Education Week: Seminary and Institute director encourages young adults to look out for ‘flags’ when searching for eternal companion

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Stephen Hunsaker teaches at Education Week about successful dating. Hunsaker reviewed green, yellow, orange and red flags young adults should be aware of while dating. (Abigail Gunderson)

Seminary and institute instructor Stephen Hunsaker returned to Education Week for another dating lecture, focusing on the flags to look out for when searching for an eternal companion.

The auditorium was packed with young adults for the lecture. Hunsaker explained how single adults can know if they’ve found “the one” based on green, yellow, orange and red flags in their relationships.

“Probably the most common question I’m asked among my YSAs is ‘How do you know if it’s right?’,” Hunsaker said. He also said while many people expect an impressive, obvious answer from God about who they should marry, most of the time the answer comes in little pieces over time.

“God teaches in continued revelation the majority of the time,” Hunsaker said, adding that a “big moment” answer is the exception, not the rule. He said those answers come as young adults have experiences with the people they date and note their consistent behavior patterns.

“Information precedes revelation,” he said, and encouraged the audience to use dating as a time to learn as much as they can about each other.

Green flags, according to Hunsaker, are the good things about someone’s behavior. The flags can look different for everyone, but he emphasized similar values, goals and beliefs as things to consider, as well as compatible personalities.

Yellow flags, Hunsaker said, aren’t signs to stop a relationship but they can be important to pay attention to. He said yellow flags could be things like having different personalities, interests and goals.

“Orange are really important,” he said of the next level. “Orange never stay orange.”

To Hunsaker, the orange flags are the personality traits and behaviors that could turn into green flags with consistent work or red flags if they’re ignored. He said orange flags are the parts of a person that are “under construction” and to pay attention to what a person is doing about his or her orange flags.

Hunsaker said Red flags in a relationship can all be reduced to trust issues.

Lies, manipulation and pushing boundaries are a few of the red flags Hunsaker listed and attributed to a lack of trust. He also denounced sarcasm as unhealthy and a red flag that shouldn’t be ignored for the sake of humor. “Trust is the highest level that exists,” Hunsaker said. “It’s more important than just loving someone.”

While looking out for the various flags in a potential life partner, Hunsaker reminded the audience to be aware of their own flags.

“Ask yourself, ‘Am I working on the flags in my own life?'”, he said and encouraged them to rely on personal revelation see and change the flags that could use work.

Even with so many things to consider while dating, Hunsaker said not to attach too much pressure to dates. He added that many young adults find themselves in the “F.O.M.O. Dilemma” in which they ignore the present for fear of missing out on better experiences or people. Hunsaker said living in the present takes away much of the pressure and anxiety of dating.

“What’s the first word in F.O.M.O.? Fear,” Hunsaker said. “Where does fear come from? It’s never from God. He does not use fear to motivate His children.”

For those struggling with expectations of quick dating timelines, Hunsaker said not to worry about how long to date someone as long as it’s full of quality time.

“The purpose of a date is to get to know someone, not to marry them,” Hunsaker said. “Just enjoy the moment you’re in, ’cause if you don’t you’re going to miss everything.”

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