coldplay but you can't stand them, for instance) the subtle yet very positive signs can easily slip by unnoticed — and often, they're the ones that really matter. Here are the ones to look out for...
1. They'll go out of their way to cheer you up.
It could be offering to watch your favorite trashy TV show with you when you're sad, or taking you somewhere they know you find calming during anxious moments. Whatever it is, it's a very good sign.
2. They know your goals and dreams.
And consider them just as important as their own.
3. They don't make you feel bad about having bodily functions.
A man who doesn't wince at the word 'tampon' is definitely worth having around.
4. They share your biggest values (and not just to impress you).
There's nothing more attractive than a date who's openly pro-feminism, or pro-LGBTI rights, and they're not just saying so because they want to get in your pants.
5. They let you squeeze their blackheads.
It's gross, but it's accurate: someone who willingly offers their blackheads so you can have the perverse joy of squeezing them must really like you.
6. Things that make you happy also make them happy.
For the simple reason that YOU are happy.
7. They send thoughtful texts.
We often bemoan the intrusion of technology in our lives, but something as little as a "Good morning!" or "How was your day?" message can go a really long way.
8. ...and do thoughtful things, just because.
It doesn't have to be a surprise bouquet or a grand gesture. Someone who will start on the dinner you were planning to make because you got caught in traffic, or who offers you their jacket when you forgot yours (even though it's, um, winter), clearly cares about you.
9. You never hear them criticize other women for the way they look.
It's reassuring to be with someone who isn't judgemental of others and who makes you feel comfortable — and there's nothing worse than being with someone who comments on the physical appearances of others.
10. They'll always help the ones you love.
Being supportive of you is one thing, but if your partner also offers to help your family members or close friends when they need it? Big tick.
11. They respect your home.
The way someone behaves in your private space can tell you a lot about the kind of person they are. If they treat your home with the same care and respect they would their own, they're friendly to your housemates/family, and they do helpful things like taking out the rubbish when it's full, that's a big flashing green light.
12. They respond to significant events in your life.
If your beloved grandparent dies, or you fall victim to a nasty flu, your partner's response is enormously telling.
13. They let you sleep.
As the Ancient Chinese proverb* goes, "If you love someone, let them sleep". (* Okay, it's an Instagram meme.)
14. Things that usually frustrate or gross you out about other people don't apply to them.
Do you usually hate 'dad jokes', but find your love interest's completely endearing? Can you tolerate their weird eating noises when that kind of thing is usually like nails on a blackboard to you? Yeah, that's a good sign.
15. They're polite to wait staff.
Do you really want to spend your time with someone who's inexcusably rude to the teenager serving you coffee (and probably doing so for a minimum wage)? No. Didn't think so.