There's a cheesy church sign I think about often that reads, "Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you." I think it made such a lasting impression on me because we live in such a dog-eat-dog world, I sometimes think we're much more interested in the end goal we're trying to manifest than in the path and people who might have had a hand in helping us get there.
And we often approach life with paranoia, thinking up a savage insult to roast that dude who wronged us, or listing all the potential hurt that might ensue from going on a date with our latest Tinder match.
But what if we refocused our lenses and spent some time thinking about all the good in the world, and the incredible people we ignore as we myopically cruise through our day-to-day lives? A bit of appreciation can go a long way, and a recent AskReddit had users sharing all the "green flags" that point to a decent, genuinely good person.
Below, some tell-tale signs of friends and prospective romantic partners you should absolutely keep in your life.
1. They help out, even when there's nothing in it for them.
"I recall one of the first outings (nearly a decade ago) with my S/O. We were just getting off the tube and probably more than halfway up a flight of stairs. To our right, on the other side of the railing was an older woman struggling to get up the stairs, lugging a massive suitcase behind her. We got to the top of the stairs and without any acknowledgement for what he was about to do, he went back down the stairs, offered to help her, got the luggage to the top of the stairs and then we continued about our business. He made no fuss about it, didn't draw any attention to the behavior — like just helping a stranger would be something anyone is naturally inclined to do.
He's always holding doors or finding those small opportunities to lend a hand. It's such an admirable quality, one that I wish I demonstrated more often. Definitely a green flag at the beginning of relationship (which, if it were a ploy to win me over, he's certainly playing the long game)."
1. They're humble, even when they're in a position of authority.
"I used to have a manager like that. Super nice guy! Was genuinely concerned with how the team were doing on both a work and personal level.
Whenever we'd go out to the pub for a team event, he'd make his way around to everyone and have meaningful talks. He'd find out what you were passionate about and even if he wasn't into it he'd listen. I talked his ear off about heavy metal. Even though he's a jazz guy he listened and asked questions and made me feel like the most important guy there."
1. They go out of their way for you, even when you haven't talked in years.
"A friend of mine I’ve known for about 15 years, but haven’t talked to him for at least 5 years, then when i finally meet up with him he offers to put his neck out for me and help me get a new job, to me that's a friend I never want to lose a connection with again, a truly good person."
1. They talk about things that are interesting to you, even when it's not a subject that particularly interests them.
"They remember things about you from previous conversations. Then, when they bring it up, they engage about it even if it's not their most favorite topic.
Basically, they are more concerned with having a pleasant conversation even if it's not entirely about them, which in turn makes everybody feel great."
1. They're flexible, even when they have their own opinions.
"When people recognize there is more than one right way to do something. If they can admit their way might be improved by listening to others or watching how other people manage to do something, that shows a level of maturity and compromise that will do them well in a long term relationship.
Additionally, when they are certain what they are doing is the best, most effective way of doing something, they still allow stubborn people to try their method first, or will be patient and polite about communicating their experience. There’s a huge difference between being right, and wanting to always be right. You don’t have to be the person to tell everyone “this is the right way,” sometimes people have to learn it themselves without your input. Anyone that can take a step back and let people live their own lives and chip in when needed or asked, that’s a good person."
1. They treat people who are often ignored with respect, gratitude, and dignity.
"Where I live the supermarket hires some special needs people. They bag and do cart returns etc... They are super nice and helpful and I can't stand it when people ignore or avoid talking to them or saying thank you. What?!! It literally takes one second to say 'Thanks!'
After my son died, people had a fundraiser for some hospital and other expenses. At the fundraiser we saw someone we did not know sitting right at the front door. It was our bagger. He just wanted to donate something. He ended up sitting at our table and winning a signed stick and he is a huge hockey fan. That, right there, changed my outlook on life forever."
1. They care about nature and animals.
"When I was 14, I was walking behind a man maybe in his thirties, and noticed he went off the sidewalk about 20 feet ahead of me and onto the grass. He walked back onto the sidewalk 10 feet later. I was confused why and looked to my right. There was a squirrel enjoying some kind of squirrel delicacy and he didn't want to scare it. I did scare it because I didn't follow his path after realizing this too late, and I've felt like an a--hole for the last 11 years since.
If you make an active effort to avoid scaring squirrels then you're likely a good person."
"I was walking along a sidewalk after a rainstorm with a guy I had just started working with. More than once, he stopped to pick up worms off the sidewalk and put them back in the grass. I immediately thought, 'Hey, look at the size of that guy's heart.' 10 years later and he's still a good dude."
1. They're generous with sharing their stuff, even when they really like what they have.
"Yesterday at a dining hall, I asked for two blueberry pancakes. The worker said that she used the last of the blueberries and the two on the stove were for someone else.
No worries, I will have two plain instead, I said.
The guy in front of me hearing this said, 'Give her one of mine and just give me one blueberry and one plain.'
I was instantly attracted, what a good person."
