Red Flags and Green Lights
Most domestic violence recovery support groups I’ve been to spend a lot of time teaching the participants about red flags in relationships. I certainly see the value in knowing signs of toxic and dangerous people, but red flags are not the only signals survivors need to learn. It is not enough to spot red flags of abuse. It is also important to know how to identify healthy, safe people.
All Your Relationships Can Be Healthy
Healthy people are important to have in all areas of our lives. Recognizing characteristics and behaviors can help us choose who to be friends with, whom to work for, and whose advice to take. This List of 35 Characteristics of Safe People popped up in one of my feeds a week ago. I think it’s a good list, and I wanted to share it with you. Though it seems geared toward evaluating someone as a potential partner for an intimate / romantic relationship, the vast majority of the characteristics can be applied to assessing potential friends as well.
Number 1 is, “views you as an equal.” I think this is a basic that everyone we welcome into our lives should exhibit. Number 15 is, “deals with opinion differences compassionately.” Again, I don’t think anyone should have to be friends with someone who puts them down over a disagreement.
Easier Said Than Done
I’ll be honest, I don’t really understand what is meant by every single one of the line items, and some references bring up my own hangups. For example, number 22 reads, “works hard to make you happy.” My internal alarm bell goes off instantly when I read this, and my defenses go up. “Nobody ‘makes’ me happy,” I proclaim to myself (or anyone who would try to “make” me happy). I think that if I would let someone else make me happy, then I could also let someone make me suffer, be sad, or at the very least give them control over whether or not I am happy. I’m not willing to do that.
Wait, Am I Safe?
Then I wonder if I am not a “safe” person according to this list because I don’t want to “make” anyone else happy, either. I wouldn’t want to “make” friends or a partner happy. I want the people in my life to be happy. I want to spend time with them. I want to do things that will maybe give them an easier time of being happy, but I neither claim nor assume any responsibility for their happiness.
Maybe I’m reading too much into number 22. I have been known to overthink a thing or two. Maybe the list and I mean the same thing, but I’ll stick with my phrasing, regardless.
Rubber Hits the Road
I recommend taking a look through the list. I’d love to hear from you: how do the people in your life measure up? Let me know in the comments below.
Know someone who might like this post? Share it via email or tweet it using the button below.
Rebecca encourages survivors of domestic to speak about their experiences and to lean on each other for support.