1. They come to the rescue, even when they don't know the whole story.
"I accidentally choked on some water (wrong pipe and all) at work. And had sh-t coming out of my nose, had watery eyes the whole nine. I was looking for a tissue and went into the storage room, where another coworker was looking for something. He is from Haiti and is all around a wonderful person. English isn't his first language but he gets by just fine. When I barge in he immediate thinks something personal is going on with me and jumps to action right away, there were no tissues in the storage room but he turns and says 'I get tissue right away stay here.'
I'm starting to laugh to try and explain its literally no big deal and isn't serious but his demeanor and haste is so endearing to me. He comes back right away and even knocks on the door, when I try and tell him 'dude come on in, its all good.' He just opens the door and hands me the tissues without even looking in the room. I think he even runs interference at the door to try and give me privacy. While I'm in there it hits me on how much of a good person he is and I feel loved (we have worked together for greater part of a decade). He wouldn't believe me when I told him it was just water, and was just like 'it's okay I don't tell.' Such a good dude."
1. They help those who can't help themselves.
"My friend abruptly put the car in park at red light, and got out to help an elderly person who was struggling to step up off the street onto the sidewalk. (It only took a few seconds, and traffic was never impeded.) The way she did it without hesitation impressed me. It happened so fast and she was back in the drivers seat almost before I realized what happened. She made it look so natural and seamless. Like for her, there was nothing more important in that moment than that person in need."
1. They listen to understand, rather than listen to respond.
"My boyfriend is a lot smarter than me and has a job where I don’t understand most of the terminology. He’s awesome for a lot of reasons but one of those is that he talks to me about work as though I’ll understand what 'vias' and 'trace widths' are and is never condescending to me or anything so I make it a point to return the favor by actively listening when he talks even if I don’t get any of it lol. I think stuff like that goes a long way in any conversation."
1. They're inviting and inclusive, and engage quiet people in their conversations.
"I try to do this every time I can because I have a shy streak, and every time someone has done this for me it’s been deeply meaningful. It’s hard for me to talk to people I don’t know and I’m almost pathetically grateful when someone sees that and makes an effort."
"When you get interrupted by someone else in the middle of your sentence and they make the effort to ask you to continue. Kind of an oddly specific thing but I’ve found that not many people do that and the ones who do make the effort are genuinely caring."
1. They go out of their way to prove they care.
"Nobody is going to see this, but my friend Peaches (not his name but it’s what I call him).
I was going through some pretty horrendous sh-t three years ago. I had been talking to Peaches here on reddit for a month or so. I decided to run away from home and messaged him saying he probably wouldn’t hear from me for a while.
Instantly he demanded my phone number, blowing up my phone. Then he drove to come pick me up and brought me back to his house despite his girlfriend at the time protesting. Over that night and the next day, he convinced me to go back home, go to college, and work hard. He also got me to stop talking to my ex-boyfriend, which was damaging me greatly at the time. From there he helped me navigate a couple relationships that turned out to be toxic for me.
We’ve been friends for three years, I just hung out with him not that long ago. I don’t know where I would be without him. Peaches has a permanent spot in my favorite people of all time.
Bonus about Peaches: Graduated nursing school after being an EMT, works in an ER department, and gives great hugs. Cares a lot about making a difference and helping those truly in need.
I asked him a year ago why he came and got me that night. He grinned and said, 'Dunno, guess I just like picking up strays.' He laughed when I gave him a pouty look and shrugged his shoulders."
1. They know how to be honest without being excessively brutal or mean.
"They value honesty highly — from themselves and others — but also tact and sensitivity.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but I have found most people seem pretty comfortable with a sort of ongoing background hum of dishonesty in their lives. This is mostly little fibs all day about why they were late, why something didn't get done at work, how great their life is, why things are other people's fault and not theirs, why you can't do X or Y, etc.
Then there are the people who demand total honesty from everyone and blurt out their opinions and judgements freely claiming they aren't being obnoxious, they are just honest.
To find someone in between is rare and very valuable. I'd say the big green flag is they cop to things right away, explain or apologize, and then just move on — no big drama. Also, they are willing to tell you an unpleasant truth, but in a way that doesn't make you feel completely sh--ty."
1. BONUS: They exhibit all the qualities of this person's mom's boyfriend.
"After my mom left my abusive stepdad she eventually met a guy and started dating him and he had several green flags.
1) He was genuinely interested in mine and my sister's life and actually tried to have a friendship with us.
2) He actually talks to my mom about boundaries and what is and isn't ok.
3) He understood from the get-go that my sister and I come first and respected that. My former stepdad didn't and would try to isolate us.
4) Instead of yelling at my little sister for messing stuff up, he taught her how to fix stuff.
5) He taught my sister how to be independent (change a tire, change oil, repair cars) so she wouldn't need to depend on a man.
6) He owns up to his mistakes. He actually apologizes, discusses it, and asks how to avoid similar mistakes
7) He's a honest dude. My mom doesn't have to worry about him cheating like my stepdad did. He genuinely loves my mom, my sister, and I, and loves coming home to my mom and sister (I'm at college)."